An Incurable Case of Love, Volume 2 by Maki Enjoji
As with most romance manga I was totally expecting an additional antagonist to show up to further complicate the non-relationship between Dr. Tendo and nurse Nanase. Dr Kusagi is unfailingly smiling, with a focus on his outward demeanor that seems suspicious. Kusagi quickly keys in to the budding relationship between Nanase and Tendo and attempts to subvert it by plying Nanase with alcohol, even though after an earlier outburst and piggybacking episode with Dr Tendo, she is determined to cut down on her consumption.
Tendo immediately starts acting irrationally territorial, and if you enjoy grouchy and withholding heroes, this manga has plenty of scenes of Tendo attempting to object to things and then realizing that he has little standing to interfere in Nanase’s life. This doesn’t stop him though!
While the story is developing with a very familiar formula, Enjoji is executing it extremely well, with little touches that make the series unique. I continue to be amused by the workplace culture at the hospital, and the gang of nurses who continue on with their nicknames of “Valiant One” for Nanase and “Dark Lord” for Tendo. Their support of this unconventional mentoring relationship developing into a friendship is mainly because no one wants to be the target of the Dark Lord’s criticism, but it all still manages to seem like a relatively supportive and friendly workplace! The hospital setting also feels a bit fresh to me after reading plenty of manga series set in offices. Enjoji doesn’t have a ton of variation in her character designs, but she does draw with great expression as Nanase struggles to deal with her romantic life and move ahead with her goals as a new nurse.
Nanase and Tendo keep getting thrown together for various reasons, and the volume closes with a take on a serious situation that can befall any woman who might be easily targeted in a helping or service profession. The main workplace romance combined with side stories dealing with more serious topics seems like a promising way for this series to develop. I’m also enjoying Nanase’s personality, she’s young but still sometimes blunt about expressing what she wants, and I’m curious about how her character will develop as she becomes more comfortable with her new profession. We might only get one josei disguised as shoujo series being released at a time from Shojo Beat, but An Incurable Case of Love fits in well with the rest of the line, and I’m enjoying it while I wait for even more josei releases.