Romance Roundtable #13: Possibles

Welcome to Romance Roundtable: a feature where all four editorial POME Crones gather together to discuss a Harlequin romance manga. Today we’re discussing Possibles by Junko Okada (original novel by Lass Small). Join us for adventures in poor workplace boundaries, sock garter modeling, and probably the worst decision making in any Harlequin manga we’ve covered so far.

CC: wanna start with a summary?
I’d like to describe Possibles as the story of two tire fire human beings who blame their poor decision making on gender roles but somehow wind up making it??? work???????
also I’d like to apologize for making this rec, although I still think the art is cute

Jenny: lol that feels accurate
i hated it so much

Rachel: i actually really enjoyed this one!!
there were some really great parts

Ashley: I enjoyed this a LOT even though it was also a disaster

CC: ooh yeah i loved that panel

Rachel: i really loved these goofy drawings


Jenny: i suppose that’s fair — i loved most everything about the protag except the decisions she made

Ashley: Continuing with summary for the readers at home
A secretary has a hard time dealing with her new boss, who is a sexist jerk. She only took this job to try and find a husband, so she considers quitting. But then they fall in love and have to try and pretend they’re not boning. Eventually, this is resolved by the shitty boss proposing, the end!!

Rachel: lol!!
ok so just to add
she wants to find a husband, this is the only reason she took this job
but look, this is the reason i really enjoyed this


Ashley: Lol YES

i mean, yes, they do get married, but only because he totally comes around to her way of thinking re: how to be a good partner

Ashley: Honestly without Steven Blake, she had her priorities right, because she found fault with every mediocre man for TEN YEARS

Jenny: this sequence was really good and important, i will grant

Ashley: Also he is I think, sadly, objectively the hottest Harlequin protag so far

Rachel: i love a story that starts with a woman shutting down a man

Ashley: YES

Rachel: also i think i agree about him being hot but i do not like his v 90s business bro haircut

Rachel: but look at that very TINY BUTT

Ashley: Hahaha I think I am partial to it because… I have that haircut myself now ????

actual business bros are not!!
you are reclaiming this haircut for bisexual babes everywhere!

Ashley: TRUE!

CC: loved her dream about him btw

Rachel: oh def def

Ashley: Does he have a hummingbird tattoo????? Or is that shojo embellishment

Jenny: let’s say it’s a tattoo
reader’s license

CC: I think it’s just screentones of flowers

Rachel: i want that to be true so bad

CC: BUT also I think this dream is basically just this, which I loved:

A lot of things remind CC of this beloved and infamous Hark a Vagrant comic tbh.

Rachel: LOL
i think that’s why i found this protag so relatable
like she’s a dummy who has messed up priorities but also has very high standards for men and is thirsty af
also she does martial arts and can put a man in the hospital

Jenny: that part was v funR

Ashley: The karate scene was great and you also posted my FAVORITE PAGE
I ALSO frequently fall into swamps and holes upon exiting my car
Marry me instead, I have the same haircut and lack of coordination, but without the sexism or the expense account!

CC: I def think she would be trading WAY WAY WAY WAY up

Jenny: oh god that was unbearable

Ashley: aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh

Ashley: That slap was EPIC tho lol

Rachel: yes she follows up with the martial art of slapping a sexist dummy
i just really like that when this guy was an asshole, she fought back
she didn’t just let him be that way

CC: the men in this manga tho are like, the worst assortment of men in any of these that we’ve read so far. EVERY. MAN.

Ashley: PHIL

Rachel: UGH

Jenny: and lewis sending that fucking fax

what a nerd and also a loser

CC: And then calling her a “lenient woman”
what is lewis actually

Jenny: the “sara is a bitch who ruins lives” anonymous fax on the first day her new boss starts
he’s garbage

Rachel: he was the nephew of her old boss, i think

Jenny: phil was the nephew of the old boss, and lewis was just some asshole she met at the speed dating club


Ashley: You know Lewis was simply on sale at the husband store

Rachel: LOL

going out of business sale at the husband store
buy one husband, get lewis free

Jenny: everything must go

Ashley: Speaking of the club, I was a little disappointed that the club itself was mostly off screen

we got ONE SCENE

Ashley: Like, I really wanted some babysitter’s club singles group bureaucracy for some reason

Rachel: that’s the harlequin manga that we need to write

CC: it was a unique selling point!!! why name the book after the club if we barely get to see the club!!!

