Nanashi no Asterism: On How to Write a Gay Series Without the Gay

I wanted to like Nanashi no Asterism. A lot. It had cute art, a fun cast of characters, and a likeable charm to it. I wasn’t expecting it to be high art or anything of the sort, but I was hoping for a fun little Yuri manga.

Those hopes were, regrettably, shattered.

Nanashi no Asterism fronts as a yuri manga, opening with a love triangle between three girls who refuse to admit their feelings. This setup, while not my favorite, seemed like it had the potential for a cute series with likeable characters. Just need to get to the point where the characters confess their feelings and work out their relationship problems.

It never happens.

Instead, Nanashi no Asterism spends chapter after chapter repeating to the audience how these characters don’t want to jeopardize their friendship by starting a romantic relationship between themselves. Over the course of some 23 chapters, each consisting of roughly 60 pages, the characters manage to loop around to being in the exact same situation at the end of the series as at the start of it.

The most the audience gets to see of actual gay content comes in the form of the main character’s brother, a crossdresser with an obsessive attachment to his sister. Over the course of the series he comes out of his shell and grows close to another boy, with hints of romantic tension between them… via the means of impersonating his sister and pretending to go on dates with him.

Nanashi no Asterism at one point does dwell on how hard it can be for gay children to come out or admit their feelings, and suggests that this is why one of the characters goes to such lengths to shoot down any attempt at starting a gay relationship. But rather than telling a story of healing and support, we are treated to a drama where a character represses and denies their feelings in the most self-destructive way possible, and is told they are right to do so.

In the end, Nanashi no Asterism manages to send a purely toxic message about keeping secrets and shutting others out under the guise of telling a cute and comedic yuri love story. It’s all the deceit of subtext and yuri-baiting, without any of the honesty that comes with it.

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