Yuri Manga: Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossom Pink (English) Guest Review by Melissa M.

June 12th, 2013

Kisses_ssWoo-hoo!  It’s Wednesday and we got ourselves a Guest Review! As I mentioned in last week’s YNN Report, “I’ve reviewed it 3 times already (when it first came out from Yuri Hime and Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the new edition when Futabasha put them out.” By all means feel free to read those and get the first and middle looks at this series. Now we’ll take one last look at the series.

Sine I’ve reviewed this story a bunch of times, I think it’s time for someone else to get a turn. ^_^ Melissa M. has stepped up to the plate with her very first Guest Review here on Okazu! I just love when that happens.  Please welcome Melissa to the stage. /applause/

Morinaga Milk’s Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossom Pink follows Hitomi and Nana, longtime friends and new lovers, through high school and their developing relationship.

KSCBP was written in 2003, several years before the series GIRL FRIENDS, by the same author. Unlike Akko and Mari, Hitomi and Nana have to deal with their crises largely alone. Nana mentions that she and Hitomi have had sex but also wonders what counts as sex between two girls, and is upset that she has so many questions and nowhere to turn. It makes me wonder just how few resources there were for the LGBTQ community in Japan ten years ago. Hitomi is afraid that her love is preventing Nana from living a normal life and overcompensates by trying to be “manly.” Both are terrified of being found out, and near the end, they run away together, deciding that their relationship is more important than their friends and families. Their circumstances make KSCBP a more angsty series than GIRL FRIENDS, but also perhaps a more realistic look at the problems and misunderstandings a lesbian couple could have in a society that offers them no role models. It’s nice to see Morinaga addressing issues like these, which seems a bit unusual for her stories. But it’s not all sorrow and fear. The girls have plenty of good times together as they and their relationship mature, and they find that some friends are supportive. I think they have a good shot at keeping their promise to get married and to have their story continue forever.

My only real quibble with this story is the ending, in which everything is suddenly resolved. Hitomi and Nana move into their own apartment together with the blessing of their parents, to face college and life together. It seemed a bit too abrupt and magically-happy-ever-after, almost dismissing all of their earlier fears. But who am I kidding, it turned me into a puddle of squee on the floor. ^_^

The anthology also includes five one-shots set in Hitomi’s and Nana’s high schools, interspersed through and mostly unrelated to the main story. They generally include Morinaga’s stock character designs, the taller outgoing long-haired blonde and shorter quieter short-haired brunette, so it can be a bit difficult to tell in flipping through the pages whose story you’re in. The relationship chart in the back is a big help here. I didn’t like any of these quite as much as the main story since the one-shot format leaves little room for character development, but your mileage may vary.

Seven Seas did a great job with this anthology. I particularly appreciate the fact that they left the larger sound effects in place and added a small translation, almost like furigana, above them – it seems less disruptive than replacing them with English or putting a list of translations at the back.

This is a heartwarming story that belongs on every Yuri lover’s shelf, and a comparison with GIRL FRIENDS makes it clear how far Yuri and (hopefully) society have come in the past few years.

Ratings:

Art – 8 (Being older work, it’s not quite as polished as GIRL FRIENDS)
Story – 9 for the main story; 6-8 for the one-shots
Characters – 9
Yuri – 10
Service – 4

Overall – 9

Hitomi is a cat person! That makes me smile. ^_^

 

Erica here again: Yuri Shimai, the original magazine in which Nana and Hitomi’s story began, was the very first magazine of its kind.  The whole wallowing in angst about “does she feel the same way?” of the early chapters was very typical of stories at the time. The later chapters you’re referring to were all written recently – not in 2003, but in 2011, for the Futabasha edition.

That having been said in 2003, there was LGBTQ life in Japan, but that mostly meant bar life. Resources are way more abundant now, even in smaller cities. Which is all to the good. ^_^

Thank you Melissa for weighing in with your point of view!

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5 Responses

  1. Mara says:

    Loved the review. I am glad to hear some of the earlier Morinaga Milk one shots made it into the anthology too. This can not arrive soon enough.

  2. Mary says:

    I don’t think Morinaga would ever know how important this manga was to me growing up.

    I had read it as a teenager (now an adult in my 20s) and I was very much closeted and confused and did what any nerdy lesbian in hiding did — turn to fiction. And my loves being anime and manga, I quickly blasted through older collections that were offered on Lilicious (bless them).

    I had pretty much (at the tender age of 16) resolved that Yuri manga:

    1. Was about angst
    2. Ended in tragedy
    3. Did not have an “ending” (concluded with a kiss, sigh or some kind of demarcation to say “mission accomplished”)

    So reading the very first chapter of Nana and Hitomi’s story, I saw, much to great delight, relief and excitement a page AFTER the “kiss and get together”. There was a page of them… being together. It was just a simple couple of panels, Hitomi sending Nana a pic text showing off her new basketball uniform. And that just stuck with me. This was them being together. This was them being happy together. Coming from a history like Shiroi Heya no Futari, this was just enough to make me want to cry. There really is a next day and future. Yes, the fantasy ends in a kiss and getting the girl. But this was the first manga I ever read out of that really vanilla Yuri Shimai publication to dare to suggest that life with your girlfriend… continues. Or that there was even “girlfriend” to consider!

    It was so surreal to meet the two again in their continuation story as I pretty much stopped being their age and relating to them to being older (“I know what you’re feeling!”), and looking at them going, “Oh, you poor kids. You’ll make it, don’t worry.”

    And yes, time passed and Aoi Hana did things few could ever accomplish with such beauty and complexity, Octave showed a very, very real take on a serious relationship and Sasameki Koto did everything with good cheer and great heart. But it’s always Nana and Hitomi who first made me feel like I had something to look forward to in life.

    And this was just a little one-shot from a magazine targeted to a niche Japanese audience.

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