The Wife-to-Be by Fujiwara Ei

According to the scroll across the top panel of the first page, this 2011 one-shot manga won the Lapis Lazuli Award in the Fifth Annual Yuri Hime Comics Awards.  Either I have terrible Google fu today or there’s just not a lot written on the inter webs about this particular award.

Regardless, this one-shot was depressing af.

SPOILERS

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Advertised to me as slice-of-life, drama, shoujo ai, this is the story of a lesbian couple, Kou and Momo, who are breaking up because Momo is marrying… a man? I mean, that’s never stated, precisely, but the implication is that these two have been living together in that kind of innocent love that shoujo ai tends to promote and now Momo is “growing up” and moving out.

This is devastating.

Here’s Kou after Momo has slipped on her wedding ring, after having berated Kou for having gotten rid of the ring Momo gave her, and she’s boarded the train to take her to her… actual husband…

the-wife-to-be-1138888.png

This is… okay, yes, happens in real life.  I have at least one girlfriend who left me to marry a man.

So maybe The Wife-to-Be won its award because it depicted a particular kind of heartbreak that a fair number of real-life lesbians have experienced.   I think the thing I found hard to take is that it seems that Momo bought Kou the ring because they were living a “Boston marriage.”  As they’re packing up their apartment, Kou realizes she’s left her cell phone behind and goes back to hunt for it and stumbles across a marriage license that they’d started to fill out.  Momo had put herself down as the husband-to-be, and Kou as the wife-to-be.

ARGH THE STABBING PAIN OF IRONY.

Kou ripped the unfinished marriage license in half and has a sob.

Momo (that bitch!) sits outside the apartment, looking vaguely inconvenienced by this delay:

the-wife-to-be-1138876.png

hate her, hate her, wouldn’t want to date her…

There’s no discussion about how this whole thing happened, about how Momo suddenly became a completely different kind of fiancée, how Kou first got the news, if she was expecting it, participating in it, nothing.  I mean, I could see this as being especially tragic if we had the sense that maybe Momo was pressured into this break-up by an arranged marriage.  It could even be that Kou had gone into the relationship knowing that Momo was eventually going to have to leave her for a traditional marriage.

But, as it stands, the audience is just supposed to accept this situation.

It makes me hate Momo a lot.

Especially, when she’s wondering if Kou will remember her.

the-wife-to-be-1138879.png

Yeah, you jerk, it’s called moving on.

This whole thing made me wonder how Japanese audiences read this. I mean, is this tragic because it’s inevitable that women must marry men?  Is that read as ‘ah, such a shame, but this is the hard truth of the way things are’ or ‘god damn this happens and it’s SO UNFAIR’?

I have no idea.

Momo seems like a shit to me.

Maybe because I’m missing some cultural coding, I’m left feeling just sort of vaguely pissed off at the end.  Momo hurt Kou and got married “for real.” What the actual f*ck? I wanted at least a hint of the back story, a sense that this was clearly family pressure, or even, yeah, Momo met this guy and shit happens…. but as it is, I have no idea how to even feel about it.

I can’t really recommend this one, which is why I spoiled the heck out of it.  If you want to read it, however, you can find it here: http://mangasaurus.com/manga/3665/the-wife-to-be

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