Welcome to Romance Roundtable: a feature where the editorial POME Crones gather together to discuss Romance Manga. Today we’re trying something Very New for us: reading a romance manga that we might actually like! (as opposed to reading a romance manga that we just really desperately hope isn’t bad) So, we’re discussing Still Sick, Volume 1 by Akashi — a story about burgeoning friendship and love between two ladies who work in a boring office but also are flawed nerds who make comic books! Definitely not going to be TOO REAL for US!
Jenny: v ready to talk about this book!
Rachel: this book was very cute and hit me in a lot of places!!!
let’s start with a recap and then get into it
Jenny: truly VERY RELATABLE CONTENT
CC: omg i know
Jenny: boring office ladies are varying levels of secret comics-making nerds
and they fall in love?
CC: 29 year old nerd office lady is selling zines when her 25 yr old normie-seeming coworker buys her zine at a show; turns out the normie is actually an artist with intense self doubt and also they fall in love??
I am only specifying ages here bc god is it ever nice to read about peeps who are not children
Rachel: yes, the premise of this book is the number one reason i have never drawn sexy comics
Rachel: i cannot handle this situation happening to me
a waking nightmare
CC: if I saw 90% of my coworkers at Staple I might die so v relatable
Ashley: people at my old job (preschool) would always ask to see my work and i was just like… oh yeah, sure! and then never brought it up
Ashley: fortunately i am practically google-proof ????
CC: one of my coworkers bought group chat!!! he never mentioned it after but I’m too proud to be like
DID U LIKE IT
DID U LIKE MY BOOK
CC: L O L
Rachel: oh yes, i’m also google proof
that’s the best part of having the same name as a famous actress
Ashley: so nice
CC: look rachel
someday those tables are gonna turn on her
people are gonna ask her if she’s the comics artist
and we’ll never know
but i believe in this future
Rachel: lol thank you
CC: as long as none of our coworkers ever turn up at comics shows and ask us what a zine is
what is YURI
Ashley: a ZYNE
CC: what is OTP
Ashley: oh wait, i have an actual real question
what is an “OL”????
CC: office lady
Ashley: oh, lol
Jenny: exhibit A:
Ashley: that makes so much more sense now
Rachel: i feel so targeted
Jenny: truly you love to see it — the representation
Ashley: so R E A L accck
CC: both of these gals remind me of like literally all my friends LMAO
Ashley: there was so much like, nerd feeling overwhelmed by being Seen in this book, which was also my experience of reading it
I can’t believe they put you in this manga jenny
Jenny: they’re on screen at the same time!!
where are my royalties??
CC: god bless
Rachel: i just love them both
Ashley: HAHAHA oh my god
CC: I love Shimizu’s ploy to get Maekawa to draw beautiful fancomics of her OTP
truly a committed long con and I am here for it
clarification for those at home: Shimizu draws fan comics, but Maekawa is (secretly) a professional manga artist who quit after one douchey editor told her her work was shallow
Jenny: i’d actually like to add a point of clarification to that point of clarification
Rachel: oh yes, said editor:
Jenny: it’s an important distinction for me that it was not just this asshole^^^
it was also:
Jenny: a couple of middle school girls
Ashley: HAHA oh yes, that’s right
Jenny: which, like — they are cruel and they don’t mess around
CC: if a couple of middle school girls made fun of my comics i would absolutely die i mean i get it
Ashley: the scariest demographic of all
it’s SO TRUE
they correctly intuited that Maekawa was condescending
but also lol at the one telling the other she’s a hipster for not enjoying popular shoujo
Jenny: it’s true
Jenny: sometimes that’s what the people want
i am a simple woman
Ashley: we Western audiences are very starved for this
CC: I know
I would probably eat this hipster comic up but i mean….. you can kinda tell when the creator is just phoning it in
so so so much of our RR review catalogue LMAO
here’s looking @ you, every one of those harlequin manga about europe
Ashley: mmmmmmmmmm yep…
should we talk about the characters individually a little more? i personally really loved Maekawa’s arc in this first volume
Ashley: the story about doing something just to prove you can, then immediately burning out when you don’t get the approval you’re seeking is uh… yeah, something a lot of us comics folks can relate to, i think!
Ashley: ugh Jenny your image titles are perfect
THAT PANEL… WHY AM I BEING ATTACKED
Jenny: lol “burnout is inescapable” and “oh man absolutely the vibe”
CC: i came out to have a good time & see these 2 cuties fall in love and honestly i’m feeling so attacked right now: the manga
Ashley: solemn nod
also, i love a character who thinks she’s being cool and aloof when she’s being SO EXTRA
i.e., methodically seeking out your coworker’s doujinshi table so you can “mess with her”
CC: omg I know
CC: is she an asshole or is she just bad at flirting???
CC: I also love characters who seem cute & nice but are also ornery and temperamental
what can i say
i love cats!!!
CC: I am really interested in seeing more of who maekawa really is!
because I think her meanness is another layer under the “nice, friendly maekawa” but still not the full picture
Jenny: i mean i do think that she is at least a little bit of an asshole, and i find that completely delightful
Jenny: just like, an absolute troll
Ashley: “They’re the basis of manga!” LOL why does that kill me
CC: I just wonder if being more vulnerable and figuring out what she actually wants to draw would bring her more peace as, like, a person
Jenny: oh undoubtedly
CC: it’s hard to be a person on a mission without a mission!
CC: OH NO
Rachel: this went STRAIGHT TO MY GUT
CC: love to feel pain
on pome dash mag dot com
Rachel: for sure
i will say it was nicely balanced by the absolutely ACCURATE portrayal of what cons are like
Jenny: i mean def the bad but also the good!
