- Mangaka : Momose Wataru
- Publisher : Comedy, Romance, Shoujo
- Genre : Viz
- Published : October 2022
Deconstructing a genre in a self-referential manner is difficult. To really satirize your own content, you need to be punching hard at the tropes that define it and then subverting the reader’s expectations to deliver unexpected twists.
Romantic Killer tries to poke fun at the “average shoujo story”, but instead delivers an amusing but ultimately shallow facsimile of a romantic comedy. Not all hope is lost, however, and there might be a few readers who can find a silver lining in this new release.
Join us today on Honey’s Anime as we review Romantic Killer, Volume 1!
Romantic Killer started out life as a full-color vertical webcomic, and even won the Shonen Jump 2nd Vertical Scroll Manga Award. Reading a manga in full color is a novel experience, although readers of manhwa will be disappointed by the art style—this feels very much like a “colored-in manga.” Indeed, we feel like most of the manga could have been done in black-and-white, and it’s definitely lacking some of the beautiful visual effects shoujo readers love.
Romantic Killer stars Anzu Hoshino, a first-year high schooler who prioritizes chocolate, gaming, and her beloved cat over finding romance. This won’t do for the magical fairy Riri, who needs to save the plummeting birth rate of Japan so more children are born, thus offering their innocent power to keep the fairy industry rolling. With a few tongue-in-cheek references to common shoujo tropes, Anzu finds her parents relocated to America, all of her chocolate and games gone, and left alone in her house for the next three years…all thanks to her pesky fairy!
Determined to thwart the fairy and its desire for her to fall in love, Anzu tries to avoid the hot guy, Tsukasa Kazuki, who’s fallen into her life. Despite the fairy causing her all manner of trouble—including a typhoon that forces Kazuki to stay at her place overnight—Anzu manages to keep her feelings at bay.
It’s here that the story derails. Setting up the shoujo tropes and using them as a punchline is fun, but at the same time, it’s so painfully obvious that Anzu will inevitably realize she has romantic feelings of her own accord. The fairy is simply a plot device and everything else is window dressing.
In that regard, it feels like we’ve read Romantic Killer before, because, in trying to parody shoujo tropes, the series has somehow replicated the exact trope of “girl slowly falling in love” anyway. Thus the setup feels compromised, and the potential payoff is weakened.
Romantic Killer does have a few saving graces. Namely, it’s happy to reference popular media franchises and even other manga, and the full-color artwork does offer a uniqueness not seen in other shoujo manga. Anzu has a great personality, and her love for cats and chocolate is both quirky and endearing. Kazuki is standard shoujo fare—handsome, popular, and sullen but with a good heart.
1. Satirizing Shoujo Setups
If—like us—you read a lot of shounen and shoujo rom-coms, then there’s a certain appeal to seeing tired tropes pointed out and satirized. From “living at home by yourself” to “saving the girl outside in the rain,” these tropes form a staple part of the romance genre, but they’re getting long in the tooth.
Romantic Killer happily breaks the fourth wall to laugh at these tropes, which makes for a refreshing take on the standard formula.
1. Satire Has to be Funny
The whole point of satirizing your own genre is striking a balance between comedy and irony. Unfortunately, Romantic Killer doesn’t hit nearly hard enough to really make you laugh as it dismantles the shoujo romance tropes. As it stands, Romantic Killer needs to go harder to establish the irony in Anzu falling in love while trying desperately to thwart the fairy disrupting her life.
2. Full-Color Price Hike
As we mentioned earlier, Romantic Killer started out life as a webcomic, which means this manga adaptation is in full color. Unfortunately, that makes its suggested retail price US$7 higher than comparative titles in the Shojo Beat range. Presumably, this is due to the higher-quality stock paper used for color pages—a pricing issue common for readers of physical-edition manhwa.
Unfortunately, the colored artwork really isn’t doing anything to make Romantic Killer stand out. It would look equally good in black-and-white, perhaps even better, and would be priced in line with other shoujo rom-coms.
A strong central idea finds itself on shaky legs in Romantic Killer. Taking a satirical tone with the shoujo rom-com tropes of other series on the shelf, Romantic Killer stops just short of sticking the landing. Despite having a full-color presentation, the artwork is exceptionally average, neither capturing the magical charm of a shoujo, nor hitting the absurdist art style of a comedy.
Are you going to check out Romantic Killer Vol 1? Let us know down in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading!