It’s a classic story. Woman meets other woman. Woman falls in love. Other woman shows up a few days later at woman’s restaurant with a husband in tow.
Truly, haven’t we all been there? Well, perhaps not in quite that exact key, but the basic outlines aren’t entirely unfamiliar ones for a lot of queer women, even if schoolteacher Ayano, she of the husband-having, opts to proceed in a somewhat unusual fashion from the point at which her erstwhile one-night stand Akari realizes she’s been party to adultery. Akari, meanwhile, is roughly equal parts hurt and still attracted, before adding bemused to the mix as Ayano insists on telling her straitlaced husband, Wataru, that she’s got a crush on a woman… which leaves us with two characters who Ayano’s managed to render hurt, attracted, and bemused.
If this wasn’t Takako Shimura, you could not have found me within ten feet of this manga, as I simply do not like adultery/cheating stories at all – in fact, I find them actively off-putting for the most part. But, I do like Shimura’s work quite a bit, and this is the first time we’ve gotten anything new in English from her in a while, so I snapped it up despite my misgivings. And while I still don’t dig that it’s all spurred by a moment of infidelity, I like the characters (somewhat despite myself in Ayano’s case!) enough to want to keep reading; it also probably helps that Ayano decides very early on that she can’t keep her husband in the dark, even if she doesn’t tell him everything and even if she does so without genuinely considering what impact that info might have on Wataru. I appreciate that Shimura makes it clear that Wataru is an eminently decent person, as she’s not allowing for the convenient narrative cop-out of a bad spouse; it seems highly likely that the story’s going to deal with the fact that Ayano seems to have married him less out of romantic interest and more from feeling that it was what she was supposed to do, socially.
Seven Seas delivers a good release. As I flipped to the credits for the sake of this review, I saw Jocelyne Allen’s name under ‘Translation’ and thought – ah, well, of course! But I want to also make sure to mention KC Febellon, who is responsible for the cover design, as the adaptation of the logo was handled deftly.
Whether this can all hold together going forward is an open question. This is one of those stories where the reader is going to just have to accept that the characters are going to end up varying degrees of hurt by the end… which I suppose is Shimura’s canon in a nutshell. I’m curious but cautious, not least because Ayano, poorly handled, could become another iteration of ‘bisexuals are duplicitous’, which would be a drag. Next volume’s out in June.