Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Everyone's Getting Married
Asuka and Ryu have embarked on their long-distance relationship with him working in Washington, DC, and while things seem fine at first, they eventually begin to wear on Asuka. Frustrated with having put her romantic life on hold but not wanting to hold Ryu back, a change at work prompts her to reevaluate where things stand. Asuka prepares to make a major change, but will Ryu be ready for it – or has he changed in ways he didn't realize or expect?
In these final two volumes of Izumi Miyazono's josei romance, there's one very important question that has to be resolved – will Asuka and Ryu join the eponymous “everyone” and get married? That's been the issue lurking behind their relationship from the start, when Asuka made it clear that she ultimately wanted to get married, have kids, and be a stay-at-home mom while Ryu found the idea of marriage repulsive. Over the seven books preceding these two, their thoughts on the subject have changed, but neither of them have been particularly forthcoming about that fact, possibly because they were so afraid to lose the other. Then, when they finally reached the point where they could truly talk about it, Ryu got transferred to Washington, DC, putting their relationship, if not on hold, then at least in a much more difficult place.
That's where things are when volume eight opens, and while volume nine feels fairly rushed as it works to wrap everything up, it's a good place plot-wise for Asuka and Ryu to really think about things. Because they entered into their relationship knowing each other's opposing views on marriage and family, they haven't been so much compromising as ignoring or glossing over the subject, basically shoving it to the back of their collective mind and just taking things day-to-day. At first this seems like it will be a fine way to continue to handle things (as bad ideas often do), but with Ryu's prolonged stay in the U.S., Asuka begins to realize part of why she wants marriage – she wants someone to share her life with, someone she can count on to be there as a partner. Not having Ryu around is stressful emotionally, but also on a much more pervasive level as his physical absence deprives Asuka of someone to just be with when she needs to. That's true for Ryu as well, but his work leaves him with very little downtime to think about it – or perhaps that's how he wants it, so that he has very little time to feel Asuka's absence. He's also much more at liberty to travel for his job, so he's able to make brief trips to Japan to see her, which may be cathartic for him, but ultimately ends up reminding Asuka that he's not there on a regular basis.
Things come to a head with a situation that may be all too familiar to working women – Asuka's boss overhears her saying that she'd eventually like to get married and have kids, and he demotes her. He claims that it's so that she can feel free to pursue that dream, but even if that's how he sees it, the sexism is still obvious: Asuka is the only member of her high-level work team to be demoted and the older male boss specifically says that he can't have a woman who might have kids in such an important position, albeit not to Asuka herself. It's a skin-crawling, horrible moment, but it's also one that serves as a stark reminder of the fact that Miyazono's story is not strictly a romantic fantasy world where things magically work out. Asuka can be amazing at her job and even choose not to stop working if she gets married and has children, but she'll still be punished by people who don't see her as a whole person because of her gender. It's not something that Asuka had ever considered – she thought that if she quit working, it would be her choice, not a purposeful demotion, and it forces her to rethink what she wants to do with her life.
It's also the moment when she realizes that all of the compromises can't come from her. While Ryu hasn't been intentionally uncooperative – and he's been very straightforward with his feelings both for her and about marriage – the reality is that it's not going to have the same effect on his working life. (We do see this in the end of volume nine and another example in the final volume of Kamisama Kiss.) That means that Asuka has to really think about whether or not maintaining the long-distance relationship is worth the added emotional stress, as well as if what she's maintained that she wants since volume one is what she still wants now. There's nothing that says she can't figure out a way to have it all, but now she sees that it may come with a price.
The working out of that mess is largely the job of volume nine, the series' finale. It probably would have worked better to spread it out over two books, but things don't feel hugely incomplete by series end, and we can see that both Asuka and Ryu have done a lot of thinking that we weren't necessarily privy to. What's particularly nice is that the series never passes judgement on whether or not marriage is the perfect end goal for everyone – it makes it clear that it depends on the people. Asuka and Ryu both had other options if they had made different choices (and the TV drama version does change things up in that way), but ultimately they decided what worked for them. That's the strength of these two volumes and the series in general: nothing the characters do is a knee-jerk reaction such as we commonly see in romances for a younger demographic. There's thought (albeit not always great thought) and reasoning that goes into the characters' choices.
Everyone's Getting Married isn't a perfect series, but it is a break from the melodrama of many shoujo romances or the adults-in-age-only silliness of Maki Enjoji and Tomu Ohmi, and while there are some digital-only titles that also fit that bill, this is one of the few as of this writing print readers can get. Even without that last bit, it's a good story in its own right, and if the ending is a little rushed, things still wrap up nicely and in a way that makes this an easy series to recommend.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B
+ Characters learn the value of compromise in a relationship, good real-world details
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