Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo comes with the English translation Kiss, Sigh and Cherry Blossoms Pink. Just so you don’t have to work at it. ^_^
This is the second (only because I got it second) volume of Yuri manga from collected from Yuri Shimai and Yuri Hime magazines. This is the first collection of the stories by Morinaga Milk which, while not really a series, are related by virtue of them all taking place at a single girl’s school. From now on, to make things easy, I am going to call the series, such as it is, “Cherry Blossoms”. If a second volume comes out with a different title, I’ll work out something later. ^_^
So, my first thought upon cracking open Cherry Blossoms was that the stories had been reordered from the way they first appeared in the magazines. I have a sneaking suspicion that that had more to do with the printing process and placement of the color pages than with any textual redefinition. But as the stories are, at least in the beginning, stand-alones, it didn’t affect the series’ continuity one bit. The color pages that originally ran in the magazines are here reproduced – and very lovely all over again. There’s an additional color page in the beginning, depicting Nana and Hitomi, as they walk through a wood filled with cherry blossoms – Hitomi gesturing back to Abe and Tachibana who are also enjoying the petals. Appallingly cute,as you can imagine. :-)
As I did with the first volume of Strawberry Shake Sweet, let’s begin from the beginning as if we have never read these stories.
Cherry Blossoms is a series of connected stories about girls in love at what is a private girl’s school. In and of itself, this is not an original idea. But these are well executed, with a variety of personalities, character types and situations, so unless one objects strongly to the idea of high school girls in love, then it’s a pleasant enough example of same.
We begin with Nana and Hitomi, two girls who have been in school together since time immemorial but, for mysterious (to Nana, at least) reasons, Hitomi did not go to the same high school as she. The story starts off with her dreaming of the time she learned Hitomi would be going to another school. She wakes in tears. Nana is a pleasant girl, and has made some friends in the new school, but she’s lonely without Hitomi. One Sunday she runs into Hitomi who, having joined the basketball team at her new school has shorn her locks, and seems to be very friendly with her teammate. Nana tries not to be jealous and stricken. Hitomi jumps unmbrellas to return home with Nana, ostensibly to see her new school uniform. Once home, Nana breaks down in tears, telling Hitomi how unhappy she is. Hitomi reminds Nana that her feelings and Nana’s are not the same. In middle school she had kissed Nana, only to have Nana ignore it completely. Because she could not be just friends anymore, Hitomi thought it would be better to not be near the object of her desire. Nana throws herself into Hitomi’s arms, declaring that her feelings *are* the same, she was just scared and…and…she kisses Hitomi. It’s okay, Nana says, if we’re not friends. Rabu rabu.
The second story tells us of a ghost of a girl who attended the school in the past, and who now hangs around the school doctor. By accident, the ghost is absorbed into the body of a student who, all of a sudden wants to hang out with the doctor all the time. The ghost tells us of the time that she attended the school. She was very ill, and the girl who is now the doctor spent time with her every day. Ultimately the ghost grew to love her. Her friend went on to become the doctor to spend her days in the same office they had been in together. As they talk, the doctor realizes what has happened, and she addresses her friend by name. They kiss briefly, the ghost leaves the student’s body and all returns to normal…except that the student now has an inexplicable crush on the doctor. ^_^
The next chapter is probably my second favorite, and the couple I most hope we get to see more of – if only because they are perfectly unsuited for one another. Abe and Tachibana are practicing for the school play. Abe says that she can’t quite get into the head of the bound princess, so Tachibana removes the ribbon from her own hair, ties Abe’s hands behind her back, undoes her braids and says there! – now you’re a bound princess. As Abe recites her lines, Tachibana is moved to kiss her. When the rest of the theater club gets there, Tahibana has to explain that Abe burst into tears and ran off after she untied her. The club members are appalled. It turns out that Abe is in Nana’s class. Innocently, she asks Nana if she’s ever been kissed. Nana explodes, but Abe changes the subject before Nana is forced to prevaricate. In her mind, Abe says that she’d always imagined that her first kiss would be a prince – or at least a nice guy…but the image of the prince in her mind changes to Tachibana. The senior members of the club catch up to Abe to try and convince her to come back to the club. Tachibana overhears them – so when Abe bursts into tears, she grabs the younger girl and takes her away. Tachibana tries to apologize, but it seems to make Abe cry even harder, when she realizes and says out loud that she likes Abe. Tachibana asks what she can do to be forgiven. Abe tells her to say that she likes her once again. At the school play we see Nana and Hitomi in the audience and there’s just enough time for hijinks and goofiness before we cut.
