These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: Red String
Angst? What Angst?: By the end of the comic, nobody takes any serious events at face value. Kazuo's suicide? Nobody gives a crap, even the girl who walked in on him. Reika dumps Eiji over a pregnancy scare? They're fine after a simple conversation. Kazuo and Makoto have a fight where Makoto throws Kazuo's abusive home and suicide in his face? Kazuo is mere hours later completely fine with Miharu blowing him off for good for the guy.
Broken Base - Makoto was initially an extremely popular alternative to Kazuo after Kazuo broke Miharu's heart. However, multiple instances of him being extremely possessive of Miharu, combined with an overall lack of apparent flaws, his earlier instances of basically stalking and romantic pursuits of Miharu when both of them were engaged to different people and in spite of Miharu being so upset that she started hiding from him, and later basically getting Miharu through no actual effort of his own beyond Miharu finally realizing he was "perfect," caused his popularity to nosedive with a growingly vocal section of the fanbase. This heated up by the end of Chapter 50 when he dragged Miharu away from Kazuo because Kazuo was being too close to Miharu for his comfort, yelled at her, and yet received no dressing down or repercussions for his behavior (Miharu, in fact, had to apologize to him due to plot contrivances) or even the acknowledgement of his blatant hypocrisy towards Kazuo vs. how he never respected Kazuo during the entire time he was engaged to Miharu. Miharu later chose her relationship with Makoto as being more important than the financial future of her family because after three whole months of dating, they were "too serious." It didn't get much better when in Chapter 52, Makoto, insecure about his relationship and fearful of Kazuo, secretly confronted him at work, threw his suicide attempt and troubled home life in his face as reasons why he wasn't good enough for Miharu, and then suddenly the story took pity on him when Kazuo rightly pointed out his insecurity was the only reason this was happening. He then proceeds to make a huge decision (resigning from Ogawa-ya) without consulting Miharu about it and then springs upon her that he's leaving and wants her to leave with him. He makes the same offer Kazuo made to her, thinking that she will obviously pick him. Mind you, due to his own stupidity, he now has no income. In spite of all this, Makoto still has a dedicated fandom who feel he sufficiently reformed himself and is getting a bum rap for actions that are getting blown out of proportion.
Kazuo swings wildly back and forth in the eyes of fans. After he broke up with Miharu, the bonfires were started and most of the fans openly declared their support for Makoto taking her. After his suicide attempt and his attempts to restart his life, which also coincided with Makoto's previously mentioned issues becoming increasingly apparent, the tables began to turn for some, but others felt he was being too casual with Miharu and feel he shouldn't even be allowed to be friends with her let alone ever be given a chance to date her again due to how much he hurt her on the break up. That and his "akwardness" often comes off as "stalkery."
Reika is either someone the readership cares for because of her endless trials and struggles in facing a rather harsh life, or a character the readership wants to grow up, stop crying, and learn some empathy for other people. The fact that her final story arc had her catch the Conflict Ball and once again completely lash out and hurt someone, this time Eiji, and the resolution was Eiji apologizing to her and immediately forgiving her, left her story arc with a rather bitter taste for some of the readership.
The ending proved...polarizing. Even setting aside the obvious shipping, the fan base essentially split over whether they felt it was too rushed and thrown together or just right for the story. The subsequent epilogue that was written almost at the last minute and intended to wrap up the dangling plot threads from Kazuo's storylines caused similar contention, with some at least being happy his plotline was resolved and he has completely moved on from his first relationship, has a new flame and career, his mother has left her abusive husband, and Kazuo doesn't hold ill will towards his father, and others being dissatisfied with the breakneck pacing as well as Kenta being Easily Forgiven in the final published page for his years of terrorizing his family. Furthermore, even many of Makoto's fans expressed disappointment in the lack of any meaningful character development or proper resolution, let alone how bizarrely paced his total victory came out to be.
Creator's Pet: Yosue Makoto originated as an obvious antagonist, but evolved into this, sidelining many other plots and relationships as the comic progressed. Makoto's poorly-written final victory squarely cements his status as this. On top of that, the author frequently defended the character and in at least one interview declared him her favorite character. Within the story itself, numerous people, including those that should realistically be offended by his behavior (such as Karen or Eiji) constantly engage in Character Shilling to either encourage him further or handwave issues with his plotline.
Crowning Moment of Awesome - Kikuko of all people, in Chapter 32, delivering the smack down to Kazuo that the fans were craving for months. And she did it again in Chapter 38.
Crowning Moment of Heartwarming - Quite a few. In Sidestory 2, for example, after Reika gets accused of sleeping with a boy she was dating and watches her parents break up, Miharu changes schools with her before going with Reika to get their hair dyed and completely altered to give her confidence in her new environment. D'aww...
Designated Hero: Yosue Makoto, yet again. After doing consciously selfish acts throughout the comic, such as cheating on Karen, casually dismissing a man's mental illness, being overly possessive of his girlfriend and making dumbass decisions that he is rewarded for, we are meant to see him as the true hero of the story.
