Yearning for Yuri: Their Story

So far I’ve only been covering yuri manga, a distinctly Japanese genre in a Japanese medium. That’s fine, and there are plenty of great yuri manga, but if I limit myself purely to Japanese works and to manga then I’ll be leaving out a lot of good content. Yuri is a popular genre among queer women and people all around the world, and it’s had an influence on girl-girl works from many other countries. This week I’ll be looking at Their Story, or Tamen de Gushi, an excellent Chinese webcomic by Tan Jiu.

Their Story focuses on Sun Jing, a fairly butch high-schooler, as she falls in love with Qiu Tong, a student at a nearby school. The story begins as they meet each other for the first time, as Sun Jing quickly comes to harbor a crush on Qiu Tong, eventually befriending her and attempting to progress their relationship beyond friendship. As time goes on the manhua expands, with more chapters focused on side stories and the rest of the cast, but we always return to the relationship between Sun Jing and Qiu Tong.

Their Story moves at a very slow pace. Given that it only comes out every week-and-a-half on average, that can be a bit of a shame. I’ve been reading it ongoing for the past 2 or so years and while a lot has happened, there’s clearly a long way to go. At the same time, there are massive benefits to the way it’s written. We get to see a lot of the characters’ lives, which really adds to the feeling that they’re real people. All facets of our main characters are explored, alongside fairly deep looks at some of the side characters. The chemistry between Sun Jing and Qiu Tong is only made that much better by how much we get to see them together. Even though they’re still only friends at this point in the story, it’s clear how well they work for one another, which will only make their eventual dating all that much more cathartic.

The manhua excels in the visual department as well. It’s certainly somewhat different from what you would expect in Japanese manga, yet at the same time, it exists within the same general sphere. The characters are quite a bit taller and thinner than you would see in most Japanese works, though if I had to compare the art to someone’s it would be Nishi Uko’s or Takemiya Jin’s. It’s quite realistic and detailed in most respects, which is nice given the tone. At the same time, it easily allows for cute moments; it’s not realistic to the point that the characters aren’t nice to look at. It’s also in full-color, something you’ll basically never find in manga, so that’s a definite plus.

Their Story doesn’t have the most original narrative out there, but its execution is great, and that’s enough. The high number of chapters makes it a familiar experience whenever I read it, and I’ve come to really love Qiu Tong and Sun Jing, rooting for them with every chapter. I’d go so far as to say it might be my favorite yuri comic, though I don’t include it on most of my yuri manga lists since it’s not technically a manga. Unless you’re really tied to the idea that the stories you’re reading are Japanese, this is an excellent story worth reading for any yuri fan. I highly encourage checking it out.

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