Older Man’s First Love VR Review • Anime UK News

Kodansha’s vertical footprint is increasingly known for bringing variety to the manga market, much the same way the company did before Kodansha reduced them to just one label. More recently, the imprint has hosted manga by Shuzo Oshimi and works that focus on life’s hardships like Sensei’s White Liebut today we’re here to look at something quite different – An older man’s first VR love.

The story follows Naoki, a 40-year-old man who enjoys spending his days in a virtual reality world playing his adorable female avatar. One day while minding his own business, he is approached by a player called Honami, who uses a scantily clad female avatar and chases after Naoki without even introducing himself!

Much to Naoki’s relief, he quickly finds out that Honami is merely a newbie to the VR world and has no idea how to properly control his character, or a microphone to speak to Naoki properly. After Honami shows her appreciation for the realm Naoki likes to spend his time in, our protagonist decides that maybe it’s not so bad to teach Honami how this world works and show them before. it is unfortunately closed due to the low number of people visiting.

As the two reunite day after day, they become first friends and then lovers, although they have never actually met. But that changes when Honami suddenly reveals that they may no longer be able to visit the VR world due to having to undergo surgery. Naoki is obviously heartbroken over this but is determined not to let this be the end of their relationship and searches for Honami in the real world.

In the afterword to this volume, mangaka Violence Tomoko admits that the point where Naoki and Honami meet in real life is where the story originally ended, but when assembling the final book, they added a part 2. Part 1 ends with chapter 5, which means that part 2 is an important part of the book containing eight more chapters!

Part 2 sees us spending more time in the real world and also focuses on Honami’s grandson, Aoi. With a long weekend ahead, Aoi’s mother encourages him to go visit Honami – but when he arrives, he meets Naoki and is surprised to find out what kind of relationship Naoki and Honami have!

If there is one thing that can be said about An Older Man’s First VR Love is that this manga is a love story that transcends genres. In the game, our main characters all play as female avatars and they don’t know or care about the gender of their real-life companion. Even after Naoki and Honami meet in the real world, neither of them cares that they’re both guys – which is refreshing!

It’s also nice to have that contrast between the VR world and the real world. With the introduction of Aoi, the story begins to deal with Naoki and Honami being comfortable in their relationship but worrying about how coming out as gay would affect their work and family relationships.

The downside of Violence Tomoko choosing to add Part 2 after the original story ended is that it feels disconnected from the first half, even while naturally continuing the same story. It may also be because we introduced a new character so far into the narrative, but I think the root of the problem is that the first half was largely a happy story while the second half is more melancholic. They just don’t go together very well, and I almost wish they were two separate volumes, as a definite break between them would have helped.

It’s not helped by the fact that the artwork is much more suited to the virtual world than real life. Violence Tomoko tends to use a lot of shading and has thick lines, which works for the more stereotypical video game designs of the two female avatars, but looks odd away from that frame.

As previously mentioned, An Older Man’s First VR Love comes to the West thanks to Kodansha via Vertical Printing and has been translated by David Musto. The translation reads well with no issues to note. This version also includes a color page, which is always nice to see, and I think the mangaka’s work really appears in color as opposed to black and white.

Overall, like many vertical titles lately, An Older Man’s First VR Love is a mixed bag. The second half feels disconnected from the first half, which I think many readers will struggle with. But I like the messages the author is trying to convey and it’s rare to find LGBT+ series with an older couple, so if you’re looking for something like this, it definitely fits the bill.

A free preview can be read at Kodansha’s website here.

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