Hatsukoi Shimai is your basic “Yuri Manga.” Almost all the stereotypes are covered; Chika is energetic and emotional, Haruna is initially cool and distant but warms up, ultimately becoming warm and affectionate. Touko is cool (different cool) and boyish and has a motorcycle, Akiho is classic passive-aggressive. And Kirika is our resident non-verbal chick with weapon princely type, while her Princess, Miyu, would be happy to be with her forever if only she’d say something.
In Volume 3, we follow each couple in a not-terribly dramatic crisis. Chika is invited over to Haruna’s house, where she asks to see a photo album. Haruna is freakish about it, and in a moment of totally confusing DRAMA, Akiho begs Haruna not to tell Chika about their past. The moment passes and we see Chika and Haruna later in their secret spot, sharing their likes and dislikes, and getting in a good snog.
The mystery of Akiho’s reluctance to have Chika know about her childhood is revealed to Touko-sensei when she admits to not being a blood sister to Haruna. Which explains her sis-con, but not really why she doesn’t want Chika knowing (unless she doesn’t want her best friend thinking that she’s a rival.) Akiho’s crisis comes in the form of a rumor that Touko-sensei’s time at their school is coming to an end. Touko quashes the rumor – but not before she finally gets that kiss she’s been angling for from Akiho.
Haruna faces her mean old sempai from her flashback in Volume 2, and it turns out that sempai probably did have feelings for her after all, but was cruel to be kind.
And finally, Kirika and Miyu face a teeny weeny little crisis because Miyu is skipping drama club. And because Kirika falls off the platform at Kyuudo club running after Miyu. Miyu’s concern was that she was pegged to play the lead role of Princess and was given no choice in the matter because she looks like a Princess. I’m sorry that this story wasn’t given some time to develop, because in the original short story in which these two appeared (on the inside cover of Yuri Shimai 3,) Kirika was having issues about being the Prince to Miyu’s Princess. It would have been nice for an extended storyline for them to deal with it. Ah well, fanfic fodder, I guess.
The story wraps up with Teshigawara and the strange girl who appears at the school for basically no reason except to befriend Teshigawara, in which the strange girl who has now befriended poor Teshigawara, has to move away. They promise to write to each other.
The epilogue assures us that Teshigawara Chiyori and Rie are indeed writing one another; Miyu likes playing with Kirika’s hair – and Kirika likes when she plays with her hair; Touko and Akiho go to the beach and Touko gets a really good kiss in; and Chika and Haruna share a bed -pointing out those rings they exchanged, so we really, really, truly, positively know they are together. (But not lesbian.)
Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 9
Service – 2
Overall – 8
Please don’t ask me if this volume will be translated. I don’t know. If sales of Volume 1 and Volume 2 are good, and the stars are aligned and Seven Seas stays in business that long – maybe.