From randomly bumping into the hot guy in school to experiencing an awkwardly timed bathtub interruption, we know all those familiar shojo romance story beats well, but even the most tried and true trope isn’t going to fly for high schooler Anzu Hoshino. She’s far more interested in eating chocolate, playing video games and spending time with her cat, leaving no room for frivolities like love. Who has time to fall in love when the latest game just arrived, after all? Unfortunately for Anzu, this blissful existence is about to end and she’s going to have to face her own heart-shaped reality whether she likes it or not in Wataru Momose’s fantasy romcom Romantic Killer.
It would definitely be impossible to pull Anzu away from her hobbies in any traditional manner, so a magic fairy named Riri appears to try something much more drastic. In an effort to alter the direction of Japan’s declining birth rate, Riri has been tasked with creating alternate realities for love-averse folks like Anzu, and it isn’t long before our heroine finds herself in a familiar but much more aggressively romantic life. As Riri twists reality and throws a veritable hot boy harem her way, Anzu isn’t going to go down without a fight, and a new game is afoot to avoid falling in love by any means necessary.
The setup of Romantic Killer is swift, throwing us right into the action with a fun formula that works really well. Momose’s manga started out as a vertically-oriented webcomic and even managed to take first place in Shonen Jump‘s 2nd Vertical Scroll Manga Award, eventually running for four volumes before coming to an end in 2020. This first volume introduces a lead most of us can probably relate to, whether we’re in a relationship or not. Sometimes you just want to live life on your own terms and enjoy the freedom to bask in your hobbies from sunrise to sunset—and probably into the wee hours, too—and that’s a lifestyle Anzu is willing to go out of her way to preserve. Even when she meets one of the hottest guys at school and quickly finds herself befriending him thanks to Riri’s shenanigans, she remains resolute in her determination to get her games, chocolate and cat back and be done with these romantic mixups for good.
Without giving anything away, by the end of the first volume we officially have two boys in Anzu’s totally-not-a-harem, and it’s clear that Momose is happy to go all-out in depicting and, ultimately, deftly dodging as many tropes of the genre as possible. Momose’s art is lively, loaded with over-the-top expressions and some great visual gags. In a feature that will likely be the first thing readers notice, the series is also presented in full color from the first page to the last. Since this started out as a vertical online strip, every panel is bursting with color, giving seasoned manga fans a little visual variety. As a result, it’s at a slightly higher price point compared to your average single volume, but at just four volumes in total I think this one will be worth keeping up with throughout the rest of its English run.
And don’t forget, Romantic Killer has an anime adaptation on the way to Netflix in just a little over a month!
Story & Art: Wataru Momose
Publisher: VIZ Media
Translator: Adrienne Beck