I loved the bonus Mizu-iro Cinema booklet so much (must get my hands on iiiiiit @_______@) that I've decided to have an Otsu Hiyori week and finally write about the collections by her that I haven't covered.
The first story in Kawaii Anata ("Your Cuteness") is my favorite, "Maple Love." It's a pretty straightforward story about two university students, Kaede and Erika, meeting cute and falling in love. Erika becomes interested in Kaede almost right away and confesses to her, willing to continue to just be friends since she knows Kaede doesn't reciprocate. Lucky thing Kaede's cool with the confession and returns Erika's feelings eventually.... Even with the clunky "How do two women have sex?" gag at the end, I still love this story to bits.
In "Love Letter", Yuuka is in love with her best friend Miwa, but Miwa is in love with a boy and asks Yuuka to give him her love letter. We see Yuuka tear up a letter in her room.... Yuuka and Miwa don't get together but I felt like the ending indicated that, having finally gotten catharsis for her feelings, Yuuka would move on.
"Hoshizora Cycling" ("Cycling Under A Starlit Sky") is about Mako, who bikes to school with her best friend and crush Momo. (Momo rides on the back while Mako pedals.) When they sleep on the school rooftop one night, Mako wishes on a shooting star for Momo to love her back. When she sadly confesses what her wish was to Momo later, Momo calls her a "baka" because she'd already fallen in love with her. We last see them biking under the starry night sky as a couple. When Mako asks Momo what her wish from earlier was, Momo smiles happily and says that it's a secret.
In "Kawaii Anata", Maria has always been teased for looking like an "okama" when she wears girl's clothes, because she looks boyish. Her best friend is Akane, a feminine girl with a great snarky streak, who tells Maria that she's cute and nominates herself to play the princess to Maria's prince in the school play. Long story short, the play is almost ruined, but it turns out fine at the end and Maria realizes that Akane is the prince to her princess.
"Fuyu-iro Omoi" ("Winter-Tinged Thoughts") brings on the drama when quiet, awkward Shizuka falls for her outspoken friend Matsuri, who likes the beautiful Aya-sempai. Like "Love Letter", this story has its share of heartbreak, but it ends on a much more hopeful note.
In "Kokoro Bento" ("A Lunch Made With Love"), Shizuka and Izumi always spend lunch together and Izumi realizes that Shizuka is in love. (Although she doesn't get that Shizuka loves her.) She accidentally breaks Shizuka's heart when she asks her who she likes, and tries to make it up to her by making her a bento. Her reaction to Shizuka enjoying the (not very good) food indicates that she's falling for Shizuka but doesn't know it yet.
Even when traversing well-worn territory, Otsu Hiyori has a knack for tugging heart strings. Her happy stories are grin-inducing and the bitter ones are tempered to be bittersweet. Reading her work is the equivalent of sitting down with a warm slice of apple pie with milk. Otsu's most well-known strength is that her characters generally don't fall into simple types (or adhere to them, in the case of "Kawaii Anata") and tend to be mature and easygoing, in keeping with her mellow story-telling style. I have a special attachment to "Maple Love", partly because it's the first Otsu Hiyori story I (attempted to) read in the first issue of Yuri Hime I bought, but I really like the entire collection.
Story: B+ overall