In Volume 1, we met Hana, a typical high-school girl with an afterschool job at a mascot goods store, against school rules. At the store, she meets and befriends Hinako, another student from her school, who joins her as a part-timer. Hinako is also an amateur model with polished, adult looks, despite her actually being a first-year and Hana’s junior.
In Volume 2 of Hana to Hina ha Houkago (ハナとヒナは放課後), the story follows a well-worn path through familiar territory for Morinaga Milk fans. As the two girls become closer, they – each in their own way – start to develop feelings for the other. And, as they grow closer, the potential for small jealousies and misunderstandings increase.
Hana learns about a former friend of Hina’s, Maiko, who is also a model. Unusually, it is instantly apparent to us that Hinako and Maiko’s relationship was more than friends, even if it’s not at all apparent to Hana. Hina, for her part, is jealous of Hana’s school friends, in a quiet, unintrusive way. They are switched off the same shift for school term exams, which adds to the sense of distance between them.
Hina comes awfully close to kissing Hana one day and is appalled at herself. Hana is starting to think about Hina differently when she actually meets Maiko, who casually tells her to tell Hina that her former girlfriend dropped by. The scales fall (at least partway) from Hana’s eyes.
Now we return to the tried and true as both girls have the same feelings, but neither can bring themselves to mention it to the other.
Hopefully Volume 3 will quickly resolve this and equally hopefully, we’ll get to step beyond that a bit and watch the relationship develop past the “we like each other” stage. At the moment, though, Morinaga-sensei is firmly in her comfort zone of just before-the-confession. While I am glad that Hina has had a previous girlfriend, I have no idea if or how that might affect the narrative going forward. I hope it does have some affect other than being a reason to be jealous. Certainly, Maiko didn’t seem vindictive or anything. So maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to see a conversation about being gay in a Morinaga series. It’s still an outside chance, but she’s been edging closer and closer over time and Futabasha is the same publisher who is putting out Otouto no Otto.
Art – 8
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Service – 4
Yuri – 5 for Maiko
Overall – 7 +1 for the existence of a former girlfriend.
I still have fingers crossed. ^_^