CCSE 2021: Finding The Romance Manga For You With Tokyopop’s Love x Love

by Gary Catig

They say that there really is a manga out there for every subject. It might not be true, but there is definitely a wide variety of stories. Even within a certain genre, there can be so much diversity that it can be difficult finding a series that resonates with you. At Comic-Con Special Edition, the panel held by the LOVE x LOVE line from Tokyopop looked to highlight the different titles within their romance library. The main purpose of the imprint is to normalize LGBTQ+ romances alongside traditional straight ones.  They provided several umbrella topics and then some books that fit the category.

For those who enjoy tropes in their romance, The Cat Proposed is a cat boy-boy story. Dekoboko Sugar Days looks at a would be couple with height differences. It will be receiving a sequel in 2022 entitled Dekoboko Bittersweet Days. Maybe the relationship hits a rocky patch with a name like that. Katakoi Lamp is an alternative universe café manga.

Navigating tropes can sometimes be tricky so they suggested some series that avoid problematic ones. Fangs is a vampire romance that addresses consent and boundary issues that can occur in similar tales with the blood sucking creatures. Don’t Call Me Dirty tries to be sensitive to starting a relationship with a homeless person. Then, Glass Syndrome attempts to avoid kink shaming. As a whole, Tokyopop wants to be understanding towards their readers while not wanting to sensor their content.

Another topic included prejudices and conflict. In Don’t Call Me Daddy, one of the main characters wrestles with staying in the closet his whole life up until he’s an old man. Koimonogatari: Love Stories address a straight character’s shifting beliefs as he helps a gay friend to publicly come out.

They also shared “Not Quite Romance” books that were adjacent to the line but looked at more platonic love rather than romantic. Laughing Under the Clouds, Ossan Idol!, and A Gentle Noble’s Vacation all value the human experience and feature close friendships that are healthy and strong. They also contain some found family vibes.

With their last set of recommendations, they stressed the importance of inclusion. Going back to Don’t Call Me Daddy, which is a companion piece to Don’t Call Me Dirty, it looks at gay relationships of people of an older age. Our Not-So-Lovely Planet Travel Guide has an engaged couple take a trip around the world and during their stops, meet a variety of characters such as a trans person. Their interactions make the couple reflect upon themselves and how they view each other. In Sword Princess Amaltea, Natalia Batista, the creator, included a cast of people of color and does excellent world building to explain the different regions the characters are from and how that shapes their personalities.

Taking their commitment to inclusion one step further, Tokyopop has begun creating audio manga. The first series to be adapted is Star Collector. With the alternative medium, those who are visually impaired can enjoy manga as well. It can be found on Audible, iTunes and Spotify.

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