Some people are blessed with beauty, some have athletic talents, others are blessed with smarts, or some combination of the three (or if they’re lucky, all three). Chigira Ruiji, on the other hand, is one boy
blessed cursed with a demonic face. His face has been the cause of endless troubles: being mistaken for a delinquent by teachers, getting into fights for looking ‘aggressive’, and worst of all being shunned by classmates. He’s hoping that his high school debut will not follow a similar pattern. On his first day of high school, he meets Wakatsuki Sana, and his High School life is about to get a whole lot more interesting.
Kimi ni Koishite Ii Desu Ka (Is it okay to love you?) by Kimikoi, has all the elements that I appreciate in a good shojo. I love underdog characters who ultimately improve their lives and become happy. Ruiji enlists the help of the most popular girl in the grade to be his love coach, and they ultimately end up supporting each other. Sana also by chapter 7 accepts Ruiji as a friend. But I was unfortunately disappointed with this series, for 3
To preface my first reason, I’ve also really enjoy series (no matter the genre) that deal with characters who have appearances that aren’t always celebrated by society, and how they deal with their body image and societal reactions. My favourite series which has touched on this is ‘Angel Densestu’ which features a boy called Seiichiro Kitano, who despite his appearance lives his life happily, his love story with the female protagonist is secondary to his own self-fulfilment. To link this to ‘May I be in love with you?’, I thought Ruiji was a particularly weak character. He doesn’t do anything to change his classmates or teacher’s opinions about him but just complains about it. His life is literally controlled by his love for Sana. Also, to be honest, the mangaka did a good job at showing how ‘demonic’ Ruiji’s face was. One of the ‘handsome’ male characters, looks somewhat similar to Ruiji (you can see him on the right). I didn’t really see much stylistic difference between his design and Ruiji’s.
My second concern with this series was I honestly disliked the character of Sana. I couldn’t understand why Ruiji was constantly going above and beyond to gain her favour. I could understand if Ruiji fell in love with her, because Sana was nice to him. But she honestly treated him like how everyone else did – she feared him. Their first meeting at the high school entrance ceremony, she smiled at him and then realising how he looked, ran away! Later in another scene, Ruiji gets in trouble after running home to bring his textbook to give to her (since she forgot hers), she only accepts after he covers his face. I didn’t see Sana was as the sweet character the mangaka was trying to portray her as. I found her as judgemental as the rest of the class, who Ruiji only fell in love with because she has a nice smile.
My third annoyance with this series, as it is with most series that deal with physical features. Is that it missed a really great opportunity to discuss body image in Japanese society, and how it affects individuals. Ruiji’s isolation within the class is made out in simple gag panels, the only real focus is on how delinquents keep picking fights with him. I felt this manga could have offered a lot more if they had focused on Ruiji becoming confident in his appearance (rather than being dragged down by it) and maybe even acknowledging that yes, Sana is being judgemental, but she’s sorry and has gained a new perspective. All of this is just so quickly brushed over.
Despite this, there are some interesting parts of the comic. Kibayashi Moemi, is definitely one of the more interesting characters, acting as Ruiji’s love coach. She puts an interesting spin on the typical ‘popular’ pretty girl character. I am enjoying this manga, currently there are only 10 chapters translated out of 14. I’m hoping that in the last 4 something more is explored. As it is, I’m finding Ruiji and Sana’s relationship incredibly superficial and a bit flat to be honest.