Starting the year off right with two of my favorite types of stories: Romance and Representation! I’m a sucker for a fun, no major bummers or big drama, kinda romance where two people can comfortably get to know each other. This is also the perfect way to positively represent various issues and types of lives while being respectful to both, so it becomes a great way to experience another person’s perspective while also getting all those warm feelings about people in love. Love and empathy! Great combo.
So as is probably apparent, Yankee-kun and the White Cane Girl, is a sweet story that follows the delinquent Kurokawa Morio, who falls in love with a girl named Akaza Yukiko. Yukiko has a type of issues called Deprivation Amblyopia, which causes an opacity to form over one or both of one’s eyes. In the case of Yukiko, she unfortunately has it in both eyes, causing pretty much anything but the most general of light and color from reaching the back of her eyes, unless insanely close up. As such, she walks around with a white cane, which causes her to accidentally assault Morio when he ignorantly walks over the Braille Blocks she uses to get around.
Over the course of their sudden relationship, there’s a back and forth of breaking down pre-existing prejudices on both sides, as well as a lot of great communication and communication mishaps that enable the two to learn more about each other. For instance, after learning that Yukiko actually does have some sight when it comes to color, Morio starts to dress in vibrant colors so that he can stand out for her in a crowd. At the same time, when they go to the movies together, Yukiko thinks that Morio, as a delinquent, will take advantage of her on their first date when he grabs her hand and comes close. However, since she has trouble eating popcorn, he ends up helping her eat it since she said it had been a while for her due to her condition.
It’s also through their interactions that Morio is able to make changes in his own life to better himself. We see him change to a much kinder and accepting individual, thanks to the love Yukiko gives him and he returns it wholeheartedly to not just Yukiko but some of the others around him, including avidly supporting people with disabilities. When Morio finally gets a job at a movie rental store, he immediately starts helping organize things and set up systems for people that are hard of sight, causing an influx of elderly people being able to enjoy renting movies. It also helps the store employees in their day-to-day with helpful signs and audio cues to help them restock and organize, showing that quality of life changes that support disabilities can also help many others.
However, while the romance and the fun lessons on empathy and understanding are wonderful, one of my favorite stories has to do with Yukiko’s sister, as it also shows that there is a good and bad way to try and support others. Yukiko’s sister, Izumi, has taken over as the parental figure in their life, and has always been there to support her sister throughout her life. However, because of this, she’s become a bit of a helicopter parent, constantly restricting Yukiko and, instead of encouraging her, disallowing her to do many things for fear of her sister becoming hurt.
It’s because of Yukiko’s relationship with Morio that she realizes what her sister is doing, though, and confronts her. She shows her sister that she is capable of taking care of herself and that even if she does get hurt, that doesn’t mean she can’t still enjoy life and experience things on her own. Through this, Izumi lets off and allows her sister to experience life on her own without unnecessary floaties and safety measures. This is also how Izumi finally accepts Morio and also how Yukiko is able to see her extremely tightly-wound sister relax and destress after years of anxiety.
For a simple series that’s very light-hearted and comedic, Yankee-kun and the White Cane Girl is able to effectively portray not just the perspective of a blind individual but also the people around them. It’s a very adorable series and a very heart-warming one for what it’s able to achieve in such a wonderfully saccharine package of Romance and Rep.