I knew going into Asuka Sasada Presents Kira Kira no Natsu (きらきらのなつ) that it would be questionably “Yuri.” Half of the book is taken up with a story that ran in Pure Yuri Anthology Hirari and the other half with a story that ran in LalaDx. And, while I don’t consider the “Yuri” story to really be Yuri, I found it interesting anyway.
Suzu and her mother move in with her grandmother out in the boonies. Suzu isn’t really sad about it because she never really had any friends at her last school. She’s hesitant to speak, and the other girls just never really let her in to their circle. Almost immediately, Suzu meets and is befriended by Hinata, an outgoing, talkative and irrepressibly cheerful girl her age.
“Kira Kira no Natsu” follows Suzu and Hinata’s friendship and the doubt Suzu feels when she has to deal with the fact that once they go to middle school, Hinata will meet up with other friends and not be her friend exclusively.
At which point it occurred to me that the intense selfishness of wanting to be with another person exclusively is sort of the line where “feelings” build. So, while “Kira Kira no Natsu” isn’t Yuri in and of itsef – Suzu’s feelings never quite cross that line and Hinata is playing the roll of the “my pace” girl who doesn’t think that deeply on things, it’s a set-up to the next three years of their lives in which Suzu is likely to cling to Hinata until she drops her. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if this story continued, just to see how Sasada envisions Suzu and Hinata at 14. Is Suzu afraid of her feelings, looking for a beard, or is she watching Hinata from the sidelines as she dates boys, wondering what she would do, if…?
The Lala Dx story struck me oddly, only because it’s a not dissimilar story, but set in high school so, 4 years later. I immediately wondered if their ages are dictated merely by the audience of the magazine, or was it just that this story had to be later because it was straight romance (since 11 year old boys are usually less tuned into “relationships” than 11 year old girls.)
This collection covered no new ground, and was not “Yuri” per se, but the art and storytelling show solid skills. This is not at all surprising as Sasada-sensei has been a shoujo manga artist since the mid-90s. It appears that she’s only recently branched out into Yuri with Hirari. I look forward to more.
Art – 8
Characters – 6
Yuri – 1
Service – 1
Overall – 6
I look forward to more… by which I mean a story that explores the feelings that develop after mere selfish possession becomes something more.