Romance Roundtable #24: Still Sick (Volume 2)

Welcome to Romance Roundtable: a feature where the editorial POME Crones gather together to discuss Romance Manga. Today we’re recapping the continuing love story between two manga artist office ladies in the excellent Still Sick, Volume 2 by Akashi. Join us for a blend of refreshingly wholesome queer content, satisfyingly complex emotions, and some way too real Art Feelings.

Jenny: so when last we saw our heroines:

Jenny: just rip my heart out
cold blooded

CC: what a cliffhanger

CC: and what a way to pick things back up lol

Jenny: truly!

Ashley: big OOF

CC: although tbh, shimizu did so much in this volume
including figuring out that she genuinely is interested in women and not just yuri manga in an extremely well-adjusted way!!!!
good for her!!!!!
also sporting some Amazing Looks

CC: a woman of many dimensions
business things ™

Ashley: omg YES i loved the suit, even though its purpose remained kind of a mystery???

Rachel: i wonder what M.S. stands for???

Ashley: HAHAHA I was wondering the same

Rachel: My Sharona

Ashley: Mr Sauce

Rachel: LOL

Ashley: but yeah… wow Shimizu really grew a lot in this volume! she felt like a totally different person?
coming out to Maekawa definitely gave her a massive overall confidence boost that was really nice to see, it was like you could see the weight come off her shoulders

CC: yeah
I loved her getting along better with women
the confidence boost that comes with better knowing and accepting yourself!!!
you love to see it

Jenny: she was so good in the volume! and, like, getting along better in general!

Jenny: talking! about feelings!!

Rachel: this made me so happy!!

Ashley: yes! honesty!
also i love those two’s relationship even more (though i can’t remember the dude’s name, ha)

Jenny: he was really good!
and hearing him talk about his own relationship!!

Jenny: partners! equality! you love to see it!!
but maybe we’re getting a little ahead of things — should we do a recap?

Ashley: oh good call! i mean, to be fair, this volume really was a mostly feelings volume. plot-wise, Shimizu lives up to her promise to help Maekawa with her manga, although Maekawa keeps pushing her away
every time Maekawa starts to make progress, she seems to get stuck on emotions, namely, not wanting to have them

Rachel: she’s all of my exes rolled into one

Ashley: HA


Jenny: there’s def a lot of push-and-pull as maekawa tries and fails to open up emotionally; shimizu mostly just does what maekawa says she wants? and at some point that includes backing off. and that’s when maekawa finishes her manga! but shimizu isn’t there to celebrate w her!! and it breaks her heart!!
and then there’s a work trip to a hot springs!!

CC: god I can’t imagine a work trip to a hot springs
on one hand, hot springs
on the other


Jenny: truly i never want to go on a work trip
let alone one that involves nudity
but would love to go to a hot springs in just about any other circumstances

CC: amen

Ashley: oh my god, yeah, the idea of a work trip for the purpose of socializing curls my toes

Rachel: i 100% do because i want drama to happen and i want to witness it
i want to be the extra in these romance comics

Jenny: the dream

Ashley: HAHAHA you would make a perfect romance comic extra

Rachel: i want to be the guy playing ping pong and have one of the main characters open up to me
about her FEELINGS for ANOTHER
and then i want to go to bed lol

Jenny: hell yeah hell yeah hell yeah

Ashley: i mean… in a lot of ways, that’s kind of like comics conventions

Rachel: TRUE

Jenny: i would love to be one of these old ladies just gal palling our girls

Rachel: lol yesss

Jenny: butterfly meme but it’s a boomer, lesbians, and “is this…friendship??”

Ashley: HAHAHA
that makes me think of something… which is that, i love the comedic timing in this volume?

Jenny: oh def! i think this one had a lot of fun gags!

Rachel: lol i lost it at that

Jenny: this one-two punch from i used to like drawing bc it made my dad proud of me

Ashley: HAHAHA beautiful
it all has a very Our (Millennial) Generation sensibility

CC: also
I have never related to a single manga panel more than shimizu in this scene

CC: i submit, for the croneditorial panel, our new motto

Rachel: hahahaha seconded

Jenny: +1 +1 +1

Rachel: also probably how many of our Going Steady pitches began

CC: god bless
I’m so glad

Ashley: omg yes

Jenny: there were a lot of really good, small and tender relatable moments too though!

