Welcome to Romance Roundtable: a feature where the editorial POME Crones gather together to discuss Romance Manga. Today we’re recapping Still Sick, Volume 3 by Akashi — the final installment of this wholesome and deeply relatable romance manga about office ladies who are in love and make comics. Come say goodbye to this lovely series, and bask in the glow of some truly inspirational comics editing content along the way.
Rachel: ok today!! we are recapping!!! the final volume of STILL SICK!!!
Jenny: so i def had to re-read our old romance roundtables!
it’s been a while since we did volumes 1 & 2
but mostly what i got was: our two beloved office lady comics creators (maekawa and shimizu) are falling in love! we last saw our heroines on a work trip to the hot springs and shimizu is ready to put herself out there for real.
Rachel: yes!! volume 2 ended with a real cliffhanger!
Ashley: fortunately vol 3 picked up exactly where it left off, with the two having a Talk about What Is Going On Here
Rachel: yes, thank hera
CC: and now they’re gfs!!!!!!
so happy for these two dummies
Rachel: ok i wanna talk about the conversation they have when they get together
just a nice, healthy, supportive dynamic for a partner to have!!!
idk i love it, Shimizu is so great
Ashley: haha yeah! i love how Maekawa was like, i did my job i bet you’re MAD about it
and Shimizu was like… “no??”
CC: that four year age gap…..not problematic age gap but what a gulf in what you learn about being an adult human between 24 and 28 L O L L L L L L
Rachel: SHE LOVES HER AHHH
Ashley: SO SWEEEET
Ashley: it’s pretty cool that this volume starts with them getting together and then spending the rest of it exploring the deepening of their relationship
CC: I like how direct Shimizu is about all things
Jenny: feels v going steady tbh
Ashley: yes! also similar to bridgerton, where it was nice that the wedding was in the middle instead of at the end
also love that they don’t spend several volumes debating about kissing
Rachel: THEY SMOOCH IMMEDIATELY
none of this “should i hold…. her hand?????” internal debates for 1,000 pages
idk i just like the normalization of emotional and psychical intimacy
Jenny: yes but also
CC: oh but also let’s not forget about
Jenny: nightmare of nightmares
Rachel: HAHA true
CC: teddy bear of lust
Rachel: LUST BEAR
Ashley: HAHAHA yes best panel
Rachel: i just like that being together and being intimate isn’t what scares them
we get these brief glimpses of domesticness and affection
and it’s not a plot point at all
Jenny: yeah their relationship fears feel v much like any other relationship fears
CC: v relatable feelings!!!
and I think Shimizu does really understand Maekawa
for better or worse
Jenny: yeah this felt like a good moment of growth
like in the first 2 volumes, there were moments when shimizu had some doubts around how maekawa would treat her sometimes, but now it feels like she really just understands maekawa and it cool with it
CC: and maekawa is also trying to do better
Jenny: it’s true!!
CC: trying to be less selfish and to understand others better
rather than being just like “this is who I am and u gotta deal with it”
well, not 100% like that the way she starts the story (imo) anyway
Jenny: yes!! and she admits that part of that positive growth comes from knowing shimizu, which is nice
Jenny: like, when her editor kidnaps her to make her work as an assistant to another comics creator, she’s able to swallow her ego and both identify and execute what she needs to do to best serve the book their working on
and she thinks: what would shimizu do?
Ashley: i think that ^ was my absolute favorite scene
Jenny: it was really nice!!
