Thursday, February 26, 2009
Page 1 of Chapter 19 of Girl Friends, which is being scanlated by the awesome people behind Maki Maki Scanlations. ^^
YES!!!! After two months, chapter 19 of Milk Morinaga's fabulous yuri romance Girl Friends is out and scanlated!! XD Better still, Maki Maki Scanlations included the two page Girl Friends comic that was printed in Comic Hi in January instead of a regular chapter. It's a cracktastic mini-story in which Mari finds that Akko has suddenly shrunk to the size of a doll when she sees Akko being carried around by the neighborhood cat. Despite herself, Mari thinks it's adorable. XD Akko adjusts surprisingly quickly, and Mari tries to carry her to school in her bra (that's a novel way to use it...), but poor Akko starts sliding down, causing poor Mari to panic. Then we see a flustered Mari at home telling Akko (who's taking a bath in what looks like a rice bowl), "I'm never taking you to school again!" lol Morinaga should include some more trippy bonus chapters in the upcoming Girl Friends tankoubon volumes. XD
As for chapter 19 itself, it starts with best friends (or are they still? >_>;;) Mari and Akko entering Akko's apartment, and Akko makes a convenience store bento for herself while Mari doesn't eat anything because she was just at a festival with her boyfriend Haruda (it's a lost cause, Haruda... ^^;;) and thus, presumably, already ate something there. Indeed, this reminded me of when I asked a guy who I was friends with at the high school I attended in Japan if he wanted to go to Akihabara and visit a maid cafe there sometime. He seemed to take it as a date offer, (nooo... ^^;;) but I just wanted to see the maid cafe with a friend. And we never ended up going, although I did visit the maid cafe later. (But with my poor dad, who was utterly bewildered as to what the point was. lol) Anyway, back to the story.
Things seem back to normal between my favorite Morinaga pair, until Akko realizes that the last time Mari was at her apartment was when she confessed she liked Akko (before denying it later!! Grah!! >_<). She doesn't give Mari the swimsuit that she had bought for her after Mari turns down her pool invitation (which Akko assumes, sarcastically, to be because of Haruda). Mari sleeps over at Akko's, and Akko wonders why it pains her to hear about Mari and her boyfriend (while it's pretty obvious to anybody reading the manga). Then we see that Akko, Sugi, Tamamin, and Taguchi went to the pool and later the beach, but Akko never saw Mari again that summer after the night she slept over. After everybody's back at school, Akko worries because she didn't recieve a morning e-mail from Mari or see her at the station as usual. When Mari appears, Kuno and Taguchi ask if they can copy her homework, but since Akko didn't finish hers either, Mari gives it to her first. ^^ (It's cute between Mari and Akko, although it's incredibly irritating when people ask to copy homework in real life, even though nobody has asked me at college so far, thankfully.) Akko continues to ponder her strained friendship with Mari, before realizing that she actually does wish that the person who Mari liked was her. All that I can say is... YES!!!! YESSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!! FINALLY!!!!!! Time after time, Morinaga has ended her Girl Friends chapters on cruel cliffhangers, leaving me feeling like she was gleefully holding my heart in her hands, twisting and turning it any which way she pleases, only to subvert my fears of what would happen time and time again!! Brilliance. m(-_-)m Even though I had faith in Morinaga's storywriting prior to this, it's fantastic to finally see Akko returning Mari's feelings, although Mari has no idea and Akko still thinks she's into Haruda. But for now I'm just enjoying the ride, and every single delicious teenage soap opera twist before Mari and Akko finally get together!!
After looking at earlier chapters from Morinaga's Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo collection, it's easier to appreciate how much her art has improved. I've always enjoyed Morinaga's crisp, beautiful art and cute, pretty character designs, and Girl Friends definitely shows her off at the top of her game. Some people have complained that they prefer Nana and Hitomi from Morinaga's Yuri Hime stories, but I actually prefer Girl Friends for its slower pace and methodical tension and build-up. That's why I'm not too crazy about Miyabi Fujieda's Chatting at the Amber Teahouse anymore, even though plenty of people adore it. (I've read through chapter 8.) I thought it was sweet and really liked it in the beginning, and there isn't anything really wrong with it at the point that I'm at, but the lack of any sort of tension or conflict...is starting to bore me. It's like, okay, Seriho and Sarasa are together now and...now they're looking at some shops...and serving tea...and instead of being sweetly relaxing, it feels too placid for me at this point. (Plus, I don't really like how Sarasa changed her college plans because of her relationship with Seriho. If a manga girl decided to change her college plans for her boyfriend, I wouldn't like it either.)
But back to Girl Friends. This is definitely one of my favorites. Morinaga manages to portray Mari and Akko's newly discovered feelings realistically (especially Mari's) without dragging the series in angst-overkill like Kannazuki no Miko. Honestly, some of the chapters in which Mari tried to deny her feelings were a little difficult to read (that's how darn realistic Morinaga's writing is), but Morinaga managed to subvert all of my negative expectations, and plow ahead in creating what I consider to be one of the best yuri manga on the market today.
I'm definitely going to show this in the "Must-Read Yuri Manga" section of my yuri panel, along with Strawberry Shake Sweet, Hayate x Blade, Sasamekikoto, and Octave, among others.
Rating: an easy 4.5 out of 5