For the month of February, a month recognized and celebrated for love, I wanted to make a short manga list of manga series serving up the romance that has taken me by surprise! From a shorter series that challenges gender roles in a more positive light to a series that manages to be both an game changer via romance and also be thriller, here’s manga that I’m hoping you’ll want to read past Valentine’s day and beyond. 💖
My Androgynous Boyfriend
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Age Rating: 16+
Available Formats: Digital & Physical
Ongoing or Completed: Ongoing (Three volumes)
Localization Team: Jocelyne Allen (Translator), Laura Heo (Letterer) Lora Gray (Adaptation)
All the important manga folks that I follow online were reading and talking about this series, so I eventually bought the first volume and wanted more. My Androgynous Boyfriend‘s premise is simple: the manga follows the lives of Wako, who works in publishing and Meguru her gorgeous boyfriend who expertly knows much about fashion and makeup—all with the goal of making himself beautiful just for her. I adore the day to day of the life of these two all while seeing their work ethnic when it comes to their careers, their hopes, and dreams and how they love on each other. Add in social media, other people’s expectations, and how to navigate them, this romantic slice-of-life story one is a gem! While the second volume focuses more on Meguru and his recent career change, and less on their relationship as a whole, I loved seeing how the two met originally.
It’s silly and relatable to watch this couple do everything from meet each other’s friends to the more challenging: couch buying for their place! Wako is a character I loved reading as she works in publishing and deals with manga as well! She adds necessary commentary on women and emotional labor in the workforce as an interview she was looking forward to bombs, and she’s basically used as a free therapist. Meguru is equally an interesting character who loves self-expression and helping others look and feel their best. His approach to love and life is definitely a focus in this series. Take the first volume of My Androgynous Boyfriend out on a date if you are looking for an offbeat romance that is about genuinely loving someone, the many relationships we have in our lives, breaking with tradition, and subverting outdated rules that society has about gender!
Recommended for: Fans of the slice of life genre, readers who want short manga series to read, fans of manga that include LGBT+ topics
I’m A Single Mother In A Fake Marriage
Creator: KURAKO WATANABE
Publisher: Shusuisha inc.
Age Rating: 16+
Available Formats: Digital
Ongoing or Completed: Ongoing ( as of February 2023)
I read the first volume of I’m A Single Mother In A Fake Marriage on a whim and bought the other two volumes in the series soon after. Thirty-one-year-old single mother Yuki is doing her best and her daughter Hono is the light of her life. She’s come a long way from escaping a terrible past with an ex-husband who wanted nothing to do with their daughter. Thankfully, Yuki has a small but wonderful support system that includes the principal of her daughter’s pre-school and…her daughter’s handsome kindergarten teacher who happens to be younger than Yuki.
Due to unfortunate circumstances because of the reappearance of her ex, Yuki and Hono end up living with Mr. Ryu, the kind and protective man who stands up for the two. Whew. There’s a great balance of silly moments mixed with the serious and heartwarming ones. I love that Yuki is being developed as more than just a mother, she’s a woman who is falling in love again and trust people again. Take the first volume of I’m A Single Mother In A Fake Marriage out on a date if you are looking to be head over heads for a wholesome story about found family and second chances at love!
EDIT: I finally got around to reading the second half of the third volume and found myself BLINDSIDED by a very harmful trope! Spoilers but more importantly CW: for the very gross and unfortunate “tr-p” trope when a trans character, introduced as a friend of the Principal tricks a male character into being in an imitate situation. The trope, prevalent in media and especially in manga and anime, presents trans people, as deceivers and tricksters and often used for comedic effect. The trope also plays into the type of fear mongering that justifies violence against trans people everywhere.
Here’s a great piece elaborating on the trope itself and more on why it is harmful here with examples on Anime Feminist. I am fierce believer that we can and should critique the media we consume. Manga and Anime included. I adored this manga that I stumbled upon and feel sucker punched by the third volume’s antics with this harmful trope. More importantly, I want to call out what perpetuates violence against trans folks in the media I enjoy. From prominent newspapers to politicians to best selling authors whose IP get the video game treatment, the Trans community is on the receiving end of so much hate. Let’s point out what brings harm, even if we previously loved and enjoyed that piece of media.
