Monday, May 17, 2010

Manga Review: Cotton

Kita Konno is probably most well-known among yuri fans as the creator of Himitsu no Kaidan, a slightly yuri-ish all-girls' school series that is, from what I've heard, one of the titles that Strawberry Panic parodied. (I will review Himitsu no Kaidan later on.) But Kita also wrote a charming, slightly yuri-ish one volume title called Cotton. (Props to my classmate Sara for recommending this book. ^^)

Cotton is about an OL named Natsuki, who meets a high school girl on a rainy day and gives her her umbrella. They see each other again at Natsuki's sister's wedding, where the same high school girl turns out to be the groom's little sister, Michiko. Michiko is a loner who doesn't normally open up to people, but she seems very much drawn to Natsuki. The two eventually become close friends. (And in this humble reviewer's opinion, Michiko has it bad for Natsuki- even if she doesn't realize it yet.)

This book is good for an afternoon of pleasant light reading, if you're in the mood for shoujo or josei. I'm not sure which magazine this story ran in- having the story focused on an OL lead feels josei-ish, but the airy, delicate art style feels very shoujo. (Especially the lightly sparkling gusts of wind and floral embellishments.) Cotton's simple, pretty art style combined with its good-natured story-telling makes it feel like the manga equivalent of taking a walk outside on a beautiful spring day.

The two leads are both likeable and balance each other's personalities well. Michiko is the most interesting character- she's smart and mature for her age in some ways, while being  immature in other ways (because of her background, and of course, her age)- like many teens. Natsuki is dealing with her own problems, but without losing control like Michiko- and she's the first person to cut through Michiko's self-imposed isolation. (Michiko's personality actually reminds me of Rio from Pieta, even though they have very different reasons for acting the way that they do.) Natsuki and Michiko eventually have a fight because of a misunderstanding on Michiko's part (of course), but we know that this isn't the type of manga that will let things end badly. (My favorite scene was actually how they "fought" right before reconciling.) By the end, they've grown closer to each other and become more self-aware and mature as individuals.

Cotton is brief, but it's a prime example of a simple, good story told well. If you don't like shoujo and josei-type stories, this probably won't appeal to you. But if you do, this is a solid pick.

Story: B
Art: B
Overall: B

Kita has also done a few yuri stories in Yuri Shimai, and some yaoi.


Nelligrand said...

Sounds like an interesting story. I'll probably look around for it. Hmm... any chance it's available here in the States?

Erin said...

I enjoyed Cotton. I believe it was originally published as a doujinshi (source) rather than running in a magazine.

@Nelligrand: There is no official English version out. However, you can buy the Japanese book and/or read an unofficial English translation.

Anonymous said...

I really liked this little story, well, expect for the ending when Natsuki gets together with that guy. I know Cotton is yuri only in the broadest sense, i.e. being about an intense emotional f/f relationship rather than a clearly romantic/sexual one, but I was still annoyed that Natsuki couldn't remain close friends with Michiko without needing a man in her life.

Katherine said...

@ Erin- Thanks, Erin! ^^

@ Anon- I disagree; I don't think Natsuki having a "man in her life" or not had any impact on whether she could be close friends with Michiko. It was just a cute friendship story, and my interpretation of Michiko as unknowingly having a crush on Natsuki gave me an excuse to review it. :)

Sheldor said...

I think the greatest testament to a manga like Cotton is that a yuri fan (like myself) can be disappointed with the lack of yuri but still consider it to be a great read.

In our pursuit of all things yuri it's nice to stumble across manga like Cotton, which may not sate our yuri lusts but is immensely enjoyable nonetheless. It was a lovely afternoon I spent enjoying it hehehe.

I think it's over at Kotonoha if someone wants to read it.

Katherine said...

@ Sheldor- lol I agree. It isn't a story to read "to sate our yuri lusts", but just for a good story, with light eau de yuri as a bonus. ^^

And as an extra note for anyone who does read Cotton (or other manga titles) via scanlation: You should support the author whose work entertained you by legally purchasing his or her manga. Konno has living expenses and bills like the rest of us, and she deserves to be paid for her work. (If every scanlation reader's "enjoyment" alone had monetary value, the manga industry would be in much better shape. Most mangaka are creating manga out of love for the medium- please don't f-ck over their livelihoods, and legally support the intellectual property that you consume.)

yasashiisekai said...

Katherine! I'm glad u blogged about Cotton! It's another one of mine that I have recommended before.

I think u're absolutely right in how it's like a walk outside on a beautiful spring day. Nothing too serious - just some light fluffy read with a touch of yuri. ^_^ Oh and I like the simplistic clean lines of the art too!!