I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You
Leaving behind the stereotypical "pining lover" plot, Yumi Sakugawa tells a story from the perspective of a person who deeply desires a close friendship -- someone who is in "friend-love" with an acquaintance of theirs.
Author/Illustrator: Yumi Sakugawa
Publisher: Adams Media
Genre: Comic/ Gift Book
First published in Sadie Magazine and featured on BuzzFeed in 2012, this adorable story by comic artist Yumi Sakugawa garnered enough attention to earn it a hardcover release by Adams Media in 2014. I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You fills that gap left by all the romantically-themed stories out there, and tackles the ever-so-important concept of friend-love.
Language/Crude Humor: N/A
Spiritual Content: N/A
Sexual Content: The narrator makes it clear that they do not want to have a sexual or romantic relationship with the person they are friend-crushing on. They make clarifying statements about what they do not want their friendship to involve — things such as “swapping saliva” and making out.
Drugs/Alcohol Use: N/A
Other Negative Content: N/A
Positive Content: This book takes a pure, sweet-natured approach to an important type of relationship that is often neglected in the constant search for romantic fulfillment.
If you were following along during our Valentine’s Week here at Geeks Under Grace, you may have seen my post on some of TV’s great friendships. As someone who isn’t naturally inclined to romance myself, I have a hard time relating to rom-coms and fairy tales. This little comic, however, feels like something right out of my own mind.
The artwork is a simple, sketch style with heavy lines and thick blotches of color that stand out from the generally black-and-white pallet. The characters are bizarre, nonsense creatures. At first, it is a little bit distracting trying to figure out what exactly the main character and their “friend crush” are. After that, though, you become endeared to them and their unique appearance. I think it was ultimately a smart choice for the artist to populate her stories with these creatures instead of humans or recognizable animals. It helps draw out the universality of the forgotten friend-love. We all feel a longing to be connected with others. We all want to be significant and important to someone — whether we are black or white, male or female, or even strange furry cyclops-yeti creatures.
The narrative of I Think I am in Friend Love With You is told in first person, from the perspective of the pining main character, as they watch their friend-crush from a distance and imagine all the things they would do together if they were close: exchanging favorite books, watching movies, reblogging each other’s jokes on Tumblr, and sharing endless cups of tea (something very near and dear to my own heart).
In the end, it turns out that the narrative is a letter that the main character is delivering to the person they want to be friends with. I was taken out of the story a little bit by this trope. Perhaps Sakugawa was trying to subvert the cliche of the romantic “love letter.” I feel like the trope has been overdone, though. While it isn’t quite as eye-roll inducing as a story ending with the revelation that “it was all a dream,” the letter format did seem to be an odd break from the theme, story, and artwork which were otherwise so unique and unexpected.
One thing to note, if you are interested in this story, is that you can find the entire comic on the internet for free. It was originally intended for the web and featured as online content for Sadie Magazine. There are a few reasons you might want to purchase this story as a hardbound book. If you see it at a local bookstore, and want to buy something small to support the store and independent artists, this is a good, easy choice. If you want to give a thoughtful, unique gift to a friend (or someone you want to be friends with), then it would be nice to have a hard copy of this to pass along. Otherwise, you might just want to enjoy the comic in its online form.
Personally, I bought the book because it is about a topic near and dear to my heart. In some spheres of Christian culture, we are so concerned with building biological families and creating romantic bonds that we forget the other types of relationships that God has gifted us with.The body of Christ is large, and we are meant to connect with more than just one significant person in our lifetimes. As an aromantic on the campus of a Bible college with a reputation for graduating newlywed couples, this book is a refreshing reminder that it is okay to long for friendships, rather than simply searching for romance.
Now that I’ve read it a few times, though, I think I will pass it along. I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You is a letter, after all (no matter how that turn of events struck me), as well as a gift book. I just may have to mail it to a dear friend of mine this summer.
+ Heartwarming story about an oft-neglected topic
+ Unique artwork
- Ends in a bit of a cliche