Smoking Behind the Supermarket with You Vol. 1 TP
Publisher: Square Enix Manga
Release Date: February 20, 2024
Price: $12.99
Creator: Jinushi (Story & Art)
Format: 240 pgs., B&W, 5" x 7", Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-6460-9286-4
Age Rating: Older Teen
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

This is a very odd story that doesn’t seem like it should be as good as it is.  For one thing, it's about the social aspect of smoking, which may turn some people off.  For another, it's one of the strangest romantic comedy stories in the world, even for manga.  The author manages to pull off this odd combination in a way that may leave the reader really wanting to see what happens next.

The heart of the story is that a lonely and overworked man, a 45-year-old salaryman in manga terms, visits a particular store on a regular basis because one of the young clerks has such a bright smile that she cheers him up, even after a horrific day at the office.  One visit, finding out that the front of the store is now a no-smoking area, he visits the back of the store, only to find a different young woman, seemingly also a clerk at the store, on a smoking break, and they strike up a conversation.  She is only in her mid-twenties, and it's a blend of conversation and very mild flirtation, but nothing is what it seems, as the reader quickly figures out, and his relationship with the two clerks is what is keeping him somewhat sane from day to day.

The artwork is nothing special, just standard manga art.  The story was intriguing in an odd way, and the first meeting between the characters gets a little extra filler at the end, which makes the story even better.  He's not just some guy out to find a younger woman.  He's a genuinely nice guy who doesn’t see himself as such, and it will be interesting to see how the story progresses in future volumes.

--Nick Smith

For more Manga Week coverage, click here.