The English manga market is starting to see more and more yuri releases featuring adult women, and a recent addition to that group is Yen Press’ I Love You So Much, I Hate You, a single volume working women yuri by Yuni. This manga personally hit everything I was looking for from yuri recently: it was dramatic, intimate, sexy, and I was cheering by the end. The English release of Yuni’s I Love You So Much, I Hate You is translated by Eleanor Ruth Summers, and features lettering by Erin Hickman.
The romance focuses on Saori Fujimura, a 26-year-old rising star of the product planning division, and her department chief, 33-year-old Ayako Asano. While the women maintain a professional relationship at work, after-hours they are having an affair. Juggling their feelings for one another on top of outside pressures becomes the dramatic core of this manga. Fujimura has always found herself having feelings for women, but through a heartbreaking montage, it is shown that they always end up being in relationships with men. She is quietly envious of straight couples being able to openly confess their feelings to each other and ask one another out. Once again, she finds herself with unrequited secret feelings for the married Asano.
Asano, on the other hand, is in an unhappy marriage. Her husband is cheating on her, her mother-in-law is pressuring her to have children, and she deals with the weight of perfection as the division’s first female manager at work. One night, the two women go out for drinks, after a drunken confession from Fujimura they spend the night together and begin a secret relationship. While neither woman specifically states their sexuality, the lesbian and possible bisexual coding is present. Ultimately as the two discover their feelings for each other growing into love, the series becomes about seeking personal happiness. It is clear that Asano is unhappy in her life, and it was nice to see a small nod to pressures women in the workplace can experience.
While the boss/employee relationship may rightly make some readers uneasy, I will say that Yuni navigated it well. I never felt as though there was a power dynamic or imbalance between the two. The manga is also fun to read. The premise and execution of the plot are a bit melodramatic, but that is far from a negative. It asks for a mild suspension of disbelief so readers can enjoy a steamy, dramatic romance between these two characters. We get it all the time in more heteronormative romances, so I was excited to read along in this yuri.
The art is lovely and honestly does stand out the most during the more intimate scenes. Fair warning: there are multiple sex scenes in this manga, and the explicit content warning on the cover isn’t for show. However, nothing feels gratuitous or uncomfortably leery. It is clearly drawn with care for the characters. The scenes are passionate and honestly felt realistic while still being played up for the effect of reading a romance manga.
I hope we get to see more from Yuni as a mangaka. I Love You So Much, I Hate You was a thoughtful, sexy, and dramatic romance between two women. It might be one of my favorite yuri manga.
I Love You So Much, I Hate You is available now wherever books are sold and online through ComiXology using our affiliate link.