Rating: ★★★★★ || 5.0
So here’s my dirty little secret: I can’t read webcomics, especially webcomics that aren’t aggregated all in one place but are interspersed through a personal blog. Here’s another dirty little secret: I detest reading translations for languages I already know. Justifications, justifications, but that’s why it’s taken me this long to read 坛九’s 《她们的故事》, which has been on his personal Weibo account for some time, and which has recently gained some traction through its translation on a Tumblr blog. I could have read it for free, but I can’t read comics online, so, being me, I just bought it on Amazon.cn and waited til I was in Guangzhou again to read it. Which I did. In a single sitting, because it’s that good.
《她们的故事》follows Sun Jing, a lowerclassman at Erfu Central High School, who develops a crush on Qiu Tong, an upperclassman at a neighbouring school. It’s a cute slice-of-life comic (good for me, because that’s the only kind of manhua I’ll read) with a really simple, fresh art style and an adorable love story.
One of the things I particularly enjoy about Chinese media is its lack of sexualisation of its female characters. This stems a lot from a different set of sexist attitudes TBH, but the overall effect, for me, tends to feel much less overtly hostile, even if that may not be the case in actuality. And it’s sad to say, but it’s incredibly refreshing to see teenaged schoolgirl lesbians without any of those things being portrayed in sexually predatory ways by gross male artists. They’re allowed to just be young, and youthful, and it’s very typical of the 校园 genre that their love comes across as being so tender and innocent and pure.
There’s nothing particularly innovative about the story, but the combination of a strong artistic style, a sense of humor and levity, and a pervasive mood of lightness make this among my favourite webcomics to date. I might even continue reading on Weibo.