Ashley: Haha, someday we will break the market with our Harlequin manga inspired ideas

Rachel: the cover was also a very interesting choice
i’m so curious why the art direction went there
cause the art is this book was actually GOOD

CC: maybe it’s the cover of the original novel and they didn’t bother to get unique art for the manga

Ashley: I think the art overall in the book was maybe technically the best we’ve seen
The lettering DEFINITELY was

Rachel: yesss

CC: this is such a good cover page!!!

Ashley: Ooo yes

CC: ohhhh true

Rachel: it did have an interesting choice of… bead effects???
like these are literally strings of beads, right??

CC: I think so!
also this screen tone with the penguins
at the weirdest possible moment

Ashley: I LOVE THE PENGUINS! Also this page was so Sailor Moon it killed me:

Rachel: that’s so true!!

Ashley: Like, extremely thirsty daydream followed by a super cute caricature

CC: apparently Junko Okada has done a lot more work, including a lot more harlequin work

Ashley: Oh wow we should definitely dive into more

Jenny: for sure — the art was v charming

Rachel: yes!!!
like this was a very usagi face

Ashley: Haha yes

CC: agreed

Ashley: I think we’ve all been gushing a bit but I think we need to air the negatives – Jenny what say you?

Jenny: every man in this whole comic is unbearable
most of them in ways that are Too Real
the dad

Jenny: weird


Rachel: yeah not ok
v creepy

i mean, he turns it around by the end and seems ok??

Jenny: but stilL! that’s your daughter!
stop talking about how hot she is?!?!

Ashley: Oh man that was SO weird

CC: yeah no thank u

Jenny: but also, with the dad

Ashley: UGH

Jenny: suggesting that this is reasonable/natural/acceptable behavior
for a grown ass adult??
for anyone???
what the fuck!
don’t encourage this!!

Rachel: god what is he a 5 year old

CC: Men Will Be Boys

Ashley: I remember adult men in my life telling me this and like
No wonder she’s got it bad for Mean Boss!!!

Jenny: don’t try to soften it to make it seems normal and not super super shitty!!
and i feel like, we, as the reader
we’re supposed to go along w it!
and i hated that

Ashley: Yeah, like we’re supposed to forgive him this natural defensive response or something

Jenny: yeah or we’re supposed to think of it as a natural protectiveness
a la this

Jenny: and it’s just like — no!
no! that’s unhealthy!
that’s unprofessional!
i hate it!

CC: also this story had my absolute least favorite romance novel trope: the old “i am a man and have no control over my CHOICE TO MAKE SEXUAL ADVANCES ON YOU”


Jenny: yeah just not good

CC: paired with one of my other least favorite tropes: the old “As a woman, here’s why I’m fine with that”
like: “it’s not problematic, actually” YES, IT STILL IS

Rachel: like, what are you Edward Cullen


CC: needs more hair gel

Rachel: more sparkles
more leering at teenage girls

CC: ya I guess one thing I appreciated is that the protag is 29

Ashley: But like, the boss/employee power dynamic is still very similar to adult/minor

Jenny: it was just v much the kind of thing where like, i love this protagonist but i cannot understand or abide the decisions she makes

Ashley: Why can’t we have it all???

re: the boss/employee power dynamic
as someone who has done admin work for abusive people!

Jenny: this is unforgivable!!

Ashley: Oh my God yeah, that was awful

Jenny: Just bc you’re bad at finding things!
bc you’re not responsible for your own space!
you ass!
what did he think that she stole them??
fuck yoU!

CC: OR that it was her sworn duty to find them at all hours, including hours where he’s not paying her to be there

Jenny: there were so many moments like that!

CC: like she has a duty to him at all times

Jenny: the “i need you to come in on your day off”
the i’m going to show up at your door and demand you come w me to the office, and then i’m going to complain about what you’re wearing and pretend like you could’ve changed into something different because it’s not like i was rushing you out the door
i hate it!