to see what a good influence shimizu is on her and how much she wants to be a better person for her
Ashley: it also didn’t like, come out of nowhere you know? all of their experiences and conversations were leading up to it in a satisfying way
CC: yeah like, imo the best thing about this story is how rounded out these gals are
they have full lives outside of one another, and they learn how to support each other and grow as people both inside of and outside of the relationship
Ashley: right! which isn’t to say it’s all like, a linear progression either, because this scene also leads to a huge misunderstanding where they both withhold information to try and protect the others’ feelings
CC: i gotta say: idk if this is a controversial opinion but i love this weirdo editor
Ashley: omg i’m obsessed with him
Ashley: the couple chapters at the beginning with all the editor drama just really hit hard for me
also it made me think that when Maekawa said she was going to do a new story about people “behind the scenes” i thought it was going to add a 3rd level of meta and be about editors, hahaha
CC: finally: the comics editor yuri manga content we’ve all been craving
also YES jenny hashtag editorspiration
Ashley: yes!!!! it’s the pome ethos in one panel
not to like, toot our own horn or whatever but like, toot toot bitch
Jenny: but tbh i really loved the way maekawa’s relationship with toudou evolved
CC: I have never sought out a deep freeze facility to give better edits for comics about subzero temperatures but you know what? I feel inspired to start
also yes!!! agreed
Jenny: like in vol 1 he’s just some asshole who runs into them at a con
but now, when maekawa’s assigned to work with him
CC: the pome ethos continues
Jenny: like, spite is a great motivator imo
CC: is it any wonder that we love this book so much
Ashley: it really feels made just for us
Jenny: but also it was fun to see her come around/learn how to take criticism and also to see her relax a little around her editor
like, this moment
Jenny: i think i did laugh out loud
CC: love that rallying “what a surprise” L O L
Jenny: like, she’s still kind of an asshole but she’s so charming about it
and this scene does directly lead into the scene where she helps out the other creator
Ashley: hahahaha i also lol’d
Jenny: it was nice to see her keep her personality while also growing
CC: honing her pettiness like a well sharpened blade
only using it at the right time
u love 2 see it
Rachel: to your point about how she thinks about how Shimizu would react in this situation
i love how we get to see how their relationship affects their lives OUTSIDE of the relationship
most romances are so focused on the two people involved
you don’t get to see how being with someone and how you grow can affect how you interact with others!
CC: yeah for real!!!!!
I love Shimizu’s supportive boys
Ashley: true comrade himbos imho
CC: love them so much!!!
Jenny: but also:
Jenny: part of this scene
has the boss saying that shimizu is really good with people
that her boys are such loyal hard workers and it’s in large part due to shimizu’s leadership skills
and while shimizu is motivated in part to take this promotion because the money is better and maekawa’s income is less stable (doing comics full time)
part of it is also motivated by (i think) the extent to which shimizu’s learning to understand and manage maekawa, as well as shimizu’s growing acceptance of her own self, has given her more confidence around others and has made her a better and more empathetic person (a better manager)
but also obviously i do agree w her point
please do something about that unfair treatment, re: manager being paid best
Ashley: haha yes
it’s true though – i think maekawa gaining the courage to allow herself to have a real relationship pushes her to actually enjoying testing her limits, expanding her boundaries, etc
it feels… really nice (and somehow kind of rare) to read a story where you see how the relationship brings out more of the potential of each individual
especially a girls love story
Jenny: def def def
CC: also a romance that isn’t about kids still in school
ah yes, the highs and lows of……changing jobs and navigating promotions
love this for all of us
Ashley: love to indulge in the fantasy of being praised for my work and asked to take on a more advanced role………
(this has literally only happened like twice in my working life)
Jenny: the dream tbh
do we want to talk a little about this volume’s central conflict?
shimizu sees maekawa get out of toudou’s car early in the morning, after maekawa had cancelled plans with shimizu the night before
shimizu assumes that maekawa is cheating on her
maekawa lies about where she was because she doesn’t want shimizu to worry about how hard she’s working/how little sleep she’s getting
Rachel: ahhh the old “i’m trying to do something nice but then it leads to misunderstandings!!”
Ashley: i mean…. i’m here to argue that lying to prevent your partner from worrying SEEMS like something nice when you’re doing it but is actually selfish
in that you’re trying to prevent a reaction from your partner that you don’t want to deal with
Rachel: oh yes for sure!
Ashley: (thanks, years of therapy)
CC: oh yeah like, are you lying to spare them from worrying or lying to spare yourself from navigating their feelings
Rachel: love that the moral of the conflict is “JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER”
CC: also love that they did and then they got to the bottom of it pretty quickly!!!!
Ashley: yes!! and that they even kind of got mad at each other but in like a loving way
Rachel: but yes it did take one of them finally getting the nerve to confront the other
Jenny: and this confrontation is what finally gets maekawa to articulate her feelings
Jenny: and it’s CUTE!!
