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My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999! (Manga Volume 1 Review)

My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999! (Manga Volume 1 Review)

March 7, 2024

Voted #1 in Japan’s most prestigious annual Tsutaya awards, My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999! follows Akane, a gamer girl who is unlucky in love and clumsy in real life. Following her recent break-up with Takuma, a gamer-boy who introduced Akane to the wildly popular game Forest of Savior (or FOS for short), Akane decides that she will show Takuma exactly what he’s given up; but in the process, she literally runs into pro-gamer Yamada. Life keeps forcing Akane and Yamada together; but Yamada, a seasoned adventurer, is particularly inexperienced at love, which makes Akane wonder what she sees in him at all. My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999!  brings fantasy and reality together, reminding everyone that the world — real or fake — is only what you make of it.

Anyone who has experienced the heartache of losing someone who influenced their lives, down to the hobbies they enjoy, can find a piece of themselves in My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999! Akane, the clumsy, down-on-her-luck gamer girl, is desperately holding onto a past relationship with the boy who got her into gaming. Her feelings of betrayal are intensified when she learns that he met her replacement in the very game that they played together. Her best friend, Momo, insists that her past relationship was never worth her time; but Akane, desperate to return to her past love, finds herself going outside her comfort zone in an attempt to win him back — where she collides with Yamada.

Yamada is precisely what you would expect a pro-gamer to be: quiet but straightforward, almost to the extent of being rude, and social interaction is not his forte — even though he expresses his feelings with ease. He makes several remarks regarding not “getting girls,” but it can be seen throughout multiple interactions that the girls are there, he just isn’t seeing their efforts. It would be easy for this to turn into a tale of the “boy-crazed student”, but fortunately, the writer avoids that trope, and we see Akane struggle to balance her feelings, her real life, and her experience in-game.

The realistic nature of the emotions she feels brings home that Akane could easily be any one of us, trying to find ourselves after losing such a big piece of our lives. Momo, Akane’s best friend, plays the part of the down-to-earth sidekick incredibly well, never failing to remind Akane that she has to move on and focus on what’s important, going so far as to be a bit harsh to Akane when she believes that her friend is living with her head in the clouds.

Yamada’s and Akane’s interactions well-executed and comes off very naturally. He is generally disinterested and sees her attempts at friendship (or maybe more?) as a tiresome distraction — yet every failed attempt to reach out to him makes Akane grow more enamored. Her every interaction seems governed by whether or not she will be struck down by Yamada’s upfront, no-nonsense personality. However, Akane is actually a multi-dimensional character, as we see her branching out and making true friendships with the other oddball characters in her gaming guild, as well as working on her potentially unhealthy attachment issues. As Akane grows closer to her new friends, her real world and fantasy world start to merge, and we are left to wonder if Akane will finally level up in love — or if she is preparing to receive the ultimate KO!

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