This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series Restart After Growing Hungry. While the manga may vary slightly from all other forms of media, it may have similar story elements and could be considered spoilers.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to gossiping, being outed, implied homomisia, death, adoption, orphans, and blood, as it appears in the manga.
Yamato and Mitsuomi have been together for three years, having only known each other for four years. They spend almost every moment they can together, and though they've never labeled their relationship, they don't question what they mean to each other and are just content being in each other's presence. That is until they attend their friend Harada's wedding together. During the reception, it becomes clear that word of their relationship has gotten around, but thanks to Harada and Yamato, the pair avoid being outed among their peers. Still, with so many people aware and such great effort is taken to diminish their role in each other's lives, Mitsuomi can't help but wonder how Yamato sees their relationship.
It gets even more confusing when Mitsuomi's mother brings up the new partnership system their prefecture has accepted. While it doesn't function the same as marriage, it does help legitimize same-sex couples in the local government's eyes. Mitsuomi doesn't see much point in it since it doesn't provide any benefits that traditional marriage does, but he can't help but bring it up to Yamato just to see his reaction. Shockingly, Yamato seems put off by the idea and makes it clear that he is happy with their relationship as it stands. That was no different than Mitsuomi's own reaction, but for some reason, hearing it from Yamato hurts Mitsuomi.
Just what are they to each other, and does Yamato actually love Mitsuomi like Mitsuomi thinks he does?
This is the sequel to Restart After Coming Back Home.
The art is much better in this one. It's still a very soft art style, and it's not particularly stunning. Still, it's much more consistent, and the characters finally seem solidified in their design and in turn, their personalities. One of my favorite things about series or reading multiple works from the same creator is seeing their craft develop over time, and this is a great example of that. If you liked the art in the first entry, Restart After Coming Back Home, then I have no doubt you will love the art in this one. It really just fits the slow and subtle pace of the narrative. Something I particularly enjoyed was how nice Mitsuomi looks in this one. He just didn't seem as solidified as far as design goes in the first one, but looking at him in this one, it's clear what kind of character he is based on his look. I think his development aligns really well with his development throughout the series. He is lost and unsure of himself in the first one, and in this one, he is much more sure of who he is, but he just needs that same confidence in his relationship with Yamato. I love when the art reflects the narrative like that.
That leads me to the discussion of the story itself. The first entry in this series was focused on each individual, which was interesting and heartwrenching in its own way. This, however, is much more honed in on the two individuals as a couple and how they see their relationship. I'm so happy they brought up that they never actually confirmed their relationship in the first volume, something that didn't necessarily bother me but something I did think about as it came to a close. That narrative point lends itself well to this sequel, as they've existed in this area of friends and lovers for three years now, and it's clear they aren't confident in this in-between. It's nice seeing a couple in that comfortable and sweet place reach a level of discomfort in the complacency of a long-term relationship (or situationship, in this case). It feels so real and raw, highlighting that perfect relationships are inherently imperfect.
The real star of the show is Harada, though. He appears in the first entry, but he was hardly worth mentioning. In this case, he is a steadfast ally and deserves all of the praise. He silences anyone who tries to disrupt the peace by prying into Mitsuomi and Yamato's relationship, he helps support them when they are going through a rough patch, and he does it all without making it seem like their coupling is out of the norm (because it's not). His marriage is also the key point at which Mitsuomi begins questioning the future of his relationship with Yamato. My favorite part, though, is when Yamato and Mitsuomi get approved for the partnership program, and just like how they were there for his wedding, he shows up for their little celebration with their family. It's such a nice circle with them celebrating a marriage in the beginning to celebrating their own marriage at the end. More importantly, they go from trying to hide their relationship to displaying their love publically, looking for confirmation from the world just as every other couple does. I love cyclical storylines like that.
My one complaint that is hardly even a complaint and more praise is that they hint at possibly adopting a child together with no follow-through. With Yamato's history in the system, having him be the one to bring it up just made my heart soar. Part of me is desperately hoping that this might hint at a third entry where we get to see them navigate the adoption system as same-sex partners and how adding a child changes their relationship, but I don't want to get my hopes up to be disappointed. I will settle for the little hint we get at the possibility and imagine them one day adopting and growing their family.
I actually liked this entry much more than the first. It's always nice to see an established couple rather than one in that “will they, won't they” phase. It was also fun seeing them grow as a couple and having the secondary characters come in and show their allyship alongside our main couple. This one is delightful and worth a read, especially if you liked the first one. Highly recommend.
Have you read Restart After Growing Hungry? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!