Ashley: ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
Ashley: also i gotta say, i think it’s genuinely hilarious that poor Shimizu thinks of all people that Maekawa would have a torrid affair with her extremely single-minded manga editor
Jenny: lol yeah
but tbh i think that shimizu and toudou are not necessarily so different
Jenny: like, shimizu’s relationship w her comics work feels (to me) p similar to toudou’s passion/devotion to his work
Ashley: HMM…. interesting
and i mean, tbf Maekawa was open about having cheated before and not even thinking much of it
but like, i feel like Toudou gives off “i would only kiss for comics research purposes” vibes
Jenny: oh yeah — i think shimizu’s fears were absolutely founded in her growing understanding of maekawa (the same one that made her into such a good match for her)
CC: v girls monthly nozaki kun vibes
from Toudou I mean ha ha
also Maekawa is the Moving On Quick queen LOL
Ashley: JUST A PERIOD OF MOVING ON omg
her carefree expression saying this insane thing lololol
CC: but I hadn’t thought about Shimizu and Toudou being similar in disposition! both have high expectations from Maekawa and drive her to do better
lol i love maekawa but she is a hot mess express, especially earlier on
love to see her doing better……but love to see that she is also still fundamentally the same in some ways hahaha
Ashley: very relatable
CC: look, to my point earlier
24 is so very young!!!
just barely alive at that point tbh
like a baby deer running on wobbly legs, maekawa is running towards the life she wants to live
look, I’m shooting for some good comics editor one liners here
Rachel: THIS AHHH
Ashley: casually dropping the question but it’s a statement and in the department store
Jenny: i think shimizu does guide her towards some more temperate decisions, but i agree that maekawa retains her personality throughout
really feels like growth and not like she’s just magically fixing everything that’s wrong with her
CC: before we wrap up, I just want to talk about my very favorite scene in this volume
CC: “My name is Makoto Shimizu and I’m dating your daughter”
so cool! so direct!!!
Ashley: this made me cry and then immediately laugh
absolute chef’s kiss moment
CC: just like, we don’t have time to unpack this, you gotta get it together and show up for your daughter or else; sincerely, your daughter’s gf
Jenny: def!! felt really good! and felt like a big step for shimizu
Ashley: hahahahaha YES! to his credit, he immediately moves from like “i have a gay daughter????” to “please have a shitload of free food”
like, objectively, i think it went pretty well!
and i think it was able to set up one of my favorite scenes
Jenny: where shimizu tells her mom that she’s dating maekawa
she’s so confident and casual about it!
really feels like a far cry from vol 1 shimizu, who loved yuri but denied that she was into girls herself
and i think she’s rewarded for that confidence
Jenny: bc her mom absolutely comes around!!
Ashley: yeah!!! i actually kind of like that since we kind of have the coming out scene with Maekawa’s dad, this convo actually skips past the actual moment Maekawa comes out to her mom and skips ahead to the part where her mom is like, “be a good daughter and take your girlfriend home to meet us!!!”
CC: i just love this series so much ;__;
Ashley: it’s just like, very gentle, very good vibes without ignoring the hardship of being gay in a not super accepting environment
Rachel: it’s so nice and i’m a little sad it’s over!!!
Jenny: love gentle good vibes tbh
Rachel: dear readers, if you have more recs in the line of Still Sick, please let us know
Ashley: yes plz
CC: yes!!! I would love to read any comic that brings my heart this much joy
Rachel: on that, do y’all wanna do some final thoughts??
Jenny: my final thought
is really just that i love drawings of food
Jenny: and also i’m happy for them
love to live my corniest life
Rachel: drawings of food in grayscale too!!!
ahh i want to eat it
CC: my final thought is
I love Toudou so much, and aspire to say cool things like this to every artist I work with
CC: truly: love to see comics editing the way I love to think about it, which is to say: working together to make comics that punch you in the gut with feelings
my final thought is that, shimizu is just so relatable
Rachel: me, anytime i move
CC: LOL so real
Ashley: OMG hahahaha rachel i picked the same panel for my final thought!!!!
except instead of doujinshi it’s my z-eye-nes collection
this comic is just so so great and i would love to read more like it
i’m just putting this out there, manifesting it
if there was ever going to be a time when I’d use the Secret, it’s for this
Jenny: i think probably this would be the purest use of whatever dark force powers The Secret
more gentle comics about loving yourself and other people
CC: this is pretty much all I want to manifest with what’s left of 2021, so love to see the POME ethos in action as part of this book yet again
Ashley: ???? ???? ????
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.