MANGA REVIEW | Heartache & Laughs in Relatable "Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend"
I’ll be frank: the dating scene in this current world of ours pretty much sucks. The struggles of finding a match, a connection, just about anything to heal a lonely heart is not just challenging, but sometimes feels nigh impossible. I’ve experienced it all when it comes to the worst dating situations, ranging from bad meetups and getting dumped to having the likes of OK Cupid and Tinder saying the worst thing to you: “No one in this area. Please try again later.”
So thank the gods for a writer like Mieri Hiranishi! Her debut manga The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend isn’t just a memoir about how hard it is to find your soulmate through LGBTQ+ lenses, but about how tough it is for everyone! The Japan-born/America-residing author has experienced it all when it comes to dating. From changing her looks for others and finding that perfect person to losing said perfect person and dealing with that heartache, Hiranashi showcases the aches, pains, and even laughs that go on when one tries to find that special someone.
The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend basically tells much of Hiranashi’s life story. From the very moment she realized she liked girls to what she’s currently up to, the author brings everything to life with plenty of wit and humor. Unlike the works of Kabi Nagata (My Solo Exchange Diary), there’s nothing that hits gut-punching hard in Hiranashi’s narrative. Rather, it takes these relatable situations, folds it into a paper fan, and playful bonks you on the head with it until you understand what’s going on in every single person’s life!
Hiranashi’s first schoolgirl crush, the androgynous Jay, brings about scenarios revolved around how one looks and is perceived by others. Going so far as to doll herself up and wear a wig, Hiranashi showcases the pains of having to look good just to appease others. However, she quickly finds out that she’s been doing all of this for naught, since Jay is 1) also attracted to butch lesbians and 2) already taken. However, a trip back to Japan is where her greatest love — and source of future heartache — appears: Ash.
Ash is where The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend bears its heart and soul to the readers. After struggling in the dating scene for so long, Hiranashi finds a person she can truly bond with. True happiness takes her by the arm, and demonstrates all the beauties of love itself. Sadly, after a month of dating and being forced to head back to America, Hiranashi’s happiness comes to a halt. Then, after months of a long-distance relationship, the inevitable happens.
Despite her and Ash being together only for a single month, Hiranashi’s pain of that breakup lasts for years! And believe me when I tell you that feelings like this are no exaggeration! (Hell, I dated someone for one month, and it took me over a year to get over it!) But where Hiranashi gets it right in her telling of these moments is mixing it up with both heartache and hilarity.
Her drawings are wonderfully exaggerated, with these painful emotions and struggles brought to our eyes with the right amount of laughter. Hiranashi showcases herself in self-deprecated fashion, looking like a background character that was scribbled in seconds. Meanwhile, every crush — real or fantasy — is drawn gorgeously, with attention to detail in both eyes and hair. Perhaps her most expressive part is shared when in the midst of anger, with the pages exploding with rage and dark feelings.
As Hiranashi tries to fill that empty hole in her heart, one can’t help but root for her, in the hopes that we can also overcome these hardships someday. Each moment is captured with enough care and silliness to make these relatable situations in our lives feel more bearable to read through. Granted, these moments still sucks, but we can be grateful that the feeling is mutual! Nevertheless, it’s nice to know that lonely people really aren’t alone; they just don’t see their respective peers going through this stuff, too!
Like what Bocchi the Rock! does with social anxiety, The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend brings about the realness of dating struggles. But at the very least, we can laugh at ourselves through the eyes of Hiranashi, because that’s the only way we can grow and move on. Yes, heartache is the worst, as is the current state of the dating world. But maybe if we stop trying too hard, happiness will arrive naturally. And as The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend shows, happiness doesn’t have to come from a significant other; it can be something as simple as treating yourself the way you want others to treat you.
Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt and Mandy Earles of VIZ Media. In stores February 14th!