Love In Focus Vol. 3 by Yoko Nogiri {Manga Review}

Love In Focus Vol. 3 by Yoko NogiriLove In Focus Vol. 3 by Yoko Nogiri (Love In Focus #3)

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Release Date: July 23, 2019

Pages: 192

Available Through The Book Depository: Love In Focus Vol. 3

Cover Illustration: Yoko Nogiri

Summary: Swept along by Kei’s suggestion to give dating a try, Mako struggles to see where she really fits in. Meanwhile, Mitsuru has become distant, and in her attempts to get back the friendship they had, Mako discovers his hidden past. Mako, Kei, and Mitsuru now have to confront their own feelings, and they might get a little lost before they find their true answers…

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Love In Focus comes to an end in this 3rd volume! When Mako first arrived to photography club’s boarding house, she never expected to find a new  muse. Kei, and Mitsuru are navigating their complicated feelings and confronting their past as Mako tries to better understand where her heart is leading her. Balancing the romantic and quiet slice of life moments, this series is ends on a satisfying note!

You know when you finally reach the end of a series and it feels like it ended too soon? That’s exactly how I felt with Love In Focus. Even though it follows typical romance tropes, there’s just something about how it was all executed that had me falling in love with this series. Maybe it was the likable cast, picturesque art style, or layered emotional depth to the characters? Possibly a combo of all of these?

Either way, Love In Focus is a series I’ll always have such positive memories of (despite my critiques) because its a soft, quiet contemporary romance that just captivated me! Its really sweet and I loved following these characters!

This is also the first full manga series I’ve ever completed and although it feels like such an accomplishment I never thought I’d reach the end of Mako’s journey so soon…

Mako decides to confront her childhood friend Kei, even though she’s still conflicted about Mitsuru too. He decides they should have a trial period for their relationship as she’s still swept up in her uncertainty to see how it works out.

However, this also gives Mako time to reflect more on her relationships (both romantic/platonic) between Mitsuru and Kei. While Mako is new to relationships, it is kind of frustrating at points to see her rely so heavily on others opinions about how the relationship should work. It felt like (with Vol. 2) her presence as a character is there, but her development was left to the side just a bit.

Vol. 3 is essentially filled with internal and emotional development to push the story forward, keeping the reader in suspense / wonder as to who Mako will choose! I liked that this volume really filled in the gaps for the mysterious Mitsuru and what led him to end his modeling career.

Another highlight was seeing how Mitsuru not only confronted his past, but finally accepted his feelings for Mako. Kei on the other hand had this selfishness to him as we realize how desperate he is to get Mako to love him. But, it was nice for him to finally accept and even make some changes of his own (learning to move on and confronting his father). Mako herself definitely goes on an emotional journey as well as she tries to better understand how she truly feels.

No spoilers, but I loved how the story came full-circle in a way through the ‘Bonus Short.’

With each volume, I loved that there was always a new element given the spotlight whether it was the characters, writing, or art. With this final volume, the art was beautifully done. Kind of reflecting back to Vol. 1, the way it uses blank space to highlight the passage of time or reflection of emotion has been brilliantly presented throughout the whole series. In a way, that’s kind of the focus of the series and the art reflects that. Whether its been from a focus on a character’s expression, the single panel of scenery that builds the emotional depth of a scene? I loved it with each volume and it was presented in a way unlike any other manga series I’d read before.

There’s always been a subtlety to the emotions of Mako, Kei and Mitsuru too that really adds a whole other layer to them as characters! The art also has some clever, artistic style choices to reflect certain panels as if they were seen through a camera lens.

The paneling is also fantastic! It varies across each page and never feels like it has wasted space. Page 113 which features Mako headed towards a shrine is especially unique and stood out to me!

Though this series will always be memorable to me and easily one of my favorites, I think this volume was definitely rushed and also slow at the same time. While I was unsure at the end of Vol. 2, this last volume makes it more obvious as to who Mako wants to be with. So it felt like Kei was given more backstory in order to stretch out more of his past with Mako. Again, he continued to be my least favorite character at least when it comes to the last couple volumes.

I also felt like Mitsuru’s development happened within the span of like a page? And although he is my favorite character in the series, once we realize how Mako really impacted him I knew everything else was just wrapping up Kei’s story before we finally get to see what happens with Mako and Mitsuru!

Because this last volume is so focused on the main cast, the side characters did feel kind of forgettable too. But overall though, this series just wrapped up on a great note and yet, I’m still sad its over.

I loved following Mako on her journey as a growing photographer and reminising back to the first volume, this series beautifully explores the passion and impact art can have on us. Its also a beautiful series about love and growth!

Love In Focus is wonderful manga series I’m glad I took the time to read! These characters, their emotional journeys, and the beautiful art that expresses it will definitely stay with me! Although it feels like I could tons read more books with Mako and the guys, the series really does wrap up wonderfully 💖

Love In Focus Vol. 3 wonderfully concludes Mako, Kei, and Mitsuru’s journeys! The emotional growth of our main cast, metaphorical artwork, and gripping romantic story makes this volume such a page turner! The Love In Focus Series presents romance through a more quiet, emotional, slice of life narrative that really connects you to its characters! Definitely an underrated manga series that I highly recommend picking up!