CC: i miss buying comics SOB in person SOB
from the person who made the book SOB
seein them smilin about their dang book SOBBB
Rachel: i just wanna confess my comics love to all my comics heroes!!!!
Ashley: me too ????
i even miss UNPACKING at the con table!!
Rachel: this is also something i love about going to cons with women
Ashley: HAHAHAHA YES
IN THIS SACRED PLACE
Jenny: the appropriate response
but also! i miss going to cons with you guys!!!
Ashley: nodding and crying simultaneously
CC: the part I miss the most is
right after you unpack but before the show starts
augh I miss you guys too!!!
but, ANYWAY, before I get any more emotional L O L
Ashley: seems like a good opportunity to talk about our girl Shimizu now too
Ashley: v relatable
Rachel: i love how dismissive she is of this guy at work that she used to date
Rachel: just like, no pretense, just rude lol
Ashley: their whole relationship was rude
Jenny: no escaping the comphet
Ashley: “I’m being excluded for making lesbian comics, let me see how long I can stand this guy in an attempt to feel normal”
Rachel: i’m glad he doesn’t seem to hold it against her
Ashley: yeah, their relationship is very amusing
Rachel: he encourages Maekawa to be friends with her because she knows he doesn’t have a lot of lady friends
it’s just really nice to see a man be an ex and not a total vindictive jerk
Ashley: an ex AND a coworker, a rare beast indeed
Jenny: but also this guy!
he was good w maekawa too! he could see through some her bullshit
Jenny: which like — at this point i really needed someone to see through her
Jenny: bc like!
Jenny: we can’t have this!!
it’s one thing to be coy but a different thing to be mean!
which really just leads me to my belief that maekawa is kind of a dick and p bad at flirting!!
CC: oh yeah definitely
Jenny: cannot decide which one i relate to more!!
Ashley: oh my god, yeah
CC: so one thing I def want to talk about before we wrap up tho: that kiss!!!!!
Jenny: oh you mean
and then immediately:
Ashley: GOD MAEKAWA
Jenny: kill me now stab me in my heart
Ashley: okay put the very last panel like, restored all my hit points
where Shimizu is just straight up like, “actually I liked that?”
CC: This is so interesting bc like
Jenny: oh man yikes
CC: idk how much we wanna talk about this LOL
Jenny: that is a translation issue
Rachel: LOL yeah that’s how the kindle edition is too!
(the same as CC’s hard copy)
Jenny: i mean, i’m willing to defer to that for the official reading though
Ashley: hmm, yeah… i think the official translation does have more of a feel of hasty denial?
the wordier/more direct version feels more aloof somehow
Jenny: yeah and i think that’s a pattern for maekawa
i think in general she just kind of flips a switch and goes hard in the opposite direction
like with the
Ashley: hahaha yea
likely a Gemini…
CC: does your version end this way?
CC: it is v important to me that all parties can vouch for this kiss LOL
Ashley: Shimizu does say she likes the kiss in the version i read!
but then Maekawa (assuming the second bubble is Maekawa) says “what am I supposed to do with that information?” or something like that
Jenny: yeah it’s like:
S (presumably?) – ’it f-felt…good?”
M (presumably?) – “Okay, and how am I meant to feel about that…?
CC: I am really looking forward to volume 2!!!!
Ashley: omg ME TOO
CC: grappling with relationship feelings! grappling with art feelings!
Rachel: yes!!! i need to see what happens
and also, why is this book called “Still Sick”
that is a thing i am still waiting to become apparent
CC: I wonder if it has anything to do with both of them being sick at different points?
wonder if that’s a Theme
Ashley: i think it’s because she refers to being obsessed with yuri as being “sick?”
Jenny: oh that kind of sucks
Ashley: like, after all this time, into adulthood, she’s still into this “perverse” thing
Jenny: : /
well fingers crossed that it is a thing she overcomes!!
Ashley: oh for sure!!!! these babies have a long way to go but i believe in them
CC: you love to see it: two adult humans, working on their shit
Ashley: it’s really nice :-3 very refreshing to see some subtlety and genuine conflict at play
Rachel: it’s definitely a nice break from our normal harlequin experience haha
Jenny: do y’all want to do final thoughts?
CC: yeah totally
I have mine ready if yall don’t mind
Ashley: go on!
Jenny: go for it
Rachel: do it!
CC: …after all these years
It was TOTALLY WILD to see THIS again LMAO
Ashley: AHHHH haha nice
CC: princess ai????? what year is it????
….it’s been a long time since I’ve heard that name around these parts….
Rachel: ok my final thought is an image that strikes fear into my heart at a deep, primal level
Rachel: the STARKNESS of this image
CC: of all the painful images in this book, this one seems the most designed to hurt all the artists reading
Ashley: i buy that
my final thought is p quick
but, like — this was a real step up in quality from our usual fare
and it was nice to see little things and get excited about them!
Jenny: dutch angles are p cheesy! but also this is an appropriate time for it!
our perception of maekawa is being undermined!
Rachel: oh yes!! honestly i love a good dutch angle
Jenny: idk — it was nice to see this level of care for The Craft
Ashley: hard agree
Rachel: honestly it’s so nice not to complain about yaoi hands or strange lettering for once lol
i just enjoyed this book, truly
CC: same here
Ashley: yeah, i ate it up
my final thought is only one word, sans context
just, wow, thank you
sequential images with deliberate abstraction to make you imagine what could be happening under the surface…
i have been Healed
CC: treat yourself
Jenny: lol ????
Join us next time for Romance Roundtable, when we’ll be covering Still Sick, Volume 2. In the meantime, check out our Patreon for just a few bonus goofs that didn’t make it into today’s roundtable, as a treat.