Story and art: suu Morishita
Genre: Romance, Shoujo
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Synopsis: Yuki, who’s always been deaf, is used to communicating with sign language and her phone. But she’s not used to English, so when a tourist from overseas asks for directions, she nearly panics…until a handsome stranger steps in to help. His name is Itsuomi, and it turns out he’s a friend of a friend. A charismatic globetrotter, Itsuomi speaks three languages, but he’s never had a deaf friend. The two feel drawn to each other and plan a date on a romantic winter’s night…but Yuki’s friend is afraid that she might be setting herself up to get hurt. Could this be something real? Or will these feelings melt away with the snow?
Publication date: 23rd February 2021
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free e-copy of this manga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Protagonist Yuki is deaf, and struggles her way through a hearing world. When a foreign stranger asks her for directions on the train, she panics and a nearby Itsuomi steps in to assist. Yuki is pretty entranced from the get go, and discovers that her path crosses with Itsuomi’s a lot more than she anticipated.
Yuki thinks a lot about how she wants her relationship with Itsuomi to be defined, and what love means to her. She has a few close friends, a girl named Rin who she goes to college with and her male childhood friend named Oushi. Other than Yuki, Oushi is the only other person who can speak sign language.
Itsuomi is the polar opposite of Yuki. Whereas Yuki seems content with her small world, and has resigned herself to the fact there’s a lot she can’t do, Itsuomi throws himself into experience after experience. It’s introduced early on that he has a passion for travelling and learning languages. Over the course of just the first volume through her blossoming relationship with Itsuomi it occurs to Yuki that the world is a lot bigger than she realises and she starts to yearn for more experiences, which is really sweet to see as Yuki accepts she can have the same experiences as everyone else.
Yuki is also a very sweet and seemingly naive girl, where Itsuomi comes across at least initially as a bit of a playboy. As a reader there’s a real urge to want to protect Yuki, and make sure Itsuomi is legitimate and not messing with her feelings, which I think is a real testament to how well the characters in A Sign of Affection are written that after only a few chapters of the first volume, I cared that much about Yuki.
It would be remiss to talk about A Sign of Affection and not mention the portrayal of deafness throughout the manga. As someone who is losing their hearing, a lot of the challenges Yuki faces are things I’ve thought about and considered for down the road in my own life. Though I am losing my hearing, I am not deaf by any means, and I don’t currently use any hearing aids. That said, I think Yuki’s deafness is portrayed really well. Different fonts are used for conversations Yuki is lipreading, and the sign language is really nicely illustrated as well.
This first volume of A Sign of Affection is a charming beginning to the start of Yuki’s story. There’s a lot of potential for drama, and the wonderful characterisation throughout the manga has you really rooting for Yuki and hoping she succeeds in all of her pursuits.
NetGalley requires users to rate on a star rating of 5, so I have adjusted my star ratings for any reviews for manga reviewed via NetGalley. Non-NetGalley reviews will remain out of 10.