Love In Focus Vol. 2 by Yoko Nogiri {Manga Review}

Love In Focus Vol. 2 by Yoko NogiriLove In Focus Vol. 2 by Yoko Nogiri (Love In Focus #2)

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Release Date: May 21, 2019

Pages: 176

Available Through The Book Depository: Love In Focus Vol. 2

Summary: After earning Mitsuru’s trust, Mako’s beginning to get the hang of living in Lens Inn with the high school photo club. Behind the scenes, however, Mako’s best friend Kei warns Mitsuru to keep his distance. This ominous message exposes Kei’s feelings for Mako, but Mitsuru is the only one who knows!

Later, when the club members all go on a field trip together, a sudden downpour strands Mako and Mitsuru. What will the two do?! 

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Love In Focus Vol. 2 is the continuation to the manga series that follows Mako Mochizuki’s new life in Hokkaido when she joins her childhood friend Kei in a photography club! From the focus on its characters, to the blossoming of both quiet and sweet romantic moments, this volume delves more into the emotional sides of the slowly developing love triangle! 

Love In Focus Volume 1 easily became one of my new favorite manga series in the YA Contemporary Romance/slice of life categories, when I read it last year! There was such an attention to characters, where they felt incredibly real: from our passionate photographer Mako, her easy-going friend Kei, to Mako’s new photography muse Mitsu, including everyone else in their boarding house!

The story itself just hit all the perfect notes for a contemporary that still had underlying elements of romance, without making it feel too rushed and while also bringing the main characters and the atmosphere of Love In Focus to life.

There was even a deep exploration to the beauty and impact that art can bring, alongside the wonderful art-style which brought quite a bit of emotion and metaphorical depth to the story.

At the end of Volume 1 however were left with a surprising twist about Mako’s childhood friend, Kei is in love with her and wants Mitsu to stay away!

Where the first volume introduces us to these characters on a deep, emotional and present level, Volume 2 takes its time to delve more into the emotional sides of the main characters and focuses more on the romance as we delve more into the past, specifically from Kei- not only where his love of photography came from, but how he grew up and later realized he was in love with Mako!

I found what made this volume stand out compared to the previous one, was how it managed to deliver interesting developments to both of Mako’s relationships with Kei and Mitsu, while increasing the romantic tension!

Because I absolutely fell in love with Volume 1, I reread it right before delving into this one and just have to say it wasn’t a disappointment, but more of an underwhelmed feeling when I reached the end of Love In Focus Vol. 2…

With the twist from the previous volume, we learn more about Kei’s past all while we begin to see Mako and Mitsu get closer together from going to class and it all gets even more complicated when the photography club decides to spend Golden Week at a club retreat. I just really wish there was more plot threads in this volume because I’ll probably mention this a lot in the review, but our main trio are what make this series SO good! Their interactions, the dialogue, the subtle expressions, they all shine through Mako, Kei, & Mitsu!

There’s more internal dialogue from both Kei & Mitsu, surrounding their complicated feelings for Mako and trust me, I love emotionally-driven stories, but there was just something about it in this volume that made it feel like a different departure from Vol. 1. With a mix of how romantic tropes felt more obvious to me, Mako taking a bit of step back in the story (development wise until the end at least), and including Kei’s backstory (which actually made me like him less in this volume? Which I was NOT expecting because the characters in this series are just so likeable?) overall I felt the pacing of story too was just a lot slower.

Though this series does continue to be a favorite and I will of course be reading Vol. 3, it would have been a much stronger volume for me personally if it was focused more on plot and character progression (and less of a focus on the past). Where this series really shines (aside from other elements) is through the characters, so I was hoping for more of a focus on the complex layers that make them incredibly compelling to follow.

However, I will say that one of the biggest highlights of this volume was the Mako & Mitsu dynamic (1 of my theories is that they’ll be together in Vol. 3, but we’ll see!! 💖).

Nogiri’s art as with the previous volume, just draws you in and is beautiful in many ways! The characters and their subtle expressions allow them to further develop through the art style, which I find is an incredibly unique and captivating element to this series.

Additionally what I love about the backgrounds is how they influence the emotional depth and atmosphere of a scene― they continue to beautifully showcase a depth to the series that weaves its way into many different layers of the story. The choice of nature backgrounds and specific panels that are highlighted with bigger panel space build a beautiful sense of place and emotion unlike any other manga series I’ve read before!

Nearing the end of the story, we delve more into how Mako’s making sense of the complex emotions that literally give her a cold, while also better understanding how she feels about Kei & Mitsuru. I personally really enjoy the love triangle and romance (and all its subtleties) in general throughout this series because as whole it’s our fascinating main characters and their dynamics that make the interesting development of it, so fun to follow!

