I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
Peggy Dean is excited to learn that she's a finalist on the Ross Elliot Show's special episode "Blind Date" contest. The first prize is a date with popular singer John Gale, but Peggy isn't interested in that. As a Media Communications major, she's primarily interested in seeing the set of the show. She's also hoping to win a stereo, the consolation prize given to the two finalists who aren't picked to go on a date with John. She attempts to sabotage her chances of winning by giving off-putting answers to John's questions, but instead she accidentally captures his interest.
The Harlequin Ginger Blossoms line fascinates me. As far as I know, they were all adaptations of 1980's Harlequin novels - Emma Darcy's Blind Date was originally published in 1986, while the Japanese manga adaptation was published in 2003, and the English translation of the manga was published in 2006. Wouldn't it have been a better idea to focus on newer romance novels? Was it a rights thing? The color-coding is also interesting. Harlequin Pink titles were printed in pink ink and aimed at younger readers - no on-page sex. Harlequin Violet titles were printed in violet ink and aimed at older audiences (ages 16 and up, according to my copy). They did have on-page sex, but, at least in the case of Blind Date, the nudity was of the Barbie doll variety (no nipples) and the sex scenes were sensual but not graphic.
I haven't read the novel on which this manga is based, so I can't comment on how accurate of an adaptation it is, although I do think it's interesting that, according to descriptions I've read, John's name in the original book was actually Adam Gale. I wonder why his name was changed while Peggy's remained the same?
The artwork is the best part of Blind Date. The character designs are attractive, everything is easy to follow and uncluttered, characters' facial expressions are well done (I laughed at Peggy's "deer in the headlights" stunned expression upon seeing all of John's gorgeous friends at the musical), and it's just generally a lovely looking volume.
The story...well. The first half is pretty solid. Peggy tries to sabotage herself and fails, and John admits that he chose her because he figured she didn't actually want to be chosen and therefore didn't have an ulterior motives. They eventually had a nice dinner, and he managed to convince her to let him buy her a stereo as an apology, since that's what she'd really wanted.
The problems started when they ended up in bed together. John realized that Peggy was a virgin and went from "oh no, what I have I done?" to "you were just using me so that you could sell your story about your first time with John Gale to the media" in two seconds flat. Both Peggy and I were stunned and wondering what the heck happened.
John eventually realized that he was an idiot and apologized, but that didn't stop him from acting like an idiot the next time they ended up in bed together. When Peggy got up first thing in the morning to go to class, John acted like she was completely rejecting him. Dude, she's a college student - you don't get to tell her which classes she can afford to miss and which she can't. I disliked that it was Peggy who apologized first this time, and not John. Peggy hadn't done anything wrong.
For some reason, Peggy continued to stay with John and even agreed to move in with him. All kinds of warning bells went off in my head when he told her not to worry about work ("I'll lend you money until you graduate"). Considering his behavior up to that point, I fully expected him to either remind her that he was lending her money and therefore deserved all her time any time she wanted to do anything on her own, or get mad at some point and accuse her of using him for his money.
I could see what the ending was going for, but it was missing a few key pieces...like an actual demonstration on John's part that he really understood why Peggy had left. A big bouquet of flowers and an "I love you" didn't cut it.
All in all, this was nice looking and decent for what it was, but there's definitely better romance manga out there.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)