Last time in Yoko Nogiri’s Love in Focus, the love triangle between Mako, Kei, and Mitsura got all the more complicated. After seeing the other two share an umbrella Kei grew jealous and made his move, telling Mako how he felt about her. But how does the story play out from there? Is the series finale good?
Visually this volume is a joy to look at. The nature imagery is lovely and there’s an abundance of well-detailed sky backgrounds. The use of geometric figures to evoke mood is also effective, with various shards and shapes ascending and descending at pivotal moments. Then you have the page compositions which always feel nice and open without ever being too decompressed. Nogiri does a great job creating balanced layouts whose elements lead the viewer’s eye along subtly and naturally. The manga’s shading also continues to be stellar, effectively adding depth while utilizing stippling that coheres well with the rest of the art’s geometric aesthetic. And, of course, you have the characters’ facial expressions which perfectly convey both their subtle and less guarded emotions.
One of this volume’s main narrative focuses is Mitsura confronting the sources of his trauma and making personal changes as a result. On the whole, this arc is enjoyable. The dialogue here is well-written and Mitsura’s actions make sense given his history and the impression of him that’s been built up thus far. The acknowledgement of how Mako has affected him is especially good. With that said, this arc doesn’t feel as impactful as it could have. Naturally we needed to see what Mitsura’s neuroses are like in the present before there could be a strong story about his growth, but having virtually the entirety of his changes take place within a single volume makes the whole ordeal feel rushed.
It’s also noteworthy that a major plot event in his arc only gets relayed to Mako rather than receiving actual page-time. Not getting to see Mitsura’s reactions in real time robs the events of some potency. Given the nature of what transpires this wouldn’t necessarily be a big deal if the rest of the arc felt more properly built up, but as previously mentioned the whole thing is just too rushed.
Then you have the arcs of Mako’s non-platonic relationships with both Mitsura and Kei. Again, the dialogue is very well-written and the characters’ personalities shine. The scenes between Mako and Kei are especially good. Nogiri believably depicts awkward interactions between high schoolers, including both moments of sincerity and selfishness. By and large Nogiri shows more than she tells, letting us see the characters as they are. My main qualm with how the romance plots turn out is simply that Mako herself seems like a secondary concern despite being the main protagonist. Ultimately, both of her romantic interests have more fleshed out character arcs than she does.
Overall, Love in Focus Vol. 3 is a good conclusion to the series. The artwork is great and there’s a lot of good dialogue and character development. With that said there are also some pacing issues and it’s disappointing that Mako herself doesn’t receive as much focus as either of the boys. Nonetheless, this was a cute series that I enjoyed from beginning to end.