Gwen Recommends: Their Story a.k.a. Tamen De Gushi
Their Story (Tamen De Gushi in Chinese) is a cute lesbian love story from China, of all places. It appears to be a webcomic that some lovely fans are translating into English, because the world needs more yuri.
The two main characters are very socially awkward in their own ways. We have delinquent tomboy Sun Jing, and the awkward pretty girl, Qui Tong. Sun Jing has a lot of friends that are all male, as is associated with the tomboy archetype, while Qui Tong has only one other friend. This story makes it very obvious that Sun Jing is pursuing Qui Tong from the start. The latest couple of updates lead to Qui Tong impulsively kissing Sun Jing, so we know the love ends up reciprocated.
My favorite part is at the start of the story is when Sun Jing keeps freezing up every time she tries to approach Qui Tong. This leads Qui Tong into thinking she’s going to get beat up. I admit that I have a bit of a thing for socially awkward characters that end up together, so I really appreciate how the story is about the tomboy pursuing the other girl, and the expressions are just so adorkable.
One thing that struck me is how, in one of the early posts, Sun Jing asks her best friend how to pursue another girl. He makes a very insightful comment that I wouldn’t have thought of, but makes a lot of sense if you understand how friendships between the same-sex work in Eastern Asian countries.
He tells Sun Jing that it’s different for guys and girls to pursue a girl; his example is that if he’s constantly hanging around a girl, even if he doesn’t do anything, it might seem like he’s interested in her by virtue of the fact that he’s a guy, and that one difference helps suggest a possible romantic mood. But with a girl, everything she does would seem normal; even though that might be a good thing for getting close to her, she could get stuck in the friend zone, making it difficult to get out of it and make a relationship even happen. So he tells Sun Jing that the most important thing for her to do is to establish a basis for attraction. Not being the smartest tool in the box, she pursues Qui Tong out right, and this is the kind of adorable awkwardness that I enjoy.
Friendships between the same-sex are often quite intimate by Western standards — for example, it’s entirely common for female friends to hold hands, and for guy friends to literally lean on each other while seated next to one another. This is part of why Eastern Asia is generally behind in accepting homosexuality, because it is seen as a violation of this friendship and trust — not that it makes it okay, of course. So I appreciate the approach a lot.
As far as the art goes, I love the aesthetic. The comic is read as a long top-to-bottom strip, rather than page-flipping the way most Japanese comics are; it shares this trait with Korean comics. The text is read left-to-right, and the pages are in full color. The colors and line work is softer compared to many of its Japanese counterparts, and the style is great at conveying motion and emotion (particularly the frequent basketball games!). The eyes are sizable but compared to most manga they are more normal-sized as they do not take up the whole face. the bodies and legs are on the longer side, lending to the beautiful sense of motion in this work.
The only thing the author does that can be off-putting is how they sometimes interrupt the current story with random character moments that have nothing to do with the current plotline. My guess is that they do this because they have no idea what should happen next, but want to keep the comic updated for the sake of the fans. After I got used to it cropping up occasionally, it stopped being as much of a bother for me, since I just want to see the characters doing things.
An example of this is during the arc where the two girls are having a misunderstanding, and a rival female love interest shows up and confesses to Sun Jing; the last few updates have been out of sync with that story, and just showing cute couple-y things between Sun Jing and Qui Tong, and some other scenes with the rest of the cast.
Regardless, every character in Their Story is extremely likeable, and the expressions the characters have are dorky and sweet. The banter between the main cast is quite fun as well. The story is nowhere near its end, and I really am enjoying it so far. I can’t wait to see how the relationship continues to develop, now that Qui Tong has reciprocated Sun Jing’s feelings.
(Edited by Indigo Altaria)
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- Gwen Recommends: Their Story a.k.a. Tamen De Gushi — March 31, 2018