Futaribeya: A Room for Two, Vol. 1

By Yukiko. Released in Japan by Gentosha, serialized in the magazine Comic Birz. Released in North America by Tokyopop. Translated by Katie McLendon.

I haven’t reviewed a Tokyopop title in nearly seven years, I believe, ever since its founder decided to rearrange his priorities. But the priorities are rearranging themselves back a bit, it would seem, and so here we are with a new Japanese manga. Futaribeya seems to be a fairly safe choice to leap back on this train (given they’re doing a massive Aria release next year that may, God Willing, actually finish the series, I was always going to board the train eventually) as it’s light, fluffy, slice of life with a few yuri tease bits. There actually are more of the latter than I was expecting – honestly, given the number of series that folks say are yuri that merely feature two girls who stand near each other, my expectations were low. But this series is pleasant and amusing enough, mostly due to the strength of its two leads, who may not be a couple but who bounce off each other perfectly.

Sakurako is a nice, upright, studious young woman who’s starting high school and given the choice of living in a dorm or in an apartment complex nearby. There she meets Kasumi, who is beautiful but pretty much lives in the dictionary under the definition of “my pace”. The two get along much better than you’d expect, and the first volume seems rather Sunshine Sketch-y, reasonably free of major drama and content to have us watch the two girls live their high school life. We get to see everyone struggling to study, except Sakurako, who apparently has a photographic memory and gets straight A’s (except the one time she fills in the answers all over one place by accident). We see Kasumi struggle to… well, stay awake and exert energy, really, but she’s also the one I bonded most with over the course of the volume. We also meet some relatives and fellow classmates, but honestly the series is mostly about these two girls and their growing friendship.

As I said above, the yuri in this one is there, but if you don’t want to see it you won’t. Sakurako and Kasumi have a very close friendship, sleep together in the one bed, and Kasumi rejects guys who ask her out by saying she’s dating someone while describing Sakurako. That said, I certainly wouldn’t mind if the yuri actually went somewhere. It would not take a lot for these two to go from high school to college to just living together as a couple. Both girls admit they’re each other’s “type”, at least to themselves. And there’s a valentine’s day chapter and a subsequent white day chapter, which features Kasumi buying Sakurako… well, not a refrigerator, and they don’t shop for it together, but it’s a microwave oven/toaster oven combo that is a really serious thing to get a girl for White Day. I was impressed.

This is cute, mild yuri that left a smile on my face and I liked everyone. I’ll read more.

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