Title: Love Me, Love Me Not Vol. 3 Author: Io Sakisaka Publisher: Viz Media Language: English Format: Digital Pages: 176 Genre: Slice of Life, Romance Publication Date: July 7, 2020
The pacing in volume three of Love Me, Love Me Not slowed down considerably but did so with purpose. The volume puts a bright spotlight on Inui and Akari and builds the events throughout the volume around them with the sole objective of building a possible relationship between the two of them. We saw hints of that in the previous volume but this time, they are fully explored with depth and detail!
There are only two real events that happen here, both of which support the overall main story of Akari’s developing feelings for Inui. The first event ends up being a meet up for a group dating event while the other is P.E. class where the boys and girls are running a short marathon. Not much really happens during the Group Date event; however, the same cannot be said for the marathon. Akari ends up pushing herself too hard when he remembers that Inui likes people who give it their all. Akari ends up making it to the finish line before Inui which caught her by surprise but a lingering fever from the day before causes her to pass out. Inui cares for her and this is when Rio’s suspicions about her odd behavior as of late gain any sort of validation.
We get a rather bold and shocking ending because of this… an ending that could alter the very lives of all of the main characters if it is seen completely through!
I love the focus on Akari and Inui here. Sure, Yuna and Rio are the main attraction of this series but Io Sakisaka wasn’t about to let the slide one bit! Putting the spotlight on these two helped establish them as true main characters as well. Typically, the second pairing in a romance series doesn’t get enough attention paid to them and they kind of end up as an afterthought. It happened in her other series, Ao Haru Ride, with some of the supporting characters but by keeping the cast a bit smaller, she’s not running into that issue here and it’s giving her the opportunity to highlight her characters properly!
Even though Akari and Inui were the focus for this volume, Akari took the brunt of the development. The inner turmoil of Akari as she measured her feelings for Inui versus any other guy she dated showed a change in her character. She has felt something different for the first time in a long time (or possibly for the first time ever) and she’s not quite sure how to handle it. It’s pretty relatable as it conveys the same kind of thoughts that anyone would have when they experience and wish to explore a new feeling that they haven’t felt before; something familiar yet odd at the same time.
Because of this, Akari comes to realize that she really does have romantic feelings for Inui but she also struggles with how to see if those feelings could be reciprocated. She even goes on to convince herself that her love for Inui is unrequited but she doesn’t let that stop her. She continues to fish for information to see what kind of girls he likes but with Inui being kind of a “tell-it-like-it-is airhead,” it’s a bit rough to hone in on what those preferences are… if he even has any to begin with.
Still, seeing Akari go through this entire process was rather cute. It added a new dimension to her character that I felt was needed. She couldn’t just be the tomboy forever. We knew that, sooner or later, she would find a relationship of her own and it looks as if we have arrived at that point!
This was another great volume of Love Me, Love Me Not. The ending was a bit abrupt but it was something we could all see coming. It was built up perfectly throughout the last two volumes but I have a sneaky suspicion that isn’t as shocking as it is on the surface. I’m sure there’s going to be a mellowing out period in Volume 4 where this ending gets completely nullified but, then again, what if it doesn’t? This would change the entire paradigm of the series as it would shift a lot of things around.
For some reason, I feel it’s going to head in that direction. The seeds were already planted (and blatantly thrown in our face, for that matter) and with this being a relatively short series (48 total chapters), it wouldn’t surprise me if Sakisaka decided to head in that direction. Guess we will have to wait and see what happens. All I know is that I’m interested in the next volume and can’t wait to check it out!