Hana & Hina After School, Vol. 1

By Milk Morinaga. Released in Japan as “Hana to Hina wa Houkago” by Futabasha, serialized in the magazines Comic High and Weekly Action. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Jennifer McKeon, Adapted by Shannon Fay.

This is the third of four quite similar yuri titles due out in February/March. I’ve already discussed Secret of the Princess and Kase-san And Morning Glories, and I have to save some of my energies and words for Kiss & White Lily for My Dearest Girl. Here today we have the new series from Milk Morinaga, author of many other yuri series that have been brought over to North America. It gives fans of sweet yuri exactly what they want – these are cute girls, one short and brunette and one tall and blonde, having a difficult first meeting but gradually growing closer, and the first volume ends with a lot of “but we’re both girls” angst. It doesn’t break any rules or step outside the box, but it performs its function well.

Hana is the short one, and she’s diligent and nice but tends to overthink things, and she works after school at a shop that sells what I’ve always called tchotchkes, borrowing from the Yiddish. Stuffed animals, mugs, things like that. One day she gets a new co-worker in Hina, a tall leggy blonde who appears very standoffish and cold. Of course, this is merely Hana’s read on her. As we learn more about Hina, including her love of all things cute (to the point of almost being a cute otaku), it’s clear that Hina is acting this way around Hana to avoid getting too close – which makes it all the more awkward when the new school year begins and Hina shows up at Hana’s school – yes, the tall leggy blonde is an underclassman to the petite girl. The minimal plot here involves the fact that part-time jobs are against the rules, and this is doubly bad for Hina, who’s also a model, though she’s going to give that up.

What follows is, as I indicated above, predictable, in a way that many Milk Morinaga titles are. Hana is adorable and upbeat, and every time they interact it becomes increasingly difficult for Hina to keep her hands off her. That said, Hina also has a tragic past where she’s been called out for this before, if the minimal flashback we see is any proof, and when she asks some other classmates if they’d think a confession from another girl was weird, they say no… provided it’s just the typical admiration that Japanese schoolgirls are supposed to have. If it’s real romantic feelings… yes, they think it’s weird. And so Hina’s stuck, and stressing about it as the volume comes to a close.

Actually, I’d argue this is a step forward from some other Milk Morinaga series we’ve seen that are even fluffier than this. Real life brings real problems, especially if a girl decides she likes other girls, and they can complicate a relationship even more than “but what if she doesn’t like me that way?”. I’m hoping that the remaining two volumes of the series go into that deeper. In the meantime, this is definitely recommended for fans of yuri.

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