|Kare First Love|
First English edition of Kare First Love as published by Viz Media
|彼 First Love|
|English publisher||Viz Media|
|Original run||March 2002 – August 2004|
Kare First Love (彼 First Love) is a Japanese shōjo manga series by Kaho Miyasaka. It was originally serialized in Shōjo Comic from March 2002 to August 2004, and the individual chapters were published in ten tankōbon volumes by Shogakukan from September 2002 to December 2004. It focuses on the romance between the seemingly plain, shy Karin and the cool Aoi Kiriya, as they experience their first love.
The series is licensed for English-language release in North America by Viz Media, which released the first volume in September 2004 and the last in December 2006. It is also licensed for regional language releases in France by Panini Comics under its Génération Comics imprint, in Spain by Panini Comics, in Germany by Egmont Manga & Anime, in Denmark by Mangismo Danmark and in Sweden by Mangismo Sverige.
Karin Karino, is a bespectacled and shy girl who is riding a bus with three boys from a local boys' only high school. One, Aoi Kiriya, is taking pictures of girls on the bus and the three initially make snide remarks about Karin. When he realizes she is reading a photography by called Blue by a photographer named Yuuji, Kiriya approaches her, but she ignores him. As she moves to leave the bus at her stop, Karin drops her book and Kiriya accidentally lifts Karin's skirt while retrieving it for her. The skirt-lifting, combined with the fact that Kiriya still has his camera in his hand, causes Karin to think that Kiriya is "upskirting" her. Karin hits Kiriya and runs away. At school it is revealed that Karin has low self-esteem, and her "friend", Yuka Ishikawa, exploits Karin for free answers to homework and other favors.
Kiriya waits outside of her school to return the book and Yuka coerces Karin into arranging a group date. Karin arrives in her uniform, having no "date" clothes, so why the others go ahead Kiriya takes her to a clothing store and buys her a new outfit. During the date, Yuka decides she wants Kiriya, but Kiriya is only interested in Karin. When Karin gets drunk, he takes her to his place to sleep it off. In the morning, he is surprised to discover how beautiful Karin is without her glasses, though he also likes her with them on. When Yuka realizes Karin has Kiriya's attention, she grows jealous and begins bullying Karin. Karin's new, and real, friend Nanri alerts Kiriya to what's going on, after Karin stops speaking to him. He puts an end to it and Karin confirms she is attracted to him too.
They begin dating, but their relationship has its ups and down. They fight over Kiriya's pushing Karin to sex, Karin's father disapproves of the relationship and bans Karin from leaving the house for awhile, and Kiriya struggles to deal with his own family having left them to support himself after the death of his big brother.
Written by Kaho Miyasaka, the first chapter of the Kare First Love manga premiered in the March 2002 issue of the bi-monthly magazine Shōjo Comic. New chapters continued running until the August 2004 issue, when the series concluded. The series was published in 10 tankōbon volumes by Shogakukan between July 26, 2002 and December 20, 2004. The fourth and seventh volumes were made available in regular and special editions, with the fourth volume special edition including a postcard, and the seventh including a DVD containing a digital manga. The manga is licensed in North America by Viz Media which released the manga between September 7, 2004 and December 12, 2006. The manga is licensed in France by Panini Comics under its Génération Comics imprint, in Spain by Panini Comics, in Germany by Egmont Manga & Anime, in Denmark by Mangismo Danmark and in Sweden by Mangismo Sverige.
Pioneer Entertainment produced a drama CD, Kare First Love Dramatic Image Album (ドラマティックイメージアルバム「彼」first love), that was released July 23, 2004. The CD includes eight scenes and a bonus track covering the first two volumes of the manga series.
Released September 23, 2004, Kare First Love - Songs And Melodies (彼 first love～ソングス アンド メロディーズ～) is an instrumental CD produced by Momo & Grapes. It features six tracks from Japanese artists Juli and Laynah.
Kare First Love was well-received in Japan, selling more than 1.5 million copies as of July 3, 2004. It sold 3.5 million copies with its 9 tankōbon volumes by May 2006. Animefringe's Patrick King commends the manga's art as "visually pleasing", saying, " I don't think it's on the level of Yuu Watase or Miki Aihara (of Hot Gimmick fame), but [Kaho Miyasaka's] character designs exhibit a life of their own. Comics Worth Reading's Johanna Draper Carlson comments that the manga is unlike many other shōjo manga series, this one doesn’t have many comedy or any fantasy or exaggerated elements. It’s just a straightforward romance demonstrating universal emotions." A later review by Carlson comments on the "recurring motif of a particular song Kiriya's mother used to play for him on the piano", saying that Karin playing the song "it’s almost as though she’s being groomed to take over from his mother in watching out for him. On the one hand, that’s poetic and symbolic of the passing of boy from son to husband; on the other, it’s sort of creepy, that Karin becomes his new little mother, an impression reinforced by the relative lack of romantic elements between the two in this volume." Mania.com's Mike Dungan compares Yuka to Sae from Peach Girl: the friend that's no friend at all. A later review by Mike Dungan commends the character design of Karin, saying, "[Karin]'s quite beautiful, but not in a garish or obvious way. It's the sort of beauty most women have, but never realize it."