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Beautiful love gestures define ‘A Sign of Affection’

Breakout shojo anime provides heartwarming experience
Ajia-do Animation Works released the season finale of “A Sign of Affection” on Saturday, April 25. Courtesy of Ajia-do Animation Works.

Ajia-do Animation Works released the season finale of “A Sign of Affection” on Saturday, April 25. The adaptation of the 2019 manga follows Yuki Itose, a 19-year-old deaf college student, and her love life with Itsuomi Nagi, a multicultural polyglot who loves traveling. The two share a beautiful connection with flavorful dynamics between them and their fellow friends.

The couple meets on a train after Yuki has trouble directing a foreigner where he should get off and Itsuomi swoops in to clear things up. The two try to breach the language barrier between them, with Itsuomi taking an interest in Yuki, effortlessly charming her. Since that event, both are infatuated with each other and the anime produces a pleasant story about two worlds colliding paths.

One of the show’s strengths is displaying common romance anime tropes in a refreshing, non-dramatized manner. The main couple could have easily been another story about an attractive, popular extrovert introducing the introverted outcast to meaningful relationships, but mangaka suu Morishita chose a unique route. 

Yuki isn’t entirely isolated from society or devoid of a social life. Her character is defined by her curiosity of the outside world, not the need for pity upon her lifelong disability. While the anime highlights the inconveniences and fear of not knowing, such as the opening scene, the silent protagonist made close friends who accept her. Itsuomi works as a great fit for Yuki because he grew up in Germany as a Japanese kid, meaning he can relate to his newfound lover’s feelings of isolation while also conveying his love for different cultures and languages in general. The two have beautiful moments of bonding over learning sign language, opening up about each other’s vastly different lifestyles piece by piece.

More common romance tropes appear as there are multiple love triangles: the main couple with Yuki’s childhood friend Oushi Ashioki and Itsuomi with high school friends, Shin Iryuu and Emma Nakazono. The former is an interesting dynamic, where Oushi initially acts bitter toward Itsuomi. Instead of reciprocating that negative energy, Nagi instead meets with the rejected lover to better understand him, resulting in Oushi realizing his true feelings and taking steps to accept what happened. The scene shows Itsuomi’s emotional maturity, but also his suave nature and way with words.

Not all of the tropes hit the mark, however. Shin and Emma’s relationship shows no progress until Shin informed her of Itsuomi’s girlfriend, where the friends seemingly rush through everything off screen. The dynamic seems too good to be true and acts like closure for an anime that may not get a sequel. This is also true for Yuki’s friend Rin Fujishiro’s crush on Istuomi’s cousin Kyouya Nagi. There’s a slight age gap dynamic that borders the lines of morally acceptable, and they show no unique chemistry that would warrant a closer relationship outside of their support for the main couple.

“A Sign of Affection” is an enjoyable watch, providing interesting relationship dynamics and great insight into a deaf person’s world. At times the show is sappy and cliche, but there are enough new ideas to attract viewers first getting into romance anime or hardcore fans of the genre. Overall, it deserves a 7 out of 10. 

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