Light Novel: Maria-sama ga Miteru, Kira Kira Mawaru

January 14th, 2008

On my first day in Tokyo, I went to the Manga no Mori in Ikebukuro, walked into the store and was confronted by dozens of Yumi faces, all laid out dozens deep. The newest Marimite novel was on sale. ^_^ I’m only sorry that I couldn’t get a picture for you, because there were *a lot* of books in those piles. And I saw those piles in every manga store I went in to. It made me smile every time.

Of course I nabbed a copy – and decided to read it without dictionary or anything. Just read it, like a book.

Sure, I missed stuff, and some conversations were kind of hard to follow. But you know it felt so good to just pick it up and start reading and be able to follow enough of the story that I can report back to you.

Kira Kira Mawaru comes after a massively climactic novel in which many important spoilers occur, so it’s pretty fluffy bunny light. And, as a result, I almost stopped reading it as soon as I began. Because you see, I have a written statement in my house in which I posited the premise of the final book of the series – and this was it. So I opened the book, read the first line, and closed it in panic. ^_^

This definitely *could* be the last book in the series. It ends in a way that if Konno never wrote another word, the series could end handily right there. Which depressed me no end. I won’t be happy until the next book comes out, proving that there is a next book. ^_^

In any case, Kira Kira is about a day at the amusement park. Yumi and Sachiko are joined on their date by Yuuki and Kashiwagi, Rei and Yoshino, Noriko and Shimako, Tsutako and Shouko and eventually Touko and Kanako. The main plot of the book is that everyone (except for Touko and Kanako, but that’s a different story) arrives late for various reasons and in a bad mood. The reasons why they are late and why they are all out of sorts is pretty much the plot. And in every case, it’s pretty minor. Except…

Shimako and Noriko’s reason for being out of sorts is a massive spoiler which I will not share. I will tell you this – it changes nothing. It’s just a fact. But it is a massively spoilery fact. (If you *do* know what it is, kindly keep your mouth shut. Thanks.)

On the other hand, I will share with you Yumi, Sachiko, Kashiwagi and Yuuki’s reason for being late. You know that red sports car Kashiwagi drives? It’s not really his, it’s his grandfather’s. (That’s not the reason. Wait for it…) So Kashiwagi and Sachiko arrive at the Fukuzawa house and when Yumi and Yuuki get in the back seat, Sachiko complains that all the streets in the area are narrow, which struck both Yumi and myself as a really odd thing to complain about. After driving for some time, they stop at a gas station and after some back and forthing, the seating arrangements are changed – Sachiko will be driving. In fact, the sexy red sports car they are in is hers. Her grandfather bought it for *Sachiko.* O_O ORLY? Yumi immediately begins to fantasize about sitting in the front seat next to Sachiko driving, only to be harshly yanked back to reality when she realizes that Sachiko is a petulant driver and Kashiwagi is “helping”. Yumi is glad that she’s in the back – she and Yuuki stay very, very quiet for the rest of the ride. ^_^

Give Sachiko some time, Yumi – she’ll grow into the car and fulfill your dreams of sexy red sports car potential. I’m sure of it.

In terms of Yuri, Yumi and Sachiko are hand-holding fools the whole day. At one point as they get onto the Haunted House ride, Yumi holds Sachiko’s hand, enjoying the romance of it and briefly wondering if the boys are behind them also holding hands. Then she white-noises her brain so she won’t think about that ever again.

Noriko and Shimako are practically joined at the hip. I don’t think they let each other’s hands go from the moment they arrive. While waiting on line for the ferris wheel, a couple in front of them kiss and a pack of young boys behind them start jabbering about it. Noriko wonders how they are seen as they stand there and hold hands. As sisters Friends? Something more? (The concept she uses is as close to “friends with benefits” as I’ve ever seen used in Japanese.) She really doesn’t care, and continues to hold Shimako’s hand.

Yoshino and Rei arrive at the place not speaking to one another. But when Yoshino gets sick from overdoing it on the tea cup ride – a pretty painful scene, actually. I was totally ready to slap Yoshino to the moon – Rei rescues her in the most gallant and magnificent way. Rei 10, Yoshino, 0. They make up, of course, before the end of the book.

And Shouko is the winnah on Yuri longing. She doesn’t just watch Tsutako – she *watches* her. She is so overtly gaga over Tsu that it’s a bit embarrassing. But she gets some really good quality Tsu time – even a few personal insights. If there was a couple in this book where I wanted to see one turn and kiss the other, it would be them. Tsu, you dolt. Kiss the girl already. (The wife suggests a great AMV idea – “Kiss the Girl” from Little Mermaid, and all the moments in Marimite where they *should* *just* *kiss* already. Feel free to make this AMV and send it into Yuri Studios.)

By the time they find Touko and Kanako, and are all are together to watch the fireworks, Yumi is surrounded by shiny happiness. The lights around her are sparkling – kira kira mawaru. And definitely, positively, there will be many more days of happiness like this.

