REVIEW: How Do We Relationship? Vol. 2 Digs Into Saeko Sawatari

Cover of How Do We Relationship 2 featuring two people lying down towards the camera, smiling at each other

Vol. 1 of Tamifull’s How Do We Relationship? covers the beginnings of Miwa and Saeko’s relationship with a specific focus on Miwa, highlighting her anxieties about being a lesbian (and ultimately seeing her shed a few) as she spends more and more time with Saeko. Volume 2 picks up from there and spends the majority of the book focusing on Saeko and the titular Relationship as it moves along past the honeymoon phase. How Do We Relationship?, ultimately, chronicles a relationship of convenience between two young lesbians and its potential for more.

How Do We Relationship? Vol. 2

Tamifull (writer and artist), Abby Lerkhe (translation & adaptation)
VIZ
December 8, 2020

How Do We Relationship? Vol. 2 Cover
Viz Media
December 8, 2020

Chapter 10 marks the transition point where Saeko takes center stage and we as readers are able to get more introspective with her. Repeatedly, Saeko asserts she is not jealous of people spending time with Miwa, while her thoughts are clearly saying otherwise. Her inability to reconcile these and open up with Miwa makes Saeko a compelling, if a touch frustrating, character to follow along. In the back half of Vol. 2, a concert takes place which illuminates Saeko’s insecurity but does little else.

We see throughout Vol. 2 is that Saeko’s internal thoughts display her emotional honesty: that she feels jealous and deep insecurity about the relationship. Tamifull contrasting this with Saeko’s attempts at playing off any worry other characters have about her adds a layer of realism to Saeko and consequently a somewhat relatable character.

The end of volume 2, much like its preceding volume, sees a similar resolution, yet at the same time, something wildly different. As with Volume 1, Volume 2 ends with the main characters sleeping together. The story, however, does present that in this instance, there is little to nothing positive about the moment, marking a turn from the consensual nature of Miwa and Saeko having sex for the first time. It also highlights a personal flaw Saeko has to reckon with: her need to cover up her problems with sex. It remains to be seen how, or even if, Saeko will come to recognize this problem and the steps she’ll take to amend it.

Tamifull the mangaka crafts this intriguing queer relationship between the characters Miwa and Saeko, yet at the same time leaves me feeling exhausted. The first two volumes have been back-to-back with the anxieties both women face in regards to their relationship. If this is all there will be for the reader to experience, it may be better to put the manga down and go on to read something else.

The artwork in Volume 2 maintains the consistent quality of Volume 1; the pencils are free flowing yet not so much that they are difficult to follow. In addition the inking is rather well done, making each of the characters in the story pop more on the page and providing them with a great deal of liveliness. A highlight moment occurs toward the end of the volume as Saeko is forced to come to terms with her insecurity. The inter-play of the lyrics, “I worried that she didn’t really love me and that worry just festered inside me!!” with Saeko’s emotional state almost makes up for the repetitiveness of the plot.

On the whole, How Do We Relationship? Vol. 2 is a mixed bag whose good parts do not outweigh the portions that left me wanting. While I can’t fully recommend this as a manga to read, it is also one I don’t feel should be ignored entirely. The main characters facing their anxieties and slowly overcoming them may be reassuring and relatable to young queer readers, but it is clear with the way Saeko and Miwa’s relationship goes that theirs is not one queer couples should model themselves after.

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