Sunday, July 4, 2010

Manga Review: Girl Friends volume 4

Girl Friends volume 4 was a definite improvement for me over volume 3. No more kisses that don't go anywhere, or watching poor Mari angst while misunderstanding the nature of Akko's feelings.

After having been kissed by Akko in a karaoke booth, Mari still doesn't think that Akko is really interested in her because of Akko's habit of randomly kissing her friends for fun. Akko thinks that they're going out, but when things stay the same as always, she wonders if Mari really rejected her, in her quiet, Mari-like way.

They go on a class trip where Akko tells Mari she loves her when they visit a shrine famous for having a heart-shaped stone that gives good luck to couples, and they clear up their misunderstanding. Breaking the usual pattern, the final chapter (which might have been tag-lined, "The worst student/teacher reunion ever") takes place from the p.o.v. of Sugi, who knows about the real nature of Mari and Akko's relationship- and fully supports it- even though they don't know that she knows. The extra short story in this volume is about the girls picking swimsuits to go to the beach.

This volume was very satisfying. :-) It sticks to the basic "A and B like each other, A and B misunderstand each other, A confesses to B" storyline without throwing in any surprises, but it's a strong example of how good writing and sympathetic characters (brought to life by Morinaga Milk's art, which is always pretty and well laid-out, no matter how often she recycles her character designs) can keep a simple story interesting. Mari and Akko's romance is told with heart and sincerity, and while it might feel a little precious at times, it's nice to read a straightforward manga story that isn't trying to be cleverly post-modern or glossed with "wink-wink-nudge-nudge" irony.

Even setting aside the sparks finally igniting between Mari and Akko, Sugi and Tamamin also have a really sweet little moment, implicitly showing how close they are as friends no matter what Sugi thinks of Tamamin's otaku hobbies.

Story: B+
Art: B+
Overall: B+

Only two more chapters. TT__TT It'll be interesting to see what Morinaga-sensei does after this. I'm definitely looking forward to that drama CD.


Sheldor said...

Of all the fillers I've ever read in my life that Sugi filler was the worst lol.

It's hard to imagine Girlfriends ending, it's always been such an important title to the fandom. What will Milk do next indeed.

Great review!

Duskren said...

Hmm, maybe I should get back into reading Girl Friends... I've been too hooked on Sasameko Koto <(;^^)v

Heh...oops. Happy 4th of July, Kat! Everyone! *lights a big firework into the sky*


Katherine said...

@ Sheldor- Thanks! ^^

It was jarring to suddenly find that the series is ending soon, given its unhurried pacing...especially since Mari and Akko have been considering what their relationship will be like beyond high school, in recent chapters- and there's the issue of when Mari will come out about her relationship with Akko to the people she knows. (Especially after the incident with Mayu.) There's a lot of potential to be tapped in this series, after all of the care Morinaga put into building up the characters and their lives.

But- whatever Milk does next, hopefully it will be another doki-doki-inducing yuri story. ^^

@ Duskren- Happy 4th of July to you too! ^__^

Girl Friends can be frustrating (and painfully true) at times in the story leading up to the grand confession, but the pay-off is definitely worth it, imo.