You’re My Pet by Yayoi Ogawa
I’m a huge proponent of the library system and of borrowing reads. I recently learned that I could borrow some things through my Prime account. I stumbled across two 90s/early 2000s manga that are out of print and have shown up digitally with new translations. That time period was NOTORIOUS for bad translations so I was excited to check these out.
The first up is “You’re My Pet” by Yayoi Ogawa. It’s a josei manga about a 20-something office lady named Sumire Iwaya. The story starts after Sumire’s been both demoted at her job and dumped by her boyfriend who cheated on her. She finds a young man in a box outside her condo and takes him in as a “pet”, a replacement for her dog, Momo. Sumire is a highly educated, capable woman who struggles with feelings of anxiety and inferiority and decides that the only way to fix her love life is to find a man with “The Three Highs”: more educated, taller, and wealthy. Enter Hasumi Shigehito who fits all her qualifications. Throughout the 14 volumes we get some insight into Sumire’s insecurities (learning that she’s afraid to go against others’ expectations and afraid of disappointing others), a rival for Hasumi’s affections (named Fukushima Shiori), and find out why “Momo” is a drifter.
Momo, the drifter, is a modern dancer used to do classical ballet but was deemed too short to be successful. He’s been floating through life and sometimes dances with his ex Rumi who still in love with him. (We don’t get much information on her until chapter 14 when she finally gets fleshed out.) Momo, or Takeshi Gouda, as we learn has a disorder that causes seizures and has been hiding from his family. His parents disagreed with his dance path wanting him to stay with ballet. Sumire learns that even though he’s younger, and always seems upbeat, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have its own problems.
Sumire’s best friend Yuri is a housewife and mother one. Through her own trials she helps the Sumire to stand up for herself and try to think for herself.
I’ll be honest that at first I disliked Sumire’s characterization but I came to understand her anxiety and depression and sympathize with her. While all of the other women in her extended circle were content with working just enough to find a man to take care of them, Sumire struggled with her needs to advance herself but fit within social standards. So much so that only her Yuri and “Momo” got to see the real her. Something else I just liked was how mean and conniving some of the women in her office work. Spreading gossip and being hostile. Like Fukushima straight out the cleared war with her for Hasumi. The mangaka eventually gives us some back story on Fukushima and gives her a little more dimensionality. I still side-eyed her relationship with Hasumi, though.
Also towards the end of the series it felt like it was just thrown together. Volume 14 had a lot of loose ends to tie up. In chapter 80, I originally missed some slipped in detail and conversation between the two kids and looking back it was cute foreshadowing. I’m going to pretend like the second half of chapter 81 doesn’t exist. And the Final Chapter 82 was weird as well.
I won’t spoil the end but everyone ends up where and with whom they should be.