As a former Spider-Man fan, one of the greatest disappointments in modern storytelling was Dan Slott and Joe Quesada deciding to use Mephisto to undo the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. The two Marvel staffers had decided that the only Spider-Man worth having had to be young and single, despite the fact that many of us grew up with this romance and loved the couple's daily interactions every bit as much as the large action set pieces. There's something about two people sharing a life that speaks to something deeply human within all of us, beyond the cheap thrills of action and adventure. Safe to say I haven't read much Spider-Man since, though Renew Your Vows, set in an alternate universe where Pete and MJ were married and had a daughter, was both a beautiful distraction and a stinging reminder of what should have been.
Having lost one of the great comic relationships of all time, I'm instantly drawn to comics that feature couples coping with daily life. It Takes Two Tomorrow Too is a series of short vignettes about the silly interactions you have when living together, where inconsequential events resonate because they speak to how we interact with one another on a seemingly superfluous level. Whether stealing pudding (been there), pangs of jealousy or just teasing the other half, the small things can be surprisingly powerful. So it proves with Suzuyuki's stories of Rio and Yuya, an unremarkable couple dealing with life's daily challenges together.
Initially the pair seem pretty lukewarm toward each other, their laid-back interactions lacking much in the way of passion or emotion, but as the stories stack up, you get to see the sweeter side of each of them, acknowledging their own weaknesses and showing a love and tolerance for the foibles of the other. One particular scene, told in flashback to the pair's first meeting, has a wonderfully understated panel where Yuya is serving Rio and says what he's thinking - "You're my type" instead of "That'll be 120 yen". It's so undersold in terms of Rio's reaction that it's far funnier than some overblown "nani!" style pastiche. The deadpan slacker style just feel very "Clerks" and adds a ton of charm to the book.
Anyone in a relationship will instantly empathise with at least some of the situations within - my own wife bought me some coffee-cupcakes from her head office bake-sale yesterday just because she knows they're my favourite, and to make up for not giving me any of the rocky road she made for the event. It's not a big thing but it goes to show a thoughtfulness and understanding that Suzuyuki's work understands completely.
The art style is simple and entirely in keeping with the tone of the stories being told. Each chapter is around 6 pages in length, meaning that nothing outstays its welcome and makes for a brisk read. Being the story of a relationship that's already underway, we're spared the popular "will-they won't they" trope that's ubiquitous throughout most manga, instead being able to enjoy the rarely explored "next stage" that for me, as an older reader, is far more satisfying.
There's no overarching plot, but each chapter builds and understanding of the characters, their motivations and daily lives. Side characters are briefly introduced, such as Rio's co-workers and Yuya's equally understated mother, it all helps reveal layers to the central couple.
It Takes Two Tomorrow Too actually stands out as something truly original and heartwarming on the crowded manga shelves. Much like Yehuda Devir's sublime One of Those Days (highly recommended by the way) this is a casual drop in on a relationship with enough insight, wit and brevity to be a real classic of the genre. Whether you're in a relationship, a hardcore romantic or just someone who enjoys a slice-of-life comedy, you'll be well served here.