Manga is a unique format to read. You first have the different style of page set-up and then you have the themes. Though they are familiar (growing up, self-esteem, relationships, school) they can take on a different form then we are used to. There is also a cultural difference with possible different values and behaviors.
Yet, I cannot really wrap my head around how the male character in A Condition Called Love Volume 1 by Megumi Morino is okay in any culture. At first, he seems normal enough (we first meet him when he is being dumped by his girlfriend and then reacts to it by going into a seemingly numb, unable to process state), but quickly is too clingy, becomes a stalker, and possessive of the female character who shows him a kindness afterward this public scene. He feels manipulative, until the very end when it seems he finally is being a good boyfriend/friend to our female character. But we still have that scene when the kiss went almost too far and then he passed out in a fever. And what is it with him and these weird fevers anyway? If the rest of the story hadn’t been realistic, I would think he was magical or alien or something like that. Then again, the story is still young.
The issue with our female character is that she feels very stereotypical Japanese. She is polite, demure, and allows herself to “go with other people’s flow.” Also, I never really liked her. She and our male protagonist decide to do a somewhat “fake dating” situation to see why she is not “into” romance and to let her experience having a boyfriend. If this was a Western story we might see her come out as asexual or realize she hasn’t “found the one” yet, which is where things are heading in A Condition Called Love. But things are forced and I never “got into” it. It is not necessarily for Western audiences, yet, it of course could work for them if you have the “manga mindset.” I most likely will not be going onto book two, but glad I tried it. However, if you are interested, volumes one to four are currently available, and volume five is due later in 2023.
And since it is manga that means illustrations are in play. These were terribly stereotypical with the peoples faces, expressions, clothing, standing, heights. And sometimes I was not sure who people were because of their similarities. The black and white, simple style felt as if things were not completed and I was reading a reader copy and not the finished product (which I was). The good news is now I can say I have read a shojo romance manga (and learned what that meant).