By Thea Srinivasan
While love can be filled with new experiences and adventures, there are learning cycles everyone has to go through. Whether it’s trying to fix ourselves or learning how to deal with the flaws of our lover, we have to take everything openly. Not only that, communication is a key point into understanding our perspectives and someone else’s perspectives. The following review is the second volume of a series. If you have not read the first volume, this is your only spoiler warning.
The second volume of After Hours revolves around the growing relationship between Kei and Emi. Although the pair has grown closer to one another, tension still lurks around the both of them as Emi has to figure out how to move out of her apartment as she spends more time with Kei. Kei is also taking a big business risk by creating her own event for her party business. With her risk, tensions in her work group begin to grow. Even though Emi is by Kei’s side, she doubts herself about how much she can help Kei through her business venture.
There isn’t a lot I can say about Kei’s character growth as it is more internal toward her business than toward her actual relationship with Emi. There is no doubt we see more growth closer to the end of the story as we see a subtle plot twist that was developing since the first volume itself. While the growth is nice to see, it feels rushed to me and I wish the creator took a longer route rather than shoving it all in at the last minute. But Emi has more character development than Kei and it’s at these moments we see she is as self-focused as Kei is. However, it must be noted that Kei focuses more on herself and her passions. Emi focuses on herself and her role in her friendships and romance with other people and this solidifies the fact that Emi and Kei are two people who can balance each other out. The romance is still sweet between the two characters, but it has calmed down as both have become somewhat steady with one another. They haven’t formally declared anything on their relationship, but it is good to see that the pair is slowly getting used to one another and are able to balance their own needs out as well.
In this volume, we see more roles from the supporting characters more than ever. There are moments where Emi interacts with members of Kei’s business partners and solidifies herself as a member of the group. Even though she has self-doubts, the members care enough to make sure she knows that she has her own role. Not only that, more background characters present their distinctive personalities and show how they are a part of the group. I wish the side-characters had more time in the story and weren’t just a part of Emi’s growth, but Kei’s growth as well in this volume. Even though Emi is the protagonist, Kei needs some amount of personal growth as well to keep up with Emi’s personality changes.
The art style hasn’t changed between the two volumes. Rather it maintains a nice balance of background details and character designs. There are subtle background details that help make comedic scenarios more entertaining. I can’t point out where the subtle details as readers will have to spot the details for themselves. At the end of the day, the art style subtlely reminds me of other yuri manga with the thin girls. But this style is able to stand out on its own for its usage of party backgrounds and unique male character designs.
Overall, the second volume wraps up the story nicely. I do wish a few plot points could have been changed to allow more time for the story to grow. But the romantic and character developments make up for the odd plot points. Plus the subtle artistic decisions from the creator allow the comedic scenes to become much more entertaining. This manga is for the reader who to explore the balance of work and passion all through the eyes of a romantic relationship.
After Hours vol. 2