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Manga / Lovely Complex

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At 172 cm (about 5'7"), high school student Risa Koizumi is way taller than most other girls. This makes her very self-conscious, which she tries to cover up by acting strong-willed and sarcastic, rarely showing her more sensitive side in public. That her name means "Little Spring"Important!  adds to her problem.

Then she meets Atsushi Otani ("Big Valley"), captain of the basketball club, although he is short for a guy at 156 cm (5'1"). Otani's personality is a bit rough around the edges, so he and Koizumi don't hit it off well at first. Most of the time they try to one-up each other with snide remarks, giving them the reputation of being the high school's "All Hanshin-Kyojin" (referring to a comedy duo with one tall and one short member).

Despite all this they become good friends, since they share the same musical obsessions and zany sense of humor and they promise to help each other out with their crushes. It is only a matter of time then before Koizumi discovers she might feel more for Otani than just friendship. But does he feel the same for her too, since she is way taller than he is?

Lovely Complex is a Romantic Comedy Shoujo manga by Aya Nakahara that was serialized in Bessatsu Margaret from 2001 to 2006. It has been adapted as an anime by Toei Animation that aired in 2007, and a live-action movie starring Ema Fujisawa as Koizumi and Teppei Koike as Otani. The manga also counts with a compilation of extra stories that was published a few years after the original ending of the manga, Love Com D.

Viz Media licensed the manga series in the U.S., while Discotek Media released the anime series as sub-only in 2012.

This series features examples of:

  • Accidental Kiss: Otani passes out from his fever and falls on Koizumi's lips while trying to get a piece of rice out of her hair.
  • Adapted Out: Due to the Compressed Adaptation nature of the anime, this happens to several characters:
    • Koizumi's grandfather, who tries repeatedly to break up Otani and Koizumi in the manga.
    • Abe, the girl who has an unrequited crush on Kohori (he likes Koizumi instead) and also tries to break up Otani and Koizumi so the latter will date Kohori, in a case of I Want My Beloved to Be Happy.
    • Maity's fiancée, Jody, and by extension her father and her wedding to Maity. In the anime, it's just mentioned at one point that he has a fiancée, but her name isn't even given and she's never shown.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: While Otani surely isn't Mr. Sweet most of the time, he is the main target of a variety of girls who fall for him... including Koizumi, who is hardly Miss Sunshine, either. Actually subverted in regards to Koizumi towards Otani. It's only after he skips out on meeting with his ex to spend Christmas with Koizumi and heals her knee wound that she falls for him.
  • Almost Kiss:
    • Happens twice in the manga with Koizumi and Otani. The first time, they're interrupted by Mimi in Otani's room and the second time they are interrupted by Nobu and Nakao while the two are on the bridge after Otani found out he passed his exam. In the anime, though, the second example is subverted, as the kiss actually does happen without interruption.
    • Koizumi and Kohori, though one-sided on the latter's part after he tries to kiss her in her sleep.
  • Angrish: Koizumi slips into this occasionally, when she gets irritated mostly by Otani's comments.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Otani and Koizumi can instantly drop angst, romance, or anything they were doing at the moment they see swimming pools, rickshaws, or Umibouzu.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Despite their tendency to disagree and fight with each other, Otani and Koizumi like each other's company and eventually they get together as a couple.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Koizumi's group of friends. Nobuko represents the Beauty as she is The Fashionista; Chiharu is the Brains, since she is smart compared to her friends; and Koizumi is the Brawn, mostly because she is is very hotblooded and a Fiery Redhead.
  • Beta Couple: Nakao and Nobu are this throughout the entire series. Suzuki and Chiharu (Koizumi's and Otani's respective initial crushes) become this as well once they hook up at the end of the first episode.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Suzuki fails to get into the same college as (sweet, meek, quiet) Chiharu, and seriously considers breaking up with her because he feels insufficient as a boyfriend. When she finds out, she picks up a desk and throws it, just barely missing him. She remains angry enough for a while to involuntarily tear magazines in half whenever she remembers it, too.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Koizumi's birthday is on a day when their town sets off a truly incredible fireworks display. The second time it comes around, Otani brings her 2 things; one is a bunny necklace, since he noticed she likes bunnies; the other is one of these, against a backdrop of the grand finale of the fireworks.
  • Big Little Brother: Koizumi's younger brother is significantly taller than her.
