By Milk Morinaga. Released in Japan by Futabasha, serialized in the magazine Comic High!. Released in North America by Seven Seas.
First off, this is clearly a series meant to be marketed to the same group that loved reading Girl Friends, and is touted as a top new yuri series. All I can say is, unless things progress a whole lot in Vol. 2, some folks might wonder what the fuss is all about. Midori occasionally blushes or wonders why she feels a need to connect with Aoba despite everything, Aoba sometimes reflects on her overly touchy-feely hijinx, but honestly, this is a high school comedy far more than it’s a yuri series. That said, everything ELSE people liked about Morinaga Milk’s manga is here – cute art, over the top characters reacting in funny ways, and a core of serious story underneath it.
Our hero is Aoba, a naive yet vibrant girl who grew up wanting to be a defender of justice and, since magical girls and sentai warriors are hard to come by in real life, has joined the police while still in high school to still defend what’s right. For her first assignment, however, she’s sent to a school that seemingly has no issues – the most that happens here is girls fighting over a diet. She runs into the seemingly stoic Midori, a stoic girl whose stoicness lasts about five seconds in the face of the overwhelmingness of Aoba. Midori has a tragic past where her partner was hurt because of her actions, and has been sent to this school to sit tight until she graduates (her dad is chief of police, so they can’t just fire her). Naturally, she’s a bit sour on justice, and wants nothing more but to sit quietly and draw her yaoi manga. Hands up, who thinks that’s going to happen?
There’s no real attempt to move these characters beyond their obvious stereotypes – Aoba in particular is cheerful, naive, acts before she thinks, mood swings wildly, etc. But that’s OK here, really, as this is a series where you want to watch Aoba do dumb stuff and slowly bring Midori out of her shell of tragic past. They’re supposed to be secret police – the school doesn’t acknowledge their jobs exist – which of course leads to Aoba whipping out her badge at the slightest provocation. It also allows the series to touch on the difficulties of reporting things to the *real* police – discussion of a train groper notes that since all the girls say the groper is a “ghost”, the cops wouldn’t do anything, and in a later story involving a stalker, Aoba feels that he got let off far too lightly. It’s noted that different officers respond to cases differently, and that’s certainly the case with our heroines.
By the end of this fist volume Midori seems to have taken it upon herself to ensure that Aoba maintains her idealistic demeanor, something that may be disrupted by the cliffhanger, which shows us that her old partner is returning to the school to reunite. (Please don’t be evil, please don’t be evil… she’s gonna be evil, isn’t she?) Gakuen Polizi is not going to win any awards for depth of yuri feelings. But it has more depth of character than I was expecting, and I hope its second volume continues to touch on how Aoba and Midori can bring out the best in each other as partners.