I never doubted for a second that Morishima Akiko-sensei would be the one. I had faith in her, in her ability to gently nudge the boundaries of “Yuri” until they started to blur the lines into “lesbian.” I’ve commented that several of her stories have started to shift in that direction. Notably, her story about the two office workers with a crush on the grease truck chef, and the unprecedented use of the phrase “Kocchi no ke.”
In Hanjuku Joshi, Volume 2 (半熟女子), Morishima has actually written a story that covers that last little piece – the gap between lesbian content and lesbian identity. Let me be very clear here – I do not meant that the characters identify as “lesbians.” I do mean that they acknowledge the challenge that loving another woman brings, and they struggle with the idea of loving that other woman in public. THIS is what I mean when I give Morishima the “Golden Lily” prize.
It’s not like Hanjuku Joshi is the first book ever to cover this area. It’s the first “mainstream Yuri” (if you will allow that) to do so in many years.
Because other reviewers will focus on the sex, let me sum that up in a line: there is sex in Hanjuku Joshi. It’s not actually the point of the story. It’s the icing on the cake.
The point of the story is acceptance – of one’s self, of one’s love, of one’s desire to live a normal, happy life with the person one loves…who just happens to also be female. And the point of the story is that it takes a LOT to get to the point where you can accept that, much less be fearless about expressing it in public. *That* is the point of this book. If you didn’t notice, because you were obsessing about the fuzzy handcuffs, that’s okay. The other point is that Morishima has integrated the main point seamlessly into a smut-filled story, for people just like you. ^_^
Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 9
Service – 7
Overall – 9
Hanjuku Joshi turned out to be a pretty interesting series. I prefer Mari x Ran to Chitose x Yae, but some really critical conversations happen in this book and those were definitely worth the price of admission.