Miharu ultimately devolves into this. At the start of the story, all she has plans to do in life is eat and become a wife. At the end of the comic, all that's changed is the guy she's going to marry. A common complaint of the ending plotlines in the comic is that Miharu becomes such an empty vessel that she doesn't even bother to express any of her own opinions anymore. She only exists to be Makoto's girlfriend and to let him make choices for her. Even the choice she has to make at the end of the comic is pretty much already made for her without her actually having to take the actions expected of an active protagonist. This ends up nullifying most of her storylines or making her out to be a very shallow and rude person - her supposed "bravery" and "spunkiness" comes off as her being a bratty teenager that doesn't care about other people's feelings and screws around so much at school that she gets kicked out for her failing grades and pointless antagonism. That and her complete refusal to actually talk to her parents about her relationship with Makoto, even when they point out that her haphazard attitude could have larger repurcussions for both Ogawa families.
Ensemble Darkhorse - Despite Kikuko's initially rough introduction as a spoiled rich brat, she quickly gained fans after she was the only one to call out Kazuo plainly in Chapter 32. Since then pretty much anything she does is heralded with cheers, even though she still acts like a spoiled rich brat the rest of the time.
Genki looks like he's becoming one as of late after helping to pull Kazuo out of his self loathing.
Fuuko's new love and friends in Tokyo were supposed to be very limited characters, mostly rounding out Fuuko's side story. The author and the fans liked them so much, they've become a fully developed plot line.
Esoteric Happy Ending: The entire ending of Red String can be summed up with this. We're supposed to think that Miharu and Makoto being together/engaged is a great, wonderful thing and there is nothing wrong with it. But what will they do for income? Where will they live? What happens if Miharu get pregnant? What are their long-term goals? Makoto just threw away a very good job just to be with her, which many fans considered to be a stupid move. Especially given that he just quit the restaurant Miharu's family owned, costing them a great deal of time and investment in their training of him...and now he's marrying into their family anyway, which means he screwed over his future in-laws. Given they didn't seem that happy with Miharu's marriage announcement, are we supposed to believe they're going to be all that supportive of either of them? Adding to that, what happens when Makoto's savings runs out? Will he/they sponge off his parents from then on out? Reika and Eiji don't seem to have really resolved anything or grown from their experiences, only confirming (in the eyes of fans) that Reika will continue to act immaturely and Eiji will have to constantly be in damage control mode.
Pretending to be someone's friend just so you can get closer to her and hope that she sees you romantically somewhere down the line is okay, because you'll get rewarded in the end
A four month old relationship that consists mostly of making out, dry-humping, sexting and avoiding any and all complications is more worthy than an actually serious year long marriage engagement that had both parties doing other things than ogling one another.
You can treat other people badly because of your low self-esteem over and over again and not get any comeuppance from anyone.
Not having any other interests or desires other than dating a girl isn't a bad thing; it's romantic.
Growing up in an abusive home really does make you a pathetic, weak person and you're better off isolated where you can't hurt people.
Accepting a marriage proposal from a boy that you, in reality, don't know much about isn't a bad idea in the slightest.
Your happiness in your love life trumps the financial future of your own family.
Why bother being friends with your awkward loser of an ex when you have a flawless, personality-free new boyfriend to obsess over?
If you've finally worked up the courage to leave an abusive situation and start a new life, you should unquestioningly welcome your former abuser back into your life the second they show up on your doorstep and look sad.
Memetic Mutation - A panel of an angry Genki saying "Bullcrap" is starting to morph into this. This also extends to drawing Big Ol' Eyebrows on other characters while inserting the same caption into the panel.
A number of posters want Kenta devoured by a bear.
FLIRTY. GOOFBALL. (context: When Karen returns for a grand total of three pages just to have her promptly placed on a bus again, Miharu confesses to her that she and Makoto have been dating. Instead of being confused by this or even asking her what she is seeing in him, Karen immediately jumps on the Mx M ship and calls him a flirty goofball. Many fans pointed out that Karen, though it's good she isn't holding a grudge, should realistically not be that supportive/handwave-y of either Makoto or their dating. Because of this the meme grew from spite at the lack of realism.)
Seasonal Rot - The entire final year of the comic saw previously in-progress character storylines drop out entirely or get only simple one-page resolutions. It was also marred by erratic drops in art quality, and to some fans, unnecessary and pointless drama with certain characters that contributed nothing to their arcs. This was partially due to Gina's second pregnancy, which she decided meant she needed to have the entire series completed by August of 2013, partially due to her eagerness to start a new series after the pregnancy was over, and partially due to Gina having taken on multiple additional projects which all showed more effort on the art and storytelling than Red String did. In early July, Gina even announced that the full ending to the comic would only be available in a paid Red String volume released well after the comic was completed online - leading to the online run having an ending where suddenly a previously ignored love triangle became the only focus of the comic. In addition, as there were only 15 pages left at the time of the announcement, that love triangle became extremely rushed and unfocused, with plot developments happening instantly and with no reason. Couple this with the Creator's Pet evolution of Makoto, and Kazuo, who was literally one of the main characters for the first eight years, getting a rushed and sloppy epilog after the main storyline was resolved, and the entire ending left a lot of folks with a very bitter taste in their mouths.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: It's a webcomic with a shoujo bent and a love triangle. Miharu and Kazuo (aka MxK) and Miharu and Makoto (MxM) fans regularly line up and go to war. There's an additional faction that would rather see both the male leads sod off and Miharu end the story single. This later morphed into a running joke that Miharu should drop both the guys and spend a night with a bag of donuts instead, also known as "Miharu x Donuts."
