Mizuno and Chayama was a surprise. This 425-page yuri one-shot was a story I didn’t expect a lot from, but one that left me a mess. Written and illustrated by Yuhta Nishio, it’s published and localized in English by Eleanor Summers and features lettering by Erin Hickman. One of the many GL titles that Yen Press has put out, it stands out against the romance genre because of Nishio’s ability to tap into the raw emotion of their characters.
In the one-shot, we follow two star-crossed lovers who find themselves at the whim of town politics that manifest in school bullying and familial pressures. Mizuno, the daughter of a mayoral candidate, is desperate to escape the suffocating pressure and scrutiny of small-town life. Everyone who sees her on the street mentions her dad’s campaign. They reduce her to her father, championing their support for the man who will change their town Asaba. Longing for a place where nowhere knows her name, Tokyo is her dream.
Chayama, on the other hand, is the heiress of the tea company Chayama-en, the town’s boogeyman suspected of polluting the water. Unlike Mizuno, Chayama is adamantly walking down the path laid out for her, despite being forced to atone for her family’s apparent misdeeds. She has accepted her future and the bullying and harassment that comes with it.
Yet in the bubble of the school’s third-floor guidance counseling room, the two girls find a space away from rumors, watchful eyes, and their feuding families. Here, they’re simply Mizuno and Chayama, two teenagers who find comfort and hope in each other. With a blooming love that morphs from two girls exploring each other’s bodies and restricting all interaction to the guidance counseling room to something more, Mizuno and Chayama is beautiful.
It wouldn’t be star-crossed without the two being kept apart. These two are continually forced apart by the outside world. Their families, the people at school, and the implications of the potential mayor’s daughter being friends (let alone lovers) with the daughter of the company that is potentially harming the town all become weights keeping the two girls down and apart. That is until they realize that they need to protect themselves above all else.
Mizuno and Chayama captures love extremely well because it is as much about the couple as it is about the individuals. Nishio takes time to make each girl dynamic forces in their own lives. Over the course of the one-shot, each girl learns to value themselves, their boundaries, and their goals, despite the ways that they are being pushed. Leaning on each other and valuing their relationship, even when threatened with separation, brings out a vulnerability necessary for growth. As much as this one-shot is about a couple, it’s also about the girls’ agency in their futures. The choices they make alone impact the ones they make together, and it’s beautiful.
Mizuno and Chayama is a stunningly emotional look at growing in love and how it can help you fight for yourself. It’s about a connection between star-crossed lovers with leads that make the choice to fight and change how people see them. It’s both delicate and fierce, like its leads. There is love and beauty here, but there is also an exploration of sadness and loneliness that helps resonate with anyone who has ever felt pushed into a corner by the expectations set upon them.
Mizuno and Chayama
Mizuno and Chayama is a stunningly emotional look at growing in love, and how it can help you fight for yourself. It’s about a connection between star-crossed lovers with leads that make the choice to fight and change how people see them…There is love and beauty here, but there is also an exploration of sadness and loneliness that helps resonate with anyone who has ever felt pushed into a corner by the expectations set upon them.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.