I bought this manga on my most recent manga shopping spree back in August and finally got around to reading it, on the bus back and forth to school. I first heard of it while searching for 年の差恋愛漫画のおすすめ (age gap manga recommendations) on google. This title appeared on a list along with several other shounen-genre age gap romance stories, including Akuyome (Ore ga Akuma de Aitsu ga Yome de) and some others I've read but can't remember the names of right now. Generally I very much dislike shounen manga, but I did love Akuyome, and for the sake of my beloved Age Gap Romance I decided to overcome the genre barrier and give this manga a try!
The main character, Nakamoto Rinko is an elementary school student who doesn't have good social skills and lives vicariously through the adventures of the popular, vivacious heroine in her favorite manga, Herusu-chan. Rinko is called "Ringo" (Apple) by her classmates because of her habit of blushing bright red just like an apple at the drop of a hat. One day as she's rushing home from school to read the issue of Macaroni magazine (where Yuuki Rin Rin Story, the manga about Herusu-chan, is published) that was just released that day, she literally runs into a creepy, scruffy-looking guy in his 30's. He picks up the magazine she dropped and remarks that this is the magazine where Yuuki Rin Rin Story is published. Rinko misunderstands that he's trying to steal her copy of the magazine, so she snatches it back and runs home.
A few days later, Rinko is using a sewing machine at the home-ec. room at school to put the finishing touches on her Herusu-chan cosplay outfit because her sewing machine at home broke, when she is caught by two snobby girls in her class. Assuming they are going to make fun of her for having such a 'disgusting' otaku hobby like cosplay, she runs off. Before she knows it, Rinko finds herself standing on a hill overlooking the town. The creepy old dude from before comes up behind her and praises her skill in creating the Herusu-chan outfit and asks her to try it on for him to see. He's really impressed with the attention to detail and tells her he didn't think that the outfit could be replicated in real life (like most 'magical girl' outfits, Herusu-chan's dress defies the laws of physics). Rinko is embarrassed but quickly overcomes it when she realizes that this old guy knows all about her favorite manga. Since she's never been able to reveal her love of manga to anyone before and never met anyone who knows or cares about Yuuki Rin Rin Story, she is super excited to finally have someone to discuss her favorite topic with. She introduces herself and asks his name, and the guy makes a suspicious face and tells her to call him "Oji-san." What he doesn't want her to know is that he is Kobayashikawa, a complete hikikomori and the author of Yuuki Rin Rin Story!
As for my opinion of this manga, I'm glad I bought and read it but it wasn't really my cup of tea. I really can't stand the "moe" art style this and many shounen authors use. The story had some good themes and character development, and there were several humorous scenes (such as the scene in which Rinko asks Oji-san if he's a "lolicon," which her friends explained to her is an adult who likes to befriend kids like them), but it just wasn't the gem that Akuyome was. Still, I do recommend this manga to fans of innocent, non-sexual Age Gap "romance" between really young female and much older male characters. Rinko and Kobayashikawa have a really interesting relationship in that the two of them really are kindred souls who don't really know how to relate to other people so they find companionship, but not contentment, in manga. For both of them it's probably the first time they've ever met someone who really understands them, and because of their relationship both of them grow as people and start to change, just a bit, into more well-rounded human beings who can interact with others. The "romance" aspect really doesn't come into play until the last chapter, but I wouldn't say it ends with a cop-out, either: you see clearly at the end of the manga that they'll be together in a few more years when she's old enough.
I bought my copy of this manga on Amazon Japan but if you don't need a paper copy and don't want to pay shipping, you can also get it in ebook form on Ebook Japan.
If you'd like to read a preview of the manga, here are the sample pages available from Ebook Japan: Link Here!