Girls Love Manga Recommendations
Ach ja, I’m on a mission: To spread only the purest form of love. I don’t know why (well, I actually do know why, but don’t want to acknowledge it) I can barely get invested into heteronormal romance series, while I absorb girls love like a sponge. Seriously, it is essentially the only kind of romance I consume. When buying manga, I don’t even read the little blurb on the back of the book. If there are two girls on the cover, it goes straight into the cart.
However, and to save my own skin from questionable accusations, I don’t think there is something weird or even fetishistic about my focus on girls love specifically. Compared to other romance series, I think girls love is able to explore a wider scope of different kinds of relationships due to different social expectations that would arise from a heteronormal couple. I mean, the fact that there is no invisible wall to be overcome between the two different genders and that there are different assumptions of what the eventual outcome of the relation is to be, already makes for a different enough premise to differentiate between the two, often making girls love not just “a normal romance with two girls”, but an exploration of angles heteronormal romances seldom cover, as far as I’m concerned.
For that, if one somehow finds themselves stumbling onto this post expecting to find new series with a more “traditional” focus on romance, you are not completely in the wrong place, but there might be better lists to be found on the internet. Or not, and maybe I am talking with no ground to stand on, because what do I actually know about romance, amiright? I just want to spread some love about manga I care about.
A quick heads up: There will be a second part coming out soon™, as I don’t want to overload these kinds of lists with too many entries and also haven’t actually started/finished reading some promising series yet. Without further ado, here are some girls love manga recommendations.
Bloom Into You
Bloom into You is arguably the gold standard every other girls love series has to live up to. This series uses its kind of a weird start of a romance series as a vehicle to explore the deeper thoughts and emotions of its characters and what it means to be truly oneself and grow as a person. Bloom into You might might come off a bit frustrating at first, as the couple status of Yuu and Touka is rather ill defined, but I would argue whether they are “truly” together or not isn’t really the point, as their relationship is not just limited to romantic feelings, but how they change each other and come to understand themselves, despite their different approaches to life in all different kind of ways. This romance works, because it isn’t just two people that learn to love each other, but specifically because Yuu and Touka’s characters result in a dynamic that can be viewed from more than just one angle, something Bloom into You absolutely thrives in.
Add a nice and diverse supporting cast to fully round out some of the rougher edges and you got yourself a series that can be nuanced in all kinds of places, but also throw itself at you like a brick. I can also fully recommend the anime adaptation, as it captures the atmosphere of the manga fantastically, though it does jump off at an awkward point and leaves the manga not fully adapted.
Éclair: A Girls' Love Anthology
I love anthologies! For anyone who knows me, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. However, recommending anthologies isn’t always so easy. After all, they are anthologies and there are always bound to be better and worse entries in them, resulting in different hits and misses for everyone. I have read several girls love anthologies and the biggest hurdle to recommending them is consistency. While I liked all the ones I have read, Éclair is the only one that stuck in my brain for a continued amount of time and it also arguably features the highest density of high quality works, courtesy of authors that will most likely pop up in the other titles in this list as well.
As anthologies go, Éclair is willing to cover a lot of different topics and ground. There are of course your plethora of high school romances, but also childhood crushes and adult drama, a large variety in settings and many different takes on romance and relationships in general. Some short stories even keep up chronology over the different volumes, building up larger narratives. It feels a bit generic writing this, but Éclair literally should have something for everyone, which is why I can confidently recommend it more broadly in its entirety and not just singular selected entries.
You ever have the yearning for whatever the reading equivalent of eating cotton candy and getting diabetes is? Look no further. Fu-fu is just really sweet and wholesome. Don’t go in expecting it treading new ground or a grander narrative. As written on the can, it simply is the mundane lives of two women really in love with each other and enjoying their company together. There is one point in the manga going deep into the worst trope imaginable – drama and misunderstandings caused by an utter lack of communication - but it doesn’t fare long and the resolution kind of makes up for it. For anyone into shorter and less “high stakes” series, Fu-fu might just well be the one for them.
I want to make you cry
I thought the german title “Ich will dich weinen sehen” (I want to see you cry) was already a bit much, but the english one absolutely tops it in terms of giving the wrong first impression until you realize what the title actually means, because this series is a lot more wholesome than first meets the eye. The story set-up might come off as rather basic, even comparable to the “flavor of girl” genre a friend came up with, considering it sometimes plays off the stark contrast of honer student and delinquent girl, though this gimmick also doesn’t overstay its welcome and instead gives room for some of the best-ofs from the RomCom trope library.
