A high-schooler who knows nothing of romantic love meets an older woman with a secret—
Third year Nonoshita Matoi had never had a crush on someone and was tired of getting caught up in her little sister and friends’ boyfriend drama.
One day at the local driving school, Matoi meets Yuriko, who had just moved there from Tokyo, and got a ride home from her on her motorcycle.
Matoi is perplexed that she had taken such an interest in a woman whose name and address she didn’t know.
What could this new feeling be?
Welcome to my blog, this fine Ace Week. What have I been doing, you ask? Only reading the best ace manga ever written!
 In fairness, there are very few ace manga
Yuri to Koe to Kaze Matoi is from the outset, explicitly, the story of a relationship between a romantic ace and an aromantic ace. But we’re not satisfied with checklist representation around here! What else does it bring to the table?
A: Nothing. But honestly, that’s what makes it kind of brilliant?
Tropes, Subversion of
So, we’re thinking typical high school yuri manga, what are we thinking? A meet cute, a couple of picturesque outings where they drink tea and eat cake and talk, some fluff about whether or not the other person returns your feelings, convening a Girl Council to give you a makeover before your big date, maybe a past tragedy that one has to open up to the other one about, both of them thinking the other is the best thing since sliced bread because of the other having qualities they lack…. fluffy end. And aside from the last one—which I couldn’t say because it’s not over—the gang’s all here!
The tone is light, whimsical, almost comical. Everything is way too dramatic for no reason. The art is very pretty but in kind of an evocative rather than purposeful way. This is a beautiful yuri manga where everyone’s ace and nothing hurts.
And it’s about time!!
How many heartrending comings out have I had to sit through, huh? How many scenes of rejection, or worse, of aces compromising themselves to fit in? How much philosophical discussion and academic analysis? How many deeply flawed and morally questionable characters?
No, I say to you, no more! I demand a break! —and I got one.
Honestly just making the main characters both ace is enough to make it feel fresh. Will it one day pale in comparison to more sophisticated works? Maybe. But we don’t live then, we live now!
In many ways the story wouldn’t work if it didn’t rely so heavily on the tropes of its genre. The fact that the punchline of all these dramatic, high Romance scenes is consistently over and over again an asexual one is a large part of the joy of reading it. To give the first example, Yuriko says dramatically that she did have a special person who she had wanted to take riding on her motorcycle, but it was too late now. The mystery! The drama! The pathos. And it is still all of those things—just, the special person was her grandmother. The tension between knowing where the trope is telling you the story will go and knowing for a fact that’s the one place it’s not going is poetic cinema.
Surely, you think, there is no way I could write a review without any criticism of the work at hand. I said that Ace was “the book I’ve been waiting for,” and yet I spent a lengthy section leveling serious critiques against it. And it is true that there are things I don’t care for either as a matter of taste or a matter of community politics in these books.
But I don’t care! I will not being saying a word against it, because that is not what it is for! It is for pure, emotional escapism, end of.
And the thing is, there are a lot of ways something like this could fail. It’s a very fine line the author is walking, because there is conflict and invalidation in the story, and acknowledging that without trivializing it is tough. But the story is so effortlessly ace. It is very easy to slip into this world, and to trust this author.
So if you like matcha lattes and getting caught in the rain, if you’re not up for philosophy and need to turn off your brain, if you like reading fluffy nonsense and cheese that leaves you agape, then they’re the manga you’ve looked for: come with me and escape.