Smoking Behind the Supermarket with You Volume 2 Review

“Miss Yamada always gives me the best smiles.” Mr. Sasaki.

Mr. Sasaki, forty-five years old and worn down by the pressures of his office job, looks forward at the end of a long day to visiting his local supermarket. If the delightful Miss Yamada is on the checkout, she will restore his flagging spirits with her charming smile and demure but friendly manner! And if she isn’t there, there’s still the chance of meeting up behind the store with outgoing, free-speaking Miss Tayama for a quick cigarette. We know that the two young women are one and the same person – but, for some reason (perhaps he doesn’t want to acknowledge this?) Mr. Sasaki is still oblivious. Does it matter? At some stage, the penny is going to drop – but as both (or all three?) seem to enjoy their chats, all is well. Until Mr. Sasaki realizes that he hasn’t seen Miss Yamada for quite a while. Worried that she might be unwell, he’s relieved to learn from Miss Tayama that she’s studying for her employee promotion exam. Encouraged by Miss Tayama, he writes a little ‘good luck’ note and is overcome with embarrassment when she assures him she’ll pass it on to Miss Yamada, having assumed it was for some in-store event. In return, she hands him a folded paper, saying, “Look at it the next time your crappy boss pisses you off.” When – inevitably – the occasion arises at work, Mr. Sasaki unfolds the paper and sees that she’s drawn a little cartoon of a man brandishing a club, with the message, ‘Whack ‘im good’.

Miss Yamada comes to Mr. Sasaki’s aid when he drops his commuter pass case at the till and she sprints after him to return it. And at work, one of his colleagues notices that “your salutations sound kinda like a hip high school girl” when, without thinking, he says, “‘Gratz on finishing the hustle. Get outta here, my dude.” which, of course, he’s subconsciously picked up from Miss Tamaya. Little by little, he’s changing (thanks to her influence). But when she loses the ashtray he gave her, she’s mortified and searches everywhere around the supermarket for it, coming perilously close to revealing her identity to Mr. Sasaki. During a typhoon, though, Miss Tayama asks Mr. Sasaki how he started smoking… which leads to him dropping his guard and revealing something about a significant someone in his past.

Have you noticed when you’re getting into a new manga series that there comes a moment when you suddenly realize that you’ve become attached to (or intrigued by) the characters and want to go on turning the pages to find out what happens to them? (The same goes for anime series too.) Even though Smoking Behind the Supermarket with You is a modest slice-of-life manga (there’s no kaiju-slaying, spell-casting or any of the other exciting paraphernalia of many manga to hold the attention) with a cast of adults, there’s something about the personalities and their day-to-day interactions which makes it an irresistible read. That’s mostly due to Jinushi’s depictions of world-weary salaryman Mr. Sasaki and the staff of the supermarket he visits after work; the reaction expressions are wonderfully expressive (and often very funny too). But what also brings it to life is the slight tinge of melancholy and wistful longing for something better to come along. Mr. Sasaki looks forward so much to spending time with Miss Yamada or Miss Tayama that as reader, you’re hoping that (a) he’ll soon realize that the two young women are one and the same and not be mortified or angry that he’s failed to notice this so far and (b) he’ll also realize that she likes him. Surely (like salaryman Nozue in Old-Fashioned Cupcake by Sagan Sagan) he’ll also wake up to the fact that he’s not too old to start a new relationship?

Square Enix Manga treats us to six colour pages at the start of the volume (including a radiant Miss Yamada) and the final chapter Winter, Behind the Bar, Not Quite with You is a fascinating look back at Sasaki, aged twenty-two and out interviewing for jobs, that introduces us to Tono Senpai (two years his senior). The translation, again by Amanda Haley, makes for an enjoyable read, enhanced (again) by Kyla Aiko’s apt and varied lettering choices. Volume 3 is due out in September, so not too long to wait to find out whether Mr. Sasaki has yet realized the truth about Miss Tayama!

A free preview of the volume can be found on the publisher’s website

Our review copy from Square Enix Manga was supplied by Turnaround Comics (Turnaround Publisher Services).

8 / 10


Sarah's been writing about her love of manga and anime since Whenever - and first started watching via Le Club Dorothée in France...

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