Author: Ryoko Yamagishi
First Published: February 1971
Genres: Shojo, Tragedy, Yuri
Source: Read Online
Shiroi Heya no Futari is a Japanese one-shot manga written and illustrated by Ryoko Yamagishi. Published in the February 1971 issue of Ribon Comic, it is considered to be the first yuri manga. The story follows the relationship between Resine and Simone, two students at an all-girls Catholic boarding school in France.
Widely considered to be the first yuri manga, The Couple in the White Room was a defining work that helped to usher in wider acceptance of lesbian romances in the 1970s and 1980s. This story can easily be surmised as a dramatic tragedy in the spirit of theater classics like Romeo and Juliet.
The story follows Resine, a soft and feminine girl dealing with the tragic loss of her parents, and Simone, a rebellious and cruel young woman who bullies Resine when they first meet. The characters clash and eventually come together over shared loneliness, their drastically different personalities make them a striking pair, though their romance was difficult to believe, there is no part of it that is healthy.
“Once I have known her, I must die. For that shining smile that is so difficult to describe, I must die. For those light, delicate hands, I must die. For her, I must…”
This manga was rough, the events in the story play out at a lightning-fast pace and barely have any development which isn’t unusual for the time in which it was written. The tragedy of the story is emblematic of the gay panic that unfortunately still plagues the LGBTQ community to this day. Resine feels anxious about her queer feelings toward the uncompromisingly honest Simone, and the way that the people around her view them.
While undoubtedly groundbreaking for its time, the issues with pacing make this manga pale in comparison to more contemporary works. Even with its flaws, however, I still feel that it is worth a read as a manga classic.
Warnings: violence, homophobia