Thursday, May 17, 2012

Manga Review: Poor Poor Lips volume 2

Poor Poor Lips charmed me from its first volume (reviewed here), and its second is even better. In this volume, Poor Poor Lips' story evolves from a sitcom-esque concept, meandering through a series of character-driven slice-of-life situations, to a plot with a conflict that provides a great catalyst for the characters to grow. Such growth is welcome because it causes Ren and Nako to switch roles, forcing Ren to realize how much class privilege she's had and learn more about the real world. I've always loved Ren, but I couldn't see her and Nako realistically working as a couple- as equals- without this development on Ren's part.

Ren invites Nako on an overnight trip to a gemstone expo. Ren (as expected) splurges on their hotel and meals, causing Nako to worry that she won't be able to enjoy her regular life anymore. Nako asks Ren not to spoil her...and it snowballs into a big misunderstanding but they make up, of course.

When Ren's mom Nei asks Ren to visit home so she can set Ren up with a man, Ren asks Nako to pretend to be her girlfriend. Nei is more likely to leave Ren alone for a while if she's seeing someone than if she's single.

Nako successfully convinces Nei that she is Ren's girlfriend- and learns first-hand how homophobic she is. We also learn how Ren first came out. In one priceless moment, Nei mentions that Ren was a player at the all-girls' high school she attended. (Ren's like, "Urk!" while Nako gives her an "Oh, really?" look.) Like Sasameki Koto's Ikeda Takashi, Poor Poor Lips' Goto Hayako has a great knack for using humor to keep really uncomfortable issues (like homophobia) from being too painful, without making light of how much they suck. Lesbian characters who are out to their parents are REALLY rare in manga. I'm glad that type of coming out plays a major role in this series, and that it's handled really well. Thankfully, Ren's dad, who appears in volume 3, doesn't care that Ren is gay, so we get more than one type of "being out to one's parents" narrative in this series.

After Ren and Nako visit Nei, Nei finds out about Nako's debt. Nei tells Nako that even though she doesn't accept Ren's sexual orientation, she cares about Ren and won't let anyone leech off her. She tries to bribe Nako to stay away from Ren, and when Ren confronts her about it, she cuts Ren off. Nako lets Ren stay with her, and they get jobs at Furui's bakery since he's the only person who will hire them both.

As I mentioned above, Ren goes through some needed growth in this volume. Even Furui (who, although slappable when he says anything about Ren's sexual orientation, has a point about her being sheltered) comes to respect her for her new work ethic. By the end of this volume it's clear that Nako returns Ren's feelings, so, all things considered, this volume ends on a pretty upbeat note.

This review covers JManga and ALC Publishing's release of Poor Poor Lips volume 2. The translation is still excellent (even the puns are handled well), so no complaints there.

Story: A-
Art: C+
Overall: A-

As great as this volume is, volume 3 is better still.

Annnnd, unrelated, but I'm graduating this Sunday!! ^__^


Steven said...

I love this series and am eagerly waiting for volume 4 to be released on JManga. Ren and Nako are so adorable even though they suffer from severe obliviousness. It makes me feel rather sorry for Watase as she has to sit and watch them bumble around. She could outright tell them their feelings for each other but it isn't her place, as a servant, to do so. Also, it wouldn't leave room for more comical misunderstandings.

Congratulations on graduating! I hope whatever plans you have for after graduation go well for you.

Katherine Hanson said...

@Steven- Thank you! :D

"Also, it wouldn't leave room for more comical misunderstandings." Hohoho~

I too am waiting with bated breath for volume 4. Nako and Ren will probably realize that their feelings are reciprocated in it, and if so, it will be GLORIOUS.

And I wonder if Ren and Nako will figure it out on their own (e.g. "I'm sorry, I thought I could be happy just living with you. But I can't stay and watch you get married. Because..."), a third party will accidentally spill the truth to them ("If you will not mind my boldness- this arranged marriage must be as hard for her as it is for you, Miss, seeing how much she is in love with you." "Whuh?"), or a third party will be like, "I can't watch this anymore," and point it out (" SHE LOVES YOU. Her saying that you aren't her type again and again and again? Well, you are. That's the only reason she agreed to marry someone her mother chooses.") Hee, theorizing is fun.