Valentine’s day is right around the corner and with it comes the release of The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend to the world. This manga is incredibly unique especially amongst romance stories; rather than rely on tired tropes or lazy appeals to emotion, The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend takes the real, personal experiences of the author and translates that into a compelling narrative that blends both story and introspection. Within the story, Mieri is an awkward college student and experiencing the unique frustration of being a butch women attempting to date other butch women. She isn’t very familiar with the dating scene, let alone this unique facet of the LGBTQ dating scene. We follow Mieri as she experiences crushes, heartbreak, and incredible personal growth through every page. This semi-fictional manga explores emotion and relationships in a truly fantastic way.
Anime Corner was fortunate enough to get a chance to ask author and artist Mieri Hiranishi after reviewing The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend (“TGTCGAG”). We were quite curious about some of the details of the story, the emotions that came up while drawing the manga, and what’s ahead for Mieri Hiranishi’s mangaka career.
Q: Romance stories between butch or androgynous women are incredibly rare in manga – did you find yourself getting pushback during the publishing process for telling such a unique story?
A: Initially when I was taking my manga to publishers in Japan! But after showing through my social media that there is a market for it, I don’t get much pushback anymore. Sometimes publishers don’t see potential in an idea or concept so you have to take it into your own hands to prove them wrong!
Q: In the bonus section of the manga you say you listen to music that fits the mood of your manga while you create it. What kind of music is that?
A: I listen to a lot of K-pop! I don’t understand Korean so it’s nice when I just want to hear a nice melody and make art that vibes with it. I also listen to video game soundtracks because I play a lot of video games! Also anime music, of course 🙂
Q: A big part of TGTCGAG is self-discovery and healing. Did you find it difficult to dive back into really painful times in your life?
A: I cried sometimes while writing this manga but it was really important to get back into those moments to write about the feelings accurately! It helped me get pent up feelings out so in the end it was therapeutic. I rarely ever think about the ex in the story anymore so it definitely worked! Hopefully the emotional moments have an impact on the readers as well but maybe it makes them cringe instead because I overshared in hindsight (lol).
Q: Very few manga characters use dating apps, and you show it super well. Did you have any inspiration for how you styled those panels or did the look come naturally?
A: Thanks for the compliment! I just styled those panels off of existing dating apps and made sure that it was clear to the reader that the art was trying to depict a dating app. I had to make all of the elements of a dating app fit in the panel so a lot of simplification had to happen but glad to see it worked!
Q: The voice of the manga is very pointed and sometimes internally harsh. Is that your natural internal voice or was that something you deliberately wrote for the manga?
A: I never made anything intentionally pointed or harsh so if I wrote something it’s probably because I honestly felt that way! Although I did change settings and small details here and there to fictionalise the story, I made sure to accurately depict the emotions I was feeling at the time.
Q: You always made sure in the manga to indicate that different ways of looking at lesbians were very much tied to your personal experience. How did you strike a balance between sharing how you saw the world and not making it seem like your perspective was the only one?
A: Adding a disclaimer! Because in this day and age an innocuous personal experience can be misinterpreted in a malicious way. As long as I wrote Personal Experience next to something, I felt like I could be honest about my feelings at the time! I’m not the type to push my opinion on others so if people don’t agree with my experience, I am totally cool with that.
Q: Do you hope any of the love interests from the manga read it? Do you hope any never do?
A: This is a work of fiction, it even says so in the disclaimer section of the manga! Therefore the characters in the book do not exist in real life (wink wink). But seriously, I’ve changed names and settings so hopefully no one finds it… I didn’t write this book with the intention of slander (moreso just to let my feelings out for the sake of my therapy and mental well-being) so I really don’t want anybody involved in the story to read it. I genuinely wish the people I wrote about the best in life and don’t want my book raining on their current happy lives.
Q: Do you plan on writing more about yourself and your own life or do you plan to create more manga with fictional characters?
A: I want to write manga with fictional characters going forward, but I’m open to writing more about myself too! I will probably never write about my love life again though because it is non-existent and I haven’t had a girlfriend since the ex mentioned in the story (that was about 8 years ago?). If I write a manga about my life next it would be about my daily life and my family, and it would have a more comedic tone!
Q: Now that you’ve finished your first book are you finding yourself with enough time to get back into dating again?
A: Isn’t this question a spoiler (lol)? I’m trying to force myself to date because I’m getting older and I feel like I would regret not finding a girlfriend but to be honest, it’s a drag… I get bored after 3 swipes on a dating app. If I’m being 100% honest, I probably do have the time to date if I invest hard enough into it but dating is disappointing 99.9% of the time and I’m tired of being disappointed 🙁 The process of looking for a girlfriend makes me very unhappy so I find myself drifting away from my future wife more and more. Playing the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy 14 (free trial up to level 60) makes me a lot happier than dating so I find myself gravitating towards that instead (it’s a great game, highly recommended!).
Q: How big has your collection of daily chin photos gotten?
A: I have switched over to video now! For example, whenever I call my brother who’s away at college I video call from a low angle to show off my current chin. He thinks it’s absolutely disgusting but I think it’s a fantastic look! It makes me wonder why he hasn’t picked up any of my calls recently…… It’s like he doesn’t want to see my face! Weird!
As mentioned above, The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend has an official release on (appropriately) Valentine’s day, February 14th. Viz is publishing the manga in English under its “Viz Originals” label. You can follow Miri Hiranishi on Twitter and support future works on Patreon. Be sure to pick up a copy and, in the meantime, check out the official trailer below.
Copyright © 2023 by Mieri Hiranishi