Ashley: Pure evil, this is true

CC: in this whole book, I think he literally only makes one good point about business

Ashley: HAHA

CC: while the whole thing with lewis was not her fault
pulling a rando stranger into the drama was awkward as hell, and also she co-started a group dedicated to DATING YOUR COWORKERS: a very well known BAD MOVE

Jenny: the whole “i don’t want to hear explanations for things i ask you to explain”
i hate it and i hate him

Ashley: One thing I did get real mad about was that they turned him being a Bad Boss into a Good Boss who saves jobs
That does not justify being a raging asshole
To your secretary
Slash lover

Jenny: TRUE
you’re an adult!
show some restraint!
this is unprofessional!

CC: okay also, on a related note bc he’s terrible, though outside of the workplace this time:

Jenny: oh yeah what the fuck

CC: i hate him so much, on this page and also throughout this book

Jenny: running red lights

Rachel: not even wearing a seatbelt!

Oh please

Jenny: you don’t really care about her if you’re driving recklessly w her in the car

CC: men drivers amirite; so Emotional

Jenny: it’s true

Ashley: The weird thing about this book, is that when he’s being a shit she frequently gives him what for, and he’s shown to be the shit
UNLESS it’s a horny situation, in which case it’s just forgiven

Jenny: yeah i suppose that’s true
she, in general, does a good job standing up to him

Ashley: And this book was UNREPENTANTLY also probably the horniest
They have sex a LOT before marriage

Rachel: extremely horny!!!

Jenny: i mean
yes but also

Jenny: “her first experience”?

CC: I was wondering about that too!!!!

Jenny: 29 years of pent-up horniness

Ashley: Yeah that was stretching my suspension of disbelief quite a bit

Rachel: i wasn’t sure how to interpret that because come on girl, surely not
like maybe her first experience with this dude specifically
but there’s no way

CC: maybe it was her first experience with actually crossing the finish line~~~
i mean, i doubt that lewis was necessarily making that happen

Ashley: LOL

Rachel: oh i doubt if she let him kiss her

Jenny: true but also she only had the one date w lewis and he was an ass

CC: so true

Jenny: so yeah i think rachel’s right on this
idk that she did anything w lewis

Ashley: Also she daydreams about sex in a specific way so much
I do not think an inexperienced person really does that?

Jenny: that’s a good point!

Ashley: My pre-sex daydreams were basically the equivalent of bumping Barbies together


Rachel: omg so true

CC: so, side note here
what product do i need to be using to get that “filled with smiles” skin aesthetic

Ashley: That’s some Bitch Planet nonsense lol
Two things skin should have: milkfat and rows and rows of bared teeth

Jenny: gotta get that look

CC: other side note

did he just park and run 5 miles without looking out for trees???

Jenny: fell in a swamp

Ashley: It was a swamp / hole
And he probably had to wrestle an alligator

CC: oh whoops

Rachel: he ran into a witch and she cursed him to look like the teenager he’d been acting like
like, he definitely aged backwards here
suddenly a gangly teen who can’t tie a proper tie

Jenny: lolololol

CC: love that his shirt is unbuttoned but still perfectly tucked in

Ashley: Lmaooo

Jenny: i do love that there was some attempt at equality w the “girl runs through woods and tears her shirt to expose more skin in a sexy way” trope

Ashley: Look, swamp magicks are some serious necrotic shit

Rachel: lol i believe it

Ashley: Also I bet he wears shirt garters CC
He seems fussy enough


Rachel: what is THAT

Ashley: Hehe yup

Rachel: FUCK

Ashley: They’re honestly quite handy for “women’s” button downs which are too short to properly tuck!!

Rachel: god before this i was attracted to men
now i don’t know

Jenny: LOL same


i had no idea that these existed but wow, humanity really has thought of everything
no cure for cancer but by god we have shirt garters

Ashley: We need to put out a call for fanart of harlequin manga love interests in pinup poses with shirt garters

Rachel: ahhh

Ashley: I think this could be a real hot trend

Rachel: AHHHH

CC: look: some of these aren’t too bad but
sorry rachel

Ashley: OH NOOOO

Jenny: oh dear god

Rachel: WHYYY

the combo of all three things is
[kisses fingertips like a chef]
the worst thing i’ve seen all week

Ashley: Lol we are true epicures of the worst trash


Rachel: god
lol ok are y’all ready for final thoughts?

CC: oooh ya i am
mind if I go first?

Rachel: not at all!

Ashley: Do it!

