Manga Review: LDK, Vol 2

LDK 2Author: Ayu Watanabe
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Drama
Publisher: Kodansha (US) / Kodansha (JP)
Release Date: December 12, 2015
Original Magazine: Bessatsu Friend
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Just when things seem to be headed somewhere, Aoi is shocked to find her pretty boy roommate Shusei in the arms of another woman. Has Aoi underestimated Shusei’s feelings after all? And who is the new boy that seems to have taken an interest in Aoi? Aoi and Shusei’s red hot romance looks to quickly be headed for some major bumps; will Shusei finally pack his bags and go?

Story

Something funny happened after I finished the first volume of LDK: I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Weeks went by, and I found myself casually peeking at the second volume every time I was at a bookstore. Eventually I pushed my guilt aside and well, here we are.

We all know LDK is a bit of a trainwreck as a story, rife with romance cliches, contrivances, and light haired romantic rivals. I knew at the end of the first volume that this “mystery woman” would not be an actual rival but rather a misunderstanding — one that was cleared up within the first five pages of this second volume — but curiosity really ate me alive with this one. Truthfully not much has changed since the first volume, at least in terms of Aoi and Shusei’s relationship. It’s still fraught with sexual tension, but now the emotional weight is focused clearly on Aoi; as she finds out more about Aoi’s past, she wonders whether she’s the number one lady in Shusei’s life — and why she wants to be. Shusei’s thoughts on the other hand we’re not really privy to yet, though I imagine the introduction of male rival is setting the stage just for that.

At this point Shusei still acts out in pretty jerkish ways though, making Aoi worry over him just to get her attention. Some of the worry is perhaps slightly justified as, like with any good bad boy, Shusei has been hurt in the past. Naturally the angst of that only makes Aoi want Shusei even more — surely more than he deserves. Things look like they might be balanced out by the arrival of an over-enthusiastic underclassman named Shouta Komine, but even he occasionally serves as a reminder that Aoi is literally just an object to be fought over. In one scene, Shusei finds Aoi with him and proceeds to “mark his territory” while Aoi sits flustered. Ultimately LDK really does play no games in making sure it hits all of the cliche shoujo check boxes.

Art

The panel follow looks to have improved some with this second volume, but otherwise the art is the definition of “bland shoujo.” Some of the color art on the covers is better, though a bit flat. To the author’s credit, she does at least know to draw her characters in steamy situations — important, I guess, given the subject matter.

Overall

So if I feel so firmly “meh” about much of LDK, why do I keep reading it — and why should you? Personally, the “check boxes” keep bringing me back, in that LDK is so obviously cliched that I can’t help wanting to see what happens next. Some folks might argue that perhaps that the point, but I really think LDK takes its story and its relationship dynamics pretty darn seriously. That worries me a bit for some folks that might think the relationship in LDK is a healthy one — it’s clearly not — but as a soap opera, well, I can’t put it down just yet. Whether you pick up hinges totally on whether you’ll be okay with what you’re getting into — all 18 volumes of it!

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