If you’re a college-aged shoujo manga lover like I am, you can probably relate when I say I’m getting a little tired of manga set in high school. Don’t get me wrong, the stories are incredibly cute, and I enjoy seeing the characters open up about their feelings, experience the school festival together, and go on class field trips, but as a third-year at university, these tropes are a little hard to relate to. On the flip side, whenever I search for josei romance manga, I often come across stories with large age gaps (like the main character is a middle-aged woman who dates a guy 5+ years younger than her), which is even less relatable for me, personally. So when I came across A Sign of Affection (Yubisaki to Renren), it was as if the story I had been waiting for finally made its appearance. I was immediately drawn to the setting and characters.
The main character, Yuki, is a 19-year-old college student with a hearing impairment who lives at home with her family. She primarily speaks sign language and types out messages on her phone for those who don’t understand sign language. In the first chapter, she meets a tall, handsome male named Itsuomi, who travels often and speaks many languages, but sign language isn’t one of them. Throughout the story, the reader gets to watch as their relationship, and the relationships of those close to them, develop.
Aside from the setting and overall plot, I love this story’s realistic, everyday interactions between the characters. College is a busy time for everyone, and you likely won’t get to see your significant other every second of the day. Additionally, when you’re in a relationship as a college student, there’s a bit more involved than simply going on cute dates and buying matching phone charms. In A Sign of Affection, we see the characters doing everyday things as well as having those romantic moments that make you wish you weren’t single, like going to Costco and working a part-time job, for example.
One other thing I adore about this story is the mental and emotional maturity of each character. Yes, high school students are smart, but as someone who left high school years ago, looking back on the past, I feel that many high school relationships consist of kids playing at being adults. This often results in characters making mistakes, usually regarding effective communication, that put a strain on the relationship being pursued. Not to say that college students are incredibly more mature than high schoolers, but they often have more wisdom to back up their decision-making process. In Yubisaki to Renren, we see Yuki properly communicate with Itsuomi, even when it’s difficult (SPOILER: like when she asked him about Emma!). Oushi, Yuki’s childhood friend, spoke fairly openly to Itsuomi regarding how he felt about the two of them going out. Even Rin and Kyouya got to the bottom of the matter regarding their feelings quickly and effectively. Rather than the main character spending chapter after chapter guessing about whether the romantic interest is interested in them in return, in A Sign of Affection, the characters communicate what they want and how they feel and work to make the progress that they desire.
There are so many other amazing aspects to this story. The ongoing manga is so well written and exciting. I’m currently re-reading the four Japanese volumes, and all of the scenes are just as cute the second time around!
If you’re reading this manga as well, leave a comment with your favorite scene, your favorite character, or something else that you love about A Sign of Affection! (: