My Thoughts + Blue Flag.
What an incredible romance series! I was addicted from the get go. From here on out in this write up WARNING THERE ARE SPOILERS! Sooo the basic premise of the story is there is the awkward shy guy in class (Taichi) who has a crush on the cute awkward girl in class (Futaba). Turns out Futaba has a crush on the hottest dude in class who is a baseball star (Toma). BUT! Toma has a crush on his childhood friend Taichi (awkward guy). Hence the love triangle of all love triangles commences. There is a fourth character (Masumi) who is bisexual and has a crush on her best-friend, which turns out to be Futaba. So this queer love square is off to the races and boy I was not dissapointed in the slightest.
My Thoughts: I think overall the book handles the struggles of being closetted to yourself and your closest friends. It discusses the deep confusion adolescents have in general as they go through the trials and tribulations of figuring out how to form their identities and how these supposed identities will fit into a society which is cut-throat and scary. All of these ups and downs are really well worked through, and they don't treat the gay characters' issues with any type of exceptionalism. There is often the argument from gay characters that "others don't understand what its like" but that is not put on a pedestal but rather broken down through other empathetic character interactions who express that they want to help and that attitude keeps the cycle of not understanding the other going. The art stlye on this one is very well done with super cute drawings of these character in animal forms breaking up the chapters.
I am not going to spoil the ending, HOWEVER, I cannot express how good the end is. It is such a crazy plot twist that is handled in such an amazing way that really stresses how highschool relationships are just that. We grow and change a lot after highschool, and we all gain tons and tons of maturity in college and beyond. The ending really was super heartwarming and I cannot suggest this more highly to people who are looking for a romance manga with LGBTQ+ themes.
The only critique I have is that all of the characters in the manga end up in a relationship in the end and married. I found that to be a little cliche and as someone who has learned the downsides to conventional forms of marriage through divorce and being excluded from the creation of marriage in history (being queer) I felt this was a bit of a cop out. Seeing that many of the main characters have queer identities and alternative forms of sexuality that do not fit into the norm, I was dissapointed none sought to create alternative forms of coupling outside of marriage. However, I do think queer people embarking on marriage can in many meaningful ways work from within the idea of marriage to change into a more versatile/flexible thing.
SFW no direct nudity and no depictions of anything sexual other than brief kissing.
Pages/Images I particularly loved