Love Rush 002-004 – Review
Reviewed by: Tom
Synopsis: Reiji Hakuba was born with a slight anomaly within his genetic make up. Unlike most boys he was born with the ‘ubermale’ gene. When women see him they don’t see Reiji as he is, but rather as a hot young stud that they just can’t help but want to marry! But Reiji, unlike most boys who’d die for this kind of attention, wants nothing more than to be with his childhood crush and sweetheart, Shizuku. However, it’s not that easy as not only does Reiji attract every woman around him, he’s also got the attention of an angel from heaven, Kokoro Roko Rokoko!
Warning: Spoilers to Follow:
Kokoro comes down from the heavens and professes her love for Reiji, although Reiji’s still got his heart set on Shizuku. Just as he gains the courage to finally tell Shizuku flat out how he feels, Reiji discovers that Kokoro isn’t the only supernatural being that’s taken an interest in him as a whole horde show up out of no where!
Chapter 002-004 go along way towards improving what Love Rush offered in its first chapter. In fact, the biggest boon here is chapter two, which, in all honesty, probably should’ve been within chapter one in the first place. It basically completes much of the premise set up that finishes setting the stage, a stage that should’ve been set by the end of its premiere chapter.
As if having Kokoro after him wasn’t trouble enough, now Reiji finds himself surrounded by all manner of supernatural women here to try and get him to marry them. Kokoro rushes to save Reiji as reports come in concerning this never before heard of convergence.
Reiji attempts to explain his circumstances to them, his genes and the illusion they create, yet none of the girls care to hear that explanation. He even tries telling them he already has a crush, a line that still flies over Shizuku’s head. This is all content that really should’ve been in chapter one, as it’s these events, this gag that seems to be the crux of the story going forward. To not include this scene within the first chapter feels silly, and while the first chapter was already long, we probably could’ve cut a few panels here, or there, and squeezed this much needed component in from the get go. In fact, I might go as far to argue that the entire first chapter could’ve done with a massive rewrite to get us to this point so much sooner. But, at this point it is what it is, let’s just see if are new mangaka can improve.
A vampire princess, Tessaria, doesn’t want to hear it however and attempts to seduce Reiji while drinking his blood. Shizuku saves him by tossing garlic into the girl’s mouth. As more girls make a rush for Reiji, she protects him, reaffirming she’s a childhood friend of his.
Shizuku then turns to Reiji, and just as it seems she’s finally caught on to Reiji’s feelings– she still thinks he was just going to ask her for advice on his love life. Before Reiji can correct her a UFO arrives to beam Reiji up! Thankfully Kokoro finally reaches the chaos and saves him at the last minute. The manga makes it a bit unclear here how/why all these supernatural beings are after him. In fact, it almost comes across as if they’re attracted to him before they even layed eyes upon him. It’s weird, because if it’s really just a rumor, as implied in chapter four, that there’s a mega hotty in the human world, you wouldn’t think so many girls would be quick to believe it. I guess rumors are just that powerful in Love Rush’s world.
With Kokoro’s appearance the other monster girls are astounded, as she’s said to be the most beautiful of all the supernatural beings and when she expresses her desire for Reiji the others begin to lose their determination.
As Kokoro professes her love for Reiji, although she knows the oblivious Shizuku still has his heart, Reiji regains his resolve and confesses his own feelings to Shizuku. Before Shizuku can fully process the truth a few monster girls attack, but Kokoro shoots them with love suppressing arrows to defuse the situation. The rest flee into the night, but promise to return and try to steal Reiji away again. Reiji is clearly a square and away depiction of the “devoted” protagonist in harem. My problem, I suppose, right now is I feel like outside of that unyielding devotion there isn’t much more to him. Reiji does treat Kokoro moderately well, cleaning her feathers for her in chapter one, but outside of it being the decent thing to do, it doesn’t really scream as a unique trait that puts him above other nice guys. But I’ll get more into the depiction of Reiji and love in general later.
Alone now, Shizuku acknowledges that she never once thought about Reiji in that way, and as she comes to terms with his feelings she grows more and more embarrassed, eventually running off into the night. It’s one of the few spots here where I actually really like what the manga does. It depicts Shizuku in a very real and honest light, only just realizing that someone she’s always considered as a friend wants her as so much more. It does give me pause however, as how long can the story really continue like this if Shizuku is aware of his feelings?
Despite Shizuku’s response, Reiji refuses to give up and Kokoro decides she can’t let Reiji walk away that easily either.
Skipping to Reiji’s birthday, he’s back home, in his room, living above his families’ cake shop. There his friends attempt to comfort him in Shizuku’s rejection, although Reiji is adamant she hasn’t rejected him yet. The disappointing thing about either of these characters is they aren’t really people. They exist solely for plot and humor. There’s a little characterization, but they have such a small place within the overall narrative I doubt their absence would mean much at all. I hope they get fleshed out a little more later on.
The doorbell rings and Reiji thinks it’s Shizuku, like normal, coming to wish him a happy birthday. However it’s actually Kokoro! and some other girl hiding in the shadows. Reiji’s school buds are filled in on Kokoro and who she is and neither seem all that surprised by the existence of supernatural beings.