  • Birds of a Feather: this is ultimately what draws Risa and Otani together; they share a great deal of hobbies and personality traits, and this is part of why everyone else expects them to start dating.
  • Bishōnen: Many major male characters qualify. Suzuki, Otani, Haruka, Kohori, but especially Maitake.
  • Bishie Sparkle: Maitake's "magic" causes this.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Both the main female and male trios of friends:
    • Nobu (blonde), Chiharu (brunette), and Koizumi (redhead).
    • Suzuki (blond), Nakao (brown hair), and Otani (redhead).
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: A lot of the humor in the show follows this pattern. Otani and Koizumi are mostly known in their class as a manzai duo (the "All Hanshin-Kyoujin") because they always argue and point out their respective idiocies, even in front of the class. Frequently, Otani acts more like the Boke, with Koizumi as the Tsukkomi.
  • Break Her Heart to Save Her: A variation; Nakao doesn't want Nobu to feel guilty about leaving him to go take care of her grandma in Hokkaido while attending university up there, so he tries to get her to hate him. The plan he comes up with is completely ridiculous and hilarious. It also doesn't work, though that's obviously for the better.
  • Caught on the Jumbotron: In the anime, two characters get caught having a heart-to-heart discussion about their relationship.
  • Class Trip: To Hokkaido in the main characters' junior year, with a very central role to the plot: this is when Koizumi finally gets Otani to realize her feelings for him, and gets rejected the first time.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Happens far too often with Otani, since he is very Oblivious to Love.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The anime series compressed all of the manga up until after Otani's entrance exam into 24 episodes, leaving out or changing some events that happened in the manga. Fortunately, with all the changes and the pace between episodes, it doesn't affect the story too much.
  • Corner of Woe: Haruka is a frequent occupant when Koizumi rejects him or puts him down.
  • Creator Cameo: The stylist who works with Mimi and helps Koizumi dress up in the final episode is called Nakahara, after Aya Nakahara, the series' author.
  • Dynamic Entry: Nobu frequently does this to Koizumi, usually involving a knee to the kidneys. Ouch.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Koizumi has to do this over, AND over, AND over, AND over again until things go right.
  • Effortless Amazonian Lift: Carrying a guy who struggles to escape to a changing room? Not a problem for Koizumi.
  • Engrish: A few characters speak it constantly.
    • Otani has a big Epic Fail moment when he said he and Koizumi were finished "folever".
  • Everyone Can See It: Otani and Koizumi are such a good fit for each other, all of their friends ship them together from the start of high school.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: There's a moment where Koizumi imagines this would've happened, had she and Otani been of "normal" height.
  • Forceful Kiss: Koizumi gives one to Otani in rage after he accidentally steals her first kiss while sick. Later, Otani does this to Koizumi when confessing to her.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Initially, Koizumi and Otani think they first met when they were both late to the opening ceremony in freshman year. However, in Love Com D, upon bumping into the mutual friend who got them into Umibozo, they start reminiscing about their first concerts. They soon realize they're describing the same concert, where Otani lent Risa his shoes after one of hers was ruined.
  • Fun T-Shirt: In the prequel/Where Are They Now collection of stories called Love Com D, Yoshi is seen wearing a shirt with a very interesting NSFW phrase on it. Needless to say, it was removed by Viz for English-speaking readers.
  • Gaussian Man: Maity, when introduced in the anime.
  • Get Ahold Of Yourself Man: Koizumi's famous "Ahou Punch" that she delivers to Otani when he's feeling depressed.
  • Gratuitous English: Once Otani proclaims that he is breaking up with Koizumi, he punctuates that it's FOLEVER.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany:
    • After Seiko starts flirting with Otani, Koizumi begins feeling jealous, which gets her to start admitting she likes Otani.
    • Much later on, though Koizumi's not actually going out with someone else, Maity-sensei takes it upon himself to make Otani jealous, getting him to finally realize he likes Koizumi. It's the Operation: Jealousy variation. Though in a twist of it, it is the rival and not the object of affection implanting it.
  • Headbutt of Love: Koizumi and Otani do this after Otani passes his entrance exam.
  • Height Angst: A large part of the series focus on the fact that Otani and Koizumi suffer (especially on the romance aspect of their lives), because of their respective heights (as Otani is much shorter than the average Japanese man, and Koizumi is much taller than the average Japanese woman). That's part of the reason why they get along very well, and why several characters think they are fit for each other.
