After reading the English-language version of Volume 1 of Milk Morinaga’s Hana & Hina Afterschool, I’ve decided that it is a series of tropes that, at first, appear to be struggling to find their story. In my review of the Japanese edition I called it “a Cards for Humanity “Yuri Tropes” edition. Which, I pointed out, is not necessarily a bad thing.
Hana is a typical high school student with an illicit after-school job in a store selling character goods. She enjoys the job, but makes no effort to understand the stock. I don’t need to explain to you how vexing it would be if you wanted the special edition Senbonzakura Miku, not the Spring Version Miku and the salesperson didn’t have a clue what you meant.
Hina is a tall attractive, mature-looking young lady with an encyclopedic knowledge of character goods. She is an amateur model and gets a job in the store working with Hana. And, it turns out, she attends Hana’s school And, Hina is younger than she seems. In one moment, Hana gains a kouhai at school and work.
Hina and Hana have a slightly uncomfortable relationship as they become more friendly on the job, but feel that they must not interact at school. The tension between them increases as both girls begin having a harder time balancing their friendship and school life. The tension comes to a crisis during the sports festival when they decide they will just go ahead and be friends. But…it appears that that solves only one of their problems – Hina is still afraid of scaring away Hana, by liking her too much.
Although I know how the series ends, I still managed to feel some concern for Hina’s distress. Which says a lot for both the visual narrative and the translation, as handled by Jennifer McKeon and adapted by Shannon Fey. As we have come to expect, the reproduction here is top-notch. Long ago are the days of backgrounds that are masses of moire and migraines. Of course that means we’re looking even more closely for imperfections. And it’s a pleasure to know that those are rare with Seven Seas’ publications.
Morinaga series are, for better or worse, relatively formulaic. When it works, it works well. In Hana & Hina Afterschool, it has the potential to work. The pacing is uneven, which keeps this story from just being another Odd Couple mis-match fable and the characters are likable which keep you rooting for them.
Art – 8 with an emphasis on the cute
Story – 7 with potential
Characters – halfway through I’d have said 6, but by the end, 8
Service –6 I mentioned the cuteness, right? And, dressing and undressing.
Yuri – 4, but climbing
Overall – 7
Again, quoting my initial review, “You want them to come together – but you want it to be realistic and have depth of connection, not just ’cause this is a Yuri manga.”