Has A Sign of Affection anime portrayed people with disability properly?

Yuki wearing a white scarf, smiling and holding up a notebook with the message "Thank you! I like it very much!" in A Sign of Affection anime

The anime industry, known for its vibrant landscapes and larger-than-life characters, often struggles to represent marginalized communities. A Sign of Affection anime, also known as “Yubisaki to Renren,” attempts to fill this gap by presenting the story of Yuki Itose, a deaf girl navigating college life and blossoming romance. While the anime offers respectful and accurate portrayals of deafness, its sugar-coated lens raises questions about its depth and true representation.

A Sign of Affection Anime: Love, Sunshine, and the Deaf Experience – But Is It Enough?

Sunshine and Sign Language: A Refreshing Perspective

Itsuomi holding Yuki's hand in A Sign of Affection anime
A Sign of Affection anime | Image via TMDB

One of the anime’s strengths lies in its positive portrayal of Yuki. Unlike many disabled characters burdened by their struggles, Yuki’s deafness is presented as a part of her identity, not a defining obstacle. She’s shown as a friendly, outgoing individual who actively engages with others, utilizing various communication methods like sign language, lip-reading, and text. This challenges the harmful trope of disabilities solely being sources of hardship.

Furthermore, the anime accurately depicts the use of sign language, even incorporating details like regional variations and finger-spelling. This not only showcases real-life Deaf experiences but also educates viewers about different communication methods within the community.

Love Conquers All… But Does It Reflect Reality?

Itsuomi holding a Yuki by her wrists in A Sign of Affection anime
A Sign of Affection anime | Image via TMDB

However, A Sign of Affection prioritizes romance over exploring the complexities of deaf life. Yuki’s primary struggles revolve around navigating her feelings for Itsuomi, a multilingual upperclassman. While their communication challenges spark some humor, the deeper social and emotional barriers faced by the Deaf community are mostly glossed over.

The anime lacks the grittier aspects of disability portrayals present in works like “A Silent Voice,” which tackled bullying and societal prejudice. While A Sign of Affection steers clear of negativity, it risks presenting an overly sanitized view of deaf experiences, potentially leading to unrealistic expectations.

Beyond the Love Story: Room for Growth

Yuki waving in A Sign of Affection anime
A Sign of Affection anime | Image via TMDB

While A Sign of Affection shines a light on deaf culture and communication methods, its focus on a lighthearted romance limits its exploration of deeper societal issues. The anime would benefit from delving into Yuki’s internal struggles, showcasing the everyday challenges and triumphs of navigating a hearing world as a deaf individual.

Additionally, exploring societal misconceptions and the importance of accessibility could add depth and nuance to the narrative. This could involve portraying situations where Yuki encounters prejudice or barriers due to her deafness, highlighting the need for inclusivity and understanding.


Yuki laughing in A Sign of Affection anime
A Sign of Affection anime | Image via TMDB

A Sign of Affection takes a commendable step towards positive representation of the Deaf community. Its accurate portrayal of sign language and Yuki’s positive attitude are refreshing changes from stereotypical depictions. However, its focus on a lighthearted romance leaves room for a deeper exploration of the character’s internal struggles and the social realities faced by the Deaf community. By offering a more nuanced portrayal, A Sign of Affection could evolve from a pleasant love story into a truly impactful representation of deaf experiences.

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