Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Everyone's Getting Married
Asuka and Ryu are now dating, but to what end? Ryu is still adamantly opposed to marriage and that's still something Asuka would like, plus their work schedules rarely leave them much time together. They really do love each other, but is love going to be enough to overcome the other barriers that they've put in their way?
When we first met Asuka and Ryu, they were resisting falling for each other. Asuka has the old-fashioned dream of one day marrying and becoming a stay-at-home wife and mother, while Ryu, a popular newscaster, likes living life his way on his terms, none of which involve settling down in such a permanent arrangement. Eventually they gave in and began seeing each other, and that's where this second volume of Izumi Miyazono's josei romance picks up. While the first volume dealt more with no one understanding Asuka's dreams, this book is more concerned with whether or not Ryu and Asuka can make a go of this relationship. That's not just about their differing end goals, however – the underlying theme for this volume is whether or not Ryu really wants to put in the effort necessary to make it work.
We know from the first book that both Asuka and Ryu are not only good at their jobs, but that they also enjoy them and enjoy devoting a lot of hours to them. For Asuka this means after-hours meetings, but for Ryu it can also involve trips to on-location shoots and high-stress live performances. This makes him the slightly less free of the two when it comes to finding time that they can carve out for each other. At first it just seems like the basic issues of his job, but as the story goes on, we have to start to wonder if there isn't a deliberate aspect to it. Ryu remarks several times over the course of the book that he is always looking for more work, to be busier; even as he complains that he's not able to spend time with Asuka, he mentions that he wants to take on more jobs. This would seem to go hand-in-hand with his aversion to marriage as a form of relationship commitment: if he's got too much going on at work, that's less time that he has to be “tied down” domestically. Ryu himself might not even be fully aware that he's doing this, as he remarks at least twice when he's with Asuka that he “hates” his job because it keeps them apart, somehow missing the fact that his job is so busy because he wants it to be and actively seeks to make it so.
This really shifts the focus of the series away from the question explored last time, which was whether or not it was okay for Asuka to have such “anti-feminist” goals, although arguably it was more about her wanting to have it all and figuring out how to do so. Now we're asked to look at why Ryu is so against the idea of marriage, with the implication that the former relationship he had with a married woman is just a convenient excuse. He proclaims that he loves Asuka and we can see that he really does enjoy being with her. Why, then, is he so willing to not see her for two weeks at a stretch? Why in moments of weakness does he immediately head to see her, if only for five minutes, and then leave her alone again? It's almost as if he's punishing himself for being in love with her.
He certainly has a difficult time grasping the idea that she isn't going to conduct their relationship as if it were a fling, such as he's become accustomed to having. A large part of the book is devoted to the fact that he really wants to have sex while she's not quite ready. Ryu does always back off when she asks/tells him to, but his frustration with the situation is clear. They're in a relationship together, but it seems as if they're operating out of totally different sets of expectations. It would be too easy to say that this is because of their opposing views on marriage; instead, it feels more like they're at two different places in terms of emotional maturity. Asuka wants something more from this relationship than someone to sleep with. Ryu may want that too, but he doesn't know how to express that or even to go about it; to him, intimacy must have a physical component. This isn't to say that Asuka is opposed to a physical relationship: when she's ready, she lets him know. It's more that she isn't willing to let this be strictly about sex, and she puts in the efforts to show that. By the end of the book there's a feeling that Ryu might be more receptive to, or even more capable of that kind of relationship, but a fairly awful cliffhanger worthy of a Korean TV drama may render that moot.
Everyone's Getting Married's chief appeal is still that it's about grown adults in a grown-up relationship, dealing with the emotional baggage that comes with getting older, but it's also a genuinely interesting story about the barriers we set for ourselves in terms of what we want from a relationship. Both Asuka and Ryu have dug themselves into corners based on their expectations, and they're both going to have to make themselves move towards each other if this is going to work. At this point it's less a question of whether or not they'll ever see eye-to-eye on marriage and more one of whether or not Ryu can move past his issues. Only then can they really have a chance.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B
+ Interesting emotional and psychological issues as we see more from Ryu's perspective, story still feels grounded, art is attractive
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