Miharu has made her decision: Makoto.
Strangled by the Red String: Makoto never really gives any reason why he is so obsessed with dating Miharu. The only time we are given insight to this is that he fell in love with her photograph before ever meeting her and the rest of the comic is him basically refusing to leave her alone. Miharu basically falls for him because the story implies she's supposed to, then never really spends any time on developing them as a couple. It's just Makoto doing things like freaking out about losing her and making all her decisions for her and Miharu apologizing to him when he instigates conflicts. Yet even Miharu, after a whole four months of dating him, feels they're in a "serious" relationship in spite of them doing nothing more significant as a couple than sexting and feeling each other up. She ultimately proclaims that Kazuo was just her "first love" and her "red string" is now leading her to Makoto. After this becomes the closest either have had to an actual conversation in their relationship, Makoto immediately proposes marriage and Miharu accepts.
Strawman Has a Point: While Kazuo is portrayed as being in the wrong when he earlier complains about Makoto being a terrible person and later points out to Makoto that he's had an easy life and never had to work for anything, he's dead right. Makoto is a terrible boyfriend and had no respect for Miharu, Kazuo, or his old fiance Karen when the engagements were still active. Furthermore, despite Makoto's complaint that he's "worked hard", Kazuo is dead right - Makoto is never actually shown working for anything in the comic. His parents or Miharu's parents do everything for him. Even Makoto's resolution to his dilemma that is supposed to show Makoto is in fact a great person is to just call his parents and have them solve his problem for him. We are intended to think Makoto has made a noble, difficult sacrifice, but he came out in a better position instead. Kazuo is completely right that Makoto lives a charmed, easy life, and he's right to be upset.
And of course, the reason he makes such a low blow to Makoto in the first place is because Makoto has snuck behind his girlfriend's back to confront him and accused Kazuo of being a puppet of his parents and a weak person. Makoto knows that Kazuo had a physically and emotionally abusive homelife and he was there when Kazuo tried to kill himself. We are expected to sympathize with Makoto when he's literally throwing his charmed life in Kazuo's face, making him defensive enough to call out Makoto in the first place.
As much as fans liked seeing Kikuko chew out Kazuo, he was actually right to be angry with both her and Miharu at the time. Miharu's plan for "helping him" with his abusive father was to convince Kikuko to pretend she was in love with him in order to...win cooking contests. Since Kazuo winning a cooking contest would not solve the problems he was having at home. The implication that Miharu thoguht Kazuo just needed to buck up and choose his own path is her straight up blaming Kazuo for crumbling in the face of years of abuse. So in reality, Kazuo snapping at her upon uncovering the entire charade is fully justified - it's actually downright offensive for her to emotionally manipulate him from the shadows. And all for something that only really served to make Miharu feel better about herself and would not help Kazuo. Miharu never, ever apologizes to him for making light of his problem or having such a simplistically naive outlook on real life. The closest she comes is freaking out to Makoto after Kazuo's suicide attempt - but the story implies she's being too hard on herself and Makoto assures her she was wrong. Then again...it's Makoto...
Suetiful All Along: Oh Makoto. No matter how many times the story tries to convince us that you have unfeeling parents, a rough love life, and lose everything you love because you're "self-sacrificing", that doesn't change the fact that your parents are fabulously wealthy and do everything in their power to make you happy and support you, women are constantly falling at your feet praising your looks and personality, and you're never asked to make any kind of sacrifice in your life that would legitimately put you out in favor of another person's happiness.
The Scrappy: Makoto has become this to a large portion of the fanbase, especially in light of the final chapter. His lack of any real character growth contributed to a majority of the forum disliking him, alongside his jealousy, opportunism, possessiveness and having things handed to him without working for it. Safely to say, almost no one was pleased with how Red String constantly made him up to be someone he wasn't: a good person.
The Woobie - Reika attracts an insane amount of romantic tragedy in her story lines, though this seems to have finally abated once she and Eiji finally hooked up. Of course, now that she's decided to visit her father, she's found out that he's already remarried, and has a child old enough to be from around the time of the divorce (with another one on the way) and she was an unplanned pregnancy. Ouch.
They Just Didn't Care - Many fans have theorized that the sudden Seasonal Rot that made up the last two years of the comic's run, with the awful storytelling, broken characterizations and terrible art was due to the author losing interest and wanting to get on with other projects.