Yuri Manga: Kashimashi ~Girl Meets Girl, Volume 2 (English)

May 18th, 2007

I would like to start this review with a sad face in the direction of Seven Seas, since they told me that I’d be receiving review copies of their Yuri, but have so far not. Boo on you, S7.

Kashimashi ~ Girl Meets Girl, Volume 2, is, as was the first volume, an excellent adaptation into English. It is *such* a relief to be able to just have the honorifics as is, instead of watching the contortions of language necessary to make translations work, or to have to ignore the implied relationships because they have been removed. I’m not sure if it’s more like having an itch scratched or the absence of a pain one was barely aware of. In any case, It’s nice. :-)

Volume 2 focuses mostly on the creation and solidification of the three-way romance between Hazumu, childhood friend Tomari and first love Yasuna. We also learn that Hazumu not only lacks critical decision-making skills, but is tortured with the inability to make even the simplest choices. And, in between, we watch Hazumu’s best friend, Asuta, nosebleed over any number of situations with his formerly male, now a cute female, best friend. There’s also an odd chapter that explains Ayuki’s apparent passivity in human relationships, something that will come back later as the story develops.

I just went back and re-read my review of the Japanese edition of Kashimashi Volume 2 and I had to laugh at my last line, “I’ll tag along until it gets unbearable or Hazumu turns back into a guy, whichever comes first.” (But I can’t tell you why, just yet. The series has ended in Japan, although the final volume is not yet out. I’ll review the end when that becomes available.)

There are a few things I do want to comment on. One, the translation and adaptation remain excellent. I know how HARD it is to make translated manga make sense sometimes, and depending on the publisher, the title, the team, sometimes the translation is sensible…and sometimes not. This story actually makes sense in English – not something that is easy to do. Tomari’s tsundere (for non-otaku-speak people, call it “passive aggressive”) personality is especially handled well. It’s not just her being tsundere for the sake thereof…her reasons for her behavior are presented and explained in a way that actually makes sense.

Secondly, as a “transgender” story it’s probably not too bad. As Hazumu says, it’s not like she’s not confused or concerned from time to time, but everyone is treating her the same as always. Maybe that’s idealistic, but – isn’t that the ideal? We’re told, repeatedly, that Hazumu was very girly, he was like a girl, and in this volume, that he wanted to be a bride when he was a child. It’s not a huge leap to say that he was a girl in a boy’s body – again, dredging up Serge’s line at the ACen Yuri Panel, that the aliens fixed what nature had broken. So, in a sense, it is a representation of the ideal situation. That the person gains their true gender and everyone still loves them (in this case, more people love her now.)

As a story of lesbian love, it’s also idealistic. Neither Tomari nor Yasuna are concerned at *all* that they have feelings for another girl. The issue is not “I’m in love with a girl” but “I’m in love with Hazumu” which as it should be in a perfect non-assholish world. And really, the issue is “I won’t lose to her” more than anything else.

Lastly, I really enjoyed Ayuki imploring Hazumu, in her heart at least, to slow down and take her time and just enjoy the three-way dynamic. When, in the end chapter, god appears to concur, it somehow made me happy. I still think that the three of them make the least implausible threesome I’ve ever seen (something that the next volume will explore to a small degree.)

While we the audience might perceive this story to be about gender, by the end of Volume 2, it is no longer. Hazumu’s gender is female. Period. But we still talk about it, don’t we?

So, here’s today’s question for comment: If Hazumu turns back into a boy, would it affect your enjoyment of the series? Do you perceive this series as a Yuri series, a Transgender series or none of the above? Inquiring minds want to know!

Ratings:

Art – 8
Character – 8
Story – 7
Yuri – 8
Service – 5

Overall – 8

The more time I spend with these characters, the less I find anything to dislike.

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6 Responses

  1. neo_hrtgdv says:

    I wouldn’t like if Hazumu were to turn boy, much of the charm of the series is that Tomari is pressed to express her love for Hazumu when Yasuna starts liking her, and that is not until she becomes girl.

    Kashimashi has a very weird (but in my opinion, clever) start, my sis doesn’t like Yuri but when I told her about Hazumu’s alien encounter and gender shift she wanted to watch it. A lot of people that doesn’t like Yuri anime liked Kashimashi.

    Kashimashi has very real characters, with real issues: the inability to choose, the rival/friendship with others for your loved one, how you like someone but can only bear to watch, among others. It is for me a Yuri series, Hazumu is not a boy trapped in a girl body, Hazumu is a person who becomes a girl, she doesn’t fight her new nature at all, I think the only one who did was Tomari until she realizes the whole point of the anime: Love is so great is transcends many things, gender being one of them. Tomari realizes she loves Hazumu not because he was boy or because she is girl, but because the very essence of the person she loves is there, no matter how much the body changes Hazumu will always be Hazumu.

    I think its a series about transcending love, and I’m happy they chose girls to show this concept ^-^

  2. punistation says:

    “I really enjoyed Ayuki imploring Hazumu… to slow down and take her time and just enjoy the three-way dynamic.”

    Nosebleed.

  3. pachy_boy says:

    What’s so odd about Ayuki choosing to be a keen observer over having her own relationship? That’s something I personally relate to.
    Also, you’ve likely mentioned this before, but what are the BGM’s? Are they songs we should listen to in our minds as we read this manga?

  4. BGM is the background music I’m listening to as I write the review, when I am listening to music as I write. :)

  5. Janara says:

    As a story of lesbian love, it’s also idealistic. Neither Tomari nor Yasuna are concerned at *all* that they have feelings for another girl.

    That isn’t necessarily idealistic. For both me and my gf it was excatly the same when we noticed that we were in love with a girl (and thus lesbian/bi). No “OMG I’m gay!” drama or any concerns like that in the slightest. :)

  6. pseudorandom says:

    I think of it first as member of the love triangle family, then genus transgender, then species Yuri.

    And, unfortunately, subspecies annoying slapstick.

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