Mari on the Left and Akko on the Right
Manga: Girl Friends
Mangaka: Milk Morinaga
Volume/Chapter: Japanese: 5 Volumes/ 35 Chapters + 9 Extras
English: 2 Volumes/ 35 Chapters + 9 Extras
Year: Japan: October 21, 2006 to August 21,2010
Genre: Yuri, Romance, Drama, Slice of Life, School
Where you can read it: Buy the volumes online or at Barnes and Noble
This series focuses on Mariko Kumakura and Akko Oohashi as they become friends. At first Mari is a quiet book-worm who is good at studying. She doesn’t have many friends until Akko pushes her way into Mari’s life. Akko teaches Mari about fashion, make up, and friendship. As Mari and Akko grow closer, Mari realizes that she might have more than feelings of friendship towards Akko.
I would recommend this manga to anyone who can handle angst and like love stories. The reason why I love this manga so much is because of the build of the story and the characters. Milk did a wonderful job creating this story because the characters are related and the plot never gets boring. Something always seems to be happening in the story challenging the bond between the two main characters, Mari and Akko. I would highly suggest anyone who likes yuri to read this manga. It has become a classic because the manga is that amazing. I would also suggest this to anyone who likes romance. I will warn you the romance builds slowly, but it is really amazing to watch these two grow to love each other in a “more than friends” way.
SPOILERS AFTER THIS POINT
Drawing Style: 10/10
I really enjoyed the drawing style of this manga. As you continue to read, you can tell the slight difference between the characters drawn at the beginning of the manga compared to the end. I love the way Milk drew her characters. The lines are light making the hair seem wispy, and I love the different hair styles. To me, the bangs on the girls look really nice, and I like Sugu’s wavy hair. I also like the expressions the characters have. They are very simply drawn, but there is a lot of emotion coming out of the facial expressions and the positions the characters are in. It is always easy to tell what the characters are thinking. The last part I enjoyed about his manga was the backgrounds. Milk did not draw a lot of detailed background, which I also liked because it seemed to allow the characters to come out more. When the backgrounds were added, they were simple, so they didn’t distract from the character, but the background also allowed the reader to feel where the characters were in the story. I really enjoyed every page of this manga visually.
This is from the Extras. Here are all the characters in chibi form.
I know that I am breaking past my own limit on how amazing characters can be, but I believe the characters in the manga were ultra amazing. Milk did a great job in creating every character in the manga. Every one seemed important, and the reader also got to know the side characters well. Milk did a wonderful job in creating characters that are easily relatable and easy to care about and love.
Mariko was a shy girl who didn’t have many friends more most of her life. The only friend that she really remembered was a girl from elementary school. Between then and high school, Mariko has been focusing more on her studies, which benefited her academically. During class she would read during break, and it seemed like it was hard for other girls to approach her. Mariko always wished to become friends with other girls to know what they talked about, but she was always to shy to talk to others. Eventually, someone broke into Mariko’s world. After a test, Akko Oohashi, Mariko’s classmate, started conversing with Mariko and they started hanging out more and more. Akko also gave Mariko the nickname Mari.
Mari was a bit awkward at first because she didn’t know Akko that well. Eventually they became close friends, then best friends. Because the manga starts in Mari’s perspective, the inner thoughts of Mari are often expressed to the reader. It is interesting to watch as Akko and Mari’s relationship progress in Mari’s eyes. I love the way that there are subtle changes between each stage. Milk does a great job of describing Mari’s feelings during the time Mari falls in love with Akko. One example would be when Mari is excited to be Akko’s best friend compared to when Mari discovers she loves Akko. The excitement of being Akko’s best friend quickly changes to dread. Mari has to deal with her feeling for a long time, and she tries hard to hide them the whole time because she fears Akko will find her feelings disgusting. Mari often puts her friends before others and tries not to do anything that could cost her friends. Mari’s character goes through a lot of hardship, but it helps her grow and prepare for the time Akko is able to return Mari’s feelings.
Akko Being Embraced by Mari
Akko Oohashi is a forward character. She is the first to approach Mari because she doesn’t want Mari to feel alone. It is later explained that Akko had a point in her life where she didn’t have many friends. Because she was able to get through this, she wanted to help Mari get through it too. Akko is a bit of an airhead. She often gets teased by her friends for her actions. However, Akko does know a lot about fashion and make-up and is able to teach Mari about this. She transforms Mari from a quiet girl to a cute popular girl.
Because Akko is airhead, she is also quite dense to Mari’s feelings. Akko usual goes to her friend Sugu when she needs relationship help, but she does it by asking for help indirectly. Akko has a tough time being able to hide her feelings too. She eventually becomes the one driving the relationship. Akko character is great because she continues to drive forward.
I love the plot of this series, so it also got a rating that exceeded my standard rating system. The plot of this story is so amazing because it flows so well. The characters always seem to be facing a problem, and it usually happens after one character discovered more about themselves.
The plot of the story goes from Mari and Akko becoming friends to Mari and Akko having to face life after high school. I love the character development that is made through out this story by Mari and Akko. The first half of the story is in Mari’s point of view. She describes all her feelings of Akko and her relationship as they grow from friends to best friends to the point Mari discovers her crush. The point Mari discovers the crush, she decides to hide this from Akko because she feels like Akko would be disgusted by Mari’s feelings. It eventually becomes easier for Mari hide because she gets a boyfriend to try to fall in love with and forget her feelings for Akko. During this time, Akko discovers that she loves Mari back, but she feels she has discovered this to late. The story slowly shifts to Akko’s point of view around the time Mari get’s a boyfriend to allow the reader to watch Akko discover her feelings. Eventually, Mari becomes single again, but the two have a hard time communicating, so their mutual romance is still delayed. Milk does a great job holding out until the last second before allowing the two characters to admit their feelings. It keeps the readers in angst, but once the two characters get together it is the cutest scene ever. Milk doesn’t stop the story there either. She continues to write about the challenges the two must face after high school. I love the plot of this story because it is easy to relate too, but also it never seems to slow down.
The manga is a simple story about the love between two high school girls, but it also more than that. It follows the emotions behind every action and thought these girls have. It questions the boundary between friendship and love, and it expresses the fear of admitting your feelings to the other, your friends, and society.
How well the manga fits the genre(s) (Drama/Romance): 10/10
As pointed out in the plot, there is a lot of drama and romance in this story. Neither the drama or the romance every get boring in the series. There is always some problem going on between some characters. The romance in this story is adorable too. You get to watch as Mari and Akko slowly grow closer to each other. There is also some other side romance stories too. This manga has great drama that helps build the romance between the two main characters in this series.
Overall Opinion: 42/40
I love this series, and it is my favorite yuri manga of all time. I love the character, plot, and art. Milk has a great way of expressing her characters. The characters must just through a lot of hoops to reach their goals, but in the end it is worth watching them do it. It was easy to get dragged into the story because the characters were so relatable. The thoughts Mari have are similar to any girl in love with a friend, although probably easier to relate to if you happen to love someone of the same gender. The feeling of breaking the friend barrier can always be scary because you don’t want to lose that other person. I’ve read this series multiple times, and every time I fall more in love with it.
There is also a drama cd, so you can follow along with the manga while listening to the characters read the lines in Japanese.
Side Note: I lost the first draft I had for this review and felt rushed to rewrite it all. Hopefully this second draft is able to express my feelings just as well as the first draft did.