Publisher: Viz Media
Translator: Abby Lerkhe
Letterer/Touch-up: Joanns Estep
Editor: Pancha Diaz
Design: Alice Lewis
Genre: Yuru, Romance
Rating: T+ (Older Teen/16+)
Release Date: 06/09/2020
MSRB: US $9.99 / CAN $12.99 / UK £7.99
Reviewer’s Note: I eagerly borrowed this copy of How Do We Relationship? Vol. 1 from my local, public library. No review copy was provided. All manga reviews are spoiler-free and image-free unless noted in the review. Opinions are my own.
How Do We Relationship? is a title I’ve wanted to read ever since it came out in June 2020. Unfortunately, that was during my book ban, a self-imposed moratorium on book buying ahead of my big relocation from Japan back to the states.
However, imagine my surprise, when I came across this title on my local library’s shelves. I instantly snatched it up, added it to my handy-dandy tote bag, and went on my way… to pull thirteen more books. (What can I say? I haven’t been to a library in a long time, and couldn’t help myself!)
That being said, I’ve just finished volume one of my new favorite Yuri series, and would love to get into it. So… let’s learn how to relationship!
How Do We Relationship? focuses on shy cutie Miwa, a girl who’s always dreamed of finding love. However, living in small-town Japan has made a love match nearly impossible, especially since she likes women. Sadly, going away to college hasn’t helped her chances: that is, until she Saeko -her opposite and an incredibly outgoing girl- suggests that they date each other. Initially, they clash: they’re too different and they can’t seem to find a middle ground. However, their casual relationship soon gives way to something more, leaving Miwa to wonder if Saeko’s straightforward proposal might be her way to true love…
There’s been a really strong trend in localized Yuri as of late: a lot of it steps outside of a high school setting -or, at least a high school student setting- and drops its leads into college life, or better, working life as full-fledged adults. How Do We Relationship? fits neatly in the latter: it’s a story set in college with young women versus adult women, though one could argue that college students are technically adults, even if the age of adulthood is twenty in Japan.
That being said, Miwa and Saeko are excellent characters to tell this story through: their personalities are very different, which provides realistic tension as the story finds its stride. At times, Miwa is pensive, quiet, and anxious about showing affection. At times, Saeko is too forward, a bit pushy, and yet so, so comfortable being herself. This push and pull feels like a lot of young, queer relationships, and is just so wonderful to see in print.
One of the most refreshing things about How Do We Relationship? Vol. 1 is the fact that both Miwa and Saeko show overt sexual interest in each other, and talk rather frankly about desiring one another. There’s no pussyfooting around liking each other: instead, it’s quite clear that they enjoy regular sex together as a part of their relationship. That’s just what it is.
And it’s great.
Saeko, especially, is very open about “wanting to do” Miwa quite often: she doesn’t dance around the fact that she really wants to sleep with her girlfriend. In fact, she doesn’t hide her desire at all. It’s refreshing, especially since so often, female sexual desire is downplayed, or written out completely. Instead, Tamifull has fully leaned into the reality that some women wanna do it, and they wanna do it a lot!
As someone who’s asexual and doesn’t experience sexual desire or attraction, I found this really nice because I know there’s read . It doesn’t do anything for me, nor does it pique my interest: still, I fully recognize how valuable it is to see Miwa and Saeko have an actual, deep relationship that goes past “gal pals” and feels more substantial. Then again, that’s often one of the best things about Yuri, especially nowadays.
Yet another wonderful thing is this volume’s exploration of Miwa’s sexuality. She, like a lot of sapphics -and queer folk in general- knows that most of the world doesn’t reflect her desires or sexuality. She says as much very early on in the manga during a drinking party scene. Much like a lot of young folks, she struggles with sharing The Real Miwa. Much like a lot of queer folks, she struggles to find her place when it comes to dating and relating to others.
The same happens with Saeko, who is a bit more brash about living out and proud. While she’s quite open, she’s still apprehensive: she still worries about how others will perceive her, and how others will perceive her dating Miwa. In many ways, Saeko’s characterization feels far more true to life than Miwa’s, though that’s definitely a personal opinion based on my own experiences. Really, both Miwa and Saeko represent the plethora of experiences LGBTQAI+/Queer folks experience. It’s hard to say that one is better than the other.
How Do We Relationship? Vol. 1 is a really, really, really, really good Yuri. Like, I wish I could say more than “it’s good!” but I honestly want to shout it from the mountain tops. It’s just that GOOD. I thoroughly enjoyed my read and am so glad I finally picked up this volume, even if it was purely by change. I truly hope that my local library gets the next volume: I’m hooked and for sure a Tamifull fan for life.
Now… onto my next read!
TL;DR: How Do We Relationship? Vol. 1 is a really, really excellent Yuri manga about two girls deciding to date and falling in love along the way. Its presentation of sapphic and queer women feels genuine, and the relationship between leads Miwa and Saeko feels authentic to reality. Not only does the manga depict sexuality in a quite frank and very earnest light, it also depicts female desire -especially romantic and sexual desire- in a way that feels true to life for those who engage with sex and romance, especially in the case of cisgender wlw.
Tamifull has done a wonderful job with the story, as has the English translation and localization team. Abby Lerke’s translation is stellar, and the title choice is just *chef’s kiss* superb. This is definitely a manga that all Yurijin should be engaging with, and hopefully, raving about. It’s just. that. GOOD! I can definitely say that this earned every star, even though naturally, there were some hiccups here and there. Still, How Do We Relationship? Vol. 1 is easily my Yuri Manga of the Year: it’s more than earned that.
Read If You Like…
* Fiction Yuri Manga
* Stories about College WLW
* Stories Set in University/College
* Earnest explorations of sapphic relationships
* Genuine discussions about queer female sexuality
Rating: 🟊🟊🟊🟊🟊 / 5 out of 5 stars
Bingo Card: Read a Shounen Manga
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