The writing itself was something I surprisingly paid even more attention to in this volume and what really stood out to me was how metaphorical it was, adding in the symbolism of the panels (maybe that’s just my interpretation?), but I felt both gave a lot of emotional weight to each of the scenes. There’s also a much slower and quieter pace to the plot that does allow for more time to build on our characters in interesting ways! I’m hoping to see a lot of these great elements develop or carry over into the last volume!

There’s also more of a metaphorical and internal depth to the impact of photography, especially for Mako. Alongside that, it was layered into the story in such a beautiful way through the writing.

“…whether the picture comes out well or not, the photo will still be a precious memory…” (110).

As with the previous volume, this one also leaves you wanting to read the next ASAP! I’m sad that Love In Focus will end with Volume 3 because I’ve really grown attached to Mako and her journey, alongside Kei & Mitsu! ❤ So even though I’m very excited to see what happens next, I don’t think I’ll be picking it up right away because I’m just not ready to say goodbye to these characters!

Love In Focus Vol. 2 delves more into the emotional depth of the characters as it follows Mako and the her new life as part of a school’s photography club! The wonderful cast of characters, gripping story and impactful art continue to make this such a dynamic series! This is a pretty underrated manga series and I recommend checking it out for those of you who love contemporary romance and quiet slice of life stories!

Love In Focus Vol. 1 by Yoko Nogiri {Manga Review}

Love In Focus Vol. 1 by Yoko NogiriLove In Focus Vol. 1 by Yoko Nogiri (Love In Focus #1)

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Release Date: March 19, 2019

Pages: 160

Available Through The Book Depository: Love In Focus Vol. 1

Summary: Mako’s always had a passion for photography. When she loses someone dear to her, she clings to her art as a relic of the close relationship she once had…Luckily, her childhood best friend Kei encourages her to come to his high school and join their prestigious photo club. With nothing to lose, Mako grabs her camera and moves into the dorm where Kei and his classmates live. Soon, a fresh take on life, along with a mysterious new muse, begin to come into focus!

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Love In Focus is a great start to a new manga series that really centers on its main characters and introduces the perfect amount of romance! Mako Mochizuki’s passion is in photography, so her best/childhood friend Kei recommends she join their photography club! Now she’s in a new school, boarding house, and starts her new life in Hokkaido, Japan!

Mako and her grandfather were incredibly close! After he passed away, she continued photography, knowing it was because of him she had found her passion.

“I want you to go out there to see all that I can’t…” 

I know this is just the first volume, but I’m absolutely certain this is a manga series that I’ll definitely be continuing. It was absolutely wonderful and I think I’ve found a new favorite series!! (´▽`ʃƪ) ♥♥

Love In Focus just has all the great elements for a contemporary romance/slice of life manga! The main characters are all very well developed and you really get to know the important parts of their backstory, the story flows very well, the romance/friendship develops in a great way, you also get an incredibly introspective view on Mako as a character!

The main characters we focus on in this volume aside from Mako are Kei Akahoshi, her childhood friend who invites her to the boarding house and Mitsu Amemura, who she meets within the first couple pages after taking his picture on accident!

Mitsu surprisingly also lives in the boarding house and Mako not only learns more about him, but finds an interest in him as she discovers he makes for an intriguing photo subject!

As Mako finds more of an interest in him, we see their dynamic develop and we learn why he isn’t a big fan of photography.

Though to some it may seem like a romance/love triangle is obvious, I think it was done in such a great way where you really get to know both Kei & Mitsu and really root for both of them, when it comes to their friendship with Mako!

This is something I only started noticing a lot more recently, but I found the paneling was wonderfully presented. On each page, every panel contributed something to the story whether it was uncovering more about the characters and setting/world, where it felt no space was wasted.

To expand on that, I also found the art style to be very beautiful, especially in terms of the scenery when it became the focal point on the page (I do hope in future volumes more of the nature/city life of Hokkaido is featured). There was one page in particular (I think 124) where the scenery was incredibly beautiful.

Nogiri’s art also wonderfully showcases characters (especially Mako, Kei, & Mitsu’s) subtle expressions. I find its in the character’s expressions for Love In Focus, where their personalities shine and further develop in this volume to make them really well-defined characters!

If your looking for a contemporary manga that really concentrates on the main character and weaves in great development of love and friendship, you’d really enjoy Love In Focus!

Without spoiling, the ending (left me screaming tbh*) but also had me wanting to pick up the next volume right away!

Aside from love and friendship, this first volume also explores grief (lightly, but you can sense its presence throughout the story), alongside the impact art has on us and how it inspires us!

Love In Focus Volume 1 has many highlights and those would have to be the characters (not just the main ones), their introductions, the way the art expresses emotions, and just the overall story really introduces something special!

I really loved this manga and I can’t wait to continue with the series, I loved Mako, Kei, and Mitsu–I’m looking forward to seeing where their story is headed in Love In Focus Vol. 2!

Love In Focus Vol. 1 is a character-driven manga that follows Mako, an avid photographer and her new life in Hokkaido, Japan! This first volume introduces a wonderful cast of characters, exploration of grief, friendship, and a bit of romance! Love In Focus is a series you definitely want to pick up if your looking for a new contemporary, slice of life story to fall in love with!