Image source: アニメ｢恋愛暴君｣公式☆アニメ放送中！ on Twitter
Love Tyrant tells the manga editor inside me, “Yes! I can feel these characters. This is series is going to be a hit.”
Before coming to Anime Now!, I was a manga editor for a manga publishing company here in Japan. While the anime Bakuman does a fair job in portraying the job, the nitty-gritty is far different. Lots of meetings, checking manuscripts, talking to the printers, looking over contest entries, and talking to the authors about the next chapter of their series—among many other tasks. It’s the last item (talking with author), though, that makes editing manga very interesting. Editors work hand-in-hand with the authors to make a series. But all the editor does is bring out the ideas sleeping inside the author. And for me, I can almost see the editor talking with the author of Love Tyrant while I watch the series.
Image source: アニメ｢恋愛暴君｣公式☆アニメ放送中！ on Twitter
Love Tyrant follows the love square between the boy Seiji Aino, his crush Akane Hiyama, Akane’s sister Yuzu Kichougasaki, and the cupid Guri. The four are bonded by the power of Guri’s “Kiss Note,” a notebook with the power to make couples. But, if Guri doesn’t keep making couples, all four will be sent to hell. Together, they have to make couples while navigating their love square.
There are two very important things manga editors learn when they are novices: 1) Understand the characters and 2) The characters move the story. Love Tyrant does both of these so well it literally had me screaming in Japanese, “Kyara ga tatteiru” (literally, “The characters are standing”) from the first episode. And it’s not that difficult to see why the characters are so engrossing: They have personalities we can easily understand.
— アニメ｢恋愛暴君｣公式☆アニメ放送中！ (@boukun_PR) May 6, 2017
Making a character connect boils down to understanding how the characters will act in every situation they’re placed in. In Love Tyrant, Akane the prefect example of this. Her love of the protagonist Seiji is far beyond that of a normal person. So, when Akane is with Seiji, she shows extreme affection towards him. If Seiji shows an inkling of talking to another girl—let alone kissing Guri—it’s stabby time. Thus, we know in most situations Akane will either be stabbing Seiji or Guri because they are together so often. Simple, easy to understand, and can be used as a humorous foil in Love Tyrant.
The fifth episode actually shows us a situation where Akane’s extreme love and jealousy are on display. Seiji’s heart has stopped and Guri suggests he’ll wake up if someone who loves him kisses him. When we hear this, it’s easy to see Akane going in for the kiss first. And low and behold, she does—for 15 minutes. Yet, when Akane’s kiss doesn’t revive Seiji, Guri takes a chance at kissing him as well. Since we know Akane’s character, the next scene writes itself (stabby-stabby).
It’s predictable but no less enjoyable. As long as the characters act “in character,” creating a scene the audience will love is easy.
But, but there is a bit more to be gleaned from perspective of a manga editor. Love Tyrant is, at its core, a rom-com that slides towards drama in the middle episodes. This means as a manga editor we now have to envision how the characters function not in a comedy setting but in a dramatic one. But, since the characters in Love Tyrant are comedic in nature, you might expect that they’d act comically, even in a dramatic situation. Yet, that’s not always the best course of action. The seventh episode is a great case study for understanding how the characters function in a dramatic setting.
In the seventh episode Guri is on a date with handsome man. For the most part she’s enjoying herself, but constantly thinking of Seiji. The comedy is very restrained by comparison the rest of the series, but her actions are what you’d expect from her. The moment she’s introduced to the man, the first words out of her mouth are, “Are you interested in men?”
— アニメ｢恋愛暴君｣公式☆アニメ放送中！ (@boukun_PR) April 13, 2017
Because Guri is a character who loves homoerotica, this is exactly what we expect her to say. However, as the date continues, we see Guri take on a more serious, but still hilarious, persona. This allows the audience to see her her humorous side while mulling over a question that’s near and dear to her heart: what her relationship with Seiji truly is. This is incredibly important because it doesn’t break away from her core concept and give the audience a base for understanding how she acts in dramatic situations. In other words, Guri’s personality is essentially moving the story forward, rather than letting the story dictating her personality.
The manga editor in me says, “Love Tyrant has exactly what it needs. Strong characters.” This is because, no matter what happens in the series, the characters make the story move and the characters move the story because we understand them. That’s why Love Tyrant is a great series.