Girl Friends The Complete Collection, Vol. 2

By Milk Morinaga. Released in Japan by Futabasha, serialized in the magazine Comic High!. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

When we last left our heroines, Mari had decided that her love was never going to be requited, and had decided to move on – sort of – and tell Akko that she’d gotten a boyfriend and had gone all the way. This leads us to the first half of this omnibus, which is Akko trying to figure out why this makes her jealous, and dealing with her own newly discovered feelings for her friend. The focus shifting to Akko is very welcome, as though she’s the outgoing one of the pair she is not necessarily more worldly or mature. We see flashbacks to her childhood that show her being very much a solitary person, and even when she made friends (via discussion of fashion and makeup) they didn’t seem to be lasting friendships. This is when she latched onto Mari.


It’s interesting how Mari and Akko both have misunderstandings about the nature of their relationship, but in ways that are true to their characters. Mari is basically negative, with a “no girl could possibly like me in that way” sort of attitude. While Akko’s problem is that, after kissing Mari impulsively at karaoke, she assumes that all is now well and they *are* together, not realizing that actually discussion of such feelings is needed. This is not helped by Mari’s naivete – one of the best lines in the book is Akko’s exasperated “You don’t usually slip a friend the *tongue*, got it?” That said, this makes it all the more satisfying when they do finally connect and get together as a couple.

Of course, what does that entail? Since they’re both girls, going out together, texting each other late at night… they’ve done that before as just friends. So what’s different? Sexual attraction, of course, and unlike many a mainstream yuri (or faux-yuri) manga the author does spend a fair amount of time dwelling on this. Given both girls lied to each other about their sexual experience, each worries that they’ll screw things up somehow. (This leads to Akko looking at German Porn sites to see how girls do it, which made me laugh out loud). Eventually the two do take things to the next level, in a scene that sort of rides the edge of the OT rating that Seven Seas gave the book.

There is talk of the future, but it’s mostly the same sort of talk you’d find in books with a het romance – Akko’s going to a different school than Mari, leading to stress, but you know their love will see it through, etc. There’s a brief discussion of telling their friends and family about their relationship, but that’s not something that happens in the manga itself, nor do we see any of the fallout that might arise from being a lesbian couple in Japan. This is a seinen yuri fantasy for men that ran in Comic High!, after all. Reality is not welcome in its hallowed halls.

With all that said, I don’t think the manga suffers all that much from avoiding the harsher aspects of Mari and Akko’s relationship. This is meant to be adorable moe romantic fluff, and it succeeds admirably. The emphasis is more on romance here in this 2nd omnibus, but I was pleased to see that friendship is still given a huge spotlight – Sugi gets to be the ‘mature adviser’ type of friend, Tama-min the eccentric cutie, and we even get more development from Kuno and Taguchi, the other two girls in the main circle of friends. I was pleased to see that there was no effort made to pair up the other girls with each other… even though this isn’t overly realistic, having what’s called a “cast Full Of Gay” might have strained my credulity a bit.

It goes without saying that this is a great series that fans of yuri (and moe) will adore. That said, I do have one more very important complaint. If Akko is cosplaying Lum, then Mari should be Ataru… but she just doesn’t have the personality for it. Tama-min seems to have her cosplaying as Ryuunosuke, which she’s also unlikely to pull off, but I can see it if I squint. But if she’s doing Ryu, Akko needs to be Nagisa… which leads to even more problems. Tama-min needs to think these things through! Geez!

(Also, two of those omakes make me think that Milk Morinaga has watched too many 80s American sex comedies… Getting Lucky specifically.)

Girl Friends The Complete Collection, Vol. 1

By Milk Morinaga. Released in Japan by Futabasha, serialized in the magazine Comic High!. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

I had reviewed the first digital volume of this series when JManga released it a while back, but it’s always worth revisiting things, especially in print. This omnibus contains the first half of the series, i.e. 2 1/2 volumes. It’s a chunky read, but I think that works to the book’s favor as it helps us really get to know the two heroines before we get to plunge into their new friendship and growing romance.

You’ll note the title is split into two words, and I think that’s for the best, as the author makes it a point to show us Mari and Akko bonding as friends for an entire volume before it really starts getting into the potential yuri romance. Given Mari’s shyness and insecurities, this helps keep things realistic. It also ups the stakes: Akko is Mari’s best friend, and while the romance may take all five volumes to really break out the friendship is close and endearing immediately. Mari is a sweet and sympathetic protagonist. and Akko is outgoing, impulsive and oblivious without it becoming too irritating, as many who read one-sided crushes know can happen easily.

But of course this is a yuri manga, and so Mari’s admiration of Akko soon turns into attraction to Akko. This can be tricky, as there’s a vague line between the sort of close ‘skinship’ friendships that aren’t necessarily sexual, and those what do turn into blooming relationships. Indeed, Akko’s reaction on hearing that Mari kissed her while she was sleeping is ‘oh, girls do that *all the time*’. Of course, when Mari is a little more drunk and a lot more forceful, even Akko manages to notice what’s going on.

These are teenagers, so there’s a lot of puzzlement and ‘is this what love is really like?’ on both sides, as well as yuri’s addition of ‘it will never work out because we are both girls’. Akko has a presumed sexual past with a guy (though we quickly learn that nothing happened, of course – this did run in a seinen magazine) which adds to Mari’s dread that all she’s doing is making herself miserable for something that can’t happen. So she turns to a guy from middle school who happens to like her – and manages to get Akko jealous, though she’s not quite sure why…

This is meant to feel like a fluffy shoujo soap opera, just with two girls as the lead, and that’s mostly what it does. There are also two best friends who are also very touchy-feely with each other but clearly aren’t going to be a couple, which is a relief in a genre that sometimes has everyone pairing off with everyone else. Seven Seas’ omnibus obscures the well-times endings of the first two books (Mari thinking she kissed Akko for Vol. 1, Akko boggling at Kiss #2 in Vol. 2), but that works out fine as it gives the omnibus volume a better cliffhanger, as Mari reveals she went all the way with her new boyfriend. (Does anyone really believe her? Well, except for Akko…)

This isn’t a lights out of compulsively addictive series. But it’s fun, wtih likeable characters and as realistic a yuri romance as you’re going to get in something that’s basically “Story A”, written with little consequence besides ALL THESE FEELINGS… IN MY HEART. I hope the second volume resolves said tortured feelings.