Kodansha has released a number of new romance series recently, including one that stars a girl whose love for the male form goes beyond the usual. What if Gou Matsuoka was the star of a romance manga? Ruri Kamino’s Getting Closer to You offers an answer.
The series stars Kaho Hibi, a high school first-year whose devotion to muscles is so extreme that her peers call it a fetish. She even spies on her school’s sport teams’ practices not out of admiration for any specific player but due to her love of musculature in general. When she meets basketball team star Otaro Natsume, she gets roped into being the team’s manager and must use her expert muscle knowledge for the good of the team. Does the series’ first volume make good use of its silly premise?
One of the best aspects of this volume is Kaho herself. Though her obsession is the root of much of the manga’s plot and humor, the subject is handled deftly and without ever taking on a mocking tone. Kaho is a very weird teen, but she pursues her hobby with a dedication and passion that becomes admirable. There are also some brief scenes featuring Kaho with a friend, an idol otaku, which help give more of a sense of Kaho’s life and relationships besides just her romantic tension with Natsume.
Natsume, unfortunately, is a less interesting character. He’s a skilled athlete and straightforward about getting what he wants, but that’s about all that’s that’s been established so far. Naturally he’ll probably get more development going forward, but his first impression is a rather bland one. As a result, the overall romantic tension reads as being a bit forced and dull. It’s difficult to connect to the specifics of a pair’s relationship when there’s such a difference in their depth as individuals. As a result, Kaho’s internal conflicts are much more interesting than those she has with Natsume.
Fortunately, the writing still has its perks. This is a funny volume overall, with some blunt dialogue and outbursts that are more amusing and relatable than the more subdued moments. Kaho’s impression about Natsume that “His pecs make such a tempting ravine” is one such example. The pacing feels a tad rushed at points, but there’s still fun to be had as Kaho grows to understand the team, and in turn her role as its manager, more.
The artwork is another highlight. Kamino is skilled at conveying the emotional range needed for a high school love story like this, as well as the humor. All the basic hallmarks of visual storytelling with regards to clarity and plot progression are also present. If there’s a con to be found it’s just that some pages come across as being a bit unpolished. The shading and screen tone usage aren’t always effective, resulting in panels and splash pages that don’t necessarily look bad but don’t exude the intended cuteness and vulnerability either.
Overall, Getting Closer to You Vol. 1 is a solid introductory volume. It introduces a likeable protagonist, charming premise, and solid artistic fundamentals that build the foundation for future development. Unfortunately the art’s mixed level of polish and the love interest’s lack of development or uniqueness hold the volume back from being a must-read. Nonetheless, there’s definite potential to be found here.
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