What better time to read manga about girls in love than pride month?
Yuri manga in the West is often overlooked and underappreciated, or dismissed as fantasies by and for straight men, ignoring the complexities and depth of this genre. But even outside the confines of the yuri label there are incredible stories being told that emphasize romantic relationships between women. As a lesbian who reads a lot of manga, I have compiled a list of my personal favorites that are currently being published in English in the hopes that other people may be inspired to check some of these out. In this list we have five stories about girls in school. Let’s go lesbians, let’s go!
How Do We Relationship? Volumes 1-3
June 9, 2020 – June 8, 2021
Miwa and Saeko are friends just starting college when Saeko suggests they try dating each other. Unlike many other series that follow the buildup to a confession, How Do We Relationship? follows the progression of their relationship, as they deal with miscommunication, boundaries, and juggling classes, friends, and clubs on top of their romance. This series is unusually grounded and realistic, and the way it handles different characters’ feelings and identities feels very true to real life. Shy Miwa and outgoing Saeko don’t appear to have much in common on the surface, but it’s rewarding to watch them learn to communicate and understand each other. The art style is adorable, the jokes are funny, and the character dynamics are interesting.
Bloom Into You Volumes 1-8
Seven Seas Entertainment
January 3, 2017 – August 18, 2020
You may have heard of this one already! Bloom into You was adapted into an anime in 2018, a rare development for a yuri series. This series is notable for its rejection of many standard genre tropes while still indulging in others. It also features happy, stable gay adults and discussions of asexuality. Yuu Koito’s classmate confesses his feelings towards her as she’s about to enter high school, and feels nothing at this. Student council president Touko offers her some advice on turning down people you don’t have feelings for, and then shocks Yuu by confessing to her herself. A long, slow burn that lives up to its name, Bloom into You is a manga to read if you have time on your hands and don’t mind some sadness in your schoolgirl romance.
Girl Friends, Volumes 1-2
Seven Seas Entertainment
October 2, 2012 – January 2, 2013
This series is on the older side compared to the rest of the titles on this list, and the art style reflects this in how it resembles other mid-2000s romance comics like Ouran High School Host Club or Maid-sama!. However, this was the first comic I ever read that had girls kissing in it so it’s very important to me personally. Shy and studious Mariko is suddenly approached by popular and fashionable Akko, and their unexpected friendship slowly blooms into something more. Still good, despite its age!
Whispered Words (Volumes 1-3)
One Peace Books
Another comic on the older side, Whispered Words was originally serialized between 2007 and 2011, with a 13-episode anime adaptation airing in 2009. Tall, tough, and outgoing Sumika is in love with her best friend Ushio, who claims to only like small and cute girls. What follows is a rare slow burn yuri story about their high school lives and the weird new friends they make along the way. Also, karate! The art does feel very late-2000s, but the characters are unusual and compelling to read about.
Sweet Blue Flowers (Volumes 1-4)
2016 – 2018
Takako Shimura is a creator known for her sensitive, character-driven manga about LGBT characters, and Sweet Blue Flowers is no exception. Childhood friends Akira and Fumi suddenly reconnect in high school, but neither of them are the people they used to be in kindergarten. How have they changed, and how will their relationship continue to change now that they’ve grown up? Shimura’s minimalistic illustration style and delicate watercolors create a delightful reading experience. And if you like Sweet Blue Flowers, Shimura is currently serializing another manga about lesbian relationships tackling more mature subject matter and themes called Even Though We’re Adults if you want to check that out! (It’s a bit more of a downer than this one, though.)
Stay tune for five more yuri manga recs featuring working adults, coming soon!