  • Identical Stranger: Chiharu Tanaka, one of Koizumi's two best friends, looks almost exactly like Mayu Kanzaki, Otani's ex-girlfriend, with the only major difference in appearance being their hair colors. Koizumi and the others speculate that this is the reason for Otani's initial attraction to Chiharu.
  • Imagine Spot: Used very often in the anime.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Chiharu and Suzuki to Otani and Koizumi. They both start talking about how comfortable they are with the main characters, but they accidentally offend them. They both state that since Otani and Koizumi are about the same height as their Romantic False Lead, they don't see them as a boy or a girl, respectively. These comments almost cause them to get a Heroic BSoD.
  • Insult of Endearment: Koizumi and Otani refer to each other as "midget" and "amazon", or "totem pole" respectively. Later, after the Relationship Upgrade, they still occasionally call each other this, though in a considerably softer manner than before.
  • Instant Fan Club: Koizumi starts one for Maitake as soon as he comes to the school, though mostly as a way to cope with her pain of Otani's rejection and distract herself from him.
  • Ironic Name: This gets lampshaded a few times since it applies to Koizumi and Otani. "Koizumi" means "Little Spring" (when she is actually taller), and "Otani" means "Big Valley" (when he is actually short).
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Abe is in love with Kohori, who is (in turn) in love with Koizumi. Rather than being happy that her rival is preoccupied with Otani, Abe tries to convince Koizumi to date Kohori by trying to start a fight so that she'll break up with Otani and be free.
  • Jerkass: Koizumi's grandfather, "Jii-chan," who gives Otani nothing but hell from the second the two meet, to the point of arranging for a vicious gold-digger to seduce Otani away from Koizumi and break them up. She hits the wrong target, but the fact that he tried is bad enough. Possibly upgrades to Jerk with a Heart of Gold when he reveals that his late wife was even taller than him, and the height disparity caused their relationship a lot of trouble, so he doesn't want to see the same thing happen to Koizumi. Possibly.
  • Kansai Regional Accent: It's noticeable that the series not only plays the dialect completely straight (as an aspect of the region rather than the characters in general, since they all live in Osaka), but that it also plays the character trope completely to the hilt. Aside from the "manzai duo" that the main couple are seen as by their peers, they go to Maido Academy.
  • Karaoke Box: Otani and Koizumi hang out in these together a few times, singing/rapping Umibozu songs.
  • Kimodameshi: The School Festival has one, with Koizumi playing a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Generally, the narration boxes in the manga belong solely to Koizumi's thoughts. However, once in a while, some pop up that seem to belong to Otani... except the "camera" then pulls back to reveal that one of their friends is holding up a sign and a marker.
    Otani: What are you doing?
    Nakao: (holding up a marker and a sign next to Otani's head that says "I'm sorry for being mean to you.") Your true feelings.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Otani and Koizumi. It's why Everyone Can See It.
  • Love Dodecahedron: A variation in that a lot of the branches don't occur or aren't prominent at the same time in the series, but there are a lot of branches throughout:
    • At first, Koizumi likes Suzuki, and Otani likes Chiharu, but Suzuki and Chiharu are both decidedly not interested, and end up falling for and hooking up with each other instead, remaining a couple for the rest of the series.
    • In middle school, Otani and Kanzaki were dating, and he really liked her, but she broke up with him in favor of another boy (who was much taller, further fueling Otani's insecurity about his height). In the present, it's hinted that he has lingering feelings for her (and his friends speculate that his initial interest in Chiharu was because she's an Identical Stranger to Kanzaki), but he repeatedly puts Koizumi's happiness over Kanzaki's. When Kanzaki and her boyfriend briefly break up, she seems to show some interest in getting back together with Otani, to Koizumi's chagrin, but he turns her down, and she later gets back together with her boyfriend.
    • Pretty early on, Koizumi realizes that she likes Otani, and despairs at the fact that he doesn't return the feelings and may still be in love with Kanzaki. After Otani rejects her, she later develops a crush on assistant teacher Maitake "Maity", though it's clear she's still not over Otani. Maity has a fiancée, but he pretends to Otani that he's interested in Koizumi in an Operation: Jealousy attempt to get Otani to realize his own feelings for her.
