The title story of this collection centres on the emotional entanglements of lovers as they conflict with the deepest of familial bonds. Sibling rivalry and resentment collide as the central characters, fraternal twins Shun and Shu experience the both the pain of betrayal and of separation. After Shu meetss a face from her past in the form of her ex boyfriend Naomichi, the old passions consume her. How will the years apart and a fallen career in stardom have changed their connection?
Baby & Love Star
The second and third stories follow the exploits of Hikaru, a plucky young street musician and her mysterious encounters stranger who may hold the both key to her heart and to her future.
The manga True Love despite it’s enticingly shrink wrapped presentation is a naïve work that seems as confused as its rather chaotic characters. Angst is rife without clear explanation of the cause. When the source of the turmoil is finally revealed it is as unsatisfying and disposable as occasional erotic interludes. Shu's seduction is unconvincing and this totally undermines the potential for the reader’s delight in her lusts. Naomichi performs as badly as the central love interest as he does in his flagging acting career. In short, this was a work that lacked the necessary confidence and experience to make this josei title worth the ride. Without a shred of care or belief in the lives of the characters, Real Love does not live up to its grand title in the slightest
Baby & Love Star
Luckily for both Oda (and I), the book makes a marginal improvement in the second story thread. Her art is more confident, the characters better rendered and constructed, which is a real benefit to the story. While the plot still suffers from the same clumsy delivery of emotional dilemmas and revelations that plague Real Love, the story motifs work and the shorter episodes are better paced.
What was astounding in the latter half of the volume was the resemblance of Oda’s character designs to that of shojo manga darling Ai Yazawa of the Paradise Kiss and Nana fame. While the stylistic influence is evident in Oda’s work, it lacks the elegance, style and vitality that gives Ai Yazawa’s art its unique and irresistible allure. It is an ill advised style to emulate, Yazawa’s work is a formidable force that has infinite charm which is artistically tailored to suit with her razor sharp fashion sense. Even this is not what really counts; it is the power to create characters and stories to believe in and in this effort, Oda still has a lot to learn.