I sincerely doubt that I’d like this series half as much as I do, if it hadn’t been a Drama CD first. (Read my review here.) But it was, and Paku Romi played Touko-sensei with a sexy voice and that, as they say, was that. :-)
Volume 2 of Hatsukoi Shimai is a collection of chapters that ran in Yuri Hime magazine. The story picks up shortly after the end of Volume 1. Cute, cheerful Mastusato Chika is pleased as punch to have built a relationship with the object of her admiration and desire, Kizaki Haruna, and a friendship with Haruna’s little sister, Akiho.
Chika and Akiho are walking to school one day, when they come across a hullaballoo over a young, attractive woman who has apparently just pulled up on a motorcycle. The visitor asks for directions to the staff room, but the crowd around her threatens to knock over her bike and Akiho jumps to help her keep it upright. In the most inappropriately intimate way possible, the visitor asks Akiho to lead the way. Akiho, annoyed at the woman’s carefree attitude, huffs along, but after some gentle teasing of her and Chika, leaves the woman to make her own way.
Both Chika and Akiho are shocked, therefore, when the head teacher introduces the visitor as their subsitute teacher for a while, Hiiragi Touko.
Chika takes herself off to find Haruna in their private little spot behind the school, where they share a few moments of quiet happiness with each other. But as they talk, Chika becomes painfully aware that she really doesn’t know much about Haruna who, despite being so pleasant, is still somewhat reserved and hard to get to know. On the way back from lunch, Chika trips down some stairs. As Haruna runs to her aid, Touko-sensei scoops her up in her arms and carries her to the doctor’s office. Later, when Haruna stops by to walk Chika home, she learns that Touko-sensei is giving Chika a ride home on her bike. And thus begins Touko’s apparent plot to break Haruna and Chika up.
As often as she can, Touko inserts herself next to Chika, offering assistance with everything, including private supplemental lessons. She’s never *quite* actionably inappropriate, but her behavior drives Akiho insane with protective anger, to the point of her volunteering for the school festival committee to keep Chika from Touko’s grasp. In contrast, as Touko and Chika become closer, Haruna withdraws into herself. She starts to have nightmares about her relationship with her former sempai. She even goes so far as to overreact when Chika tries to take a heavy bag from her – she slaps Chika’s hand away with some force.
Akiho, as she does in the Drama CD, confronts Touko, who accuses her of being jealous of Chika – and Haruna. The charge is accurate, but it doesn’t daunt Akiho who warns Touko away from her friend. (In the background, we also get a little more of a glimpse of Teshigawara’s crush on Akiho, and her jealousy of Touko and Akiho’s time together.)
In preparation for the school festival, it is decided that first year classes will pair with second-year classes and do things together. Their class decides to do a cafe in which they will also sell beaded items. Chika turns out to be really talented at beading (shades of the Hatsukoi Shimai Drama CD there. My review here.) While working with Haruna, Chika teaches her how to make beaded rings, and they give each other their first attempts.
We also get a chance to meet Miyu and Kirika, also from the third drama CD, which gives us a chance to see the third of our couples in the series. Miyu comments to Chika that since she, Chika, has come to school, Haruna has become much more cheerful and easygoing.
Separated from Haruna because the older girl has been avoiding her, Chika is really distressed but, when, on the day of the school festival, she loses the ring Haruna gave her, she becomes frantic and runs out into the rain to find it. Akiho runs to find Haruna and send her after Chika, and Touko-sensei after both of them.
In the pouring rain, Haruna finds Chika and they reunite happily. Haruna tells Chika about her past relationship with her sempai. She was in love with the older girl, who was always warm to her in private, but in public, became cold and repudiated her. She realizes that, without meaning to, she was doing the same to Chika, but won’t do it any more. Touko-sensei shows up with the lost ring. She slips it to Haruna and tells them both to get back to the classroom so they don’t catch cold.
On the way back, Touko runs into Akiho, who dissolves into tears in her arms, admitting her jealousy, but also that she really, truly is happy for her best friend and her sister. Touko in turn admits that she was in love with a girl when she was in school, but had never confessed to her and although she thought it would be okay to be by her side forever, time and distance took them apart from each other. She saw Haruna and Chika and thought that they were like her and that girl and didn’t want them to lose each other because they didn’t admit their feelings. Akiho goes back to her tsundere ways, pushing herself away from Touko (or vice versa) and I await them getting together, still. (Seriously…I am suffering here, guys. I need some Akiho x Touko time in the next couple of chapters or I will start to whine.)
Later, back in the woods by the pond, Chika and Haruna have a long talk about how they feel. Haruna slips the ring she made onto Chika’s ring finger and Chika returns the favor. They kiss, very aware that the whole thing is imbued with the force of a vow to love one another and be together forever.
And on that happy note Volume 2 ends.
The art has smoothed out a bit as the manga has gone on. It’s nothing special or revolutionary, but it’s pleasant enough. The story differs from the original Drama CDs, which I like, and Chika and Haruna’s relationship has, at last, progressed beyond hand holding. That and some other things have made my two-part Hatsukoi Shimai fanfic completely obsolete, but I don’t care. I enjoy the idea of Touko and Akiho as a couple and any time with Touko is fine with me. So I stand by it, despite the fact that I’m blatantly wrong in some places. LOL As far as I know, it’s the *only* Hatsukoi Shimai fanfic, so if you don’t like it, :-p.
We get the usual color page reproduction, some very cute 4-panel gag comics on the inside cover and a nice postcard inside. There’s also a really cute little pic on the back cover of Akiho flanked by Touko and Teshigawara, which I found incredibly charming.
Art – 6 nothing to rave over, but clean and neat
Story – 7
Characters – 7 Touko’s behavior is so very, very wrong…
Yuri – 8
Service – 3
Overall – 7
I wonder why I never noticed Teshigawara’s crush was on Akiho the first time around. I just sort of assumed that this was a harem style thing and it was Chika. SO glad to be wrong. (Not a harem story? Does that even exist?