Romance Roundtable #41: Restart After Coming Home

Welcome back to Romance Roundtable: a feature where the editorial POME Crones gather together to discuss Romance Manga. Today we’re covering volume 1 of Restart After Coming Back Home by Cocomi. This is such a sweet story about reevaluating your priorities and learning to be vulnerable. But also it’s got jokes! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll absolutely SHRIEK!! Let’s get into it!


Rachel: i’m so glad we read this one!!
it’s so sweet

Jenny: same!! it’s so cute!!

CC: so scenic and gentle and also
kissing on a train!!!
who doesn’t love to see it
love that for anyone who can have it
transit and true love at the same time

Jenny: i feel like there are some of these where i don’t take a lot of screenshots for whatever reason (really sucked into the story, or not feeling it at all — usually one or the other), but this one was SO SWEET and i was just screenshotting like every page
but do we want to summarize?

CC: yeah!
after getting fired from his job in tokyo, 25 year old Mitsuomi moves back home and strikes up a friendship / falls in love with Yamato and they just vibe for like 175 scenic pages

Jenny: it’s called Restart After Coming Home, and that’s pretty much it. guy goes back to his hometown after blowing it at his fancy city job and has to figure out what he wants to do with his life
it’s very Big City Girl, Small Town Christmas https://pome-mag.com/holiday-double-features-rapid-fire/

Ashley: hahaha yes, i think at least 3 stories revolve around holiday even
and rachel fully called it with the ☀️ / 🌙 ship dynamic

Rachel: my favorite ship dynamic!!
it’s also very 🐶 / 🐱

CC: oh yeah so true so true great call rachel
i love it too!

Jenny: it’s also got a solid collection of classique tropes!! ^^above grumpy/sunshine but also (a personal fave) THERE WAS ONLY ONE BED

Rachel: i imagine we all screamed

Jenny: THIS BOOK WAS FULL OF SCREAMS!!! (in a fun way)

CC: I shouted “ONLY ONE BED” out loud L O L
OOBOL (only one bed out loud)

Rachel: PFFT

Ashley: i screenshotted that too, of course, titled “AWYEAH.jpg”
like i was never much of an “only one bed” person but because of y’all i’m rooting for OOB

Jenny: forced proximity! leads to the confession! a proven formula that works!

CC: i personally just really appreciate it when the reader, the author, and the characters all know it’s a trope and we’re all just opting into it together
i love when the OOB is just like
;D
~~ only one bed ~~
and then the reader, the author, and the characters all high five
internally

Jenny: honestly that’s what i love about the romance genre!! everyone is just there to have a nice time!

Ashley: ^^^^

Rachel: YES

CC: yeah also
adults!!!
falling in love!!!

Ashley: 30 YEAR OLDSSSSS

Rachel: love that we see them go from 25 to 30
and also that at 25, Mitsuomi is fully like

Mitsuomi lays on the ground, with his arm over his face. "The man lying here, crushed by grief... is Kozuka Mitsuomi, age twenty-five."

Rachel: relatable

Ashley: HAHAHA i instantly fell in love with the depressed boy
“ah yes, finally the representation i deserve”

Jenny: oh god the intros were SO STRONG for both of them!

Caption: "Kumai Yamato, age twenty-five."
Yamato comes in from the outside. "So, how many times have you been fired now?"
Caption: "The only son of our neighbor, Kumai-jiichan."
Mitsuomi, mumbling: "... three times."
Yamato laughs. Mitsuomi: "Don't laugh!"

CC: lmao “how many times you been fired now”

Jenny: shifting immediately into:

Yamato, holding Mitsuomi's face in his hands: "Ooh, your eyes ARE kinda angry, aren't they?"
Mitsuomi blushes furiously. "Sh... shuddup! I got a complex about that! And your hands are freezing!"

Jenny: as someone who makes my partner warm my cold hands all the time, this was peak relatable

Rachel: hell yeah HELL YEAH
also love that kind of touch that’s like, this isn’t romantic inherently but it COULD BE

Ashley: oh man yeah
i was like, “look at these two dummies, already in love and probably unaware”

Jenny: there was so much of that! they really drew out the pining on both sides and i loved it

CC: i mean like not inherently romantic necessarily but has anyone ever just held another person’s face in their hands, stared into their eyes adoringly and felt nothing but platonic affection
probably but
i do not believe it

Ashley: LOL
yeah, readers, if you’re into pining this is the one for you

Rachel: it’s the plausible deniability of it for me!!
like, oh
this is PROBABLY NOT romantic but
what’s that meme
“i’m not holding your face in a romantic way HAHAHA unless…???”

CC: YEAH
yes
very that
what if we kissed in your family’s incense shop ??????

