Monday, January 2, 2023

Even Though We're Adults volume 5 (Manga Review)

A woman with shoulder length dark hair stands sideways looking out at the world over her right shoulder in 3/4 profile
    I'm still not sure what to make of the series "Even Though We're Adults" by Takako Shimura, and the same goes for volume 5. 
    Disclaimer: I love both her series "Sweet Blue Flowers" and "Wandering Son" even though many would call her writing uneven and a bit problematic in ways, and maybe even raise concerns about her legitimacy as a writer not knowing for sure what her personal sexual/gender identity is and whether she has any business writing about LGBTQ characters. I frankly don't care if she is a cis-woman (and I'm not saying Shimura-sensei is, just that it wouldn't matter to me if she was or was not) because I find so much connection with those two series and they are so personally meaningful to me as a trans-lesbian. As I mentioned to an acquaintance once, I like her writing because her characters and stories are messy. They aren't "perfect" LGBTQ spokespeople, their lives don't neatly fit into media and agenda friendly boxes. To me, that's what makes them more real and the complexities of their experiences resonate. 
    But I can't quite figure out if "Even Though We're Adults" rises quite to the heights of those earlier series. 
    As you may know, this focuses on a married young woman who develops a relationship with a single young woman and then needs to decide what on earth to do with that. In the early volumes (light spoilers), Ayano eventually tells her husband about Akari and the three even meet up. This didn't strike me as the way anyone in this situation would handle things. But eventually Ayano does ask her husband for a divorce. 
    However, in volume 5, she still has not told her family exactly what is going on with her husband. They think they're just fighting and that's why Ayano is living with her parents. So, her parents continue to invite her husband over for dinner, again and again, and even forcing things a bit further. Wataru, the husband, even pushes things himself with Ayano in one of the most painful moments I've read in a Shimura-sensei work (I won't give it away). That was a moment that hinted at Shimura-sensei's powers as a writer. That scene felt true to me on many many levels. 
    We also see that despite their attempts at creating space, Ayano and Akari can't stay away from each other. But we don't get much of them together in this volume.
    Interestingly, Volume 5 also spends some time with Eri, Wataru (the husband's) sister, and her emotional/social struggles as well as relationship with her mom. I find that the mom is well written, particularly in this volume, as a real and whole person, not a stereotype. And while some of Eri's hikikomori-type ("shut-in") tendencies have been depicted decently throughout the series, the turn her arc takes in volume 5 felt a bit abrupt. However, in that abruptness, Shimura-sensei again creates messiness, which has it's own value yet again. Maybe the abruptness was only a factor of the medium and not wanting to prolong getting to this particular plot point? Maybe it will feel less abrupt if I were to read volumes 1-5 in succession rapidly to catch little changes in Eri that I just didn't remember when reading volume 5?
    Thinking about how I sometimes struggle to fully appreciate manga series when months go by between volumes, only to find more cohesion when I re-read the series all at once, I bet that will emerge with this series too. Even then, I'm not sure it will have the profound effect on me of her earlier two series, but I'm starting to see the messiness I like in her stories/characters. 
    And maybe "Even Though We're Adults" doesn't have to be profound, complex, or genre defining? Maybe Shimura-sensei is just writing a "simple" (for her) story with engaging/messy characters, and that's enough? I'll definitely keep reading because even in it's potential lack of greatness it is still much better than most of the middling shoujo and yuri manga I end up reading (not for lack of trying to find better stuff, trust me, and suggestions always welcome).


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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