The next story is probably the least comfortable or cute of the collection. Chisato had, when they first met, tried to help an outsider, Mizuki, but had been rudely rebuffed. Now in their third-year, Chisato still remembers that day, and can never quite take her eyes off of her classmate. Chisato falls ill with a cold; upon going to the doctor’s office, she thinks Mizuki is the doctor – apparently their voices are very similar. Chisato lays there, thinking about how her dream had been to be close friends with Mizuki….but that had never worked out. Chisato stays out of school for a few days, and is very surprised to have Mizuki drop by to see how she is. Mizuki apologizes for her behavior so long ago. She had just tested into the school and was being treated nastily by the insiders. She had kiss marks on her neck – when Chisato had offered a bandaid, she was just in bad mood and took it as more teasing. Chisato returns to school, but she’s still sick and ends up once again in the doctor’s office. There she talks to the doctor through the curtain about how she could never get Mizuki out of her mind. The doctor, who we can see is really Mizuki, tells her that some day she’ll have a wonderful love. Chisato thinks about that and wonders if, then, she’ll remember this – her first love.
Chiharu has always loved her friend Misato from a close distance. She loved the way Misato played the flute when they were younger, and now, after an injury has kept Misato from playing, Chiharu loves Misato’s home-made sweets. But really, more than anything – she just loves Misato. During a conversation at school, she’s lead to believe that the feelings are one way – and over the following days Chiharu can’t help but feel a little down. She is over Misato’s house to make sweets when Misato breaks out her flute and plays for the very first time in a long time. Chiharu is all starry eyed all over again. Misato says that she’s noticed that Chiharu was a bit blue and her music always seemed to cheer her up – but she’s gotten rusty since she stopped playing. Chiharu disagrees. Misato continues – she wanted to thank Chiharu for always keeping her spirits up when she was injured. Chiharu finds strength in this, “accidentally” downs a glass of wine (kids don’t try this at home!) and decides to bare her soul. As we cut out, Chiharu tells Misato that she has something important to talk about…
Nana and Hitomi kiss in full color! And, in the following pages, do more than that. But it’s all a naughty dream and Nana is appalled at herself – right in the middle of midterms, too. Sure enough, distracted as she is, she does badly and has to take a retest. This is all complicated by the fact that Hitomi has bluntly asked for them to do more than kiss. It’s not that Nana doesn’t want to…it’s that every time she gets a look at herself, she frankly cannot believe Hitomi wants a clod like her. She imposes a Hitomi ban upon herself, studies and takes the retest. It’s been a week – Nana hasn’t even answered her email. She calls Hitomi, only to hear the other girl’s phone ring under her window. Hahaha. Hitomi was in the bushes. Once safely in Nana’s room, Hitomi admits to being impatient – she couldn’t stand not being able to talk to Nana. Nana admits to feeling inadequate, which Hitomi forcefully denies. She thinks Nana is cute, and kind and beautiful, etc, etc. So, eventually, they do more than just kiss.
When Michiru, an underclassman, approaches and asks out Nosaka, an upperclassman, it throws Nosaka’s world into a tizzy. She wants to be friends, but Michiru insists that they are dating. After an attempted kiss is rebutted with a slap, Nosaka feels awful. She meets Michiru with new short haircut and thinks it’s her fault. But Michiru says it’s not. In the end, Michiru decides to be by Nosaka’s side, and plan her college encounters for her. Of all the stories, this one was the weakest, IMHO.
The postscript has a nice romantically sexy picture of Nana and Hitomi. ^_^
As with Strawberry Shake Sweet, the quality of reproduction is very good – no complaints there.
Art – 8
Characters – Various, say 7 on average
Yuri – 9
Service – by virtue of being Morinaga Milk works, full of rosy-cheeked schoolgirls, 7
Overall – 8
Well worth your money, as long as you don’t mind schoolgirl Yuri.