Ashley: “it was a mosquito bite”
that thing that famously feels just like your crush’s soft lips

Rachel: LOL

Mitsuomi leans over to Yamato, who he thinks is sleeping, and gives him a kiss on the cheek.
Yamato blinks. "Hm? Did you just touch me?"
Mitsuomi, flipping over and pulling the blanket over his head quickly: "W... WASN'T ME! Probably a mosquito!"

CC: LMAO

Rachel: these cute DUMMIES
I LOVE THEM

CC: i do love them
my heart feels so soft after reading this book

Rachel: truly
i do also really quickly want to take a quick detour
to talk about Kurai-jiichan

Yamato to his father: "Did you give Baachan goodnight kisses, Jiichan?"
Kurai-jiichan, stubbornly eating and ignoring Yamato: "This sure tastes great."

Rachel: i love this guy

CC: ;__;

Kurai-jiichan to Mitsuomi: "You ain't never had a thought in your head, and yet all's ad do is bellyache."

Jenny: he’s an icon

Rachel: LOL YES
exactly
amazing

CC: sage advice king

Kurai-jiichan: "You'll be fine as long as you have someone you love. Don't you pay this old geezer no mind."

Ashley: too bad this came out in 2019 because big crone of the year material

Rachel: YEAH DEFINITELY

CC: i love a stern but fair elder

Ashley: tfw when ur adopted son wants to know about the birds and the bees and ur like, “i’m too old for this shit”

Rachel: so good

Jenny: i do want to reiterate that this is definitely just 175 pages worth of vibes
but also there are some plot things
the grumpy one’s main arc is convincing his dad that he’s serious about taking over the family store; and the sunshine one’s main arc is about learning to open up to people (as lived out through just checking at least once if there’s any info about his birth parents that the orphanage can give him)

CC: also at the beginning, grappling with a parent’s mortality
and throughout, just falling in love!!! learning to be vulnerable!!!

Jenny: yeah for sure — jichan has a fall but he’s OK! nothing can fell our king

Rachel: i love that there are no villains!! these boys are just learning to be more open and caring

Yamato, thinking: "I'm the one who's been pushing him away. I was too harsh with him."
Yamato to Mitsuomi, after telling him about his past. "It's okay. You don't have to say anything. Like I said, I WANTED to tell you. I was just hoping you'd listen. That's all. Sorry for boring you."
Mitsoumi whaps Yamato on the arm: "Don't talk like that, dummy! It's IMPORTANT to talk about this stuff!"

Jenny: growth!!

CC: ;o;

Ashley: not to sideline, but mmmmmmmmmmmmmm i’d say this guy is a little bit of a villain

Harada, staring.

Jenny: LOL
no way!
matchmaker!!
just, like, in a mean way

CC: or at least a romantic rival imo L O L

Harada to Yamato: "For real? I thought you had a SPECIAL relationship. Weak."

CC: hMMMMMMMMMM

Ashley: hahaha yeah, i def thought it was a romantic rival moment
but you’re so right jenny

Harada to Yamato: "Guess he's just special to you. Mitsuomi, I mean."
Yamato, thinking: "Special?"
Yamato, smiling: "What do you mean by that?"
Yamato thinks: "This whole time, I've been pretending not to notice... that my heart hurts when I hear Harada say Mitsuomi's name."

Jenny: planting seeds!!
four-dimensional love chess

Rachel: the best kind!!!

CC: i am convinced he is a romantic rival based on the above but also

Harada to Yamato: "Wish you'd use MY first name, too."

CC: would you now
hMMMMMMMMMM
very cute!

Jenny: yeah that was cute

Rachel: i like that it’s ambiguous but i’m with jenny on this one! i think he’s pointing out the differences to Yamato here, like, hey dummy, see how you treat this person differently than you treat your friend of 10 years???
just your mean friend trying to help you out but in a mean way lol
but idk both readings are very good!!

CC: oh yeah i see that
i do also like to hMMMMM ominously but i think you’re right on that one hehehe

Jenny: a lot of realistic complexity in these characters!

Ashley: i do like that it’s ambiguous BUT ALSO that even tho he dates, no one says anything about girls, and his dad is the most normal about yamato and mitsuomi dating
so like, my headcanon is crush > besties > matchmaker

Rachel: OHHH yes
i love that

Jenny: love that for him

CC: can we talk about the parents’ reaction to these cuties dating real quick? bc I did not expect it and I really love it for them!!!

Caption from Mitsuomi: "When I first told Mom and Dad, they didn't look too happy. But whether they've accepted it, or just resigned themselves... they haven't made THAT FACE in a while."

Ashley: yeah… that’s a very interesting sequence. i didn’t read it as like, “they came around to fully accepting us” but more like, they are slowly and silently working on it

CC: yeah agreed!
not 100% neat and tidy but I appreciated it!

