Hello again friends! I hope this post finds you well! Summer here in New York is in as full a swing as can be here in the coronavirus era. But one thing the pandemic can’t put a lid on is the weather. We’ve reached the mid to high 80s here in the tri-state. While I’m waiting for my library system to reopen so I can get back to work, I’m doing my best to enjoy the beautiful weather whenever I can.
One thing I always noticed (in the olden days!) while working the library circ desk during this time of year were books that got returned, having a lot of sand in them. For the most part, I noticed this happening with hardcover romance novels. So basically, these love stories were beach reads by other folks out enjoying the summer weather. Which got me thinking, a good idea for all the otaku beach-goers out there (who enjoy the occasional shoujo of course) would be to create a list containing some 2020 romance manga debuts. Perhaps something here will strike your fancy while lounging in the sun this summer!
All right! The most summery romance manga for the beach this Summer of the lot here today. In That Blue Summer, we meet Tokyoite high schooler Rio, who has never had a boyfriend. However, she has a lead heading into her summer vacation, after meeting a guy at a group hangout with her friends. However, all her summer hopes are turned on their head when Rio’s mother sends her and her little brother to live with their grandmother over the summer, while she tackles a ton of work she has to take care of for her job.
So while there won’t be any summer lovin’ in Tokyo for Rio, she does meet another bloke while staying with her grandmother named Ginzo. Only problem is, the two get off on the completely wrong foot, and there’s a ton of disagreements immediately. But with 40 days of summer vacation to blow, and with Rio’s grandmother’s neck of the woods being super small, Ginzo and Rio are going to be seeing a lot of each other. Will they be able to turn things around?
Originally coming out overseas in 2013, That Blue Summer was also adapted into a live-action Japanese film in 2018. It starred Wakana Aoi, who funnily enough, also played another anime adaptation role in the Assassination Classroom live-action movie!
Before we had the spiciness known as the recently-wrapped-up Domestic Girlfriend (ho boy, have you read that story?! It’s quite polarizing!), Kei Sasuga had a series called GE: Good Ending. Its original run overseas in Weekly Shounen Magazine was from 2009-2013, and now Kodansha has brought it here for us to enjoy. Is it as juicy as Domestic Girlfriend? Um, well, not quite like that.
High schooler Eiji has an absolute obsession when it comes to his female upperclassman Aki. Aki’s a member of the school’s tennis club, and Eiji makes it a point to spy on her with his binoculars while she practices. All’s well and fine(?) until he gets caught by another female member of the tennis club, Yuki. Yuki’s quite conniving, and uses her skill at scheming to trick the incredibly-unathletic Eiji into joining the tennis club himself! He’s scared to death at this prospect, but when he sees that Aki is excited he’s joining the team, he decides to give it the ol’ college try after all. If for no other reason than to get closer to her. But what about Yuki? Surely she didn’t plot this out for no reason? Do I detect a potential love triangle brewing?
Another high school romance manga! Well, the more you read these book descriptions, you’ll sense that that’s the trend we’re aiming for here. However, while most couples want the relationship defined, and want other folks to know about their newfound happiness, the couple in this one wants to be more covert about things. Allow me to explain.
In Let’s Kiss In Secret Tomorrow, we have uber-gloomy otaku Saya, as well as the sunny, popular boy Yuto. And despite these super-contrasting descriptions, the two are in a relationship with one another. They both bonded together over an MMO game they both adore. Now Saya & Yuto are leaving middle school, and are about to enter the same high school as newly minted first years. And right away Yuto’s charming personality and good looks make him the apple of all the female’s eyes.
When the (true) rumours crop up that Yuto is already spoken for, the female students vow to bring some big-time wrath down on his unknown girlfriend. This doesn’t escape Saya, who tells Yuto that it’s best if they pretend in public that they aren’t a couple. Their relationship then becomes a lot more cumbersome as they work in secrecy to keep it alive. Will they be able to survive high school as a couple?!
Megumi Morino had a title before this one that was translated into English, called Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty. That was a gender-bending story about the duo of Sleeping Beauty and Prince Charming. Now arriving here for us to enjoy is A Condition Called Love, which notably landed on the Japanese Honya Club website’s “Nationwide Bookstore Employees’ Recommended Comics of 2018” list. Huzzzah!
We start the story in a cafe, where first-year high school student Hotaru is sitting with one of her girlfriends. At a closeby table, she gets a glimpse of her male classmate Hananoi breaking up with his girlfriend, who storms out in a noticeable scene. While Hotaru’s friend knows who Hananoi is, and describes him as “three standard deviations above in smarts and looks”, Hotaru has never noticed him before, nor has she ever had a real interest in finding romance at all.
However, after witnessing this scene between Hananoi and his now ex, Hotaru shows Hananoi an act of kindness. Things are then put into motion very quickly in Hananoi’s mind. He immediately forgets his ex and now badly wants to date Hotaru! However, with Hotaru’s unremitting scepticism when it comes to romance, she agrees to go out with Hananoi, but only on a trial basis. Will a relationship be able to develop before the end of this tentative run?
Has anyone out there read Komi Can’t Communicate? If not, check out this writeup here!Komi Can’t Communicate does a fantastic job outlining just how challenging it can be to open up and talk to others when you possess a communication disorder in high school. Any number of things can go awry, including being the target of bullying and ridicule by those who are less-understanding. The title A Side Character’s Love Story is absolutely cut from the same cloth as Komi was.
Unlike in Komi, our leading lady in A Side Character’s Love Story is a college student; Nobuko Tanaka. But like Komi herself, she too is very quirky, shy, and handles attention poorly. And as a result of this, she doesn’t feel that she’ll never be anything more than a side character in the game of life. But Nobuko’s determined to change the tide!
