The rom-com genre has been with us ever since the dawn of time. Yet, nowadays, hardly does it ever present something unique. Over the years, we have seen countless harems and love triangles that have had the same basic and repetitive formula. Only a few of those were able to stand out amongst many, such as Oregairu with its unique protagonist and narrative. That’s where Who says I can’t have a RomCom in real life?, or Rabudame for short, comes in – a title used to mock and use the past knowledge of romances. By featuring meta commentary on the rom-com genre, it breaks the 4th wall and mocks the repetitive tropes while seemingly being one itself.
It centers around Kouhei Nagasaka, a young boy who really loves rom-coms and wishes to make one in reality. Unlike any of his idols, he does not have a childhood friend, a mysterious senpai, or a girl living next door that could spark a rom-com life in his world. That is why he decides to remake reality from the ground up and create his dream romance comedy life. He makes a perfect plan consisting of a confession straight out of a rom-com which, to his surprise, unfortunately falls flat.
However, all is not lost as this botched attempt leads to him meeting the female protagonist, Ayano Uenohara, who discovers his plan to make a rom-com real. Being reluctant at first, Ayano is eventually bought over by Kouhei’s stupidity and agrees to become his accomplice. Throughout the novel, these two have a fantastic chemistry and their interactions are incredibly fun to follow.
The protagonist is notoriously trying to create a “cast” for his perfect rom-com and evaluates people based on his preferences, giving them roles unbefitting them. The cute girl in his class gets the role of the “Main Heroine”. The popular, sporty guy gets the “Best Friend Character”. The beautiful upperclassman is the “Senpai Heroine”, and so on.
On the other hand – to contrast Kouhei’s out of place thinking, the female lead Ayano has a very grounded and real approach. She is someone who does not fit in any of the roles and serves as the logical one, being realistic. At the end of the day, the “cast” that Kouhei chooses are only humans and Kouhei cannot puppet them as if they were characters from a rom-com.
The series is constantly breaking the 4th wall, be it through the use of the narrative or the mocking of tropes. Nothing ever works the way Kouhei intends them to, and his overthinking nature does not help his cause either. Who’s ever heard of a confession without a Girl’s Side interlude beforehand? Where’s the dramatic backstory that would start some drama?
There are also references to many popular rom-coms that inspired the author. Kouhei is constantly making references to other contemporary, genre-defining rom-coms, such as Chitose-kun Is in the Ramune Bottle and Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki.
Rabudame is a meta commentary on the rom-com genre which mocks the repetitive formula and surprises the readers. Its characters, while being fictional, retain the soul of a real being. Through the use of breaking the 4th wall, it feels like a parody despite not strictly being one. It is a promising title that fans of the rom-com genre would surely find compelling and refreshing to read. I do hope it will get an official English license at some point in the near future.
All images: Author’s Twitter
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