Ooguma Satomi has never been in a relationship. One day, she fell in love with a handsome younger boy in her class, without knowing that he... is actually a girl.
Handsome Girl and Sheltered Girl is pretty good.It's a GL series that manages to get the formula mostly right, in that it manages to portray a teen lesbian romance within a framework that could, with some rosy glasses, actually reflect a real relationship. Sure, it's fluffy and a bit cringe at times, but teen relationships are a little cringe, and these characters are mostly mature enough to handle the pitfalls of being with one another.Another thing this manga does is actually use misunderstandings well, in that the principle mistake Ookuma makes in assuming Kanda is a man is handled fairly maturely. It's not used for cheap and obnoxious melodrama, as something like Citrus might do, and it's both used as a source of mild conflict and also doesn't overstay its welcome. Kanda's tomboyish appearance is used as a device from multiple angles, not just her romance with Ookuma, which is mildly refreshing.Overall, it's cute and fluffy, doesn't stuff itself with terrible/toxic Japanese tropes like other gay series I could mention, isn't completely mindless, and has likeable characters. No one looks like, or is, a literal child. No one is making out with their own mother/father. The English translation was not written by a chimp on a typewriter. In any other genre, this might warrant a 5/10, but in the field of Japanese LGBT works, it's a genuinely respectable and touching effort to consistency.However, if you want a hard-hitting, tightly written adult relationship with plenty of spicy drama, this is not the work for you. This mostly warranted an 8/10 because it stands out in a sea of rape, abuse and mindless, poorly developed fluff as something with a half-decent romance story and an utter lack of toxicity. Props to the mangaka for knowing what a binder is, and how to draw one, by the way.
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