As teenagers, love is a complete mess. Confusing infatuation for love, not knowing how to communicate properly, the “never-ending” heartbreak after a split. Our parents say that will change, and we want to believe that. As we grow older, we’ll mature and “grow out” of these crazy feelings. Chalk it up to raging teenage hormones and be done with them. But that’s not how it works. We may now know the feelings are infatuation, but it doesn't change how we feel. It certainly doesn't mean we won’t repeat mistakes. The main female leads in Even Though We’re Adults know this all too well.
Those leads are Ayano and Shuri. They first meet in a chance encounter at a bar. Ayano is an elementary school teacher in need of a break. Shuri loves teachers. After a couple pages of conversation, they kiss just a couple hours after meeting. Yes, it does escalate that quickly. I would have liked to have seen more that led to it, but I guess alcohol can speed feelings up. After that night, Shuri falls head over heels for Ayano, and they text constantly. For Shuri, it’s like having a first love all over again. This will be different, Shuri thinks, from all the other failed relationships she’s had. Then comes the inevitable heartbreak: Ayano is married to a man. But those feelings that they have for each other just won’t go away.
Here is where the manga starts walking a very thin tight-rope. It can fall into soap-opera mush at any moment, but it manages to reach the end unscathed. Though I shouldn’t have been too worried. Author Takako Shimura has written LGBT manga before, such as Sweet Blue Flowers and Wandering Son. She’s been able to depict these young relationships well. Now she brings that expertise to relationships between adults.
Through the introspection of its characters, Shimura is able to avoid the typical trappings in tales of infidelity. After meeting Shuri, Ayano has to confront her failing marriage. Are her feelings for Shuri are because of love or because of escape? For Shuri, this isn’t her first time dealing with infidelity; she’s become skilled in spotting married women from a mile away. So why didn't she spot it in Ayano? She’s heard Ayano’s lines of time and time again, but still she finds herself drawn to Ayano. Why can’t she avoid these messy relationships? Shuri is not getting any younger, and her chance for love is slowly shrinking. Then the story switches its point of view to Ayano’s husband, and his feelings of being cheated on are not as black-and-white as you would expect.
This introspection is successful thanks to Shimura’s visuals. The panels are big, allowing you to stay focused on them longer. Some panels are black with white text, giving the inner monologues more emphasis. Sometimes the blackness is ripped by a streak of white light, illustrating the good feelings piercing through. But it also feels like the whiteness is supposed to be stars or galaxies. It’s through specific situations that universal themes shine through, and I think Shimura was able to accomplish that here.
This is a good first volume, even if it ventures into dangerous territory with infidelity. But Shimura is able to tell a mature story, and it builds a solid foundation for future volumes. This isn’t like many romances on the shelves today, and it’s worth picking up to see if it’s a book for you.
Ayano, an elementary school teacher in her thirties, stops by a bar one day and meets another woman named Shuri. Sparks fly as the two chat, and before the night is over, Ayano even goes in for a kiss. Shuri is intrigued but confused…especially when she discovers that Ayano has a husband! Both Ayano and Shuri are about to find out that love doesn’t get any easier, even as you grow older.Add to CartLearn More