Jenny: like
it’s really hard to be there for people
and sometimes this is all you can do! but it’s still valuable!!

Ashley: YES that scene really stuck with me
good friendship tactic and frankly good writing/arting tactic

Jenny: yeah! it went straight from this to the ‘you’re not my’ gag and it felt v real! like yeah that’s how people are!
tender and jokes!
the two genders

Ashley: hehehe
as usual, i choose both!!

Jenny: people are complicated! and i feel like this book doesn’t shy away from that!

CC: I also really like the gradual process of shimizu seeing through maekawa’s Big Moods
that kinda reading process as you and another person fit each other (and yr rough edges) into each others’ lives
it’s nice! complicated! very sweet!

Jenny: ????

CC: maekawa wants people she cares about to see through her attempts to push them away and shimizu is picking up on how maekawa is mostly all bluster

Ashley: yes! and it’s so circular, right, they way they are drawn together and then apart… i think sometimes the stories we read for this series are so eerily linear
when EVERYTHING about human relationships is distinctly not linear

Rachel: !!!!
yes, 1000%
i love that there are no direct paths in this book
they don’t come together easily and they don’t come to terms with themselves easily
but they still hang and joke and do small things for each other

Jenny: yeah def! and these moments do just sort of keep playin1g out
and it’s nice to see how they grow a little bit closer to understanding each other each time
like by the time we get to the work trip — shimizu’s really figured it out!

Jenny: maekawa’s still pulling her shit
but shimizu

Jenny: she gets it (but still has it in her to be jokey)

CC: i just, love them

Ashley: meee tooooooo

CC: I also like that shimizu’s main conflict about love becomes her concern that loving somebody will change her personality
which like, I get it, and it’s an interesting concern

CC: love is weird!!!
it’s true!!!

Jenny: oh man yeah!!
and like

Ashley: oh boy lmao

Rachel: i also wanna talk about how effectively this book uses black fills!!
it’s mostly a very light/grayscale book but then it’s like FULL FILL and it just sets such a good visual cue

CC: oh yeah I know! a lot of the tonally most intense scenes definitely take advantage of this

Ashley: yes! it’s very instructive, tbh! i’m taking notes…

CC: god yeah there’s also a lot in this volume that is very Real about making comics


Rachel: i love comics about making comics
come into my home, this is where i live

CC: this caused me physical pain LMAO:

CC: “then have fun struggling”

Rachel: lol DIRECT HIT
i think this story does such a good job of exploring the pressures of making something for Yourself and making something for Capitalism
and how we use it to define our own feelings of success

Jenny: truly!!
yeah and also just — christ! it’s so hard to like the things you make when you’re not in a great place emotionally!!

Rachel: YES

Ashley: uh, yes, this is relevant to everything i’ve ever done

Jenny: Universal Basic Income NOW
Healthcare NOW

Rachel: this was very validating for me because i’ve never been the kind of person who can use suffering to fuel their creativity

Jenny: Comrade Himbo will give us the time and space to learn to love ourselves
v fair!!
gotta take time to process stuff!!

CC: yeah I gotta say, I don’t like any of the creative things I tried to fuel with sadness tbh
I know it works for some folks but not me!!!!

Rachel: yeah! i think art as processing and therapy is so powerful
but i also think there’s this myth that to be a truly Great Artist, you must suffer
and if you’re ever happy, you’re not an Artist

Ashley: yeah, that’s a super pervasive and destructive myth. and it seems to genuinely be at play in Maekawa’s attempts to divorce herself from her feelings

Rachel: yeah! and i love shimizu being over here like, i make yuri because i love it and it brings me joy, and i love bringing others joy through the yuri i draw
art can be that simple!
sometimes art is just two girls kissing!!!!

