LDK Vol. 5 - Manga Review

Aoi continues to pine for Shusei, but worries that revealing her feelings for him will bring their living arrangement to an end. However, when a student from their high school moves in beside them the gig might be up anyways!

The Lowdown

Aoi thought that Shusei was going to kiss her at the festival, but it turned out to be another one of his mean tricks. Still, she wishes that she would reveal her feelings for him, but is worried that telling him would end their current living arrangement. While Aoi worries, their landlady gets Aoi and Shusei to take her child, Kouta, to the amusement park. It turns out that Kouta has some interesting questions for the two of them about their living arrangement, and after he starts clinging to Aoi it appears that Shusei might be jealous. If that wasn’t enough for Aoi to handle, she comes home to find that a new neighbour, Wataru Sanjou, has moved in and that he goes to her high school!

How Was It?

My general puzzlement regarding Shusei and Aoi’s respective personalities has been a running theme in my reading of LDK, and this volume did not disappoint in terms of raising several questions about their actions. Despite small signs of progress between the two in the previous volume, throughout this volume it appeared that Shusei was back to being mean to Aoi again for reasons known only to him. This was most apparent during the Shusei and Aoi’s trip with their landlady’s son to the amusement park in the first chapter, but carried on throughout the rest of the volume. The amusement park trip stuck out because a significant portion of it consisted of Shusei being mean to Aoi before having what could be considered a “nice-guy moment” towards the end to make everything apparently alright again. This pattern carries on throughout the rest of the volume when Wataru comes into the picture, and despite doing things such as camping, and going to the hot springs, this yo-yoing between Aoi and Shusei was more or less the disappointing extent of their development in this volume.

This wouldn’t have been a complaint if there seemed to be some reason for this, but Shusei’s actions continue feel jarring just because there never seems to be any context given for his behaviour. The series never makes it seem like his actions are the product of any coherent thought or basis in his personality making the constant flipping between “mean Shusei” and “marginally-nice Shusei” feel completely random and without any particular basing in his personality. This made it unclear what was really going on by the time we see Shusei actually show some feelings for Aoi just before the end of the volume, and overall I continue to not be a fan of the way this series has developed him as a leading character. That said, I had some really good laughs watching Shusei’s reaction to being sidelined in eyes of Kouta in favour of Aoi, and his sulking was funny to watch even if it once again had no real grounding in his personality.

The unfortunate corollary of Shusei’s inconsistent behaviour is that it continues to rob Aoi’s own personal struggle of its emotional backing. The prominent arc followed in this volume was Aoi attempting rather lamely to keep her cohabitation with Shusei away from Wataru. Naturally, Shusei doesn’t really bother to try to keep things quiet, leading to more questioning moments from Aoi about her feelings. It’s truly difficult to see at all what Aoi likes about Shusei five volumes into this series, and the general meanness that continues to display makes her feeling feel quite flat because no explanation is given towards why they exist in the first place.

In the end, Aoi’s supportive conversations with Wataru are the closest thing we get in this volume towards some sort of examination of Aoi’s feelings, but more context is definitely still needed to establish why Aoi even likes Shusei in the first place. Unsurprisingly, we end off this volume in a love-triangle forcing Aoi to choose between the mean guy she likes, or the nice guy she just met, in a twist seen coming a mile away. In truth, the events of this volume just sort of happened in the most mundane sort of way possible, and I can’t imagine this love-triangle working out particularly well considering how poorly established Shusei and Aoi’s respective feelings are in terms of badly needed backing context.

I found this volume’s art to be a bit of a step up compared to the previous volumes thanks to the increasing use of close-up shots of Aoi and Shusei’s respective faces in a number of scenes. These panels were nicely detailed and did not suffer from the general flatness that some of the other drawing of the other characters’ faces suffer from. I also enjoyed the way that author Ayu Watanabe used more exaggerated facial expressions in a number of cases for laughs, and this came out quite well in displaying Shusei’s alienation at the amusement park.

Final Thoughts

I keep holding out hope that somehow, LDK will find its footing and begin to focus on the feelings of its characters rather than trying to use contrived situations to create shallow “romantic” moments, but disappointingly this volume was more of the same. There were some funnier moments, but this wasn’t enough to make up for the continued shallowness of the romantic story, as well as the characters who participate in it.


LDK 5
By Ayu Watanabe

LDK Vol. 5 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on June 14th, 2016. Authored by Ayu Watanabe, the series began in 2009 in Kodansha’s Bessatsu Friend magazine. Volume 6 will be published in English on August 23rd, 2016.

Verdict:

C

Date of Publication: June 14th, 2016

Translator: Christine Dashiell

Author: Ayu Watanabe

Publisher: Kodansha Comics USA



Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka