Okay, before I begin the actual review let me congratulate all of my readers from the United States. I heard about the Supreme Court decision. Congratulations on being the 21st country to take that step. It seems only fitting that we celebrate with a look at a yuri manga.
So, let’s talk about manga. This will be my first time reviewing a manga rather than an anime. Now, if I do more of these let me establish a few criteria I’ll be using. Like anime, I won’t be reviewing porn. Nor will I be reviewing fan works. and, finally, I won’t be reviewing any manga that have anime adaptations unless the anime adaptation is significantly different or incomplete.
Let’s talk about Milk Morinaga, possibly one of the most iconic yuri manga writers out there. She’s had a lot of published manga and no anime adaptations as far as I know. Although Girl Friends did get an audio drama. Girl Friends is her best known work, but I’m going to be looking at Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo, which was my introduction to her writing and what got me into it.
There are multiple stories within the manga. Slightly over half of it, chapters 1 & 5-12 all focus on Nana and Hitomi, two girls who were really close friends until they went to separate High schools. After a while, they meet up again and Nana quickly realises that Hitomi has been harbouring feelings for her for a long time. Hitomi confesses, kissing Nana and Nana tells her they don’t have to be just friends and kisses her back. So, the two of them become a couple pretty much right away in the very first chapter. The other eight chapters of their story focus on the ups and downs of their relationship. Culminating in a crisis when Hitomi’s father tells her that they’re going to be moving overseas.
I don’t really have anything negative to say about Nana and Hitomi’s story. Their relationship develops really well and has a lot of good moments. I also like that the story doesn’t focus on how they get together but what’s in store for them after it happens. Because, frankly, a romance trying to get drama out of whether or not the couple will get together usually doesn’t work all that well since the audience knows how it’s going to end. It’s just a matter of how it’s going to happen. Rather, it focuses on the drama of their relationship and the everyday things that happen to them. It is handled effectively and I do love the ending.
The other six chapters are all one-shot stories set in the same schools that Nana and Hitomi attend and focusing on relationships between girls. Some of which are one-sided, some of which are ambiguous and some of which are reciprocated.
Honestly, the only side story I really don’t like is the second chapter. Basically, it involves a ghost possessing a student so that she can spend time with the girl she liked who is now the nurse at the school. The first problem with it is that it’s the only story to involve any supernatural elements, which makes it not fit with the rest very well. There’s also the teacher and student thing.
The rest of the stories are well written and manage to illustrate some interesting dynamics between the main girls. Some of them are almost problematic but Morinaga is good at treading that line without going too far.
I do like the characters in the collection. Aside from the ghost girl. One of the strengths of having several one-shot stories is that Morinaga can illustrate different relationship dynamics among these girls. They’re all fleshed out characters as well who feel like they could be real people, with the obvious exception.
The artwork is really well done. There’s a bit of nudity, but it’s very much handled tastefully rather than used for tawdry fan-service. Although the girls from chapter four look strangely like Honoka and Nagisa from Futari Wa Precure. I don’t know if it was deliberate or not but the resemblance is pretty uncanny.
Naturally, this yuri manga is as yuririffic as any you’ll find. So, it has that going for it.
Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo is a superb collection. There’s one weak chapter out of fourteen. If you’re looking for a cute, well-written yuri romance, this has several. As well as some more bittersweet, but still well written stories. I do recommend checking it out if you like romance stuff. My final rating is a 9/10.