Please note, this is going to be a manga series review!
Content/Trigger Warnings: Sex, sexual assault, rape, talk and scenes of depression, guilt, talk of toxic relationships, severe panic attacks and anxiety, scene of manipulation, scenes of intoxication
When Ritsu Onodera (a literary editor) resigns from his father’s company to escape his jealous coworkers and father’s shadow, he never expected what was coming next. When he’s hired by Marukawa Publishing, he never thought he’d be assigned to the shojo manga department and he certainly didn’t expect that his ex-lover(Masamune Takano) is his new boss. Later on, Ritsu learns that Takano still has feelings for him and tells him he will make him fall in love with him again. Through many obstacles and inner struggles, will these two find their way back to one another or will they drift apart forever?
Dearest readers, this is probably one of the few manga series that I have been reading and following for the longest. Sekaiichi Hatsukoi is a series I constantly revisit and reread all the time. This is also an anime series that I often rewatch when I doing mundane things when I’m home. I have loved this series for so long and I finally decided that I really wanted to share my love for it with all of you!
Sekaiichi Hatsukoi follows our main characters Ritsu Onodera and Masamune Takano who were once lovers in high school, but now are now thrown into the new reality of being coworker and boss. While Ritsu is still torn up and heartbroken about their past relationship, Masamune still has feelings for Ritsu and will stop at nothing to make him love him once again. Throughout this story they’ll struggle from many obstacles and face their own inner demons. There are also a few side stories with other characters from the shojo manga department, Emerald, along the way.
I really love this story line and mainly because it’s one of my favorite kind of tropes. I love a good boss and coworker kind of trope especially between someone who is more of an alpha male with a more sensitive love interest. I love this kind of trope, it’s something I really enjoy reading about in romance, and this series definitely delivers with that trope. There’s also another trope in here between a client and agent, and I have to say that I enjoy that dynamic just as much. That dynamic is definitely different compared to our main relationship in this story. There’s a lot more of the alpha male taking care of the love interest compared to the main relationship of this story. So if you enjoy different alpha male personalities as well as more sensitive personalities then you’re going to love a lot of characters in this series.
Aside from the tropes, I really liked Onodera as a main character. I felt more connected to him as a character just based off a lot of his personalities traits. He’s sensitive, reserved about his thoughts and feelings, very hard working, he puts a great amount of stress and pressure on himself of doing things to the very best of his capability, and he constantly has panic and anxiety. He felt like a real person and a lot of his traits I found similar to my own personal habits and characteristics. Compared to Tanko who is very assertive, very blunt, doesn’t really take ‘no’ for an answer, and a leader. There were times where Tanko would feel to overly assertive or dominant in a situation so his character put me off at times and it became hard to see his as someone to relate or connect to.
As I mentioned above, we also get side stories as well from coworkers of Onodera and Takano. We have the side stories of Hatori and his lifelong friend (and manga artist he’s in charge of) Yoshino, as well as Kisa and the attractive bookstore employee, Yukina. And then there’s my favorite novel in this series with Takano’s longtime friend and salesman of Marukawa, Yokozawa who gets swept off his feet after a harsh breakup by an attractive widower and single father Kirishima. I truly loved all these side stories especially since we see so many different personalities and situations. Yokozawa’s story is my favorite of them all though because I love the concept of finding love after the death of your romantic partner or after a really harsh breakup. I also really love the concept of single parents finding love again. I get real soft and sappy about those type of stories because I do come from a single parent home and I want that happiness and partnership for my parent. So I really love and adore Yokozawa’s story and him finding love all over again. I also like that Kisa and Yukina’s relationship. Their relationship does have an age gap element, Yukina is 21-years-old while Kisa is 30-years-old of age. It really shows the struggles of an age gap relationship, but it also shows the importance of communication and how to make it work. I really thought it was sweet and I liked the positive way the age gap relationship was reflected in their stories. And as I mentioned before, the relationship between Hatori and Yoshino is another forbidden romance!
One thing I really want to mention with this graphic novel series is that it’s very different compared to the anime series. When I refer this series to friends, family, fellow manga lovers, I really express the difference between the two. The anime is very “vanilla” compared to the manga series. The anime has taken out insane amounts of details and graphic content that this manga series has within it. There have been scenes that have been made very innocent and leaves more room for the imagination whereas the manga series has a lot of intimate, sexual scenes, and a lot of more detail in those sense. Huge difference and contrast to one another. So if you’ve only seen the anime, but wanted to pick up the manga, just know that there is a big difference between the two.
Along with the difference of the manga vs. the anime, I also wanted to mention content and trigger warnings for this series as well. While I do have a lot of the content and trigger warning stated above, I did want to take a moment to acknowledge the problematic material of this series. Upon really deep reflecting and bouncing thoughts, I concluded that some of the intimate and sexual scenes can be taken as sexual assault or attempted rape. I know for a fact that in both the manga and in the anime series, there is a scene where Yoshino went over to his friend’s house and things took a completely unexpected turn. That particular scene didn’t sit well with me especially since it was followed up with a scene of assault. I have also heard other reviewers say that this manga series romanticizes sexual assault. I personally didn’t get that vibe from this series, but I do acknowledge that is how some readers may interpret certain scenes like that. Just beware of this content and please make sure that you practice self-care if you think this might be triggering for you.
Overall, I really enjoyed this series and it’s been one that I’ve been following for such a long time now. I’m very eagerly awaiting the drop of the thirteenth volume which is happening in 2020. I wish I could say more about this series, I really do, but I want to keep this as spoiler free as possible. I definitely recommend reading the manga over the anime first just because of the details that you can end up missing in the anime, but if you don’t want all of those details then the anime is the best way to get a decent idea of what the manga is like. And as I mentioned, please use self-care. Oh, I love this series so much and I love it with my whole heart! And I hope you, dear reader, give this series a chance especially if you like manga.