Ashley: there’s actually a really interesting tension between them artistically, where Shimizu is completely motivated by having a space for her own desire, whereas Maekawa is 100% motivated by external approval
i think they make such a compelling pair because they balance each other’s extremes

CC: you really hit the nail on the head!!!

Jenny: this might be a little niche for the bbc merlin fans out there, but — two sides of the same coin, etc etc

I really appreciate maekawa’s motivation because personally
I think most of the fun I have in writing something is knowing at least one specific person will enjoy it
if I write something I know y’all are gonna love, it’s easier for me to fall in love with it too
but I struggle to Make Art For Art’s Sake [for myself, by myself]
I like thinking of art / creation as a collaborative process!
and thinking about the difference in maekawa’s and shimizu’s motivations is really interesting for this reason! the different creative forces that drive people, etc

Jenny: and I think that’s kind of where maekawa ends up! bc even though they’re on a break when she finishes her manga, she says in the text she wanted to tell this story to shimizu, and that’s what motivates her to finish!

CC: god
what a cerebral romance roundtable
we’re really bringing our biggest brains to the table this time yall

Ashley: YEAH
just goes to show how good this manga is, i think!

Jenny: def! it’s complicated! and layered!

Ashley: but also like… maybe this is the perfect book for us, right now? i know we’ve all been struggling artistically with these things ourselves, lately.

Jenny: also has some more overt symbolism
such as

Jenny: for the jokes


just like, very slowly and methodically shoving herself in the closet

Jenny: at just the same time as she backpedals in her work and pushes shimizu away

Jenny: frustrating but also believable

Rachel: ahhhh poor shimizu

Jenny: truly!!

Rachel: it’s hard to love someone who doesn’t love themselves

Ashley: BIG NOD

CC: you know, I’m amazed by how well shimizu is taking it all in tho

Jenny: that was such a good moment! esp bc of the contrast between shimizu and the random ex-boyfriend from the start of the volume

Jenny: who broke up w her bc she was cold to him after a while

Ashley: oooo, yes, good callback

CC: maekawa irl

Jenny: lolol

Ashley: LMAO

Rachel: lollll extremely true
well, do y’all wanna do final thoughts??

CC: yeah!
mind if I go ahead?

Rachel: go for it!

CC: my final thought is
who wore it best??


Ashley: oh SHIT

CC: (also yall should definitely read “the way of the househusband” LOL)

Jenny: hell yes

Ashley: man, the aviators are pretty good but Shimizu’s manic smile really pulls the look together imo

CC: tru tru

Jenny: my final thought is also in praise of shimizu

Jenny: love this corny dad

Ashley: hehehehe

Jenny: alt: this is her carrie bradshaw column
mr big may have been good at debugging computers, but could he learn to debug other people?

Ashley: omg

Jenny: i’m only familiar w the meme, so it feels little bit like i’m the robot who got fed scripts and this is what i came up w

too young for even the TBS reruns~~
which admittedly I only watched a few times tbh but that seems to be along the lines that I remember!

Jenny: thank
an adequate simulation

Ashley: it exceeds expectations
okay here is my final thought:

Ashley: me and the boys refusing to do sexual harassment!!!!

Rachel: they’re good boys!

Jenny: you love to see it

Ashley: i dream of being the powerful gay who leads the good boys into heaven!

Jenny: they just want to do group karaoke!
no harassment allowed

Ashley: we have to be the change we wish to see in the world….

Rachel: lol i believe in you Ashley

Ashley: hahaha thank u

Rachel: this is my final thought, which is good at capturing how i felt at the end of the book


Ashley: HAHAHA, yes, chef’s kiss!!!!!!!!

CC: I really can’t wait for volume 3!!!!!

Rachel: i want to hang out with this manga artist
she seems like she’d be fun

Ashley: she does seem like a total riot

Rachel: my hopes for vol 3: be gay do crimes???
only time will tell!

CC: in the meantime, we’ll have to find some other romance to read!!!

Ashley: * rolls up sleeves, cracks knuckles *

CC: hell yea

Join us next time for even more love story shouting in our next Romance Roundtable! 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.

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!!
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.
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.
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.
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