Saturday, October 23, 2010

Girl Friends by Milk Morinaga

After the last post, where I confused a few innocents, and made others recoil defensively in regards to boyish girls (amusingly, 'tomboys,' as they're called in Korea), I've gotten around to writing about a yuri manga I've recently read, called Girl Friends. It stars Mari Kumakura, and Akko Oohashi, two girls at their high school. It begins simply, as do all school life mangas, with Akko approaching Mari one day, and asking if they'd take the train together afterschool.
And then, through some inference, you figure out that Akko apparently didn't give a shit where Mari lived, because she intended to accompany her home regardless of which direction it was in. Way to go, assertiveness.

All those locations that Akko is shooting off are places that are in  total opposite directions.
Of course, like all yuri, it builds up slowly. Akko is a sort of airhead, non book smart girl who loves everything related to fashion, and Mari's the bookish, less social one. Basically, this is the yuri set up with girls that are both girly, which is always a refreshing read.

Akko convinces Mari to come by to a fast food place to eat and talk, and Mari's all 'omg what is this' because she normally always comes straight home after school finishes. Very studious. Akko ends up lavishing compliments all over Mari's awesomely straight hair, since Akko's hair apparently has to be straightened, and then paradoxically, brings her to get her hair cut. There's a bit of drama when Mari wonders if Akko just secretly wanted to screw Mari over by getting her awesomely straight hair cut, but then Mari discovers that it's all good and Akko thinks she looks cuter with short hair. Yay for girlish troubles. As you can tell, these two girls are just going to be awesome friends. Yuri subtext hinting, but nothing explicit yet.

This series reads a bit like a shoujo series because of the way the author Morinaga Milk goes about it. Loads of clothing and makeup and lotion brands are namedropped all over the manga, presumably to promote a realistic feeling, but then I kind of wondered if she was getting paid for all that namedropping. >.> HMMM.

Two other characters are brought in shortly after Mari and Akko meet. Satoko Sugiyama, a big-breasted, extremely outgoing girl who attracts shittons of guys, and Tamami Sekine, a young-looking otaku-style girl who is obsessed with cosplaying, are the two other close friends of Akko. Before this, Mari pretty much didn't have that many friends and was a studying loner. Now, she's got friends. She's pretty damn happy about it.

"It's not like I take my clothes off in photo booths all the time." Sure, get distracted by that line.
See, she is pretty damn happy. Now, something to clarify...

Looking at the characters, it seems like they're all young and innocent, and this is going to be one of those sweet, innocent young school girl romances, right? But then BAM, no, it's not. Nor is it one of those 'everybody's a girl forget about the guys' manga. Males do play a part in this--they're involved in the backstory of the girls, including Akko, and it ends up playing out more realistically. I think I've typed that word a lot on this blog. Seems like I enjoy reading more realistic depictions of these kinds of romances.

So yes, there is development here, and there's actually good amounts of drama and mild heartache for those who (like me) enjoy torturing themselves with yuri love. See, in normal manga, whether shojo or shounen, it's pretty obvious what happens; at some point, the protagonist dude(if shonen) or girl (if shojo) will get together with the person that they have the most romantic or sexual tension with at the very, very end of the manga. With yuri, what usually happens is a shitload of focus on the tension. Girl wonders if other girl likes her. Girl has doki-dokis all over the page when she thinks about other girl. And then other girl gets a boyfriend. And then this, and that, and unrequited everywhere. How many of you guys remember your unrequited loves? How did that feel? Yuri mangas capitalize on this to the max. Or, even better, they build it all up and then the mangaka turns into a wuss and pairs the girls up with guys and writes it in sloppy, and then it feels like a cop out.

What's going on here, girls?
So yes, attempting to get back to my point, Mari and Akko have heaps and piles of unspeakable drama and self-torment ahead of them. It's great stuff, and stuff that I will likely delve deeper into later on. The series has finished, and yes, I have finished it, so I won't be spoiling. It touches on a lot of themes, and at the very end (mini spoiler coming), it has to do with long distance relationships...but that's all I'm going to say for now. Essentially, these two girls' find that they have feelings for each other, very gradually, but many misunderstandings and events keep them separate until the end. Take a gander at it.

Responses to comments from last post:
Everyone's got their own tastes, as seen clearly in the comments. That said, I'll respond to all of them!
InformativeGamer - Heheheh.
Tortacular - Your turtle's cool.
Ben Dover - True for a lot of people. - Straight? These _are_ girls. Heheh.
dzikirk - 90% of the population, yeah.
SituationAbs - Yeah. It's like some kind of reverse trap.
MTL Beer - Korea has crazy variety.
Fuuuuuuuu - Was that an accidental pun?
Goodfella - You have a neat blog, btw.
scorpion taco - Katoy?
Erie Enthusiast - I agree.


  1. Interesting concept. Looks like a cool manga.

  2. I've never been this close to reading a manga :D

  3. niiiiiice haha kinda reminds me of a movie i saw where two girls are at a boarding school and one kinda falls in love with the other

  4. I really enjoyed this one today ^^;;; wish I wasn't so busy though... *sigh* but anyway, do you find this to be a funny manga?

  5. Hurray!! its yuri!!!
    just wanna make you happy XD

  6. yow hey where can i get zip of this? thanks!

  7. cool! (my friend also likes it, he's a perv) lol i like it!

  8. Love this manga very much !!!!!! >_<

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