On the surface, Love Hina and Kitchen Princess are two manga series that don’t seem to have anything in common. Love Hina, written by Ken Akamatsu, consists of 14 volumes and follows the luckless Keitaro as he fails (again) to get accepted into Tokyo University, and ends up as the caretaker for an all-female dormitory. (This series is geared towards older teens and also features a fair amount of fan service.) Kitchen Princess by Natsumi Ando, on the other hand, features 10 volumes that center on Najika, a wonderful cook who has just been accepted to the prestigious Seika Academy. (And since this series sports a cooking theme, there are actual recipes included at the end of each volume!) But both manga have one very prominent theme in common: in each story, the protagonist is searching for someone special from their childhood.
In the case of Love Hina, Keitaro is desperately trying to find his “sandbox love” – the girl that he made a promise to attend Tokyo University with as a child. Similarly, in Kitchen Princess, Najika is searching for her “Flan Prince”: the young boy who rescued her from drowning, then gave her his cup of flan in order to cheer her up. Both characters have been working hard to reconnect with that special someone from their past. But as the stories unfold, complications ensue. Each one finds themselves caught in a love triangle, and once the identities of their childhood soulmates have been discovered, they then face the difficult decision of choosing between who they loved in the past and who they love now.
I find this particular theme in romance stories to be quite fascinating. In a way, it’s a spin off of “destiny versus free will.” Do the characters adhere to their childhood promise (the “destiny” they have bound themselves to) or do they allow their choices and desires as an adult to have a say? And at the end of each story, we find that choice matters. Fate and destiny are powerful forces, but what we want as individuals is important as well.
Of course, to me, “fate/ destiny” are really the will of God underneath all that happens. But just because God is in complete control doesn’t mean that we don’t have a will of our own. Like poker, you can’t choose the cards you are dealt, but you can choose how you play your hand. And you can certainly choose to fight against God’s plan for your life – you’ll probably end up miserable, but the choice is still yours.
From my own novel, The Heart of Everything, we already know what “destiny” lies in store for Jesse and the priestess: how her death leads to his centuries-long search for Emer. But in the origin stories of “Love, Blood and Magic,” we get to see how the individual choices of each character keep them on that path, and how they handle the “fate” God has in store for them.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Until the next time, keep reading!
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I have two passions: reading and writing. You can't write good stories without first reading good stories - that's my theory, anyway. So this is where I'll share with you the depth of those passions: background on what and why I write, as well as talking about the books that I read and how they impact my writing.