At the end of Poor Poor Lips, Volume 2, we left Nako and Ren living in poverty.
At the beginning of Poor Poor Lips (プアプアLIPS), Volume 3, nothing has changed. Except that with summer being so terribly hot, and them not owning a refrigerator or even a fan, much less an air conditioner, life is becoming intolerable. When they get a bonus from Fukui-san, they are at least able to buy a second futon for Ren…but immediately realize that they’ve grown comfortable sleeping together. The year passes with small victories and small losses, but that’s not what’s bothering Ren.
Yes, Ren is physically uncomfortable, but what’s really gnawing at her is the debt Nako seems to be eternally paying off. What could possibly be the reason? When she can’t take it any more, she finally asks…and is told a truly terrible story.
When Nako was a teen, her parents died, leaving her with nothing. A man approached her after their funeral to let her know that he paid for the funeral. When she got older, he told her, she could pay the cost of the loan off. As Ren instantly suspects, this loan is at usurious rates and Nako can never pay it off. In desperation to free Nako from this burden, Ren goes back to her mother and offers to return home and marry whomever her parents chose for her, if Mom will end this horrible loan.
Which, she does. Otsuka Nei, Ren’s mother, brings a camera crew with her, to ensure that not only will this man never bother Nako again, but he will never attempt another scam like that. With her debt removed, Nako goes to sleep that night unable to imagine what her life will be like….
…until she wakes up and finds that Ren is gone. Nako, who has smiled through years of grinding poverty, breaks down completely, wailing Ren’s name.
Upon waking the next day, Nako is visited by Wakatsuki, Ren’s family’s retainer and is given a chance to see Ren again…as a maid for the Otsuka family. And so, Nako leaves her life behind. Being a maid is hard work, but she’s there for Ren. Ren wakes up in her bed at home and is shocked to her core to see Nako there.
Both Nako and Ren internally acknowledge their affection for one another and also acknowledge to themselves that Ren will have to marry someone. The books ends at that supremely unsatisfying spot, with me unclenching my teeth through sheer force of will.
I have only this to say, if Nei does not give in in Volume 4, I am likelier than I have ever been to write a displeased letter to a mangaka. I mean okay, Nako’s debt is gone and they are together, sort of, and okay, Volume 4, but ggrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Art – 6
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Yuri – 7
Service – 4
Overall – 8
I didn’t like the way this volume played out at all, but I’m deeply engaged with the story, so I have to still call it “good.” I can’t but help be disappointed, I was hoping for a volume ending on a positive note. Now I have to hope Volume 4 makes it up to me and have to wait 10 months until it’s out to even know. Grrrrrrrr.