Haru Yo Koi is one of those perfectly typical shounen manga where there’s a Yuri relationship, sex and all, and you just *know* that it’s going to go south almost immediately in favor of straight relationships…and it does. But, surprise! It seems to have taken a different route, so here’s a quickie review:
Mafuyu is a high school student that has fallen in love with Sae, another girl in their school. After being caught inflagrante delicto with Sae on the school roof, Mafuyu was expelled from school and her parents threw her out, so she’s moved to Tokyo to live with her brother. However, Sae follows her and the three of them live together in an awkward setup. The brother, who is the most genuinely decent guy I’ve ever read in any manga, shoujo or shounen, finds this all unbearable…but for all the right reasons. Heck – I’d be peeved, too.
Sae has given up everything she ever had – friends, family, her home, to be with Mafuyu…but then the story gets horribly predictable. Mafuyu starts to date a guy and leaves Sae alone in the house, where she, in turn, falls for the brother (who has a nice girlfriend, thank you very much.) Typical love polygon, no surprises here.
We follow the brother as his relationship with his girlfriend develops – this is a very refreshing arc, because the progression seems normal – they meet, date a while, eventually sleep together, like each other’s company…you know *real* relationship stuff, without the endless supply of emotional and sexual dysfunction that populates so much manga. He can’t help but feel bad for Sae, and they kind of have something between them…but he has a girlfriend he loves, and Sae was, after all, his sister’s girlfriend. So he declines to take advantage of Sae.
Then we follow Sae – she runs away, so as to not have to deal with all the conflicting emotions she’s feeling. She becomes a hostess and shares a room with another hostess. In the meantime, the brother has asked all his friends to keep an eye out for her, which they do. When one friend finds her, he hides the fact from the brother, and tries to woo Sae, but she’s basically fallen in love with the brother and the resulting chapters are a little tiresome, as the friend lies and cheats and does basically every skanky guy thing he can think of to sleep with Sae. He just won’t get the “no” part of “no.” Eventually he gets it and tells the brother and he and Sae meet. But she says she won’t come back until she’s standing on her own two feet again and knows who she is and what she wants.
And then we turn to Mafuyu to se what she has been doing all this time. She dropped Sae, pretty coldly, for a guy she met at work. And although she’s sleeping with him, its obvious that the two have no connection. On the side, she’s had a skinship with a classmate, but Mafuyu is repulsed by her own behavior, even as she’s kissing the girl…comparing herself to a male character in a dating sim game. When she finds out that the guy she’s dating is cheating, she’s not really even angry – almost relieved. But she’s still in a bad mood.
And then a new, young and good-looking substitute teacher arrives. Nijiko-sensei is popular among the boys, but it’s Mafuyu she pays attention to. When she finds out that Mafuyu’s being cheated on, Nijiko-sensei takes her out for a night of eating, drinking and dancing. Almost immediately, Mafuyu finds herself attracted to her new teacher.
One day, Mafuyu decides to tell the teacher the whole story – about Sae, and the guy, and how she started dating him to prove to herself that she wasn’t gay…but now she realizes that she is. And she tells the teacher that she’s attracted to her – she knows that the teacher isn’t interested, but she, Mafuyu, just wants the teacher to know.
Later that night, Nijiko-sensei pays a visit to Mafuyu at home and confesses that she’s a lesbian and, if Mafuyu graduates and still has feelings for her, she’d be willing to date her. But they have to wait, because it would be more than a little awkward if they were found out while they were still teacher and student. Mafuyu agrees, stunned.
But…Mafuyu breaks the promise, and one day at school, corners Nijiko-sensei and kisses her. Hard.
And that’s where we are, kids – in the middle of a manga that was getting boring, but has suddenly gone all interesting again!
There’s nothing really standout about the series, except the brother’s character: the art’s fine, the story is okay, but that kiss was pretty much worth the whole thing so far. ^_^