Again, this series might not have the biggest focus on romance, instead swinging more often than not into straight slice-of-life, and even the ending might not go as far as some wanted it to be, but it still succeeds in portraying a satisfying relationship between two girls that is very enjoyable to read and I would have personally loved to see more of.
Similar to Bloom into You, Kase-san is another classic. The story is mostly told through several vignettes and arguably covers the same beats as most romance series, but it does so exceptionally well. There is something nuanced about the different approaches to their relationship both girls have. While Kase is clearly more mature and experienced, Yui looks at their relationship with a lot more innocence and struggles to fully connect with Kase, despite the two of them being equally love-struck and yearning for each other.
I kind of wonder why it never received an anime series. Sure, there is the animated OVA, but I also wouldn’t really recommend watching it before reading ahead in the manga, as it completely skips the events of the first volume, covering how the two got together in the first place, and goes by a bit to fast for my taste to fully capture the appeal of the manga.
Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl
Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl is actually an anthology in disguise. While there is an overarching plot with its main focus on the relationship between Ayaka and Yurine, this series offers up several more couples, each taking center stage in their respective dedicated volume. This series fully expands on its cast and setting with several reminders interspersed that each story is part in something larger.
The relatively clear separation of the different story lines also helps give this manga a sense of direction, able to fully focus on one couple and their story one at a time, neatly resolving the conflict at the climax of each arc and volume. There is also a large variety of couples and their struggles they have to deal with. While the main couple has to individually overcome how they are perceived by the world around them, there are different kinds of love and affection portrayed throughout, while other focus on the specific circumstances, like seeing each other again after living apart for years or maybe just seeing another before school.
Normally, this entry wouldn’t have made the list, as I consider it rather mediocre in the grand scheme of things, though I suppose I could justify recommending it based on its story being different from the rest of the other entries. Luminous Blue follows the relationships of two girls through the lense of another girl, Kou, initially acting as an outsider and falling in love with the love between the two girls, despite them not being in a relationship anymore. The Plot basically follows Kou trying to rekindle the love between the two girls and accidentally becoming part herself in said love. You heard it right, folks, polygamy with a yuri twist for all you sick perverts out there :D.
Run Away With Me, Girl
Other than Fu-fu, Run Away With Me, Girl is unfortunately the only series focussing on adult characters I can recommend for now, which is a bit sad, as they often allow for a larger variety in settings and courses of life. In this case, it is about two women being unhappy in their current situations and going full melancholy on their shared past together. It feels pretty down to earth, despite how dramatic some of the events can become and even branches out into other issues such as abuse and social pressure. There is always this tinge of realism in there, which makes the story seem pretty grounded, even if there is a lot of romantics in the romance. It can be a slow burn at times, but for everyone yearning a romance beyond the scope of two high schoolers fumbling their way through their first love, this one might be for you.
Unlike other honorable mentions, these series didn’t make the cut due to their quality, but because as I compiled the list, I mostly included entries with a certain theme, vibe and genre: One way or the other, they are all relatively forward romances or have a focus on relationships between girls, thus I decided against including manga with lesbian themes but different focuses. They are all interesting in their own ways, so don’t hesitate to give them a chance.
My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness is, as the name might suggest, an auto-biographical piece by Kabi Nagata about her not so great life, leading until the point where she, out of frustration, reaches out towards an lesbian escort service to fill the void inside her.
If I Could Reach You could have normally made the list, depending on you views on the story. For me, it is more of a general drama, even with the core of the series being about a girl in love with her brother’s wife. It is mostly about Uta trying to remover herself and put distance between the love she is never meant to be with, while being surrounded by all kinds of different relationships via her friends. Not so sure what to think about the ending, but it definitely had a strong run.
Play at Friendship, at first glance, appears to be perfectly tailored for me. An all-girls school that appoints the couple showing the best friendship the “queens” of the school? But it doesn’t go the way you would expect from a girls love manga, instead making the main character disassemble the premise of the very story and shine a light on how superficial some friendships tend to be when based solely on how they are portrayed outwards. It is questionable whether this can even be called girls love, but it does fit the bill either way for this honorable mentions section.
And this is it for now. I am not sure when I will, or rather can release the second part, as I still have to actually read a good amount of them, as well as me mostly trying to recommend finished works, but until then, I hope there was something to your liking and we will hopefully see us next time.
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