Sunday, May 5, 2013

Morinaga Milk's newest: Gakuen Polizi volume 1

Morinaga Milk's current Comic High! series is pretty different from her previous Comic High! titles, the lovely Girl Friends and Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo. Rather than a romantic drama, Gakuen Polizi (I'm going with Okazu's romanization of this series' title because I agree that it does sound kind of snazzy) is meant to be a romantic comedy. Unlike Morinaga's other romantic comedy, Himitsu no RecipeGakuen Polizi's leads are both likeable, so it's already ahead of Himitsu no Recipe even though its romance hasn't really started yet.

If you're familiar with Morinaga Milk's doujinshi output (*cough*), you'll know that she's a fan of the magical girl genre and police dramas. (I have never watched Odoru Daisousasen, but I love the doujinshi Morinaga drew slashing two police women from it. Between her fangirling over that show and one of its two directors having acted as Psycho-Pass's Chief Director- not to mention it being a mega-popular example of its genre- I really ought to watch it already. Ahem, anyway...) What a coincidence that Gakuen Polizi's protagonist, Aoba Sasami, opens this volume narrating that she loved magical girl shows, sentai shows, and police dramas growing up, so she wants to uphold justice herself.

In Gakuen Polizi, the police are rumored to send undercover officers to work as teachers and staff at schools. Sasami is one of the school police, but she's a student. She has just been assigned to Hanasaki Girls' School, where she is friends with two girls named Tokiwa and Minauchi (a.k.a. "Minmin.") There doesn't seem to be much to do, since Hanasaki is a peaceful school with no corruption, crime, or bullying.

One day, however, Sasami thinks she's caught someone stealing books from the school library. Not only is it a misunderstanding, the "culprit" is Sakuraba Midori, the other officer assigned to Hanasaki. Midori assumes Sasami can't be her new partner because Sasami screwed up so badly when she arrested her in the library, but nope. 

Midori tells Sasami that she'll be transferred to a new school soon enough when there's a vacancy at a place that needs school police. Midori will always stay at Hanasaki because of what happened at the school she was previously assigned to. It resulted in Midori's partner being injured badly, and she would have been kicked out of the police entirely if it weren't for her father being the Chief of Police. Instead, her father had her permanently assigned to a school where she would never have anything to do as an officer. 

When Sasami loses her badge (which is disguised as a notebook), she says that it means more to her than her life, causing Midori to tell her to never say that again. And when a dog seems to be attacking Midori, Sasami jumps in front of Midori and tells the dog to stay away: "Kanojo ha watashi no daiji na partner dakara!" ("Because she is my important partner!" or "Because she is my precious partner!") This painfully reminds Midori of how her previous partner once said "Midori ha itsumademo zutto zutto watashi no daiji na partner da yo." ("You will always, forever and ever, be my important/precious partner.") 

Sasami's friend Tokiwa is nearby during the dog incident, and she's a member of the Hanasaki newspaper club, camera always on hand, so she does a front page story on the dog incident, painting it as a dramatic love confession. The student body squeals over it, and Midori's like, "God damn it, we're supposed to keep a low profile here."

Midori and Sasami deal with a bunch of minor incidents, and Midori, as expected, starts warming up to Sasami and respecting her as an officer. There are a few little moments hinting at the more romantic turn we know Sasami and Midori's relationship is going to take.

Tokiwa tells Sasami and Midori about a groper who has been targeting high school girls without being identified, so they get to work catching the perp. The groper's in for a bit a surprise when he tries to resist. :-)

Minauchi catches a glimpse of Sasami's badge during the groper incident, so she goes to Sasami for help with her own problem.

Her sister's ex-boyfriend started stalking her after they stopped dating and the police have been shitty about dealing with it, as police often are in such cases. He gets to live his life as he pleases and she's still terrified. As Erica explained perfectly, this arc is a great commentary on the failings of how stalking cases are handled, and in a manga magazine aimed at an audience that could especially use that message, in addition to its general anti-creepines message. I also liked how the stalker was portrayed insofar as showing that there's no way to eliminate the possibility of someone being a stalker (or guilty of other creepiness/behavior that goes beyond creepiness) based solely on how they seem in their public day-to-day life. Victims' accusations are often trivialized (or outright dismissed as lies) at least in part because the person victimizing them is well-liked/is an upstanding student or employee/has a girlfriend/etc.

Needless to say, things turn out well. :-) And of course, this volume's ending dangles a new cliffhanger in front of us- a message Midori receives from her old partner.

I wouldn't normally write about the bonus illustrations in a tankoubon, but the one between chapters one and two of Gakuen Polizi is of a chibi Midori posing with a yo-yo weapon, clearly referencing Sukeban Deka, a long-running 70's-80's shoujo series about a teenaged girl who infiltrates different high schools as an undercover police officer to compensate for her past as a delinquent. All of the bonus illustrations are of chibi Sasami and Midori doing crime drama-esque poses, and I'm sure there are other visual references I missed. Speaking of references, a load of police dramas are name-dropped in this volume, and there's a Madoka Magica sight gag.

