It’s the month of love, romance, and new experiences. While there are many different types of love, including platonic, familial, romantic, and more, I’ll be focusing solely on romantic love for this romance-filled season.
There are adorable couples all around us, as well as a whole lot of goodness, all accompanied by an enchanting, sweet aroma filling the air. While it’s lovely to witness, it isn’t exclusive to simply straight couples, as we’re frequently led to believe. Whenever the topic of Valentine’s Day comes up, all we see is the regular romance between a male and a female, with very little representation of other genders. There are thousands of romance manga depicting the typical straight couple, but how often do we get healthy representations of love between other genders? While there has been an upsurge in manga concerning LGBTQ+ issues, there is still a lack of spotlight. Thus, I’ve shortlisted five manga that I think deserve a read this Valentine’s— making it wholesome and making it light as much as possible:
Yagate Kimi Ni Naru
Yagate Kimi Ni Naru is arguably one of the most popular girls-love manga out there. It became popular when the anime adaptation was released back in 2018. But, since airing, the popularity gradually dropped and has soon been forgotten by the mass but remains a classic among the gays.
Yagate Kimi Ni Naru, also known as Bloom Into You in English translations, has the apparent representation of girls-love seen through most of the characters in the manga. Throughout the entire manga, we are presented with a wholesome love between the main characters, Yuu Koito and Touko Nanami. We’re also offered glimpses of healthy and ordinary depictions of love between other women, fostering an environment in which love between people of all genders is seen as completely normal, healthy, and capable of working out.
Besides the representation of girls-love, Yagate Kimi Ni Naru has the subtle representation of asexuality/aromanticism through the supporting character, Maki. He is often seen helping Yuu figure herself out, and while doing so, he also openly expresses that he “can’t fall in love” and instead prefers to watch others from an outside perspective.
Keep in mind that asexuality is a spectrum, so he may fall anywhere into that with the amount of information we’re given of him. He speaks for the community, saying that being different doesn’t necessarily make him lonely or sad but relatively confident and comfortable with who he is. His sexuality is not a hindrance or an obstacle but simply a part of who he is and something he takes pride in.
To be honest, Maki speaks volumes for the entire LGBTQ+ community in that regard and is not exclusive to just asexuality. He shows us that there is no straightforward rule to love— everyone is different, and you can be happy even though it might not be the same kind of happiness as someone else’s.
How many boys-love mangas do we come across that don’t involve unbelievable amounts of toxicity and unrealistic expressions of love? If you’re a yaoi fangirl like me, you’d know exactly how messed up most boys-love manga is. It’s pretty challenging to find one that seems comparatively healthy and realistic.
The first manga that popped in my head when I thought about wholesome boys-love was none other than Doukyuusei. Cute and relatively realistic, with not much “action” going on, I genuinely think it’s a manga you should give a go if you haven’t already. I promise you that not all boys-love is just about the sex. There is a plot, and there is love.
The Manga involves a romance between a carefree boy in a rock band and an honour student with excellent grades. They meet and grow closer together by mere coincidence. With their polar opposite personalities and constant conflicts, their blooming love is quite the ride to experience.
Asagao To Kase San
Asagao To Kase San is arguably the cutest and healthiest girls-love manga I’ve read throughout my entire venture with LGBTQ+ manga. It has a super cute art style, a warm atmosphere that makes you want to squeal with joy, and you’d be overwhelmed with love for the characters that you’d get the urge to gobble them up. Of course, not literally. (If you’re anything like me, I suppose. Hahaha.)
Asagao To Kase San involves a tender love between two high school girls with a cute dynamic between a shy, girly girl that loves gardening and a vibrant, tomboyish girl that swoons head over heels for the shy one.
Their romance is as healthy and realistic as you can imagine, and the manga portrays the purest form of love in such a fantastic way. Their dynamic is so wholesome that you’d simply want to stick around and read more just to see them be happy, paying barely any mind to the actual plot. Pick this up if you’d like the feeling of spring to come to you early.
Umibe no Étranger
Umibe no Étranger is yet another wholesome boys-love manga I came across not too long ago. This, coupled with Asagao To Kase San, would probably be the best combination to read this valentine if you’re only planning to read one or two manga this season.
The manga involves an innocent love between an aspiring novelist and a bereaved orphan who spends much of his time gazing into the endless expanse of the sea. Their love is all about coming to terms with yourself and about the bittersweet journey of growing up. Any reader would relate to some degree with their struggles, no matter if you’re gay or not.
Umibe no Étranger has an appealing art style, coupled with a decent plot and super cute characters. It’s undeniably a must-read!
And last but not least, we have Given.
This manga is plausibly the most popular boys-love ever since the anime aired in 2019. And why wouldn’t it be? Given has successfully played with the heartstrings of every reader like a fiddle, taking everyone through the rollercoaster of the ever-shifting feelings of love, pain, desperation, and soul-searching that plague the characters. Any reader would sympathise and relate with their painfully realistic portrayal of love and loss.
With an excellent plot, outstanding characters with an amazing amount of depth and complexity, and a myriad of moments to laugh and cry about, it wouldn’t make sense not to add this to the recommendations list.