Review: Lightning and Romance manga – two likeable protagonists and an intriguing story

As a big fan of mangaka Rin Mikimoto’s Love’s Reach manga, it was inevitable I would pick up the author’s Lightning and Romance when Kodansha began publishing it earlier this year.

After all, if you enjoy rom coms that tend to be zanier and with weirder characters than the norm, Rin Mikimoto has a talent of providing those for you.

Interestingly, however, Lightning and Romance isn’t like that.¬†Well, at least not in an as extreme as Love’s Reach way. Something I didn’t like in the first couple of chapters of the manga, as the tamed-down feeling didn’t mesh with what I was expecting.

But, after two volumes of the Lightning and Romance manga, and I have to admit the characters and the story grew on me to such an extent, I am now greedily looking forward to Volume 3.

Review: Lightning and Romance manga (Volumes 1 and 2) — DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS!

The first couple of chapters of Lightning and Romance Volume 1 set up the premise of the manga series.

Namely, 20-year-old Reo is back in high school and sitting next to four-years-younger Sumire, while the rest of the class look at him as some kind of yakuza member.

No wonder, what with his stand-offish attitude and the lightning bolt-shaped scar on his face.

The problem is we have no idea why a student that is four years older than everyone in his class is suddenly in high school again.

 

Lightning and Romance Volume 1 cover art

Nor why he seems to have a problem with Sumire who, we learn early on, he has some kind of history with but we don’t know what that is. Although, for that matter, apparently, neither does Sumire.

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What’s even more strange is, while at the beginning of the manga Reo insists he needs to go back to high school, he barely shows up for class and, when he does, he isn’t listening to a word that’s going on.

Meanwhile, not long after Sumire tells her best friend she wants to experience the ‘heart-racing feelings’ that show up when a girl is in love, she encounters Reo in a back alley in a fight with another guy.

As he sees her and walks towards her, turning his back on the guy, the guy raises a pipe and is about to bring it crashing down on Reo’s head when Sumire pushes him to one side and saves him.

After being taken to the cafe where Reo works to get her now-cut hand bandaged, she realizes she has feelings for him. But, when she tells him a few days later that she likes him, Reo responds that he doesn’t have time for those kinds of feelings.

And that would be fine, if Reo’s actions don’t belie his words as, after all, what guy who doesn’t like a girl would be buying her earrings, bringing her chocolate coffee bread, standing way too close to her and, oh yeah, admitting she is “special to him” while also saying he won’t date her.

Luckily for Reo, Sumire isn’t the type of girl who puts up with rejection so, when she asks him if he has a girlfriend and he tells her “No”, she responds with “Fine, then I don’t plan on erasing my feelings for you.”

And it is then when Reo blushes profusely, and can hardly look at her as he is so embarrassed.

Yep, we all now know he likes her, but what is the mystery about her being “special” to him, and where has he met Sumire before?

And this is where Lightning and Romance begins to get interesting as, at the beginning, it seemed Sumire was just another dopey lovesick girl who has fallen for someone older, and Reo was the stereotypical ‘badboy’.

 

Lightning and Romance Volume 2 cover art

It turns out, however, Sumire has way more of a backbone than most girls her age, goes after what she wants, stands up for herself and even stands up to other people when they are doing something that would hurt Reo.

That even occurs when, at a publishing house party with her author father, Sumire bumps into Reo and discovers he is the grandson of the company president.

But, when she is talking to him only to have his grandfather interrupt telling Reo he should go drinking with the daughter of the president of another company, and Reo appears not to want to, Sumire steps in and tells his grandfather “No, he won’t be going. He already has plans with me”.

Minutes later, a now very drunk Reo confesses to her with “All I see is you”, and then proceeds to tell her things about herself that prove he has been watching her for weeks.

And wouldn’t all that be great if, as he sobers up, he could remember telling her these things!

Lightning and Romance Volume 2 ends with another boy in Sumire’s class about to ask her out, only to have Reo jump in and tell him “You can’t have her. She’s mine”, right as Sumire walks up to the two of them.

Reo then tells her she “saved him” a while ago, but she cannot remember doing so. He then admits he loves her, but still insists he cannot be in a relationship with her.

Huh?

And this is what is intriguing about Lightning and Romance — the characters that constantly develop, the plot that becomes more and more intricate as the chapters fly by, and a girl who is the strong one in this manga while the boy is the one dithering on the edge of complete emotional collapse.

Meanwhile, we are also introduced to an ever expanding cast of minor characters.

Reo’s boss at the cafe, who also knows who Sumire is and why Reo can’t date her.

Reo’s little sister who likes Sumire the minute she meets her, and insists she must come back to their apartment so they can be friends.

Sumire’s overly protective father who seems to hint about something bad happening to her a while before, which is why she must always adhere to her strict curfew.

And Sumire’s closest friend, who is an amateur model with loads of self-confidence, and is more than happy to give Sumire love advice.

All of them have well-defined, well-written personalities and none of them, so far at least, is a stereotypical ‘bad guy’, but instead just people who like Sumire and Reo, and who want to make sure they are happy.

The art style in Lightning and Romance is cute, the two main characters are beautifully drawn — especially Reo, who is drop-dead gorgeous — and the pacing is fast enough to keep you interested, while not so fast the plot doesn’t seem realistic.

All in all, as Lightning and Romance Volume 2 ends on a bit of a cliffhanger — and you’ll have to read it to find out what — I am hoping Kodansha isn’t too slow in getting Volume 3 out to us.

It is already available in Japanese.

So yes, if you’re looking for a fun rom com manga with likeable characters and an intriguing plot, I would say give Lightning and Romance a go, as it’s likely to grab you just like it did me.

Grab the first two volumes at Kodansha.

About Michelle Topham

I'm a Brit-American journalist, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I'm also obsessed with music, anime, manga, and K-dramas. Help!