It’s time to take a look at another openly queer yuri mangaka. Yuri made by men and straight women can be great, but open lesbians and other queer women are obviously worth highlighting in the yuri discourse. This week I’ll be looking at Amano Shuninta’s The Feelings We All Must Endure also known as Watashi no Sekai wo Kouseisuru Chiri no You na Nani ka.
This series is very messy. It’s a real series, with characters who behave like real people and get into real scenarios, but that leads it to be a bit off-putting at times. The characters are all deeply interesting, every one of them with their own complex motivations, but they aren’t all super likable. In fact, I’d argue that the bulk of them are outright hard-to-like. Their emotional issues are interesting, but not exactly endearing. This manga hardly follows a lot of the classic trends of yuri manga, though I certainly think it fits in the modern yuri environment.
Like I said it’s very messy, but it certainly gains a lot from that. The series is able to explore sexuality more than almost any other yuri manga I’ve read, and in doing so it serves a valuable role within the genre. Queerness in this manga is explicit, not just in behavior but in identity. We see the main character awaken to her sexuality through sex with another woman, and there’s plenty of other lesbian and bisexual characters in this manga.
Another major element, and one of the most off-putting ones, is the presence of cheating. Yuri, even when it engages with sexuality, tends to avoid cheating. Hell, romance manga, in general, doesn’t tend to touch the topic. The way it’s handled in this manga is, interesting, to say the least. I have some issues with the resolution to the storylines surrounding it, but it’s very nice to read about a relationship that doesn’t work out perfectly. There’s also a character who’s very into casual sex and isn’t particularly shamed for it. This is a bit of a problem since she aids in some of the cheating, but I think it’s a net positive. The depiction of sexuality here is imperfect, but the openness of it is refreshing.
Other interesting topics get covered as well. One relationship in the series is between a hypersexual character and a character who seems to be asexual. The problems that this incompatibility causes within their relationship are explored, and it’s something that I just haven’t seen before. Yuri manga often eschews more carnal desires in its characters, but it does so for all of them. A character who’s not interested in sex is much more interesting when everyone else is. As far as I can remember, this is the only example of an asexual but not aromantic character that I’ve ever seen, in any media. Once again, this is a sign of how messy the manga can get, but it also felt like a very real issue.
Eating disorders and bullying are also looked at, though in less detail. I don’t want to overstep my boundaries here so I want to make it clear: I don’t know much about these topics. Still, from my fairly uneducated opinion, this was handled pretty well. It wasn’t the focus of the manga, but it gave a lot of depth to what would otherwise be the least interesting character. The manga’s willingness to even come near topics like these is great.
None of the relationships in this manga are super healthy. The presence of cheating should make that clear enough. And none of them get unqualified happy endings, though none of them are incredibly depressing either. The manga is ultimately very moody and bittersweet, but it does present a bit of hope. These people aren’t doomed to live like this their entire lives. They can change things for themselves, but it won’t be easy. I think that’s the idea Shuninta was trying to send, and if it was then she did a very good job.
At times this manga made me feel disgusted, but it’s ultimately a deeply engrossing work and it should be seen an essential part of the discourse on modern yuri manga. At times it strays so far from convention that you may hesitate to call it yuri; it certainly doesn’t fit the idea of the genre focused on spiritual bonds and romantic but asexual love. But we don’t need to constrain ourselves to that definition of yuri. Amano Shuninta considers herself a yuri artist much as many other queer mangaka do, and we should be expanding the genre’s scope, not retracting it. With that in mind, I believe that The Feelings We All Must Endure is absolutely worth reading for any yuri fans, if only to see where the genre can go.
This is the first of three posts on Amano Shuninta, as I will be covering more of her works in my next two Yearning for Yuri pieces. Her other works tend to be less messy but they’re all very interesting. Look forwards to them!