Sunday, October 23, 2022

REVIEW: I Think I Am in Friend-Love With You (graphic novel) by Yumi Sakugawa

I call I Think I Am in Friend-Love With You a graphic novel, but it's probably more accurate to call it a picture book for adults. I bought my copy new.


This book is a confession of friend-love from a gray, one-eyed being to a faceless white being. It's a very quick read, more the kind of thing you might give as a gift to someone than something you'd read for its story or characters. 

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, yes, it's great to see something that recognizes friendship as a relationship that can be as deep and affecting as a romantic relationship. On the other hand, it gets kind of weird at a few points and ends on a note that doesn't entirely feel healthy. Although I said this feels like the kind of thing you might give someone as a gift, the recipient might feel more than a little creeped out after reading it.

The gray being takes great pains to explain that their love is friendship-love, and inadvertently comes across as weird in an effort to not make it weird. A few examples:

"I don't want to date you or even make out with you because that would be weird."

"And when we do hang out, I don't want to swap saliva, I just want to swap favorite books."

I think it's the specificity that makes it weird. Like, I wasn't thinking about any of those things until you brought them up, and now they're stuck in my brain as options and weirding me out.

Near the end, the gray being assures the white being (this entire text is presented as a letter the gray being wrote and delivered to the white being's house) that it wouldn't be sad if the white being were in a romantic relationship - it would, in fact, be happy for it. But right after that, the grey being witnesses the white being swap books with another being and starts crying, because this is apparently evidence that the white being sees someone else as a closer friend than the gray being.

...Your friends will have other friends. Even your best, closest friend. This doesn't necessarily mean that they no longer view you as a close friend. Not being obsessively focused on one person is a good thing, whether the relationship is friendship or romantic. But I'm not sure the book's author recognizes that.

Anyway, I appreciate what the book was trying to do, but it missed the mark. The more I think about it, the more uncomfortable I get. It's a shame, because, with several pages torn out, this might have been decent, in a "Hallmark card in book form" kind of way.

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