College student Maki meets and clearly falls for the new student on campus, Kanna. But, like a good little lesbian, she prefers denial to pursuit, even when her best friend, Lilia, pushes her to make a move. Thus begins Rikachi’s Ibara no Namida (いばらの泪 ).
It’s very apparent to us and Lilia that Maki is attracted to and intrigued by Kanna. But, for whatever reason, she just can’t seem to make that move and, as we and Lilia watch, she loses Kanna to another woman without having said a word. As Maki suffers, Lilia suffers twice as much, because – it is apparent to us from the very beginning – Lilia is in love with Maki.
Miserable from her loss, Maki thinks back on previous aborted relationships she’s had and, we learn that this Maki is in fact the same Maki as Hiromi’s best friend from Sora-iro Girlfriend. We relive Hiromi’s and Juli’s relationship from the point of view of the best friend who was cut out of Hiromi’s life by a jealous girlfriend.
After moving on to a new school, Maki meets and becomes friends with Lilia. She also meets a very cool, popular and fun classmate, Yuki. Without realizing it, Maki starts to compare Yuki to Hiromi and slowly, finds herself interested in the other girl. Lilia warns her off, but it’s not until Maki learns Yuki’s secret that she gives up.
Which brings us back to the present. Maki is mourning having yet again lost a girl without ever having her, but Lilia is trying to fill that space in her heart. So caught up in her own issues, Maki is inadvertently heartless to Lilia. And then…Lilia disappears.
Maki suddenly realizes the extent to which she had been selfish and inconsiderate to Lilia – and she realizes just how self-absorbed she’s been all this time. Although she’s been friends with Lilia since high school, Maki realizes with shock, she knows just about nothing about her. A handwave meeting saves her and off she runs to make it up to the best friend who has been by her side for all these years. The story ends with the retelling of Sleeping Beauty as the Princess wakes the Princess with a kiss and they live happily every after.
The final chapter is from Lilia’s point of view, expressing her desire to wake Maki from her Sleeping Beauty phase and make her aware that there was a princess willing to wake her with that kiss right in front of her all along.
While I did not love Sora-iro Girlfriend, I very much liked Ibara no Namida. There’s no doubt that Maki did far, far better for herself than Hiromi did and Lilia was all kinds of sympathetic and likable in a way that Juli never was. Lilia played the lovesick best friend in love with the lovesick best friend, a take on that particular trope I’ve never seen before. I found it kind of charming. And this story was set in college, which appeals to me more than a high school setting.
Maki made it a little hard to like her, being at first apparently wimpy, then serially kind of pathetic, but I find that at the end, I felt she and Lilia felt more three dimensional than anyone in Sora-iro Girlfriend.
Art – 7
Story – 8
Characters – 7
Yuri – 9
Service – 1
I’ve always had a softer spot in my heart for Sleeping Beauty than Romeo and Juliet, and I’m always pleased when the Princess wakes the Princess with a kiss. ^_^