One of the things we don’t quite yet have in Yuri manga is a full blown love-hate rivalry on the field of athletic competition. With Hana to Hoshi /Flower and Star (花と星), we’re a little closer than we were before.
Hanai Sawako was a prodigy in competitive table tennis as a child. Faced with her first major loss, it broke her and she fled the sport. Now, years have passed and she’s ready to enter high school as a normal girl. On her first day, however, she sees a spectre from her past, the one girl who destroyed her careeer, Hoshino Shiori. Completely freaked out, Hanai-san feels her ideal world crumbling when she finds herself sitting next to Hoshino in class.
To make matters inexpressibly worse, when Hanai-san attempts to wake a sleeping Hoshino up in class, Hoshino gives her a sleepy smile…and kisses her.
Hanai-san is so put out by this that she can’t reconcile her feelings of distaste for Hoshino with ever-increasing like for the girl. All she wants, she’s sure, is to just avoid her completely…until an upperclassman informs her that there is a table tennis club at school and she’s paralyzed with fear. Hoshino steps up and explains that they – neither of them – will be joining.
The story shifts at this point, away from Hanai-san’s internal struggle to reconcile her image of Hoshino past and present, to a surprising backstory between Hoshino and the upperclassman. As Hanai-san starts to understand that their relationship is far more intimate than she realized, she now has the deal with a third, competing, feeling. Jealousy.
For some reason, despite the fact that she’s pretty unrealistic, I really like Hoshino. Something about her un-real reactions to things appeals to me. Hanai-san was harder for me to like, but I came around after the first few chapters. Her incompetent bumbling is a little obnoxious, though.
What will become of the two of them? Will they manage to be friends or is it destined for more? We still don’t know, as the story continues in the pages of Tsubomi magazine. But of the stories in the magazine, this is one of my favorites.
Art – 6
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri – 8
Service – 1
Overall – 8
It’s right on the edge of a sports story and I have the perfect ending in mind for it. We’ll see if the creator, Suzukin Kalio, has the same ending in mind. ^_^ I sure hope so.