Sep 10, 2020
(Mild spoilers for the pilot chapter this manga is based on)
Maybe I'm a little biased, but I love this manga to death. It feels criminally underrated. Since finding it, it has quickly become my gold standard for lesbian/yuri romance stories, because nothing I've seen coming out of Japan before or since has come this close to portraying actual lesbian romance.
I'll give you a list of ways this manga ignores the usual yuri cliches, in favor of mature storytelling. If, like me, you are tired of reading about the same pair of poorly written lesbians, here's why you should read this:
-The characters are in college, and
roughly the same age. They are not high schoolers, middle schoolers, teachers, or office ladies.
-While self-doubt is one element of characterization, which both leads struggle with on multiple occasions, there is no horrendous, twenty chapter 'will they or won't they' segment. (mild spoiler: Miwa and Saeko get together at the end of the first chapter)
-Corollary to the above, the main elements of the story come from the act of being in a relationship, not the initial getting together.
-Whoever translated this did a fantastic job of making everyone talk like real people talking in English. On the writing side, there are no wacky moments of forced 'comedy' or bizarre things that would only happen in anime, just believable people who are nonetheless genuinely funny at times.
-Misunderstandings happen, but they're not forced for the sake of constant melodrama, just a natural case of the characters' personality traits misaligning. They are handled maturely, or in some cases, characters develop through conflict to become mature enough to handle it, making the drama feel grounded rather than melodramatic.
-Gay people are allowed to call themselves gay. LGBT elements and issues are discussed frankly when the time comes for it, without euphemisms or 'it's okay if it's you'. How Japanese culture interacts with the LGBT is a major theme in the story.
-Conflict happens. It's not a complete fluff fest, despite being cute as sin at times. Characters have genuine emotional baggage to work through, and actually develop through interacting with each other, rather than remaining stagnant. There's no generic 'evil girl' trying to blackmail them and break them up constantly.
If you're at all familiar with what Japan usually calls 'GL', and are despairing, like me, then the above will (hopefully) make your heart skip a beat. We did it. It's not much, but it's one manga that doesn't walk the same tired path as things like Sakura Trick or Citrus. It doesn't hang around for a veritable eternity, contemplating its own navel, like Bloom Into You. It's not a fluffy pile of nothing, sprinkled with Japanese 'wacky humor', like... pretty much anything tagged as yuri and 4-koma(Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san, Bright and Cheery Amnesia, etc).
I never realized how much the single target sexuality thing bothered me in Japanese media. How gay guys in BL constantly explaining away their feelings with 'it's okay if it's you, bro' feels subtly toxic to the idea of a gay community. It's okay, you're not gay, or lesbian, and therefore part of a community of people just like you, you just think your best friend shines like the morning sun. Keep your head down. Don't be 'too gay', after all, it's just yaoi/yuri, not anything serious. This is why I think Miwa and Saeko's relationship, and their attendant insecurities about being in a gay relationship are so important here. It's risky for them, not because there's some generic evil girl who's trying to break them up, but because a lot of people in Japan genuinely wouldn't be accepting of their relationship.
Oh, and bi people exist in this manga, yay. I feel represented. All in all, between the excellent characterization, lack of toxic tropes, and exploration of mature themes, this is one of the few times I can say a yuri manga felt like it was being written by someone over the age of 25. If I have any doubts about it, the only one I can say is that the pilot manga, which was a single chapter that this diverges heavily from, featured Saeko cheating, breaking Miwa's heart. If that happens later in this one, and this becomes tragic, I'm probably going to want to die tbh.
So please, if you want gay stuff, read this manga. If you're looking for 'hot lesbian xxx', you may be disappointed, but I hear a little site beginning with P and ending in Hub may have an opening for you there. While you're here, read it anyway, because this is as close as I've found to the real deal when it comes to relationships.
They're messy, and heartfelt, and oftentimes hard work, even at the best of times, but they're also worth every moment.
What did you think of this review?