I love it when a manga I order sounds like a charming and lighthearted piece of work and then is fully engaging and well told on top of just being a lighthearted diversion from the crushing reality of 2020. And seriously, we need all the heartwarming diversions we can find.
How Do We Relationship follows shy Miwa and outgoing Saeko as they enter a relationship in college and navigate through the ups and downs of dating and exploring their own identities. The book is a fun mix of humour and drama intermingled with exploring what it's like to be gay in Japan and the anxiety of judgement from those around you.
A good chunk of the book focuses on the two main characters worrying about what their new friends will think of them if they come out, especially as all three men in their newly formed ban all seem enamored with Miwa. Both girls have enough reasons from their past to be apprehensive about admitting the truth to anyone, and are often also nervous about public displays of their affection. One heartwarming aspect of this volume though is that virtually every character we're introduced to is pretty damn supportive of Miwa and Saeko's relationship. To an adorable extreme, usually.
Saeko's friend Rika has an interesting mini-arc where she starts out not understanding why women would be interested in each other, and then through a series of unfortunate misunderstandings (hey it is a dramedy after all) she feels the need to go on a mini-crusade to ensure that the main characters stick together.
Tamifull's art and pacing pulls you into the story effortlessly. The facial emoting and body language tell a good portion of the story on their own, and combined with the scripting and overall plotting makes for a great story flow that engages and creates a tight-knit world of characters.
Interlaced with the comedy though is a very strongly crafted and slow burn romance as Miwa is consistently unsure of herself and her standing with Saeko. Saeko in the meantime has never had to slow herself down the way she has had to with Miwa. The mixture of emotional anxiety and sexual tensions is well balanced and executed extremely well, and when it's time to break out of those moods the story knows exactly when to kick back into comedy mode.
While the story handles issues of sexuality and passion it does so in service to the larger framework of how a relationship is formed and built up. Saeko's physical attraction to Miwa is a major focus and that thread is interestingly balanced with Miwa's hesitancy to engage with any sexual activity too soon as she's unsure about the relationship as a whole. This back and forth creates the majority of drama and conflict and opens up a lot of storytelling doors as to each character's past.
What you end up with is a refreshingly genuine story about two women exploring their passions and discovering love despite their differences.
For whatever reason I was under the impression that this was a done-in-one story, but I have since discovered it will have a volume two and I am extremely happy to hear it. Tamifull has an amazing sense of storytelling and character development and I can't wait to read more from them.