Shorty Senpai Falls in Love is Irodori Aqua’s latest release from Yamato Nadeshiko, indie manga author and apparent fan of romantic pairings with major size differences. Their previous series, My Wife is an Oni, features an office worker and his supernaturally tall wife. Shorty Senpai is sort of the reverse. It still features office workers, but both parties are humans this time, and leading lady Natsuki is the one who is much shorter than her counterpart Hiromichi.
Before we begin…
Series with setups like this tend to court controversy, and not without reason. Similar manga and anime like My Senpai is Annoying and My Tiny Senpai, which both feature a romance between a tiny woman and a much taller man, have had to battle accusations of being thinly veiled fuel for sordid fetishes. And when an author does romance with a size difference two series in a row, it’s basically impossible to deny that this is their thing.
Personally, though I think that, at least in the case of these three series, it’s not really worth getting up in arms about. The main pairing in all of them, Shorty Senpai included, involve working adults. Height gaps like the one in Shorty Senpai can and do happen in the real world. But I absolutely understand why it sets off alarm bells for some people. It’s the thing most likely to turn people away from a comic that is otherwise harmless.
That said, I think the biggest issues with this series still tie back to this central conceit in other ways. The fact that there are already two popular series with nearly identical basic plots makes Shorty Senpai feel a little unoriginal. And the single-chapter release format gives Yamato Nadeshiko very little time to set their manga apart from the height gap romance pack. Not much happens in the 27-page span. The characters and their dynamic are introduced. The author sets up a situation for the next chapter where some development seems likely. But it doesn’t happen in chapter 1, which makes it tough to evaluate on its own.
If the art was spectacular it might be easier, but it doesn’t really set itself apart on that front either. It’s generally cute, with decent variety to the character designs. There are also some nicely detailed backgrounds, which I find many shorter doujin manga tend to neglect. But there are some funky anatomy issues too, especially with Hiromichi. His head and arms often look too big for the rest of his body. Yamato Nadeshiko draws the more petite characters very well, but seems to struggle to make Hiromichi look big without making him look out of place.
Ultimately I don’t think Shorty Senpai Falls in Love is bad by any means. But it suffers from being a late entry in an ultra-specific microgenre, and doesn’t really excel at anything. Other entries do the visual aspects, character writing, or comedy better. If you’re as into height gap pairings as Yamato Nadeshiko appears to be, then you may get more mileage out of this than I did. I’d be down to read another chapter or two to see if it can win me over, but this first chapter is total fluff. On its own, there’s just not that much here to recommend.
You can purchase Shorty Senpai Falls in Love from Irodori Aqua.
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Original Story and Art: Yamato Nadeshiko
Translation: Lily M
Lettering: Firadi Pramana
Compilation and Formatting: Zhuchka
Project Manager: Katarina Kunstelj
Quality Assurance: On Takahashi, Zhuchka, Hara Gyatei
A special thank you to Irodori Comics for allowing us the opportunity to review this title. Receiving a review copy has in no way altered the opinions expressed in this article.
- A romance story about adults, which is still relatively rare.
- Good design variety among the handful of characters that are introduced.
- More detailed backgrounds than you typically see in short-form manga.
- Some anatomy issues with the male lead's design.
- Short release format leaves little space for any kind of plot to happen.
- Isn't particularly memorable among the host of other manga with the same weirdly specific hook.
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