As you may know, if you have been reading my reviews of the Yuri Hime magazines for the past few months, I do not like Hakamada Mera’s art. And the recent entries by Hakamada in those magazines have outright repulsed me. Nonetheless, I am going to say that The Last Uniform is, in every other way other than the art, an enjoyable manga. (My original review of Saigo no Seifuku says pretty much the same thing – if the art was better and the characters looked their age, I most likely would love this manga. But they don’t. So I don’t.)
The manga takes place at the ubiquitous girl’s school in one of the dorms, where the rule is that everyone must share a room. There can be no single-person rooms. So, when a new student transfers in, she is placed with roommates Ai and Fuuko. Ai is exceptionally upset about this – more than she can even deal with. By the time she realizes why, so has her new roommate, who goes out of her way to stay out of their way and even encourages Ai.
In addition to Ai and Fuuko, an older pair of students, Tsumugi and Beniko, are also involved in a gavotte around their feelings for one another. Their relationship is complicated by an upperclassman who openly courts Beniko, but to no avail.
These two relationships are the main focus of the manga, with some side stories and a key flashback.
The plot, such as it is, revolves around normal school life, with the trials and tribulations twisted only slightly to reflect the student’s feelings for one another. There are some kisses, but no outright confessions in this volume. By the end of Volume 1 the couples are neither together, nor are they apart. It’s a story of beginning more than endings though, so the reader can remain hopeful that things might progress.
As with all of the Seven Seas books I’ve reviewed so far, the translation and adaptation are nearly seamless, which makes for a pleasant and smooth read. If only the art wasn’t so darn unappealing…oh well. (And remember that this is *my* opinion. You might not be bothered by it as much as I am. I am bothered by it a great deal. I don’t like the oversize, misshapen heads and the little-girl bodies.)
Of all of the so-far released books in 7S’s Yuri imprint, remembering that Kashimashi is NOT part of their Strawberry line, Last Uniform is pretty much the only one with actual Yuri. The others have “Yuri-service,” where the two female protagonists are shown in a variety of posed positions in still art or screencaps as if they are potentially lovers, but there’s no actual emotional connection. Like the Newtype effect, many people cannot discern the difference between two women in love with one another or two women who are merely posed to look as if they desire one another. (Thinking about it, this explains the popularity of lesbian porn for men – the viewers can’t differentiate/don’t care about the fact that they are just two women being paid to have sex on one another. But I digress.)
In any case, the strength of this book is the characters’ feelings for one another, which reads pretty convincingly and not at all unpleasantly.
Art – 3
Story – 5 (nothing new or earth-shaking, but nothing taxing or horrible)
Characters – 8
Yuri – 8
Service – 1 (but only on the basis that someone, somewhere will always get off on something, as the author clearly does on school uniforms.)
Overall – 6
As the only manga with actual Yuri in the Strawberry imprint, I think it does a fair job. I’ll never sing paeans of praise to this series, but you could do worse….