When we last left Yuki and Itsuomi, they had basically confessed they were into one another and Itsuomi was making the effort to learn sign language in order to know Yuki better. As this volume starts, Yuki and Itsuomi’s relationship takes a turn as he is more physical with her, hugging her and eventually taking it up a notch to full on admitting feelings and a kiss, as we all expected would happen.
Itsuomi is an idealized romantic lead, in that he is older, handsome, well-traveled and genuinely interested in Yuki for who she is. Sure, he has some idealized notions of her as well, considering her pure and innocent and someone who needs to be protected, but he never comes off as an insensitive alpha male. We see when Yuki interacts with others, like the interviewer for a job and Oushi, that they view her deafness first and then her as a person, whereas Itsuomi takes the time to speak with her, learn what he can through her words and signs, and really tries not to project upon her what he assumes her life is like. He also goes away for a few weeks and keeps in contact with her, sending her videos, photos and messages related to things he’s doing and knows she would be interested in. Usually the men in these manga are over the top idealized but I like that Itsuomi, while basically a Disney prince, also has some level of emotional intelligence to know Yuki doesn’t deserve being strung along.
That’s a huge change from how, let’s say Oushi, her other clear interest, treats her. Oushi treats her as if her deafness defines her and tries to convince her that other people aren’t to be trusted because why would they want to romance the deaf girl? Also what the fuck is with him asking her mother for Yuki’s number?! They’re depicted as lifelong friends from childhood, and Oushi clearly learned sign language from her, yet he doesn’t have Yuki’s number? That right there says all we need to know about how he treats her and how she feels about Oushi.
Anyway is this the epitome of perfect, flawless manga to be talked about for years to come? No. Is this a fun little romance romp that shines light on an underrepresented community in romance and allows you to have warm fuzzies? Hell yeah.
Title: Sign of Affection (Vol. 3)
Author: Suu Morishita
Three Descriptors: Cute, Representative, Heartwarming