Wednesday, May 30, 2012
This volume of Poor Poor Lips is easily the most satisfying so far.
Yes, Ren's mother Nei erases Nako's debt at the price of Ren returning home and agreeing to marry someone of Nei's choosing. Yes, it is painful to watch Ren resign herself to her homophobic mother's terms for helping Nako.
But the thing is, Ren won't actually have to go through with the marriage. This isn't that type of series. Nako returns Ren's feelings throughout this volume and is willing to undergo as much for Ren as Ren is for her. The "Gift of the Magi" reference early in this volume isn't for nothing.
The rollercoaster ride of highs and lows in this volume are stepping stones to Nako and Ren reaching the end of this series as not only a happy couple, but as stronger people who know their love can survive being put through the wringer.
While the previous volume featured more growth on Ren's part than Nako's, Nako's growth takes the spotlight in this volume as she finally becomes aware of her own feelings (quite happily, refreshingly) and pursues Ren. Nako has always been a warm, likeable character, but a more assertive, self-aware Nako is welcome. :-) Now if only she and Ren were aware of one another's feelings.
As mentioned above, after finding out that Nako's perpetual debt stems from the scam Nako's uncle coerced her into after her parents died, Ren convinces Nei to give Nako the help she needs to end the debt. Nako, who couldn't bring herself to take her uncle- her only remaining family- to court even though he is the reason she has spent years in crushing poverty, is more than willing to swing a frying pan at him after he punches Ren for interfering between him and Nako. (Ren stops Nako from actually hitting him.) Nako, who smiled through years of poverty, breaks down crying over Ren leaving.
After Nako wakes up and finds the farewell note left by Ren, she auditions to be the new maid at Ren's family's home so she can see Ren everyday- with a little help from Watase and Ren's father Akio. In my previous review, I mentioned that Ren's father completely supports Ren. Going beyond that, he becomes a regular Mrs. Bennet when he notices that there's something between Ren and Nako. (Would that make Nei Lady Catherine?)
Ren is thrilled and pained at seeing Nako again everyday- since they can still live together, in a way, but Ren has to force herself to keep a distance. When they lived in Nako's apartment, Ren and Nako slept in the same bed every night. Now, when Nako climbs into bed with Ren when Ren drunkenly hugs her after coming home from a party where her mom tried to set her up with bachelors, Ren panics the next morning and apologizes for "harassing" Nako as her employer. (Nako makes it clear that she doesn't mind.)
It's obvious to everyone in the house that they're in love with each other except them, damn it. Going by this series' pacing so far, I'm sure their realization of each other's feelings will come in the next volume.
What will Nei do when that point comes? For the most part, the antagonistic characters in this series (Nei, Ren's ex- I forget her name- and Furui) have proven themselves to be better- or at least more nuanced- than they first seemed. See: the series showing that Ren's ex wasn't completely at fault in her and Ren's break-up and her giving Ren back the expensive things Ren bought her even though she prized them- even if she gave them back in the jerkiest way possible; and Furui coming to respect Ren for how well she adapted to being poor and getting that her not being interested in men means he shouldn't push his new interest in her. (Sadly, that alone makes him smarter than a lot of guys. It irritates me to note that as exceptional, when it really shouldn't be.) The only antagonist in this series who started as a complete caricature and remained one is Nako's uncle. Antagonistic as she is, Nei isn't a caricature. I'll be shocked if she doesn't evolve.
As DRAMATIC as I've made this volume sound, Goto Hayako's penchant for humor has not dulled in the least. An emotional roller-coaster ride needs its highs as well as its lows, after all.
This review covers ALC and JManga's release of this series. The translation of this volume is as good as the previous ones', so no complaints there.