Honey & Honey isn’t really a “Yuri” manga. It’s a manga about a lesbian couple, Sachiko and Masako (who is bi,) and their friends, some of whom are also sexual or gender minorities and some of whom are not – you know, like real people. It is also a biographical comic, written and drawn by Takeuchi Sachiko. Most interestingly, it runs in a mainstream magazine for women, Davinci, as a “Comic Essay.” And really, that’s a perfect description of what Honey & Honey is. (Thinking about it, this would be a good description for Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, as well.)
While the art isn’t terribly realistic, the storylines are. They go like this: Sachiko and Masako decide to go shopping. They look at glasses, and then shoes. Then they eat a crepe, and go home. And all the while, they are discussing things like the fact that they are on a date, what it means to be a couple, how the world perceives them and, most importantly, how much in love they are.
This all sounds sort of, “well, duh” but you know, it isn’t. Not at all. There are plenty of people for whom this would be revolutionary news – akin to aliens alighting – even here in my own beloved, mostly progressive, state.
So, when we watch Sachiko and Masako (and their transgender friends Kai and Kou) explain to straight friend Mai what it means to “be lesbian” or “be transgender” or any number of things that always seem self-evident, but just aren’t to a lot of people, it might feel a little preachy, but it isn’t meant that way at all. In the same way Rivkah described Steady Beat to me as having been written for Austin, Texas, this book was written for the average women of Tokyo – for whom sexual minorities are, really, aliens.
Other chapters include such amusing pastimes as shopping for “adult” toys, and attending any number of GLBT events, and the people that they meet.
There’s nothing dramatic in this series. That’s the point. It’s a slice-of-life look into a life that most people don’t live. It’s refreshingly normal, with a little heaviness on the “teaching” side. There are pages of term definitions and some facts about gender transitioning, and even recent LGBT history in Tokyo. None of those is to my taste – it gets in the way of the story for me, but I am not the target audience.
Overall, Honey & Honey is a sweet and mild look at lesbian life, with a good nature and gentle humor. Guaranteed to offend no one but those people who insist on being offended by the very existence of sexual minorities. If this were translated into English, it would be the thing you could give your relatives to explain the whole “gay thing” to them. ^_^
Art – 6 Intentionally silly/cute
Story – 6 Slightly bland but realistic
Characters – 6 No drama, but c’mon, we’re talking LGBTQ folks here! So unrealistic. ^_^
Lesbian – 10 A lesbian “onna-doushi love couple”
Service – 0 Not even the sex toy chapter has service
Overall – 6
I enjoyed the glimpse at beginning and end of the book of the characters drawn as if they were in more standard manga form. Kai and Kou in “shoujo manga” form made me laugh. Of course they are totally beautiful.
BGM: Cookie Day by Shonen Knife. (It’s a beautiful cookie day!)