by Jenny Williams
"If it's not love, what is it? Friendship? Can you wrap a physical relationship in the word 'friendship'?" -Love Song
The word "love" can mean many different things in our world today. Love can be devotion, infatuation, happiness, or the feeling you get in your knees when your heart has been craftily stolen. It all depends on the person defining it. Love Song, a collection of four short stories by Keiko Nishi, deals with love. But it's not your typical shoujo, with some super cute girl becoming overcome by blushes once she realizes how much she likes the good-looking guy, but then some other good-looking guy comes along and wants to steal her away, etc, etc. Even though I know most of us don't mind one of those every once in a while, it's nice to have a change. Love Song represents different forms of love in each story.
The manga starts off with the story of a girl who does not care that much for typical boy-girl romances. We find out in the beginning that she had loved another girl greatly, and was forced to separate with her, then promising to never love again. Even with her disinterest in love, a surprising amount of guys wish to date her. And when she decides to "get together" with one of them, she finds herself questioning her love for him, or was it that she cared for him so much that she despised him?
Turning to the next story, we read about three beautiful sisters living on the beach. It seems that all three of them have fallen for a young man, who cares for them as if they were his younger sisters. Each of the sisters discovers that the other two are competition in winning the heart of their beloved. Cursed with jealousy, they each decide to take the competition out. But will any of them be able to pull through with their own evil plot?
Leaving those two very different stories behind, we jump into a two-part story of special powers. Yoshio Yamada is a perfect example of a total nerd, being teased by almost all the other boys in his school, and liking a girl way out of his reach, popularity-wise. His family isn't very supportive either. His life changes greatly when he discovers that he has a "healing touch", meeting a man by the name of Kudoh in the process. Kudoh, with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, brings publicity to Yamada, and with that, he also turns the boy into a piece of candy for the eyes (of a girl, that is). Then Masao Harada, the guy that teased Yamada the most before, gets in danger, and the only person that can save him is Yamada. He is then forced to make a decision. Should he risk his own life for his previous rival, or should he just forget about it?
The collection finishes with the story of a young lady who works in a factory not of this planet. She has the option of a good life with the Factory Chief's son, since he is in love with her. But she knows that it would be an ordinary life, and she carries dreams of traveling to Earth. What life should she choose?
As far as art is concerned in Love Song, each short story has a different form of art. This is nice, because first-timers to Keiko Nishi's art would easily be able to tell apart stories. The artwork itself isn't the greatest, but Nishi does a wonderful job on select drawings. The others could use a little depth, consisting mostly of just lines.
All four stories have a little deeper meaning to them. The words used for the storylines are chosen carefully. With a little interpretation, one can tell many things from just one phrase. There could be the characters' full feelings behind them, or even issues we deal with ourselves today. Plus, Nishi does a wonderful job at tying in the endings with the stories, endings that aren't very predictable. This manga is definitely one to get if you're looking for one that you can read multiple times and still pick up things you missed the first time through.