Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Everyone's Getting Married
Asuka Takanashi is a successful career woman, and she's proud of that, but what she really wants is to get married, start a family, and become a housewife. That's not a popular choice in her age group, but she keeps trying to find Mr. Right who will let her dream come true. When her boyfriend of five years breaks up with her instead of proposing, she ends up at her co-worker Ono's house and meets his roommate, the dashing TV announcer Ryu Nanami. The two are attracted to each other, but there's one major problem: Ryu isn't interested in marriage. Ever. Can the two of them make a relationship work when they have such drastically different views of what the outcome should be?
A woman who wants to quit her job, get married, and be a housewife? Oh no! Is this manga promoting outdated notions of a “woman's place?” That's the easy knee-jerk reaction to Izumi Miyazono's Everyone's Getting Married, and it is a little uncomfortable to see it's highly successful heroine, Asuka, yearn for a standard generally considered outdated, but that's mostly on the surface. While that is undeniably Asuka's goal, the story is more about the different relationship goals people have, whether that is marriage or not, and how its hero and heroine will be able to reconcile those differences between traditional and contemporary, if they can be reconciled at all.
The story mostly follows career woman (but not office lady) Asuka Takanashi, a highly successful real estate broker who puts her all into her job. She's not devoted to it, however, and hopes to eventually marry and retire, switching over to fulltime homemaker. Her reasoning for this is that she wants to be able to provide a family with the same kind of loving and safe environment she grew up in. The problem is that this is no longer considered an acceptable goal – even if she does marry, most people expect that she'll keep working, especially since she's so good at her job. While no one says that they think her wish is silly, outdated, and anti-feminist, that implication is certainly there. The only person who really accepts her goal as valid is Ryu Nanami, a celebrated TV announcer she meets when her co-worker Ono brings her back to his apartment after she's had a few too many. Ryu doesn't agree with her thoughts on marriage, but he does accept that they're genuine, even as he proclaims marriage to be a useless institution. Of course the two of them end up falling for each other, with Ryu actively pursuing Asuka while she half-heartedly tries to avoid him. This volume gets them together, with the implication that the rest of the series will focus on whether or not they can change each other's minds about the end goal of their relationship.
To say that the topic is a controversial one is generally going to be looked at as either an overstatement or an understatement. Everyone has the right to choose what they want out of life, and if some women prefer a traditional role, that's their decision. What Everyone's Getting Married's first volume hints at is the judgement that people face over it, particularly women. It's easy to write off Asuka's dreams as a giant step backwards, but the reality is, as one of the characters points out, that homemakers don't get any days off and actually lead very busy lives. It also doesn't smack of enlightened sexism, which would apply more to women who see looking sexy as a form of power. That so many of the characters don't understand what Asuka wants is part of what makes this an interesting story, and the question of whether or not you need actual marriage to be together in the long term seems likely to come up as Ryu and Asuka's relationship continues.
Miyazono's art is fairly typical for its home magazine, Petit, which is also where Tomu Ohmi (Midnight Secretary) and Yuki Yoshihara (Butterflies, Flowers) also publish. Characters are lanky and attractive while still having a vaguely generic look to them, and tone takes the place of background art in most cases. An interesting detail that never gets mentioned in words is the fact that Ryu wears glasses in his daily life but contacts on the air, a nice bit of understated characterization. This sort of small but important detail can be found throughout the volume and is much more impressive than the base art itself.
Everyone's Getting Married's chief appeal to readers is likely to be its adult characters and setting, but it's use of marriage as a narrative device makes it interesting as well. You may not agree with Asuka's goals, but they make an interesting starting point for a romance story and on the genre of romance itself, which can be looked at as selling social expectations as fantasies. That the typical end goal of the romance narrative, marriage, is not embraced and even denigrated by many of the characters at least makes this different from many of its genre brethren. Add to that engaging characters in both Asuka and Ryu (actually a bit more in the case of the latter; he's more interestingly conflicted), nary a school uniform in sight, and some insight into the world of being a voice artist (Ryu also does voice over work), and this is an enjoyable story, even if you find yourself having trouble getting behind what the players want.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B
+ Good characters, interesting relationship-goal commentary and information about being a celebrity voice artist, nice narrative details in the art
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