Have you ever had to sleep with your landlord because you were desperately behind on your rent? I really hope not. But somehow Miyako Miyahara was able to take that ethically questionable porn cliche and turn it into a cute lesbian comedy manga called I Can’t Believe I Slept With You!
Koduka Chiyo is a self-pitying twenty-four year old who quits her job and ends up three months behind on her rent. Then one night during an “escapist bender”, she’s visited by her landlady who offers to help with her rent if she does her a favor. Smash cut to the next day, and Koduka wakes up next to a naked woman five years younger than her.
Hit with an instant sense of confusion and regret, Koduka realizes she not only had a drunken one night stand, but it was with a woman. To top it off, it was also her landlady, who says she’ll reduce the overdue rent if Koduka does more favors for her. Somewhat reluctant by the vague definition of “favor”, Koduka agrees and so begins their romantic slice-of-life days exploring their true feelings.
The adorable artstyle and comedic expressions build a playful tone right off the bat. In fact, despite its lewd cover and title being I Can’t Believe I Slept With You, there’s no explicit content warning on this manga. This is actually a pretty wholesome story, it just stems from a one-night stand that the main character can’t even remember.
Koduka is a nerdy ex-game developer that’s easily embarrassed and prone to fits of self-doubt. Traits which mesh well with her lighthearted expressions shown in both comedic and romantic styles. What’s more alarming to her than the overdue rent is the fact that she’s straight. So needless to say, living with a teasing lesbian she barely knows is a bit awkward to her at first. That young lesbian landlady is Ritsuka Hara, although her real name is only used in their most intimate moments together. As you grow to know her as a reader you find out she’s very affectionate, but she’s not that good at outwardly showing it like Koduka is. Ritsuka comes off as cold and mysterious, yet she’s also incredibly dependable. Which makes sense given she manages housing units at just nineteen years old. As the story progresses you grow to love her bashful and reserved attitude, especially the moments where her more reserved side comes out.
Since Koduka is out of a job and Ritsuka handles a lot of her housing work remotely, most of the story takes place in their apartment. There are a few dates they go on and eventually Koduka starts to look for a new job. But Ritsuka isn’t developed as much as her own independent character. She mostly stays home all day, doing all the cooking and cleaning while she manages the housing units from her laptop. This makes Ritsuka feel like her life already revolves around this sudden relationship with Koduka. At times you feel like there’s a troubled past haunting her but we don’t really explore that. In the context of their growing romance together, it can be a bit difficult to understand why they become closer when they still barely know each other. But maybe this is something the reader doesn’t get to know but Koduka does, which is an idea the author hints at in one of the afterwords.
The serious moments in the narrative are mostly focused on Koduka’s struggles in understanding her sexuality. At first she can’t even fathom being gay, but by volume two she’s crushing harder than ever over Ritsuka and starts to ask herself what it means to be in love with a woman.
The core theme of I Can’t Believe I Slept With You is regret. You have a single mistake which costs Koduka her dream job. Then you get the drunken one-night stand that kicks off the plot. The memory-fogged Koduka is conflicted about her feelings over the night, while Ritsuka secretly regrets hooking up before they got to know each other. And as they live together, Koduka feels guilty about how useless she is around the house. Meanwhile Ritsuka helps Koduka get her life back in order, but worries she’s overstepping her boundaries.
The author tackles this theme well by using these moments of regret to show how they can be used as fuel for personal growth. As much as Ritsuka teases Koduka about the favor system, she doesn’t just want to have sex. She wants to develop a meaningful relationship with someone despite her uncaring attitude. Her regret over the night becomes a way to understand what she really wants in life. For Koduka, she comes to discover she’s interested in girls after all but never considered it before due to social conditioning. She consults several people on advice for how to date a woman and realizes it’s not much different than dating a man. You see how compatible you are, learn more about your interests, and care for each other. You want to be able to do things for your special “sweetie”, as one character puts it, and that doesn’t really need a gender attached to it. It’s just doing nice things for the person you care about. Through these self-discoveries, each woman overcomes their regret and betters themselves.
When it comes to the art, this series checks all my boxes for what appeals to me in adult women designs and emotional expressions. Koduka is this glasses wearing, outgoing yet hopeless nerd that you can’t help but love. And Ritsuka has this young, tomboy-like aesthetic where she mostly hangs around in oversized hoodies with a serious face and acts tougher than she truly feels. Both are charming in their own respects and they play off each other really well.
Since the story didn’t show us the initial one night stand, I immediately theorized that they never hooked up in the first place and that the landlady was just teasing her. In fact I’m led to believe that was the author’s initial plan based on how some parts are phrased, but then the series had to abruptly end so perhaps the idea was scrapped. Turns out they did sleep together, but there were other factors involved with the night that make it at least seem far less sketchy than the synopsis leads you to believe. The questionable premise doesn’t detract from the plot much with how it’s presented, but it can make this challenging to publicly recommend this to a lot of people.
What starts as a regrettable encounter soon evolves into a romantic incentive program for two adorable girls. It’s an enjoyable time all around with tons of heartwarming moments sprinkled in. The real unfortunate aspect of this series is the author clearly wanted more time to develop their backstories and establish Koduka and Ritsuka on more personal levels. Sadly they ended up with only three volumes to tell the narrative they wanted. Which resulted in the almost neckbreak speed of which Koduka overcomes her own sexual preconceptions and falls madly in love with Ritsuka. Entire plot points between side characters were dropped as well. But they still find time for a few romantic Christmas chapters, and I’m always there for that.
All three volumes of I Can’t Believe I Slept With You! are available now from Seven Seas Entertainment.
Title: I Can’t Believe I Slept With You!
Media Type: Manga
Story & Art: Miyako Miyahara
Publisher: Seven Seas
Translator: Faye Cozy