REVIEW: ‘Ima Koi’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ima Koi - But Why tho

I love a good slow-burning high school shojo romance with miscommunication and yearning galore. But when titles like Ima Koi come across my shelf, I can’t help but be thankful for teen-focused stories that embrace communication and even a kiss in the first volume. Written, illustrated, and created by mangaka Ayuko Hatta, Ima Koi Volume 1 is published and localized in English by VIZ Media through its imprinted Shojo Beat. The volume is translated and adapted by Jan Mitsuko Cash and features touch-up art and lettering by Inori Fukuda Trant.

The story starts with a common trope. Satomi is alone on a train, and when a man attempts to grope her, a boy from her school steps in to shield her with his body. It’s a meet-cute we’ve seen thousand times over, but Hatta manages to take it down a refreshing road. When Satomi decides to tell the boy who saved her “thank you,” she finds herself becoming enamored with him after realizing that he’s Yagyu, a classic tsundere in her grade. But instead of 10 volumes of yearning, Hatta gets straight to the point. You see, after missing out on love because she was too shy to confess her feelings, Satomi has decided to push forward and not let any chances pass her by. Having made the promise to herself to confess the next time she gets a crush, and of course, that’s Yagyu. To her surprise, he agrees to date her.

This speed makes Ima Koi different from other high school romances because the story isn’t about a messy confession or miscommunication until finally, the yearning ends. No, it’s about constant communication, being empathetic to others, and building a healthy relationship on that foundation. Given how fast everything has happened, Satomi is still clueless about how dating is supposed to work, and with Yagyu not necessarily in-like with her immediately, Ima Koi is about learning. With Ima Koi Volume 1, we get a relatable story that shows that dating doesn’t have to be some grand declaration of love, but rather something you slowly settle into and grow into as well.

In fact, the moment we’re shown that our romantic leads are dating, it’s all just a simple question in a coffee shop. “So, is it okay to assume that we’re dating?” This one page packs a lot of relatable punch because isn’t how a lot of us have moved into relationships? The small moments that come together to make us feel special and lead us to finally take that step. For Satomi, who has already confessed her feelings, it’s a triumph of being able to speak up. For Yagyu, it’s deciding to start getting to know someone he likes being around and hopefully lead to more.

But the romantic relationship isn’t the only thing on display in Ima Koi. In the latter half of the volume, friendship in all of its awkward and sometimes confrontational glory is there to not add drama but to highlight how the romantic relationships we make can impact and be impacted by our existing friendships.

But when Ima Koi isn’t focused on romance, it’s focused on its heroine, Satomi. Satomi has become my absolute favorite high school romance shojo heroine in one volume. Having been the shy girl, Satomi is now someone fierce, loyal, and determined to speak her mind for herself and speak up for others. Her steadfast nature is refreshing and strong, and she still has those small insecurities and fears that come with being a teen.

Ima Koi Volume 1 is a must-read for all these reasons and more. It’s not only beautifully written, but the art comes alive with emotion and humor. Hatta has brought a fresh take to an old meet-cute and done so much in just one volume that I can’t wait to come back for the second.

Ima Koi Volume 1 is available from booksellers on March 1, 2022. 


Ima Koi Volume 1
5

TL;DR

Ima Koi Volume 1 is a must-read for all these reasons and more. It’s not only beautifully written, but the art comes alive with emotion and humor. Hatta has brought a fresh take to an old meet-cute and done so much in just one volume that I can’t wait to come back for the second.