Reiji asks what Kokoro is doing here and she reveals to him that until Shizuku returns his feelings she’ll keep on after him. While I agree that sometimes love can be about persistence, Kokoro seems like she’d be far more annoying than anything by this point for someone like Reiji’s who’s devoted to a girl already. Since it’s a comedy, mostly, I’ll let it slide, but if the shoe was on the other foot this wouldn’t be all that funny. I guess you could also argue Reiji, being such a nice guy, is just use to endless advances from girls (although notice we haven’t met any of those pesky human girls who’ve chased him day in and out. That’s weird.) We also learn, as she chows down on Reiji’s B-day cake, that Reiji’s mother is a cake shop owner and he’s practicing to take over the family business. It’s quick, thrown in at the last minute, and feels bordering on lazy when it comes to characterization. While stuffing her face Kokoro remembers something important she needs to tell Reiji about supernatural weddings. Uninterested in further advances, Reiji runs out leaving Kokoro and his friends behind.
Meanwhile Shizuku watches from her bedroom window, conflicted about going to Reiji’s birthday party. Elsewhere at a nearby river, Reiji is stressing over Kokoro’s advances and Shizuku not showing up like usual. It’s then he’s approached by a pretty demon girl, who’s pushed down the hill by a cat and plummets on top of Reiji. The girl’s familiar urges her to kiss him right away, but she’s too nervous.
She instead introduces herself as Ellis Lapesh, a Succubus, and apologizes– from really far away. Reiji then remembers how his friends had been talking about Succubus the other day. Convenient. Reiji can’t help but have a few borderline lewd thoughts about Ellis, and she does exactly the same. It’s nice to see teens being, well, teens. Her familiar, Nero, then forces Ellis to change into her sexy demon mode form and utilize her charm beam to win Reiji over.
It works and Reiji finds himself incredibly drawn to Ellis, unable to see her as anything but the most attractive woman in the world. Just as he’s about to kiss her he punches himself out of the spell, knocking himself out. Nero urges Ellis to steal a kiss, but before she can Kokoro arrives. Kokoro saves Reiji but reveals that if he does kiss any of these supernatural girls he’ll be forced to marry them!
We get a brief history of Ellis, what Succubi are and that Ellis herself is overly shy for one. Back where we last left off It’s a battle between Ellis and Kokoro over Reiji. Ellis unleashes a sleep beam to try and wrestle Reiji from Kokoro, unfortunately it just makes both plummet into the water below. Kokoro wakes up thanks to the cold splash and tells Ellis to stay away and refrain from any more dirty tricks.
The two have a brief argument over their competing methods, with Kokoro asserting that love needs to be won with honesty and integrity, otherwise she could never look the person she loves in the eyes. It’s a nice moment, although a bit of a one sided argument as few would agree that love is ever won by subterfuge and lies.
Witnessing Kokoro’s resolve, Ellis admits she can’t compete like this. She doesn’t have the courage or the determination like Kokoro and exclaims that Reiji is better off without her love. Reiji jumps in and tells her she’s wrong, that a declaration of love and feelings should be cherished. This moment perhaps help to better define Reiji as an actual stand up guy, although I think the message of Love Rush, what there is of it, is deluded otherwise.
Ellis, feeling Reiji’s kindness, thinks back on what drew her out to the human world, the hate she garnered from her fellow succubi, Nero’s urging, and what made her fall for Reiji as soon as she set her sights on him. She decides to confess and works up the courage to declare her love for Reiji. This is where I feel Love Rush is still shooting itself in the foot. It keeps arguing that what makes Reiji more than his looks, and by proxy Ellis and Kokoro’s appreciation for him, is his kind and determined attitude. But even so the series still seems to be operating upon a “love at first sight” mentality for all these characters, only later justified as Reiji does something for each of them that warrants appreciation. It doesn’t help that Love Rush uses a very narrow understanding of “superficial” as the term doesn’t literally just refer to attraction based on looks, but a superficial understanding of Reiji himself. Neither Kokoro or Ellis has spent any significant time with Reiji, making their attraction to him nearly as superficial as all the other monster girls. The justification for their attraction to him is after the fact, and based on such little information that Love Rush’s more romance oriented message feels just as shallow as their appreciation for our main character.
Later Reiji asserts that he needs to avoid kissing supernatural beings at all costs and thanks Kokoro for saving him yet again, although he doesn’t seem all that appreciative of her hanging around. Ellis watches the two head off and thanks Reiji for teaching her about love.
I think Love Rush’s biggest issue is the one I brought up just a few paragraphs above. I think the manga needs to work on establishing a greater understanding of Reiji’s character, really expand on him beyond his devotion to Shizuku and his chivalrous nature. He’s still an every man, and maybe that’s the point, so the audience can just see themselves within him, but that message about honesty, integrity and such feels wholly hollow when their appreciation for Reiji still seems so shallow. Love Rush is better in these chapters, and shows that it does indeed have potential, but unless it’s seeking an early cancellation it needs to get better at fleshing out its characters, especially Reiji and what makes him such a draw to these girls beyond his looks and his base level kind attitude. Cause right now Love Rush isn’t much more than “Baby’s first harem.”
That’s it for today. Please let me know what you thought of Love Rush 002-004 in the comments below!