Yuri Manga: GIRL FRIENDS, Volume 4

August 19th, 2010

GIRL FRIENDS Volume 4 is the kind of story-telling that fills volumes of literature, but manga fans generally can’t stand. Having established in previous volumes that both Mari and Akiko feel the same way about one another, manga fans (who have been trained to be terrible readers by illicitly scanned porn doujinshi and impatiently written fanfic) bitch endlessly “why don’t they just get together (i.e., have sex) already?”

Maddeningly for them, this series is not a porn series. Instead it is a graphic novel series about a shockingly realistic – and therefore frustrating – relationship between two girls young enough that merely identifying one’s feelings at all is problematic. One of the complaints I’ve heard regularly about this series is that it is not realistic at all, but I feel that it absolutely is realistic. The folks I’ve heard this from the most live in a culture and with families that are largely tolerant and accepting of same-sex couples. I can assure you that in parts of the world where there is not a high level of acceptance and/or tolerance, this kind of agonizing hesitation is quite normal.

In Volume 4, Akiko is confused, hurt, frustrated and puzzled by Mari’s lack of response to her kiss at the end of Volume 3. It seems obvious to Akiko that she’s communicated her feelings properly but, inside Mari’s head, the bunker has been shut down. Having only words and unreliable emotions with which to parse Akiko’s actions, Mari has convinced herself that this was merely a kiss between friends…despite all evidence to the contrary.

The bulk of the volume is taken up with the class trip, and the comedy of errors, misunderstandings and miscommunication that keep Mari and Akiko apart. Some of it is not their fault, but a great deal of it is simply lack of a quiet moment to have the talk that they need to have. When, over a heart-shaped stone that is supposed to guarantee eternal love, they finally have that talk – amazingly – much of what keeps them apart dissipates into the nothing it really was.

Now, at last, the two can start developing their relationship. We watch their first halting steps through the jaded eyes of their friend, Sugiyama, in what to me was a really miserable chapter about broken dreams and the death of innocence. But, hey, that’s realistic too.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Yuri – 8
Service – 4

Overall – 8

Volume 5 will simultaneously bring fans the climax they desperately want and the end of the series so they have something to whine about – also a critical factor in fan enjoyment. ^_^

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6 Responses

  1. darkchibi07 says:

    C’mon, anime adaptation announcement on Volume 5!!!!

    I can dream hard….;_;

  2. michiru42 says:

    Thanks for the rec. I like long, ongoing stories where we get to know the characters over short stories, so I’m excited to hear about this one.

    Looking at amazon, it looks like it has plenty of reviews for a Yuri, most of them good, so I’ll take that as a good sign for the future of this sort of storytelling. :)

  3. BruceMcF says:

    Volume 5 will simultaneously bring fans the climax they desperately want and the end of the series so they have something to whine about – also a critical factor in fan enjoyment. ^_^

    I know the acronym for laugh out loud, what’s the one for chuckle quietly to myself?

  4. RaNdOm_rAnTs says:

    well among milk’s mangas i think this is more realistic since its not aways easy as the manga shows on romance…

  5. I’ve loved this series so much; I’ll really miss it when it ends. Hopefully Morinaga will start in on another solid series soon – maybe with older characters…? A girl can dream.

  6. Candy says:

    a lot of my main issues with Yuri manga is what you mentioned that there is no ‘well girlxgirl relationship around here is considered bad..’ and no hesitation that that would bring. I love this manga because of the fact it seems a lot more real then a lot of the Yuri fluff I do like to read.

    And a lot of those other Yuri mangas they pair everyone up with everyone like that’s ok in that world when in the reality of it all is that that wouldn’t happen (at least not the extent that the author does it, there HAS to be some straight couples after all ;D). Sometimes, yes, I do like Yuri fluff like that but this series does bring a nice breath of realism to the genre.

    And I too will miss it when it ends. Here’s hoping for anime adaptation STREAMED by crunchyroll ;D.

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