Saeko and Miwa

Pride Month Reads: How Do We Relationship Is Building Toward Girls Unapologetically Allowing Themselves to Like Girls

5/5 women who love the fact that they love women

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I’m gonna be real honest. This manga immediately appealed to me because the characters are in college. College is when I came out, right in the middle of my first semester, and it’s where I was able to really explore my sexuality. How Do We Relationship has a lot of similar notes to my own experiences, from being, in hindsight, hilariously fascinated when I met another queer woman, to being stressed about how certain friends would take it even if I trusted them, to not being sure how to go about having a relationship with a woman because, well, the only kinds of relationships that got talked about were heterosexual.

Eventually, I’d find out that the secret was to stop overthinking and to start accepting the way I felt, which is a similar message with this manga: give or take a few bumps along the way.

Synopsis of How Do We Relationship volume one

Cover to How Do We Relationship

While having a night out with a girl she just met on campus, Miwa finds out that the girl, Saeko, likes girls. It turns out Miwa likes girls, too, but she’s never admitted this to the crushes she harbored back in the day. Both girls are stunned to find out that they’ve been hanging out with a fellow queer woman this entire time, so Saeko makes a proposal:

What if they started dating?

Miwa is much shyer than Saeko, especially when it comes to taking their relationship to the next level, and behind Saeko’s outgoing personality is a girl who hasn’t had completely positive experiences when it comes to her sexuality and physical intimacy with other people. Together, the two begin to figure out how to make their relationship work while learning, and accepting, more about each other.

What this Pride Month Read has in store for you

Miwa loves women

What’s fun about this story is that it’s a flashback. We know that Saeko and Miwa get together, but beyond that, the main focal point is Miwa being 1000% in love with women and being in a state of complete bliss because she’s actually dating one—and able to enjoy doing it. The story is about how Saeko and Miwa reach the point they’re at in the beginning, which we can see, right from their first meeting, is something that’s gonna take some time.

Still, it’s nice knowing that the end goal is, “Girl appreciates the fact that she can freely like girls because she likes girls so much.” It’s a story that puts emphasis on women becoming comfortable enough to say, out loud, that they like women—not just the one they’re with, but women in general.

Saeko and Miwa being so excited about meeting another queer woman sold me on this manga. It’s such a relatable reaction when it comes to being part of the queer community. It’s not that you don’t know that other queer women exist—Miwa even says that she knows it’s perfectly fine to like women—but there’s this sort of “sigh of relief” that hits when you actually meet someone who understands how you feel.

And, in Saeko’s case, you ask that person to date you.

Is it fast?

Yes.

Is it something that can happen when two girls find out OMG FINALLY ANOTHER GAY PERSON?

Also yes, especially when you learn more about Saeko and Miwa’s story before they met.

What makes this manga such a good read is that Saeko and Miwa are two very different women, not just because of their contrasting personalities, but because of their experiences. Miwa is very much into women… in her head, at least. Out loud, she’s not there yet, because she’s constantly dealing with folks assuming that she’s straight. Even if she feels that it’s normal to like women, there hasn’t been much reassuring her of it being okay to vocalize her feelings.

So when she finally does have a girl (Saeko) asking her out, she has no idea what to do and even questions the reason why they even want to be with each other. Is it because they were drunk? Is it because it was the first time they met someone who flat out said they liked girls? Or are there genuine feelings there?

On the flip side, Saeko had an “incident” in middle school that hurt the girl she was with. This led to Saeko deciding to sleep with a guy in high school because she thought that was the fastest way she’d be seen as “normal.” Saeko, at the time, treated sex as a tool she could use so she could appear to be like everyone else.

Saeko sleeps with a guy

This part, especially, hit me real hard, because I remember people breathing a sigh of relief in high school when I finally got a boyfriend. In hindsight, I don’t even know if I wanted a boyfriend, but it was a good way to look “normal.”

When Miwa agrees to have sex with Saeko, Saeko realizes that Miwa is doing exactly what she did in high school: rushing sex because she thinks she has to do it. This is such an honest depiction of the pressure folks put on girls to have sex, which is ironic because girls are also deemed as being “sluts” if they have too much sex.

Saeko stops

 

 

The other thing this manga does well is illustrate the anxiety of coming out. While we get Miwa’s hesitation at the start of the story, over time we see that Saeko is nervous, too. It might be a surprise since Saeko is so into Miwa (and very vocal to her about it), but she’s probably more fearful about coming out than Miwa is. This is because she’s the one who had a negative experience with it. Saeko’s mother knows about her sexuality because of the incident in middle school, which definitely colors Saeko’s feelings on the matter. It’s not like she got to be the one who told her mother in a safe, positive way, and since Saeko’s girlfriend is the one who faced the most backlash, Saeko is worried that Miwa’s gonna go through the same thing if they come out to their friends.

I remember one of the things I was told, a lot, when I finally came out to my friends is, “Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Did you think I’d hate you?” It’s not necessarily that I thought they’d hate me, it’s that there is such a HUGE narrative of the response being negative that you kinda go in expecting the worst. It’s just easier to set yourself up for disappointment than it is to go in with high hopes. Saeko has a similar experience with her friends when they find out, going so far as to try and “beat them to the punch” by downplaying her relationship with Miwa. It’s not that she doesn’t trust her friends, she just preemptively expects the worst as a defense mechanism – especially because of what she went through in middle school.

Saeko expressing her worries

This also kinda mirrors Saeko and Miwa’s relationship, because the moment they don’t have to hide it to their friends anymore, they really don’t know what to do! They’re free to explore their feelings, but, well, how do you DO that? You expect to have to hide or deal with backlash, but when that hurdle is crossed … what’s next?

The magazines

While the hesitate moments are relatable, these moments that link back to the title How Do We Relationship are so charming to me.

Trust me, girls, you two aren’t the only ones trying to figure out how to relationship. That’s a question that gets asked, repeatedly, even if you’ve been in a relationship for a while.

You can check out How Do We Relationship over at Viz today!

Kiss

(Image: Tamifull)

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Author
Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)