CC: A story in two parts:

CC: all i could think of during that scene tbh

Jenny: LOL same

Ashley: Hahahaha


Jenny: the most intimate thing you can do with a partner, according to charles boyle

Rachel: ok so here’s my final thought, which is a build on this
but i tend to have crushes on redheaded fictional characters and i just felt so called out by this book
that i did hate lol
so that’s it, I just don’t want to be associated with this asshole protag lol

Ashley: Hahaha

CC: i mean, i think as long as you don’t start telling redheads that you fear them, but also love them, i think it’s fine

Ashley: LMAO

Rachel: whew
man Steve really set the bar low there

Jenny: def the running thread about hair color just made me think of that movie “down with love”


Jenny: where rene zellwegger seduces ewan macgregor as a brunette, then a blonde, then a redhead

Ashley: Oh yeah actually this whole book kinda had that vibe!

Rachel: woah!!! i have not seen it but should i???

Jenny: or “joe versus the volcano” where tom hanks projects love onto a meg ryan who is brunette, then ginger, then blonde
oh yeah both are good in a bad way but down w love is better

Rachel: rad

Ashley: Down With Love is very campy and has a plotline similar to this but pulls it off better

Jenny: def
campy in a v fun way

CC: +1

Jenny: solid directorial choices for fun campiness
a good and fun movie all around
but my actual final thought
is that you should never sleep w your boss
esp if he’s garbage


Rachel: +1000

Jenny: and really you should just quit your job and pursue your interests

CC: so true

Jenny: and we never found out what her interests were!
i was kind of mad about that!

Ashley: That is tragic

Jenny: she was going to go off and do her own thing and then she didn’t?
or she did and her thing was being a wife and mother
which, like, fine if that’s what you want to do
but the conversation had really been framed in a professional way
like, what business could she be passionate about?
i want to know

Rachel: give us an epilogue you cowards!!

Ashley: Where she transforms Michael’s into a craft store empire

CC: the pessimist in me thinks that the epilogue would just be that they got divorced bc this dude making a complete 180 on all his life stances didn’t take
i’m sorry! maybe i have no romance in my soul LOL

Jenny: lol ugh

Rachel: lol but that’s the realness people need to see!!

Ashley: Haha I mean… It’s not unlikely
Okay my final thought is

Ashley: Children ARE weak and they DO cry a lot and that’s why every woman should be single until the end of time

Jenny: i cannot fault him for that reasoning
firmly agree

Ashley: I actually like children but do not want any, and so yet again, I find myself relating to the worst men of Harlequin manga

CC: same tho, sorry, Youths
i mean like, what if you drop them?????
too much responsibility
i can’t even keep drought-resistant plants alive

Rachel: lol but being physically weak and crying a lot also describes me

Ashley: HAHA

Jenny: lol same
i can’t even take care of one weak crier (me)
let alone a totally separate, additional weak crier

Ashley: Being physically weak and crying a lot is VALID

Rachel: it works for Usagi, it’ll work for me

Ashley: Agree

CC: amen

Join us for our next Romance Roundtable, where we’ll be recapping No Ordinary Man a Harlequin manga that promises 60s shoujo manga aesthetic and a Florida murder mystery all in one convenient package.

In the meantime, join us over on Patreon for some extra goofs & Jokes we couldn’t quite fit into this piece.

CC Calanthe

CC Calanthe

If you prick your finger and write “Cat Fancy” on your mirror during a harvest moon, CC will appear behind you and make you put human clothes on your pets. CC is Head Crone in Charge at POMEgranate Magazine, as well as the co-host of Moon Podcast Power MAKE UP!!
Jenny Mott

Jenny Mott

Jenny is just a Silly Nerd with a lot of Feelings about Comic Books and Friendship and also This Capitalist Yoke We All Share; she enjoys Dogs and Sleeping and Cartoons. Her three favorite words are: Breakfast All Day.
Ashley Gallagher

Ashley Gallagher

Ashley writes comics and emails from zir burrow in the Pacific Northwest. Ze is a sentient subtropical swamp fern whose favorite food is old words.
Rachel Weiss

Rachel Weiss

Rachel is a designer and artist from Texas. She is pro-feminism, pro-crones, and pro-dogs. She's also Boss Crone at POMEgranate Magazine, and one day hopes to be able to drink her tea without so much milk and sugar.
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