Yuri Manga: Aoi Hana, Volume 7 (青い花)

August 29th, 2012

There is a girl, she is in love with another girl. The other girl loves her back. They love each other. The end.

It’s that simple, right? The story ends with “Happily Ever After” and we move on to the next story, and never think about the characters after that moment.

This is the essence of “Story A” – the girl and the girl ride off into the sunset and nothing bad ever happens to them.

However.

Humans are not like that, Love is not like that. Friendship is not like that. Life is not like that.

If you have ever fallen in love with someone you know what I’m saying. ^_^; “Love hurts” isn’t a joke, it’s a reality.

In Aoi Hana, Volume 7, love hurts. Even as these girls we’ve come to care about move into their final year of high school, right on the edge of being adults, they are facing some issues they have to deal with. These issues are things that, one way or the other, will bring them that much closer to maturity. Sex is part of this, but it’s just part. Communication is a larger, much more intangible and difficult to grasp, part.

Kyouko needs to find her way with her fiance’, Kou. Their relationship is complicated by their betrothal, their actual feelings for one another and, most impenetrably, Kyouko’s mother.

Mogi’s relationship with Shinobu takes a shocking turn. Will they be split apart by their own lack of confidence or will they find their way?

At the very beginning of the volume, Haru mentions that her sister and teacher have “gotten married” – although it was not a legally binding ceremony, it was meaningful for them…and she lets us know how her parents coped (or didn’t.) Same-sex marriage in manga. I want to hug Shimura-sensei and Morishima-sensei and any other mangaka who surfaces this issue in a manga.

Most important for us, there’s Akira and Fumi. Fumi is in love with Akira, but she is convinced that Akira does not feel the same way about her. Akira can see Fumi is in love with her – and she does not want to stand in the way of Fumi’s happiness, but she has no idea at all what would make *herself* happy.

Fumi thought she got what she wanted, but Akira’s lack of honesty is subtle poison. Fumi’s not as happy as Akira thought she should be after having given herself entirely to her dearest friend. Although physically they’ve been as close as possible, emotionally, they are more distant than ever before.

Many fans have wanted this relationship since the beginning. This volume is very likely to make those fans profoundly unhappy. I have never numbered myself among those who wanted Fumi and Akira as a couple. This relationship is a perfect example of what happens when you get what you want, but not what you need. IMHO, the best of all possible results is that they end the relationship quickly, with no regrets and as few tears as possible, then patch together what remains of their friendship before that too dissolves. This was not the path that leads to a happy ending, they need to return to the fork in the road and choose another.

Against a backdrop of writing, creating and performing the Three Musketeers for the drama competition, this series eschews conventions of manga for realism. Thank heavens.

Ratings:

Story – 10
Characters – 10
Art – 10
Lesbian Life – 10
Service – 3

Overall – 10

There is a girl, she loves another girl. That girl is not sure she loves her back. The end?

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5 Responses

  1. Mara says:

    Got to agree with you on the Akira and Fumi relationship there, I am getting the feeling no-one is going to come out of that positively. I just hope it does not end up as nihilistic as Wandering Son is right now.

    I have to say the manga technique I would not mind returning is the focus and progression of the story. Collected together in volume I hope it reads better because I could not keep up the energy to read this as it came out in the magazine.

    I guess it does display the messy nature of a persons life very well.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I credit this story with getting me hooked on Yuri in particular and manga in general. Aside from the art, which is in a minimalist, yet highly detailed, style that really appeals to me, the story contains so many intriguing characters! As the story line has progressed, I’ve found myself thinking about Kyoko more often. As someone who has experienced what it is like to have a “black sheep” parent, maybe I can relate a bit to her situation.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but I really hope this series gets the Fantagraphics treatment like Wandering Son. I think it would make a beautiful set. Also, I can’t read Japanese :P (yet).

    Chris D.

  3. redfish says:

    I thought this was perhaps the strongest volume of Aoi Hana so far. But I agree that it would probably feel like a slog in monthly installments.

    Somewhere around volume 4 even the tankōbon felt like a total wilderness, but things have generally improved since then in my opinion.

  4. Arkadi says:

    As usual, +100 to Takako Shimura for defying and subverting every stereotype in the genre while building up the story, its characters and their relationships in ways that are completely realistic.

    Having read some of Shimura-sensei’s work, I suspected from the beginning that Fumi and Akira’s relationship was heading for a train wreck, and I’m not at all happy that I was right :( I too hope they’ll be able to cut their losses and salvage their friendship, and maybe come out of it all with a few life lessons gained. In the meantime, future episodes of Aoi Hana are going to make us grind our teeth a lot.

  5. Cryssoberyl says:

    I predict you’re all wrong, and that Akira will end up attuning herself to being Fumi’s lover in the end. It may take misunderstandings, hurt feelings, or time apart, but that is my sense of Shimura’s plans for the characters – that they will end up together. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m not so sure I am.

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