After my Ghost in the Shell lecture at the Brooklyn Museum, myself, Sean and the wife went over to the shiny new Kinokuniya bookstore on 6th Avenue in Manhattan. It was indeed quite shiny and had goodies like that month’s Cobalt Shueisha and a few other things of interest. Including Hanayashiki no Junin-tachi, the subject of today’s review.
Yet again, based solely on the cover art and my knowledge of Japanese manga, I was prepared to hate this story. lol I can’t say I hated it, but it’s not going in my top ten either. The art looked vaguely familiar to me, and I now find that the artist also did Blood +, so that explains that.
I knew that the story would have to be a threesome that included – and starred – a guy, since there are two girls on the cover, touching and this is a Kadokawa book. It could not *possibly* be a Yuri manga about two girls. And indeed, it was not.
The story follows a poor bastard named Aki, whose father is a drunken loser who beats Aki all the time, because he has the nerve to be a good cook – and that’s *women’s* work. His grandfather also obsesses unnaturally about gender roles so, to teach Aki a lesson, he forces Aki to live in one of the dorms for the girls’ school he runs. The dorm is called the Hanayashiki, the Flower Residence.
Normally, in a series like this, we would expect “accidental” walking in on half-dressed girls and other tedious unfunny scenes, but no. Aki is a very decent person and only once accidentally walks in on someone and it really was completely accidental and totally forgivable. And, just to hammer home the point, he does what a normal person might actually do, hastily apologizes and leaves. No nose bleeds, no falling on the girl, nothing else that makes one’s eyes roll.
So, while staying at the dorm, Aki is befriended by Renge, who is a nice girl who helps Aki out when she can, which is right away, as the first thing that happens is that the dorm leader demands that Aki survive some kind of crazed cooking challenge. Which of course, he does. But she didn’t do it out of malice or anything – she just thought it would be fun. ^_^
While living in the dorm, Aki also runs into mysterious and maturely beautiful Ayame. She seems to be very uninterested in classes and is always polite, but cool, to Aki. He starts to become interested in Ayame, especially when he learns that she and Renge are close friends.
Bizarrely, for all her lack of interest in classes, Ayame seems to be a good student. But that turns out to be because Ayame has a twin brother who also lives in the dorm and pretends to be Ayame when tests come around. Her brother actually passes as a girl because he wants to, but is glad to have a male friend around. Aki’s more and more interested in Ayame, when an incident with a school peeper brings out that she really dislikes men.
However, Aki is confused when Ayame admits to a bunch of students that she has someone she likes. Aki, who has completely decided that he likes Ayame, suddenly realizes that the person Ayame likes is Renge, as the book comes to a close. zOMG!
So, on the good side, Aki’s not a wimp, not a dork, not balless and not perverted. He’s the kind of guy you might actually like if you met and wouldn’t mind being if you were a guy. Renge is cute, but not a ditz. On the down side, Ayame is another man-hating psycho lesbian. Well…okay, that can be the good side too, if you want. ^_^
In any case, the Yuri, such as it is, will never be the point of the story and I don’t see Ayame and Renge ever getting together. But Hanayashiki no Junin-tachi not the worst book I’ve ever read and is much, much better than the cover led me to believe.
Art – 6
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 2
Service – 2
Overall – 7
I’m torn between wanting to know what happens and not really caring all that much. ^_^;