Yuri, yaoi’s complement, hasn't really been well-received in Canada. While the whole genre seemed to be on hiatus for awhile, Seven Seas is trying again, this time with one of the best yuri manga authors you could ask for.
With a solid story and excellent art, Girl Friends (like most Milk Morinaga manga) has just the right amount of romance without it being too mushy, and just the right amount of fanservice making it cute and pleasing to the eye, but not 18+. The primary storyline (like a lot of yuri manga) centres around two girls figuring out that they feel more than friendship between each other (and just what the heck that even means). “Is it really actually love?” is quite the prominent question in the characters’ minds as they compare it with everyday life and the people around them. While I’d say the story is rather slow, the issues, discoveries, and decisions that the characters make in each chapter build up the story considerably and only leaves the reader wanting more.
Much of the setting is presented as “everyday high-schoolgirl life”, from studies and exams and dieting, to dating guys, to shopping for cute dresses and accessories and stuff. As a guy myself, I cannot relate to any of that fluffy stuff, but it’s not overbearing, as the focus routinely comes back to the characters. Some of these themes actually add to the attractive cuteness of characters, and provides a bit more opportunities for fanservice (seeing them in different outfits, swimsuits, etc.), but that could just be attributed to Morinaga’s style.
Unlike a few yuri manga previously released in Canada (like Strawberry Panic
), Girl Friends’ setting is less whimsical and more realistic (relatively speaking, here), which I believe is a plus. I would say it somewhat parallels First Love Sisters
(which Seven Seas regrettably dropped long ago), but has a bit more fanservice, isn’t too melodramatic, and doesn’t beat around the bush as much, setting the relationship development front and centre. Just as the title suggests, Girl Friends explores the possibly ambiguous definition of “girlfriend” between two girls.
Bottom line: If you can get past a few manga panels about girly stuff every once in a while (inevitable because it focuses on girls!), I highly recommend giving Girl Friends a try, regardless of your familiarity with yuri or your gender. The yuri icon, Milk Morinaga, does not leave anything to disappoint.