She gets a job at a supermarket, and there, she meets a male coworker named Irie. Despite Nobuko’s overly-reserved personality, Irie assists her and shows her kindness. Now, as a result, Nobuko develops feelings for Irie, and would love nothing more than to let him know. But how will she express this to him? It’s up to Nobuko to overcome her weakness if she wants to win Irie’s heart! For more information on A Side Character’s Love Story, here is the first volume’s review!
This is a debut mangaka Haruka Mitsui. It does resemble GE: Good Ending in the way a sports club/team is involved and there’s someone associated with it that would rather not be. Let’s dive in!
High school student Kao is the manager of her school’s boys volleyball team. Not because she’s enamoured with the job or anything; it’s only because her older brother is a faculty member who doubles as the team’s advisor. And despite Kao’s reluctance at being their manager (not to mention her many blunders on the job), her brother does entrust her with an important task: to recruit this particular student, Nagisa, to the boy’s volleyball team. And if she can do that, her brother says she won’t have to remain manager forever. So Kao does touch base with Nagisa, who in turn responds with a ton of flirting, sending sparks a-flying. How will things work out between Kao, Nagisa, and the volleyball team?
This one is brought to us by the creator of Ao Haru Ride, or internationally known as Blue Spring Ride! Not only was that a huge success in Japan, where it was a best-seller, an anime series, and a live-action movie, but it also received praise here in the US. YALSA (and for those of you who are not in the library world, that is the Young Adult Library Services Association division of ALA, the American Library Association) selected Blue Spring Ride as a Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection on their 2019 list. Let’s see what Io Sakisaka has in store for us now with her followup romance manga, Love Me, Love Me Not.
Our leading lady Yuna is sad lately with her best friend moving away. On the way to go and bid her farewell, she encounters a guy outside who reminds her of a princely character she read in one of her manga and is smitten with him immediately. Also, while out on this trip, she ends up lending money to another girl her age, and not long after that, the two become close friends.
The girl is Akari, and she has just moved into the same apartment building Yuna’s family is in. Pretty soon it is revealed that the prince-like guy Yuna encountered at the story’s outset is Akari’s brother, so he’s also in the building. Also in the apartment complex is a guy that Yuna has known all her life and is friends with, but doesn’t view him as a romantic option despite Akari thinking he would be perfect for Yuna, and also thinking that her brother would not be a right for her too. It’s easy to see there are lots of potential romance pairings here, so who’s going to end up with who!?
This manga is brought to us by the artist behind the Sound Euphonium light novel series! Which spawned the wildly popular Kyoto Animation anime series and films, an absolutely a feather in the cap of Asada. Now here’s a manga series where she leads both the story and art, so let’s see what it’s about!
The story takes place in a high school that was born from the merging of two schools. One was an elite high school where the brainy students (known as high-class) did nothing besides study, while the other was notorious for its laid-back nature and aloof attitude towards test results (known as no-class). Well now that these schools have combined, there is a lot of discord amongst the two ranks.
Asahi, a female student, fits in with the no-classers. Her GPA is super low, but she’s nevertheless carefree and airy. That is until her home catches fire. Now Asahi has no choice but to dorm in the high-class student dormitory (after some strings are pulled of course).
While there, she encounters a mysterious male student named Yokaze who she sees breaking the dorm’s curfew. Asahi catches him climbing through windows to get out, is both attracted to his good looks, and intrigued as to why he’s behaving the way he is despite being a high-class student. Plus the tension of our low-class student living in the high-class dorm is unknown to the rest of the school. If that gets out, it’s going to cause a big-time scandal. What’s a poor girl to do?!
Has anyone read A Silent Voice, or see the movie adaptation? Well, in it, one of our lead characters is deaf and deals with the challenges that come with it. If you liked that story, you should give romance manga; A Sign of Affection a try.
The story focuses on a college student named Yuki. She’s been deaf since birth and has never been able to experience any sort of sound. Nevertheless, she’s content with her circle of friends, and life as a whole for the most part. But, she does want a little bit more out of it when she has a chance encounter with a guy she recognizes on the train who is in one of her classmate/friend’s clubs at school, the International Club.
That guy is Itsuomi, who loves learning and using other languages, as well as backpacking, and he begins to get closer to Yuki as the story unfolds. She acknowledges that her heartbeat (described as the “pounding rhythmic vibration” in her chest) is a new sensation caused by Itsuomi, and she wants to pursue it. However, another guy who goes to her school named Ouchi also appears to have an interest in Yuki. He knew her prior to college and even learned sign language to communicate with her; something Itsuomi does not know and has to work around. Which one of our suitors will end up with Yuki’s heart?
And now, we reach the end of this list with possibly the wildest of all these 2020 debuting love stories! This one won’t be following any kind of romance formula we’ve seen thus far. So without further ado, let’s check it out!
High schooler Mito is both the daughter of a proud farming family and a much sought after girl at her school. She lives her life taking impeccable care of her family’s farm, and rejecting guy after guy on account of them not being as courageous or strong as she is. At this point, she’s totally fed up with her local dating pool. One night though while tending to her family’s crops, the goddess of the harvest, Spica, appears before Mito. And as a reward for all the hard work she’s put into farming, she grants her wish regarding finding her ideal partner.
Only one problem? Spica sends Mito across space and time to Ethiopia 2.5 million years ago to find him! And just who is it exactly? It’s a humanoid ape (an Australopithecus Garhi for those into specifics). What?! How is this going to work out?! Check this title out for sure.
And with that, here’s to a beautiful romance manga filled summer!
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