Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Girl Friends: The Manga Story of a Friendship that Blossoms into True Love

Girl Friends by Milk Morinaga

In Girl Friends, studious and shy Mariko spends her lunch breaks reading by herself and her afternoons with school work until carefree and whimsical Akko reaches out and befriends her. Suddenly, Mariko’s life thrums with laughing, shopping, talking, and connecting with her new best friend. Over time, the girls learn each others’ secrets and Mariko’s feelings deepen until she wonders, and then hopes, if the connection they share can be more than friendship.

This manga is adorable and emotionally compelling. Mariko’s story is alive with those magical discoveries that bloom at the beginning of a relationship. She almost can’t believe how much her new friend likes and cares about her, and she grows up slowly before the readers’ eyes. Akko and Mariko are consistently supportive of each other, encouraging each other to stand up for themselves and live life to the fullest.

In gentle ways, this manga addresses serious issues. Both Akko and Mariko face pressure to date boys even though they have little interest in doing so. In addition, both young women struggle with body image and decide to go on a diet together. It is sad to watch two healthy teenagers worry about their weight. In addition, Mariko faces realistic fears about growing apart from her friends, and she is at first confused and troubled by her growing romantic attraction to Akko. Her journey through friendship into love is real, moving, and inspiring!

Girl Friends is complete in two expanded volumes.  The story includes underage drinking, sensuality, and some nude shots of ladies taking baths. I would have felt comfortable reading this manga at the age of sixteen.

Review by Aaron Walsh.  Add your review of "Girl Friends" in comments!

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