Go buy this yuri.
Hinako Uno’s a woman who would seem to have pulled off the perfect combination – perfect make-up, perfect outfits, the right personality and interests – but despite the flawless presentation, there’s definitely something missing from her life. And, no, the thing that is missing isn’t a man, although the fact that none of the decent dates she’s had with various decent men seem to address her inner sense of malaise does give some indication of what the real issue is. A chance encounter with her more serious-seeming colleague, Asahi Satou, after another somehow disappointing date leads to a budding friendship between the two, as well as the stirrings of an answer to what Hinako might actually find satisfying for her life.
Most of my recent reviews have been of stuff which I either disliked outright or which I found more of a mixed bag, which is a bit funny, because I originally read this particular manga within days of it’s release last month. But it’s honestly harder to review something I absolutely adored from stem to stern, as the concept of a “review” is such that one feels they must come up with something more than just gushing away about how much one loved something. It demands an explanation! But that can often itself just feel like a whole lot of posturing, an act of pretending that there’s something deeper there than, “omg it was gr8”. So, I kept putting it off, although, really, I wanted to howl from the rooftops that this is a fantastic opening volume for a yuri series I want more people to pick up.
So, alright, the reviewer’s angst out of the way, what did I like in particular about this? Well, both the leads are adults, that’s pretty neato; I’m never going to disown schoolgirl yuri entirely (there’s absolutely still great schoolgirl yuri out there, and, to some degree, how could I totally turn a cold shoulder to the type of yuri that was such an eye-opener in my teen years?), but I will also probably never stop bemoaning my desire for significantly more yuri about adults. Hinako and Asahi are both adults, and they are adults in a full sense, i.e. appearance and behavior. They have adult lives and adult concerns. Woohoo! Hinako’s adult concern is that she’s trying to perform femininity as dictated by her society because that is what she’s been told her whole life will result in happiness, and while I have not generally caved to that pressure in my own life, I certainly have felt it. So, while my life is quite different from the lives being lived here, there’s also a lot I can relate to as an adult woman, and in an art form dominated by tales of high schoolers (and here I mean manga writ large, not just yuri manga), that’s a nice change of pace.
Since I’ve implicitly focused on the characters so far, I’ll note that the characters themselves are a big draw as individuals. I want Hinako to be able to let go of trying to perform a role rather than do what makes her happy.* Asahi’s further along on the self-actualization journey, although she’s somewhat facing the mirror image of Hinako’s issue – in opting to not try to enact “feminine” behavior in her workplace, she’s been cast as colleagues as serious and entirely lacking in any laidback side, which in turn is making her hesitant to let on that she’s got a burgeoning crush. They’re clearly good for each other, and isn’t that what a reader wants in their romance?
Here’s where I mention that I submitted this title to Seven Seas Entertainment’s license survey several months in a row prior to their announcement of having picked it up… so I had very high hopes going into this, and I’m delighted they were more than met. There’s no streetdate for volume two yet (it only came out in Japan in November) (good news, though, is that it runs in Comic Yuri Hime, so it’s a monthly title, meaning the pace of the release should be decent), but I’ll be keeping a close eye on that. Strongly, strongly recommended.
*Speaking of it as performance, I appreciated the acknowledgement that it’s an often expensive performance; Hinako sighs over the quandary of the cost of always buying lunch when one also is expected to purchase new outfits and get their hair done.