Girl Friends Review
The literal, yet vaguely titled manga, Girl Friends, is a yuri manga series by Milk Morinaga. At the start of the series, we are immediately introduced to our main heroine, Kumakura Marika, a beautiful girl with long jet black hair. She is reserved, shy and quiet. Being a girl, she uniquely wasn’t quite interested in fashion and never even put up a make-up. All this began to chance when Akko Oohashi approaches her and befriended her, thus begun Mari’s journey of new discoveries, life and love.
The greatest aspect of the manga is the characters themselves. I like how two main character’s contrasted personalities, melted and blended together midway through. This results in Mari developing into a more outgoing person. She had her hair cut short and started to have more interests with fashion and sweets. She also started using make-ups, with most of her make-up techniques taught by Akko. She began to be into things most girls her age are into, and other then hanging out with Akko, she also hangs out with Sugi and Tamamin.
During their second years, Mari and Akko are separated from Sugi and Tamamin. With Mari’s new personality though, making new friends isn’t such a hard feat anymore. Ironically, the change in Mari and Akko’s relationship begun here and it’s a main starting point of the series. Overall, the pacing for the romances is quite slow but it strangely works fine, since slow pacing seems to go well with slice-of-life yuri series.
The plot at one point is told from the perspective of Mari, and halfway through, is told from the perspective of Akko. This may seems like a minor thing but the change proves a lot of things. Seeing things from Akko’s point of view, you can see that not only Mari but even Akko has strong feelings for her as well. Love, hatred, jealousy, sadness; she felt things towards her “friend” she had never felt before. All in all, I would say the slow pacing creates a great flowing development for the two of them.
Even for a romance manga, the plot is very simple, focusing on topics of friends, confessions, love, graduations and separation, it is quite realistic as you may had realized. It also deals with the classic problem of taboo relationships, coming out of the closet and letting everyone know, and the difficulty of gaining acknowledgement. While this part of the plot had been touched on strongly, it is left unsolved even after the manga ended, leaving a bad aftertastes behind. and is probably the most disappointing aspect of the manga. Now that when I think about it, the end felt strangely rushed, with their third years finished in a jiffy and wa-la.. the manga ended.
I have no qualms about the artwork, and is actually quite good. The most important about a drawing in yuri are soft illustrations and cute girls, and Girl Friends had both of these qualities in their artwork. The drawings are actually so good that I think they contribute to the atmosphere of the manga much more then you would expect them to. The emotions, interactions, streets, and even changing clothes (no, I didn’t mean it in a dirty way) wouldn’t be as perfect without the current art styles. Since fashion is one of the most talked topics, there is a wide variety of clothing shown in the manga, and they are really illustrated well. It’s as if each clothing is catered specifically to each respective character, making them quite fashionable indeed. Hmm.. fashion.. and yuri.. eh? Now that I think about it, Yi would love this. I wonder if she had read it by now..?
It is also a bit hard to notice but as you read from the first chapter to the last chapter, you would notice subtle changes for the characters, especially the changes in their hairstyle. For instance, you can see that in chapter 1, Akko’s hairstyle was quite straight, but as the manga progresses, her hair becomes a bit more wavy. Mari also had similar changes during this time. These changes made them have a more matured look and it’s quite effective since it’s like they are literally ‘growing up’ since according to the timeline, they were already at their second years of high school during the change. Of cause, Mari’s “big change” in chapter 1 doesn’t apply to all of these..
Overall, Girl Friends is a good find. It is a beautiful manga which captures the essence of yuri. While it may be a bit controversy with it’s cliche plots, it is the execution and the characters which makes Girl Friends one of the most memorable and lovable yuri material to date.