Rachel: i would have liked to see jiichan’s reaction as well!
but since we didn’t see it, i’m assuming it’s positive
based on his comment earlier about “as long as you love someone…” that kind of makes me think he had an idea of what’s going on
probably before these boys themselves do lol

CC: i’m sure he probably figured it out around that point LOL
that’s my headcannon anyway and i’m sticking to it!

Ashley: hahaha. i mean, i strongly lean in favor of “i’m too old for this” also meaning “i’m too old to get weird about who my kid is dating”

Jenny: truly who has the time or the energy

CC: amen

Ashley: as always there may be a cross-cultural element i’m not picking up on, but it seems that grandparent-age people who adopt a teenager are gonna be more on the go with the flow side

CC: he seems like the type to just be happy if yamato is happy

Ashley: fully
also!! this actually brings me to something i really liked, which was the artist’s note at the end (i always love these)

"I started drawing this story because I wanted to show two people who form an emotional bond based on each one making up for what the other lacks, while respecting each other, and which also explores this emotion we call love. This book has a happy ending, but... maybe being lovers doesn't go so smoothly for them. Maybe they. break up, maybe they get back together again, maybe they go through those stages more than once. I don't know what the future holds for them, but I hope that they can keep laughing together, side by side, the whole time."

Ashley: i really enjoyed that they sort of talk about how they wonder if their lives take twists and turns you wouldn’t normally see in a romance
and that you could really see all the “realistic” elements and all the thought she put into these characters as real humans shine through

Jenny: def appreciated the acknowledgment that life is unpredictable!
but also imo read like a teaser for sequels
like (hope this gets picked up! you might get to see them angst some more!!)
and i would LOVE to see it

CC: I would love to see these two in 2, 3, 5, 10 more years

Ashley: seriously, 10 years later? soft husbands in the country town? LET’S GO

CC: I also think this author’s note is a really nice validation for stuff you pick up on throughout! bc I do think these two actively push to grow and improve based on their relationship with each other
yamato opening up, mitsuomi restraining some of his curmedgeonliness

Ashley: yes!! but like… in a very grounded way
like how often do you see a sort of “failed” young adult kind of like, accept a humbler kind of life than the one they set out for?
as the resident failson, i truly appreciated this

CC: yeah that is a good point
return to the town of vibes, become the town’s #1 purveyor of vibes
a noble dream

Jenny: and i liked that he kind of HAD to actively choose that humbler life — like he was forced to sit down and acknowledge both that that’s what he wants AND that he’s going to do something about it

Mitsuomi to his father: "I did say that before, but now --"
Mitsuomi's father: "You're just asking because no one else will hire you, right? You may be my son, but you're too big of a flake to trust with my shop!"

Jenny: the dad was kind of a dick (on the surface; much like his son) but this felt really important for his growth

Ashley: very much so

CC: i guess you can see where he gets it from

Ashley: HA i mean, his mom is pretty judgey too!

Jenny: i was just about to say!!
i love her though

Mitsuomi's mom's, talking to Mitsuomi about Yamato: "He's honest, cheerful, and kind... not like SOMEONE I know, hmm?"
Mitsuomi: "They say kids take after their parents."
Mitsuomi's mom: "By the way... why didn't you tell me you got fired? What did you come back home for, anyway?"

Ashley: a lot of mitsuomi’s journey is like, finding a balance between accepting himself and growing out of the family narrative

CC: oh yeah also showing yamato the embarrassing photos

Ashley: HAHA

Looking at a picture of a little Mitsuomi surround by his family as they pick on him, Yamato thinks: "In the photo, Mitsuomi was sulking... and you couldn't really call him cute. But I definitely got the sense... that his family loved him a lot."

Jenny: 🥺
this part was so sweet

Rachel: i really liked the thought the author put into family dynamics and how unique those are
how they shape / are shaped by our personalities

Ashley: fully agree, just a few interactions really had so much emotion and story packed in

CC: yeah, a small number of characters but a lot of depth in those interactions
giving these two a really rooted and multi dimensional feeling
while also throwing in an only one bed etc – realism, but also, we are also still having fun here

Ashley: i feel like we’re starting to wind down a bit, soooo… i don’t know if y’all noticed but
volume 2 comes out… on feb 1!

Rachel: OH DANG
YES sliding in here at exactly the right moment!!

CC: oh wow!!!!!!!!
it’s a groundhog’s day miracle

Ashley: i guess it will be out by the time this is posted, haha

Rachel: hell yeah
also love this title

Ashley: yes!!!! very curious and excited about it

Jenny: i hope for more lovingly drawn vegetables

CC: omg i know
also eggs

Jenny: and maybe a little more of this shit:

Mitsuomi to Yamato: "You already gave us those vegetables earlier."
Yamato, with stars in his eyes: "Yeah, but these pickles... ARE SUUUPER CRAZY DELISH!!!"

