So, we come to the end of “Schoolgirls week” here on Okazu, with another – neither the last nor the least- of the seemingly endless supply of manga about girls in private school, Himitsu no Kaidan, Volume 2.
For the fan of Yuri, Himitsu no Kaidan can easily be seen as a tease. There are so many characters that *could* be paired, and many good stories that could be written with them, but everyone remains persistently and irritatingly realistic…which is to say, largely straight. There’s a few moments here and there that, with finely tuned yuri goggles, one could make some yuri stone soup from, but its still rocks there at the bottom of the pot.
Unlike the three previous series I’ve reveiwed this week, Himitsu no Kaidan does have one very much superior quality – the girls all look like girls really do at the age they are supposed to be. Again, I know I’m in a minority on this, but I’ll always prefer the more realistic body shape of a Himitsu no Kaidan or Aoi Hana character to the grotesque cutifying of the current style.
Volume 1 begins when Na-chan enters her room to find a boy asleep in Marie’s (btw, that’s pronounced Mah-ree-eh) bed. The boy, it turns out, is Marie’s cousin and has run away for a very silly reason, but his pride is keeping him from going back. Na-chan – and eventually several other members of her dorm – manage to keep his presence there a not so secre secret. By the time Marie comes to collect him, Na-chan and “Daniel,” as he called himself, are good friends.
The second chapter is a little backstory of cool Takarazuka Top Star-like Mimasaka Hanano. Orignally she had long hair that was much admired by the other students. After repeated threats to do so, she has it all hacked off…but still remains a much-admired sempai. At the end of the chapter, the “April Angel” appears in the form of flower petals wafting through the inside of the dorm.
Grumpy Mishima-sempai and Na-chan are out doing errands, when a pretty girl suddenly appears from nowhere, half fainting. The girl turns out to be another of the memory/dream spirits that inhabit the school. In thanks for her kindness, the girl invites Na-chan to a tea party in an empty room, which is suddenly full of spirits – including the beautiful inner self of Mishima-sempai, a graceful, long-haired girl who resembles the boyish, unmannered actual Mishima not at all. The spirit girl brings Na-chan to her magic garden, where we learn the sad story of Yuriko’s first love. Sorry kids, it was a guy.
Miyuki pays Aya-chan (another one of the sempai, one of my favorite characters) a visit to tell her tale of woe – one of her characters from her novel has gone missing! Seriously. The character is completely AWOL and Miyuki can’t find her. Miyuki sees a light and suddenly runs off after what she thinks is her character (who turns out to be a girl we met in the first volume of the manga) but doesn’t catch her. When she suddenly sits up, Miyuki thinks she must have fallen asleep, but her character and her inspiration have returned. I think this chapter is incredibly charming, but that’s probably because I’m a writer. ^_^
Marie has a cold. She wanders around the school in a daze and runs into grumpy ole Mishima-sempai. But she also discovers a picture of a not at all grumpy younger Mishima. Marie stops by Mishima’s room to deliver an apple before returning to her own, even sicker than before. Mishima appears to visit her (an unheard of occurence) and Marie finds herself being given an apple in return.
Saeki-san is a distant, somewhat cold upperclassman, but somehow, through a series of events that include falling down that darn hidden staircase, Na-chan warms Saeki right up. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen fan art for these two, too. ^_^
Last up, Na-chan, dressed in that oft-repeated fairy costume, slams into an attractive male visitor. They converse and Na-chan uses her wand to make him disappear in the hallway. The book, and the series ends, as we see the same young man, now a teacher at the school, waiting patiently in the same hall for a woman to join him, As the pages come to a close, we see an attractive woman going to meet him and he calls out to her in greeting “Na-chan.”
I have to wonder, as I read this series, how anyone gets anything done in the school, when the people you have in your club may be half phantasms and half time traveling memories…. ^_^
So, no raging hormones, sexual harrassment, open desire or declarations of love. At all. And yet, of the four books this week, my favorite.
Art – 8
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 1
Service – 1
Overall – 7
I notice that the books I reviewed this week were: boy series, girl series, boy series, girl series. There’s no significance to it. I just wanted to point it out. ^_^