So far, Gakuen Polizi is one part much-needed social commentary and one part love letter to a genre its author loves, with some romance seeds being planted. I'm looking forward to volume 2. ^_^

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


Nemo de Monet said...

And here I was, thinking it had been a while since anyone had done a police-related manga. (I was waxing nostalgic for the good old days of You're Under Arrest, et al.)

Sadly for those of us who don't read Japanese, it doesn't look like anyone's making an active effort to scanlate this, sigh. The yuri ghetto strikes again...

Katherine Hanson said...

@Nemo de Monet- Yeah, it is refreshing- and I find police/crime stories interesting myself, so I'm completely down with Morinaga choosing that theme.

I'm really surprised by that since Gakuen Polizi is, you know, a Morinaga Milk series and all. Seven Seas did snap up Kisses, Sighs and Cherry Blossom Pink really quickly after seeing how well Girl Friends sold, so maybe/hopefully if Kisses sells strongly also, they'll pick up this series quickly too? Not sure how many volumes they'd want collected before doing that, though, esp given their releasing their other Morinaga licenses in omnibus format.

Nemo de Monet said...

I have high hopes for Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossom Pink, but I'm not sure how well it'll do compared to Girl Friends. Anthologies in English manga have been few and far between, for whatever reason.

As for the omnibus thing, unfortunately the only title I can think of offhand that got an omnibus edition in English while it was still running in Japan is Keroro Gunso, way back when. Lately it seems like the only time anything gets licensed in English *at all* is when it's finished in Japan. It's not yuri, but I honestly can't believe nobody's licensed Silver Spoon yet. Well-received, award-winning, funny, from the author of Fullmetal freaking Alchemist, up to seven or eight volumes, and... no license. And if nobody puts out single volumes of *that*, I'd have a hard time seeing even Seven Seas putting out single volumes of Gakuen Police, sadly. Not that I won't hope, obviously. :)

Katherine Hanson said...

@Nemo de Monet- True. It'll be interesting to see how its sales compare for that reason.

And good point. I tweeted Seven Seas "What are the chances of your picking up Morinaga Milk's newest Comic High series, School Police, which has 1 vol collected so far?" earlier today and never got a response. ^^; I'm no expert at publisher-ese, but I assume that means it's a possibility but they don't want to promise anything or say anything that could be construed as a promise at this point. Still wish they'd said something in response, though.

Katherine Hanson said...

@Nemo de Monet- Just tweeted
"So... hmm, never got a response to that Morinaga Milk tweet I sent @gomanga. Assuming that means it's a possibility but they don't want to

promise anything or say anything that could be construed as a promise at this point. @gomanga"

Guess I'll see if I get any response to that or not. lol

Nemo de Monet said...

It might just be that they're waiting until after Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossom Pink is out for a bit to decide if Morinaga Milk really has a following per se (brand loyalty, essentially, in marketing terms, I guess) among English-speaking readers, or if Girl Friends just did really well because it's awesome.

It might also be that they weren't even aware it existed, honestly. No scanlations, no anime adaptation... no real buzz, among English-language fans. Yet, hopefully. :)

Katherine Hanson said...

@Nemo de Monet- True! Those are both valid points. Here's to Kisses proving that Morinaga = strong following, and to this series gaining some more buzz among English-speaking fans.

Lena K. said...

I have only read the two chapters Yuri Project translated, but so far Gakuen Polizi seems interesting, nothing that special but definitely a manga I'm looking forward to continue reading.

So it seems there is not much romance going on in the first chapter huh? But maybe that's a good thing since I think a relationship should develope slowly and Milk Morinaga is quite good when it comes to that.
Oh and I was actually pleasently surprised to see that the two main characters in this one look almost nothing like the main characters of most of her other yuri manga and one-shots.

Katherine Hanson said...

@Lena- I agree about Midori's character design, although I think Sasami looks a lot like Akko, despite her much longer hair. But I agree that Morinaga is really good at slow, steady relationship build-up and that's what she seems to be going for here.

Overlord-G said...

Buildup is good. It makes the end result so worth the wait...except in Secret Recipe where it's more about patience than Girl Friends, surprisingly. Maybe if the two girls in Secret Recipe were as lovable as Mari and Akko, which they aren't. They're okay, at least.

Katherine Hanson said...

@Overlord-G- The big problem with Secret Recipe for me is Wakatsuki's obnoxious behavior. You know a romance doesn't work when you'd rather see the lead's love interest wind up with someone else. (In this case, the former Cooking Club President.) But yes, well done build-up in a romance does make the pay-off feel sweet indeed.

Overlord-G said...

Well, Wakatsuki's no Akko, that much is certain. Still, we might as well see how it ends. It is not MM's best, but there have been worse.