CC: that is me whenever rachel’s summer 2020 pickled peppers come up in conversation

Ashley: HAHAHA i screenshotted that and titled it “that’s rachel”

Rachel: awwww y’all!!!!

CC: I TOOK THIS SCREENSHOT TOO LMAO

Rachel: LOL this is what 40+ romance roundtables will do!!

Ashley: yeah but also your LEGENDARY AGRICULTURAL PROWESS

Mitsuomi, exhausted: "How do you have so much energy...?"
Yamato: "What, me? I do this every day."
Mitsuomi: "Unh... oh yeah, the veggies you gave us earlier were great."
Yamato: "Right?! It's 'cause I grew 'em with love!"

CC: growing sustenance from the earth, metal as hell true crone shit

Jenny: +1 +1

CC: are y’all ready for final thoughts?

Jenny: ye

Rachel: yyeah!

CC: mine is very simple, very very simple

Ashley: go!

CC: this
arrow through my heart true love shit

The boys are face-to-face in the bed, with a pillow between their faces.
Yamato: "We'll laugh together and eat rock-hard rice crackers. That's what I picture now."

Rachel: 😭

CC: any growing old together content
that hole is made just for me
i just think it’s neat
there really is a beloved trope well deployed for everyone in this sweet and lovely book
😭

Jenny: speaking of tropes…
my final thought is really just that i sometimes don’t totally get the appeal of the grumpy one in the grumpy/sunshine trope
but this book!!
really sold me on it
like

Yamato holds Mitsuomi back when they overhear some townspeople talking negatively about Yamato.
Mitsuomi: "They're talking smack about you!"
Yamato: "It's fine. I'm used to it."
Mitsuomi: "Don't get used to that!"

Jenny: he protecc he attacc
very cute

Rachel: !!!!!
ack i got shivers
love this page

Jenny: and like

Yamato is feeling down and stressed because of Kurai-jiichan is in the hospital.
Mitsuomi: "What's with the doom and gloom?"
Mitsuomi playfully yanks Yamato's hood over his head.
Yamato: "Whoa?! Wha -- ?!"
Mitsuomi: "If he can run his mouth lik that... he'll be just fine."
Mitsuomi, thinking: "Looks like I'll have to do the smiling now.

Jenny: i took so many full-page screenshots
this was so nice

CC: LOOKS LIKE I’LL HAVE TO DO THE SMILING NOW
god
i love them

Ashley: god yeah i actually like, felt a weight in my chest at this part

Jenny: it was just so nice!!
so good to see them fit together

Yamato, hugging Mitsuomi: "Thank you for getting angry for me. I might be an outsider here, but I love Jiichan and this town. I'll do my best to be accepted, even if it's bit by bit."
Blushing, Mitsuomi opens his mouth to speak, but gives up and looks away.

Ashley: super genuine, real love shit

Rachel: ahh those last two panels!!

CC: u can have a little grumpy blush, as a treat

Jenny: i think the author mentioned this in the end note — about how she wanted to write a story about characters that, like, compliment or like balance out each other
and that’s just so nice to see
another thing a really love about the romance genre — the idea that other people will push you to be better in ways that you cannot push yourself

CC: love!!!!! love is so powerful!!!!

Ashley: okay after all this i have to come through with a goofy final thought
i just want there to be a social function so that this guy can bust out a scandalous outfit

Harada, being stylish and looking serious.
Harada is introduced to Mitsuomi for the first time, and he's wearing a t-shirt covered in watermelons.

Rachel: YEAH this guy with the looks!!!
melon shirt!!

CC: is that
watermelon

Jenny: he has another one that’s a pineapple!

CC: fruit prince!

Ashley: manifesting jackie chan mesh shirt for vol 2

Jackie Chan in a mesh shirt.

Jenny: LOLOLOLOLOLOL

Rachel: yes, GOD
ok i have 2 final thoughts, sorry for being extra

Ashley: this is GOOD and RIGHT

Rachel: first thought, i love black and white comics

Yamato, alone in the room: "I'm sorry, Mitsuomi."
The panel uses screen tones, except for within the word bubble.

Rachel: this is such a GOOD comics panel!!!!
the way the tone disappears in the bubble, shit
SHIT

Ashley: it is very beautiful

Rachel: I LOVE COMICS
ok second final thought
even though i’ve never thought of myself as the moon in the sun/moon dynamic, mitsuomi is just so relatable

Mitsuomi, collapsed on the ground: "My back... can't take any more..."

Rachel: MY OLD BONES

CC: LOL
life truly does come at you fast

Rachel: i lifted one (1) box and i am DONE

Ashley: classic lma

Rachel: lmaaaaa

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.
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.
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!!
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Romance Roundtable #52: Classmates

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