The Summer You Were There Vol 1 [Manga Review]

“The Start of an Intriguing New Yuri Romance”

  • Mangaka : Yuama
  • Publisher : Romance, Shoujo Ai, School Life, Drama
  • Genre : Seven Seas
  • Published : September 2022

Shoujo Ai readers truly are blessed these days. Once upon a time, a decent yuri story was years in between, and now we’re spoiled for choice, with a growing variety of stories and characters on bookshelves. One of our favorite yuri series, Ikemen Sugidesu Shiki-senpai! (The Girl I Want Is So Handsome) came to the West earlier this year in a single-volume duology—and now, mangaka Yuama is gracing our shelves with a new story.

Yuama weaves her yuri magic once more, with another riveting story of love and growth between damaged girls. Unlike her previous work, The Girl I Want Is So Handsome, Yuama’s new series, Kimi to Tsuzuru Utakata (The Summer You Were There), walks a much thornier path, with more complicated characters and darker themes.

What do we think about this new direction for Yuama’s works? Join us today on Honey’s Anime as we discuss The Summer You Were There, Vol 1!

Shizuku Hoshigawa is a terminally shy high schooler, hiding from people and from herself in equal measure. After finally completing a manuscript, she goes to destroy her work, but has her book discovered by her class’s popular girl, Kaori Asaka. Shizuku thinks her novel is depressing and cringey, but Kaori finds beauty in the tragic tale; when Shizuku says she’ll never write another novel—much less a romance—Kaori insists that they start dating, and for Shizuku to use that experience for her next book!

Of course, if the title wasn’t enough to clue you in, The Summer You Were There is clearly setting up for its own tragic ending—an ironic reflection against Shizuku coming out of her shell thanks to Kaori. Similar to the currently-serializing Chasing After Aoi Koshiba, there are various obvious—and more subtle—hints that the main couple’s relationship doesn’t quite work out how they expected.

As with any romance, the real strength of the story lies with the characters. Again, The Summer You Were There seems to straddle an interesting line between “true” romance and “trial run,” touching on the Japanese social idea that girls dating each other in high school are simply “practicing” for a husband. Shizuku’s distrust of others intensifies her emotions, and all the while, she carries a heavy burden of past actions she can’t escape; meanwhile, Kaori appears fixated on having a secret love affair over the summer, but her physical health seems to be in question. We could guess where the story is going, but we’ll leave the predictions for our readers!

Yuama’s artwork remains beautiful and dynamic, evoking a magical shoujo-esque vibe that really captures the essence of “summer romance,” and juxtaposes nicely against Shizuku’s dark inner monologue. Kaori’s overly-bubbly personality practically springs off the page, while Shizuku’s reserved nature leads to some hilariously deadpan expressions we won’t be forgetting any time soon.

Why You Should Read The Summer You Were There, Vol 1

1. Blurry Romance & Mental Health

As with many ‘fake dating’ stories, part of the enjoyment is seeing the characters break down each other’s walls, slowly turning a lie into truth. Yuama has wonderfully captured the tension and confusion Shizuku feels about this sudden change in her life, including Shizuku’s struggle with mental health.

Shizuku is often stricken by panic attacks that cause her to “space out” and suffer strong chest pains. Although the depiction of mental health in manga is far from perfect, it’s certainly one of the first times we’ve seen obvious anxiety depicted in manga—although, of course, some readers might want to exercise discretion, knowing this.

2. Girls Love For Girls

Among yuri and girls love readers, there’s a broad understanding that—rather unfortunately—a number of yuri works are intended more for a male gaze than any serious attempt at describing a lesbian or bisexual narrative. Thankfully, Yuama delivers again with The Summer You Were There, as she did with The Girl I Want Is So Handsome, with gorgeous characters who embrace their sexuality but don’t flaunt themselves for the audience’s attention.

While we definitely enjoy a little fan service in our manga, it’s important that yuri stories genuinely attempt to communicate relationships between women, and The Summer You Were There earns high praise from us in that department.

The Summer You Were There is a bold new direction for Yuama, especially after the sappy love-fest that was The Girl I Want Is So Handsome. The darker, more serious tone is welcome, and we’re interested in seeing just how Shizuku and Kaori’s fake relationship will play out.

What do you think about The Summer You Were There? Are you planning on reading the first volume? Let us know down in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading!

Author: Brett Michael Orr

I’m a writer, gamer, and reviewer of manga & light novels, from Melbourne, Australia. When I’m not creating a new world, I’ll be absorbed in a good JRPG, watching some anime, or reading up a storm!

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