The author’s afterword was very intriguiging. She comments how this series has been called many things – among them “soft Yuri” – but what she sees it as is “fantasy.” Not sword and dragon fantasy, but “girls private school” fantasy. These novels are contemporary, but Konno specifically mentions the lack of cell phones in the book as one of the fantasy elements. She points out (as have we all,) that perhaps the school does not allow keitai on the grounds, but that doesn’t explain why they don’t have and use them away from school. She’s very funny about that – for one thing, she says that this is one of the “fantasy” elements in the story, you just have to take it for granted that they do not have cell phones. It’s a handwave you must accept. Secondly, she comments that, you know, when she was in school there *were* no cell phones and somehow she survived. I hear ya, sister. ^_^ The point of all this is – 1) no, they don’t have cell phones and 2) she knows the series is seen as Yuri. That is all.


Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 8, except for Yoshino who was a 5 and Shouko who was a 9
Yuri – 5
Service – 3

Overall – 8

Even the wife wonders about my scoring – no, the overall score is not an average of the scores above it. Each score is taken on it’s own on a scale from one to ten. So, a story could, potentially,be high on everything, but if I simply hate it, get a low overall, and vice versa. In case you wondered.


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17 Responses

  1. bystrouska says:

    (The wife suggests a great AMV idea – “Kiss the Girl” from Little Mermaid, and all the moments in Marimite where they *should* *just* *kiss* already. Feel free to make this AMV and send it into Yuri Studios.)

    Oooh, that’s such a terrific idea! (gotta love comedy Marimite AMVs) Maybe I’ll give it a try myself… and if I’m lucky enough I’ll send it in January 2012. XD (it always takes me ages to finish those blasted little things, as fun as they are making)

    By the way – Noriko and Shimako as “friends with benefits”? Wow, somehow it both shocks me and doesn’t shock me at the same time. :-)

    And regarding the red sports car… guess it totally redefines the scene where Sei parks her tiny vehicle at the Ogasawaras’ in volume 4 of the manga (which I was just re-reading the other day). What was she saying about the owner, again? …”narcissist”? lol

    Thanks as always for sharing all this Marimite love!

  2. Senbei says:

    Love the avatar bystrouska. Reminds me of Alison Bechdel. =]

    This Noriko and Shimako thing has me biting my lip in impatience. I feel like it’ll be years before I can get that far in the story (Yoshiya Nobuko is sometimes easier to read). Noriko/Shimako is definitely my favorite pairing. Maybe I want to just skip to the novel where they’re introduced? Cut out two years of translating?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ehm… She has known that her series is seen as Yuri for a long time)
    Alphabet Atogaki in the second book:
    Ma -[Maria-sama-ga Miteru]At my homepage someone has left a comment about Marimite “Though soft but completely Yuri” that made me laugh. It’s the highest praise, thanks!

    ^^ sorry for crappy english, Rh

  4. JazzCat says:

    Is there any indication that this is indeed the last one? If so, then it is a weird anticlimatic ending then…

  5. Kiarash says:

    Thank you so much Erica, for updating us and Everything!
    wow, at last Sachiko went to amusement park.
    Shimako/Noriko pair is nice.

    * somehow i miss Youko…

  6. Sachiko says:

    I remember — from markings and configuration — that the red sportscar in question is a Maserati Quattroporte V, the conservative answer to the Ferrari… and the Ogasawaras are old money (and that means quiet, conservative money).

    In essence, Sachiko now drives a ride that quotes Teddy Roosevelt: “I speak softly but I carry a big stick”. XD

    Now I have some fanfic ideas churning right in my noggin…

    — soulassassin547

  7. Anonymous says:

    OH GEEZ, that Shimako/Noriko thing’s driving me insane. D:

    I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS SO BADLY EO;mogmae;laeaege. ;__;

  8. Anonymous says:

    jazzcat– there’s another marimite in the works, scheduled for release april 1st, titled “margaret and ribbon.”

    i still haven’t read kirakira mawaru, but i flipped through some pages and briefly read a few passages. i’m wondering if the secret you’re referring to has to do with touko?

  9. Yes, there is more Marimite coming…. I did say “if”. :-)

    The bit I was referring to, was when Shimako and Noriko were discussing Touko, yes.

    As I said, it changes nothing. It’s just a thing.

  10. Fantome says:

    I’m a little confused: Maria-sama ga Miteru is still a real yuri, or is it just a massive subtext, where much depends on the interpretation? If the second one, then I do not understand why the author needed to hide it.

    • Sei is overtly gay. So is Shizuka. And the answer to you confusion is that “ambiguity sells.”

      • Fantome says:

        Thank you for your reply. Just live action was so frank in matters of romantic attraction between Sachiko and Yumi that I was surprised when I found out that the original novel is officially on the verge of subtext and romantic friendship.

        • “Officially” is overstating the matter. The novel is meant specifically to recall the girls’ literature of the early 20th century. Platonic romance was common in literature for girls in 1930s Japan. See for a well-known example.

          • Fantome says:

            Thank you for the link, before I heard a lot about this author, including from you, but I never read her works. Well, I’m “familiar” with this phenomenon, but it’s possible that I was embarrassed in the current context, where romantic friendship was often used by the authors to add yuri fanservice to the works bypassing real lesbian characters.

            So, if I understand correctly, Maria-sama bypasses the issue of the character’s sexuality as a tribute to the original Class S genre?

          • Yes, with the exception of Sei and continued speculation (without confirmed resolution) about Kashiwagi.

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