    • In addition to all of the above, both Otani and Koizumi get a couple of additional kids each who have unrequited feelings for them:
      • Each has an Unlucky Childhood Friend: Haruka for Risa (who has liked her since she defended him from bullies when they were little kids), and Mimi for "A-chan" (she's his neighbor who's grown up with him, and despite being at least three years younger, always hoped that he would fall for her once they got older).
      • Each of them also has a younger kid fall for them: Seiko for Otani (who was initially receptive towards her until he learned that she's Transgender, after which he only saw her as a friend) and Kohori for Koizumi (once she starts working at the same restaurant as him). Meanwhile, Abe has her own unrequited crush on Kohori.
  • Lucky Charms Title: The series is officially titled as "Lovely★Complex" or "Love★Com".
  • Matchmaker Crush: The "matchmaker" part takes place in the first episode when Otani and Koizumi are trying to fix each other up with two of their friends—Otani tries to get Koizumi with Suzuki, and Koizumi tries to get Otani with Chiharu—but Suzuki and Chiharu end up with each other at the end of the episode. The crush part comes later.
  • The Matchmaker:
    • Everyone for Koizumi and Otani, but especially Nobuko.
    • When Kanzaki is (ultimately temporarily) broken up with her boyfriend, Otani's old friends from his middle school basketball team try to get Otani and Kanzaki back together, to Koizumi's dismay, though it ultimately doesn't work.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Koizumi, during several events involving her coworker, Kohori. Later thought of Otani when he spends the night with a gold digger.
  • Noodle People: The tall characters especially, but also the not-so-tall ones. Even Otani looks noodley sometimes.
  • Nosebleed: Compared to his manga and anime counterpart, Suzuki easily nosebleeds each time Chiharu provokes him with erotic thoughts, in the live-action movie.
  • Not What It Looks Like:
    • Otani and Koizumi's first "kiss" was a result of him passing out and falling in front of her face.
    • Otani coincidentally spotting Kohori attempting to kiss Koizumi in her sleep. It's one of the first events to seriously test their relationship.
  • Oblivious to Love: It's truly frightening how hard Otani has to be clubbed across the head with Koizumi's interest. She confesses to him, and he thinks it's a joke. A friend says that, yes, she really meant it, when he responds with "Don't lie." When he wants to know how the guy she loves is like, she describes him perfectly, and he guesses she means another member of the basketball club. It takes her repeating that description and saying, "He's in here," when they're both in a room alone together, and he still doesn't get it until he's had a good long think about what she's said.
  • One Head Taller: Koizumi and Otani. Though in this case, it's the girl who's taller.
  • Pair the Spares: Inverted. The secondary characters are paired up very quickly, while the main couple struggles to move from friends to dating.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Koizumi deals those to both Otani and Mimi.
  • Romantic False Lead: Chiharu for Otani and Suzuki for Koizumi. This is only at the very beginning of the series, though; Otani and Koizumi are interested in them in the first episode, but it ends with Chiharu and Suzuki pairing off with each other instead.
  • School Festival: One of these occurs in the main characters' junior year. Risa plays a ghost girl in the haunted house.
  • Second Year Protagonist: The series starts with Koizumi and Otani being in their second year of high school. Not long after, they must deal with their future studies.
  • Sexy Man, Instant Harem: Maitake, who looks like he comes straight from an otome game as the main character's love interest. Naturally, he becomes the crush of many of his students, Koizumi included (for a brief time, anyway).
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Both Otani and Koizumi frequently remind their peers that they are not in a relationship, even after Otani has kissed her of his own accord. And after they get the Relationship Upgrade, when Koizumi is asked if Otani is her boyfriend, she says he isn't, because he didn't say they were a couple!
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Otani's and Koizumi's four best friends—Nobu, Chiharu, Nakao, and Suzuki—ship them together very hard, especially Nobu.
    • Maity and Seiko also ship them, despite the latter actually having a crush on Otani herself as well.
    • Otani's old basketball friends from middle school ship him with Kanzaki, since they remember how happy he was with her, and try to get them back together when she's briefly broken up with her boyfriend, though it doesn't work.
  • Ship Sinking: Done quite literally in the first episode with Koizumi's and Otani's crushes.
