How Do We Relationship?
Story & Art: Tamifull
Translation & Adaptation: Abby Lerkhe
Touch-up Art & Lettering: Joanna Estep
Design: Alice Lewis
Editor: Pancha Diaz
Publisher: VIZ Media
High school romances abound in manga; from the mundane to the fantastical, whether straight or otherwise, stories of teenagers in love are hard to miss. But for many manga readers, especially as they age out of high school, there is a desire to see themselves reflected in romances beyond those good ol’ school days.
How Do We Relationship? weaves an unusual romance around two new college students, Miwa and Saeko. Miwa is shy and unassuming, fully aware of the fact that she’s romantically interested in women, but too afraid of making a move on anyone she likes. Saeko is loud, brash, and fun; her experience with boys in high school reaffirmed her interest in girls. When this odd couple discovers that they both like women, Saeko suggests they date each other. After all, she reasons, it’s hard to find other lesbians.
Though it’s not exactly a romantic way to start a relationship, the reader is treated to the dynamics of a new romance that feel much more realistic than the heart-stopping, illogical passion plays of high school dramas. There is certainly tension between these two very different women at times, but the real story is how they learn to communicate and begin to develop real feelings for each other. Amidst this budding romance, they have both joined a band and are trying to navigate being partners and being bandmates — and being honest with their friends about their relationship, even though it scares Miwa in particular to be out as a lesbian.
Miwa and Saeko are still relatively young, being fresh out of high school, and Tamifull’s artwork reflects their youthful vigor. Still, it is refreshing to see an adult relationship where both participants are trying to understand each other and cooperate to see if things will work out. It would be stretching it to say that these ladies are mature in love, though Saeko certainly has more sexual experience. But like eighteen-year-olds do, they are growing up and figuring out how to be good partners to each other, and good friends with their new classmates. Tamifull is adept at making every character, whether major or minor, distinct visually and in their voice.
How Do We Relationship?, with its very intentional “adulting is hard” style title, is a reprieve from the endless toothless yuri series that center around ephemeral same-sex obsessions that are expected to fade as the girls involved grow into adulthood. Both Miwa and Saeko know they are lesbians; though Miwa especially struggles with society’s acceptance of homosexuality, she does not waver in her knowledge of her desires. Her shyness — not to be mistaken for unwillingness — when it comes to having sex is starkly juxtaposed by Saeko’s seemingly ravenous libido, and this is the crux of many of their misunderstandings. The struggle has less to do with the women coming to terms with their identities as it does with the struggles of any caring relationship. Readers in romantic partnerships will recognize the stupid disagreements that mark the beginnings of a romance, and know that recovering from those slip-ups is the key to a functioning, healthy love.
This series is a must for readers who have been seeking a manga that shows what happens beyond the game of romantic tag, once the lovers have settled into a routine. And it’s a boon to yuri fans everywhere, providing a depiction of a lesbian relationship rooted in the pragmatism of proximity and the excitement of love built from the ground up. The promising first volume of How Do We Relationship? is available in print from VIZ Media starting June 9, 2020. More information about how to pre-order, as well as a free preview, can be found on VIZ’s website.