Originally posted: Wednesday, May 6, 2009 on Blogger

I’m not really a big one-shot fan, but I could not resist picking this up at half price.

Summary


This one-shot features 5 individual stories all centring around school romances. They are: Love at First Touch, Expiration Date 2001, Second Impression, Frequency, and Baby Universe.

Love at First Touch is about a girl named Eri who develops a crush on a boy named Kohei because he tried to cheer her up with a pat on the head. Ever since this incident, she has found his rather plain hands, very attractive, and gets flustered every time he touches her with those hands.

Expiration Date 2001 is about a girl named Miwa who is on the track team and has a crush on a boy on the team named Kenta. When she helps him out in cleaning duties, he gives her a soda that he loves with an expiration date in july 2001. Miwa decides that the date must be important and vows to ask Kenta out before the expiration date (which is in two years).

Second Impression revolves around Haruka, who got stuck doing committee work for her school during summer break. When she is coming to school early for one of these committee meetings, she gets soaked by Naoki accidentally. Naoki, who is there for summer school, is very popular and somewhat of a slacker, but it turns out he is there watering the Sun Flowers. The two slowly begin to talk as they attempt to help a sun flower they nicknamed Sunny bloom, and Haruka finds that Naoki isn’t as bad as he first appeared.

Frequency has a slight hint of supernatural as Kaori finds she is able to hear model student, Morihiro’s thoughts after the two collide. However, Kaori discovers that Morihiro isn’t as nice as he first appears and it becomes a lot of fun for her to tune into Morihiro’s thoughts. However, when Kaori hears his thoughts about Shizuka, she does not understand why she is so sad to know that Morihiro likes Shizuka.

Finally, Baby Universe is told from the perspective of a boy, Kengo, who remembers how he and Saki and a few others tried to call UFOs on Christmas Eve when they were children. However, he no longer talks with Saki and there are some strange rumours going around that she is dating an older man. Yet even when they haven’t spoken in years, Kengo cannot help but wonder if Saki remembers that Christmas Eve.

My Thoughts


School romances aren’t really a genre that I enjoy a lot, but I did find this short story collection mildly entertaining (maybe because I got it for 6 dollars Canadian xD). The ones I most enjoyed were definitely Second Impression and Frequency. Of those two, Frequency was my favourite because the premise was interesting (and I like supernatural stories) and well developed. I also liked the main characters and the fact that the romance wasn’t explicit, but rather the ending suggested, quite strongly, that the two characters did in fact get together at a later time.

The other stories were rather cliche and painfully so. I think one of the most redundant was Love at First Touch. You have the shy girl who acts cold to her crush because she is too shy to actually try to talk to him. The boy who is popular but doesn’t understand the girl’s feelings and just makes it worse for her act. Then you have the scene where the boy, Kohei in this particular story, teases the girl, Eri, by saying that they make a good pair. You then have the girl snap and get angry because she cannot contain her feelings. Subsequently, you have the resolution with the boy looking for the girl so that he can apologize, and when he does, she confesses to him. THE END. yawn. If this wasn’t so over done, then maybe I would have enjoyed it a little more. The girl’s annoying actions don’t help either. I don’t like weak girls who cannot handle their emotions. Not to mention, this being a one-shot, the story and characters are rather shallow. I think this one was my least favourite out of the five stories.

The second story is also pretty awful and stereotypical shoujo stuff. Like in the first story, the girl is shy and as such cannot confess to her crush. One of the dumbest things in this story is the girl’s obsession with a date on a soda the boy gave her nonchalantly. It’s rather sad. I hope I never become so desperate that I look for signs in the smallest gestures and objects. I found the fact that her friends constantly pushed her to confess also unappealing. Sure, friends are there to support you, but these friends were not just giving friendly advice, oh no, they were quite forceful in their decisions about her life. And just like the first story, after the conflict (this time because the girl said something), the girl and boy make up and date. Again, the usual shoujo stuff.

Second Impression, however, was an interesting story because it wasn’t the same characters and story told over a million times. Unlike the usual shoujo heroine, Haruka isn’t looking for love, but like the usual shoujo heroine, she’s a bit of a pushover, and although I don’t like doormats, the overall direction the story took made me enjoy it. What made Second Impression stand out from the other stories was that Haruka didn’t already “like” the boy (Naoki) when the story began, rather she got to know him first and then began to enjoy his company. This more realistic take on developing relationships with the other sex was what made me really enjoy Second Impression. Of course, being a one-shot, this relationship is still rather shallow, but overall it is a much better story then the preceding two.

My favourite one shot from this volume is Frequency (like I mentioned before). This story really stands out because the main character is drastically different from the others, and this is the only story in the whole collection with a supernatural twist. Unlike the others, Kaori isn’t shy, she speaks her mind, which makes for some humorous situations, and she isn’t afraid of talking to boys. I really liked that she was able to talk with the boy (Morihiro) as a friend, and not just as a girl crushing on him. I liked the premise of the story as well (girl being able to hear the boy’s thoughts), it was cute and funny. Plus I’m a sucker for supernatural stories XD This story alone drastically increased my enjoyment of Times 2.

Unfortunately, the last story returns to age old shoujo conventions. Even though it changed things up by making the protagonist male, the basic story was just a modern retelling of boy rescues girl. I was a little disappointed because the third and fourth stories started to improve my experience with this one-shot. Basically, the boy Kengo, is fixated on one girl, Saki. When he learns she is dating an older man, he decides he wants to help her out. Story ends with the two of them looking lovingly into each others eyes.

Times 2 isn’t horrible, even if I make the majority of it sound as such. It’s just that there is nothing new to be found. If you are like me and have read quite a few shoujo school romances, then chances are that Times 2 isn’t going to hook you in, because it’s just a quick retelling of the usual shoujo heroine and plot. However, if you happen to find this on sale, then it may be worth your time. Likewise if you are new to the genre, Times 2 is a great introduction, or if you enjoy high school romances, then this may be worth your time. All others, stay away. Hmmm….this sounds like a review! xD Anyways, it’s not horrible, but it’s nothing exception either. I won’t be rereading this one any time soon.

–SW

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