During an idle moment at work, I pulled the first volume of the Girl Friends manga collection by Milk Morinaga off the shelf and devoured it in one sitting. The book is classified as young adult (despite a bit of nudity) and I have seen it described online as “schoolgirl yuri.” The shy, bookish Mariko often eats lunch by herself until the outgoing Akko sweeps her up into instant friendship, as well as helping her discover her own sense of style. The transformation of Mariko from a girl who has never picked out her own clothing to one who has friends and a social life outside of school is actually rather sweet, despite the fact that it’s such a well-played trope.
However, Mari soon begins to suspect that the feelings she has for Akko are developing into something more than simple friendship. If you appreciate drama, and unrequited love, and misunderstandings that would be easily resolved if people just talked to each other, all set against a backdrop of Japanese schoolgirls, then Girl Friends is for you. Despite occasionally wanting to throttle the main characters, I did enjoy reading the book, except for the part when they went on a completely unnecessary diet together. I would definitely recommend this book to someone who wanted to try out yuri manga.
It’s a thick book, but be warned that the story cuts off right in the middle–just when Mariko has been dating a boy and Akko is trying to figure out why this bothers her so much–and the second volume isn’t due until January 2013. A little googling will yield results for those who don’t want to wait.