Tamen de Gushi is an ongoing manhua by Tan Jiu, first published in 2014. With currently over 100 chapters, it tells the story of Sun Jing, a hopeless lesbian infatuated with a girl she saw at the train station. Sun Jing and her group of friends are the troublemakers of her school, playing pranks and getting sent out of class. But all that bravado melts away when confronted with beautiful women, and when Sun Jing approaches Qiu Tong at the station to get her number, she freezes and runs away. Determined to at least talk to her, she waits at the same spot, hoping that they’d meet again.
Having read manga for absolute years, it’s surprising that this is my first time reading manhua (comics from China, Hong Kong, and Thailand), but I’m definitely not upset that Tamen de Gushi was the one to broaden my horizons. Ridiculously cute and completely relatable, it’s almost a shame that the chapters are so short. Each instalment is less than ten pages long, but each time the audience learns something new about either the plot or the characters. It’s completely understandable that Tamen de Gushi is released in small segments because it’s self-published as a web comic on Weibo, although these segments were compiled into larger chapters when published as a physical copy. What stands out most in this series is just how realistic it is. I don’t think any girl loving girl hasn’t been tongue-tied in front of a pretty woman, especially because of the extra stress worrying about how they’d react. The shoujo-ai aspect is completely normalised, as her friends openly tease Sun Jing about her lack of ‘game’ and she seems comfortable with her sexuality from the very first chapter. Sun Jing is a gay girl who hangs around with straight boys, and her friends act exactly like guys I know, so it’s interesting to see that it’s a universal thing. I don’t know how representative Tamen de Gushi is of contemporary Chinese culture, but it definitely feels familiar as someone from a Western country. Tan Jiu’s pacing in this manhua is excellent, and the comedic timing works really well, especially when paired with visual gags (one memorable moment is the panel with Sun Jing as a dog, tucking her tail between her legs in defeat). It’s funny, it’s sweet, and if that wasn’t enough the art style’s pretty damn great too.
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun: Sun Jing and her best friend Qi Fang are reminiscent of Kashima and Mikoto from Nozaki-kun, trying to be suave with the ladies (and not always being successful). Both comics are romantic comedies, using only a few panels to tell the story.
Kiniro Mosaic: A four-panel manga like Nozaki-kun, but this time with plenty of yuri subtext.