Recommended for: Fans of the Josei manga genre, readers who love wholesome stories about family, folks who enjoy hidden gems via manga
Love After Domination
Creators: Art by Takahiro Wakamatsu, Story by Hiroshi Noda
Age Rating: 16+
Available Formats: Digital & Physical
Ongoing or Completed: Ongoing (5 volumes as of February 2023)
Localization Team: Steven LeCroy (Translator), Kyle Ziolko (Letterer), Sarah Tilson (Editing)
Fudo and Desumi could be what you could call star crossed lovers because of who they are and what profession they both hold. No, they aren’t from feuding families, but Fudo Aikawa, A.K.A. Red Gelato of the Gelato Five and hero has fallen for the Reaper Princess. She’s a villianess and member of the shadow organization Gekko by the name of Desumi Magahara! She feels the same! These two idiots are in love yet have no idea how to date and what couples do. Love After Domination is romance with a Shonen vibe, and it’s hilarious to boot! It’s giving forbidden love; however, with two earnest folks who have never been in a relationship before, the story gets more ridiculous and endearing with each chapter. Add in your heroes, shadow organizations with lots of heart, and fun side characters and you have a fun premise that doesn’t disappoint.
The world-building in the series is elaborated on: readers will get to see some of the inner working of the bases of both the heroes and the villains and some of the minor heroes and baddies too. This series is just so much fun for those who like their comedy in manga on the Ecchi side. Oftentimes when love is involved, we are used to hearing that “opposites attract,” and these two go through several obstacles for their love. It is comical to see one of them infiltrate a heavily guarded base of the enemy just to exchange phone numbers cause they haven’t seen each other for a week. It is entertaining to see them change into disguise in the middle of a date while their comrades are fighting around them at a popular location for couples. This is a charming read about two people who think they aren’t cut out for romance and the lengths they’ll go for the one they love, after falling in love for the first time. Take the first volume of Love After Domination out on a date if you are looking to laugh a lot while enjoying an absurd love and romance story with lots of action!
Recommended for: Fans of the comedy, romance and science fiction genres in manga, readers interested in manga adapted into anime, folks who enjoy Shonen flavored stories
Something’s Wrong With Us
Creator: Natsumi Ando
Age Rating: 16+
Available Formats: Digital and Print
Ongoing or Completed: Ongoing (13 volumes as of February 2023)
Localization Team: Sara Matsueda Savage (Translator), Sara Linsley (Letterer), Haruko Hashimoto (Editor)
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Nao has become a traditional Japanese sweets maker, and at 21, she’s about to make waves in the industry. Upon taking a job at a company that will take her far, she meets someone from her past who doesn’t recognize her: the young, handsome owner is Tsubaki, her childhood friend and first crush. He’s also the child who framed Nao’s mother for the murder of his father years ago when the two were children. Soon after he proposes to her, unaware that she’s his childhood friend and the daughter of the woman who brought much tragedy to his life and family.
Nao believes him to be the only witness that night and wants answers, revenge, and for vindication of a life lived without her mother. Since Tsubaki has no clue who she is, she seizes her chance to get close to him and perhaps bring him down while finding out clues of what happened that fated night.Something’s Wrong With Us is simply a game changer in the Shojosei (Shojo-blurring Josei genre) arena. Each volume has thrown me for a loop as the story involves a complicated one with family legacies, deception, and miscommunication…all while falling in love. Take the first volume of Something’s Wrong With Us out on a date if you are looking for a steamy and intriguing love and romance story that is also a thrilling murder mystery that will keep you on your toes.
Recommended for: Fans of the Shojo and Josei manga genres, readers who love thrillers and stories with a psychological lean to them, fans of manga that also revolve around food, traditional Japanese sweets in particular
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