Spring at Lillian brings change. The beloved older classmen leave, moving out of the soft embrace of their Alma Mater to join the real world. New underclassmen arrive, changing everything.
In Maria-sama ga Miteru, Volume 9: Cherry Blossom, Nijou Noriko, the unlikely mutt among the purebreds walks into Lillian Academy and fills the hole in Shimako’s heart caused by Sei’s graduation. Shimako, who once thought she’d leave the Yamayurikai when Sei graduated, is now Rosa Gigantea, but the distance between her and the others has – if anything – increased.
Yumi’s noticed this and when she consults with the others, learns two surprising things – Shimako’s got secrets that she’s hiding and one of them is a first-year student who can make her smile. Yumi also meets and has to cope with the manipulative, selfish and supremely entitled new student Matsudaira Touko, who turns out to have a prior relationship with Sachiko.
“Cherry Blossom” follows the tale from Noriko’s perspective, as she enters this retro school and is confronted with Maria-sama herself beneath the cherry tree. The tale of how Noriko and Shimako meet, become close and how their friendship forces Shimako to “out” herself as the daughter of a Buddhist Temple, is awkward and sweet.
The same story is told once more in “BGN” (Background Noise) from Yumi’s perspective. Once again we’re made to squirm as Sachiko and Rei overplay their roles and as Touko is an immature jerk at Yumi. But I’ve read the rest of the novels, and it touches me less harshly than it did knowing that, however mortifying all this was, everything and everyone turned out okay. Better than okay. And I think if you asked Shimako a year later what she thought of all this, she’d tell you that it was probably the right thing to do, considering.
This Volume 9 of the Maria-sama ga Miteru manga originally ran in The Margaret magazine, and was not-at-all-coincidentally timed with the release of the live-action movie. It appears that the manga, having served its promotional purpose, is once again on hold. Which is both good (not sitting through “Rainy Blue”…again….) and bad (not getting past “Rainy Blue”…again….) Also, I’d have liked them to at least get through “Drops of the Rosary,” but that’s the romantic in me talking.
Art – 6
Story – 9
Characters – 9
Yuri – 1
Service – 1
Overall – 9
Wow, it’s been a year and a half since the last volume of manga. I’m glad they brought it back, especially as this story focuses on Shimako and Noriko, who are such a great souer couple.