Well, recently I revisted this old, “miserable classic” of Yuri by Fujimura Mari, which was published by Margaret Comics back in 1993. And I decided that it deserved a review of its own, not because it’s happy or unique, but because it’s neither. Unlike Pieta, Futtemo Harettemo, does not end with the girl getting the girl, but these two stories have more in common that you’d think at first glance.
Futtemo Harettemo is the story of Nagi and Hiro, two classmates who have instant and almost obsessively deep feelings for one another. This five-volume manga details their encounter, friendship, and the painful things that they do to each other to try and convince themselves that they don’t, in fact, love one another, or wait, maybe they do. This is a really ugly story at times, as Nagi and Hiro are hurtful, sometimes destructive and even homicidal at each other. Hiro ends up being cast as the more emotionally unstable of the two, while Nagi gets the award for being the more selfish. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, there are some genuinely tender moments between the two girls. The internalized homophobia is all too real at times.
Since one of the storylines is Nagi’s conflict at being torn between Hiro (who is admittedly not a very dependable person) and a guy who is clearly and committedly in love with her, you can expect that these two will not get together any time soon. Hiro does get some credit for calling it love first and kissing Nagi several times, trying with increasing desperation to hold onto a girl with whom she is “more than friends, but less than lovers.” (This quote is from a short Japanese movie about lesbian romance entitled 3 Second Melancholy, and a very common Japanese phrase about intense relationships without commitment.)
So, given the fact that Nagi and Hiro do *not* end up together, unlike Rio and Sahako, and the fact that their relation is tumultuous and sometimes violent, why do I say that it has anything to do with Pieta? Because both of these manga, and many of the shorts that are currently being published in Yuri Shimai pair lesbianism with mental illness.
It wasn’t until I re-read Pieta and Futtemo Harettemo in the same week that I realized that both include characters that inflict violence on themselves and, in the case of Futtemo Harettemo, others as well. Which led me to notice that there are several stories in the three volumes of Yuri Shimai that pair lesbian love with a suicidal desire…and it dawned on me that we’re *still* reading the same damn stories from the early twentieth century, when lesbianism itself was considered pathological, and frequently paired with other mental diseases, especially depression. (Although Hiro acts more like a person who is bipolar, IMHO.)
And while I’m marginally annoyed, Pieta at least offers very reasonable and believable explanations for Rio’s behavior, while Futtemo Harettemo simply expects us to care about Hiro and Nagi while they duke it out on the battlefield of unhealthy attraction. If I were one of these girls’ mother, I’d call this relationship unhealthy and try to put an end to it.
Nonetheless, Futtemo Harettemo was, in the end, a kind of a bittersweet story (as so many Japanese manga were until recently, when the audience began to demand this thing called a “happy ending”). In the last chapter, Hiro and Nagi meet up at a class reunion years later. Both are married and happy, and now, at last, able to be happy for each other. Hiro introduces Nagi to her husband as her “first love,” which was kind of sweet and, at the same time, massively irritating.
Would this story be any different if it were written in 2004, as opposed to in 1993? I think not that much. Nagi, at least would still be married in the end. Maybe, maybe, Hiro might be with another woman, or perhaps she might have been portrayed as less emotionally unstable, but I think that these two could never have gotten together and lived happily ever after. Perhaps it was better that they just moved on. ^_^
In any case, Futtemo Harettemo turned out to be alot more provocative this time, than when I read it the last time and if you’re the kind of person who is interested in historical Yuri manga, you might want to look for this series in a used manga bookstore.
Overall – It’s complicated to rate something like this, since it is so much a product of its time, but…
Art – 7
Characters – 5
Story – 6
Yuri – 7
Service – 0
Overall – 6