  • Shōjo Demographic: Though the series tends to make fun of itself more often than most.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the anime, when Koizumi finds Mimi after Mimi confesses her love to Otani, Mimi rises from the ground in a manner very similar to famous Stringy-Haired Ghost Girls of yore, such as Sadako.
  • Sick Episode: Otani gets one, with Koizumi helping him out.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Nakao and Ishihara are usually very lovey-dovey in each others' presence. She pretty much never refers to him by name, either, just calling him "Darling".
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Koizumi has a pretty foul mouth at times, at least to the extent that the manga can get away with.
    Koizumi: Big or small, as long as you have a *** you're a man, right?
    Otani: Girls shouldn't say that word...
    Koizumi: Shut up!
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: The reason Koizumi falls for Otani beyond their similar interests is him skipping out on meeting with his ex (who he presumably hasn't gotten over) to spend Christmas with Koizumi instead.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss:
    • Otani and Koizumi's relationship goes straightly like this (even in their Relationship Upgrade), thanks to their respective Tsundere tendencies.
    • Maity's fiancee, Jody and her father take the cake for this one. They beat each other senseless right before her wedding, as he didn't approve of the man she chose, but treat it as a perfectly normal occurrence and take it more as an expression of their deep love.
  • Sleep Cute: The night before Otani's college entrance exams, everyone in his house comes down with the flu. To avoid catching it himself, Otani spends the night at Koizumi's house. He falls asleep studying, and when Koizumi goes in her room to check on him, she falls asleep next to him.
  • Sparkling Stream of Tears: Risa sports these as she runs away from the classroom after kissing Otani, and then declaring that she gives up on chasing after him. She's so blinded by them that she doesn't notice when she bumps into Maity in the hallway.
  • Staring Kid: Otani attracts a crowd of them after making a scene during the Beach Episode.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Koizumi plays one in the haunted house during the culture festival, and becomes incredibly good at it (due to channeling her resentment towards Otani into her performance), to the point that nobody wants to come unless she's there.
  • There Is Only One Bed: At Maity's wedding, Otani and Koizumi are given a room with a double bed to share. This causes Koizumi a significant amount of angst, though Otani eventually decides to sleep down the hall.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Much to both Koizumi and Otani's irritation. One interesting twist is that short Otani is an athletic basketball player (and later team captain), while tall Koizumi is rather gangly and awkward, and not very good at sports.
  • Totally Radical: The official English translation of the manga by Viz Media includes copious amounts of the word "dude".
  • Trans Tribulations: Averted. Seiko is an epic version, and all the characters are very unbothered by it, after the initial surprise.
  • Tsundere: Koizumi and Otani for each other. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: In the manga, at least, everyone seems to have a new outfit each day. Even in school, where you'd be expecting the usual Japanese high school uniform. Koizumi also has quite a few unique hairstyles.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend:
    • Haruka for Koizumi. He frequently sulks about it.
    • Later in the series, Mimi is revealed to be one for Otani.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Played with, as Otani starts realizing he has feelings for Koizumi just when she's deciding to give up on him for the last time.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: The anime suffers from this a lot. In episode 13, for example, when Koizumi goes to Otani's house when he's sick, his fever spikes and he passes out, falling on her face and accidentally kissing her. Twenty seconds later, she has a flashback about what just happened.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Koizumi and Otani, so much, before either even begins thinking of the other as potentially date-worthy. They fit every single aspect of this trope, up to Otani freaking out because Koizumi thanked him for a drink instead of snarking back at him.
  • Vocal Dissonance: When Seiko's voice changes at the end of her second year, she becomes despondent and refuses to wear girls' clothes because her new deep voice doesn't match with a cute appearance. Lucky for her, it was just a cold and her voice went back to its usual higher tone.
  • When He Smiles: When Chiharu promises Suzuki that she'll wait for him (to enter the same university as her), the latter smiles. Everyone (except Chiharu) remarks how they've never seen him smile before, especially in such an adorable manner.
  • Your Size May Vary: Though their stated heights should result in Koizumi being consistently One Head Taller than Otani, especially given that she often wears small heels (despite complaining about her height), he's often drawn to be at least as tall as her nose, sometimes with the top of his head level with her eyes, even though he's not wearing elevator shoes. The only time their heights are truly as exaggerated as they should be is when it would be conveniently hilarious or relevant to the plot - for example, Otani needing to stand a step or two higher on a staircase in order to kiss Koizumi.