The Girl Friends of Shoujo: Anna Sui and CECIL McBee

girl friends kumakura mariko morinaga milk nekomimi oohashi akko

It is little secret that Girl Friends is one of my favorite yuri manga ever. After all, this little gem is perhaps the most influential piece in the yuri canon—if there were such a thing—serialized within the last five years (along with few others, like Aoi Hana and Octave). The appeal is clear. Girl Friends wraps a gripping romance with all the charming elements of shoujo: bubbles, sparkles, fluff, adorable girls… etc. Indeed, not since Maria-sama ga Miteru have we seen such a wonderful combination of yuri and the shoujo genre. Not only that, Girl Friends goes into a remarkable level of detail. In her usual gorgeous style, Morinaga Milk weaves into the drama her sophisticated fascination with glamour and fashion. This is yuri for the “girly girls.”

Girl Friends Anna Sui Sugi fashion

A particularly noteworthy fashion spot is the little feature of Anna Sui. This line of clothing, cosmetics, fragrances, and accessories is best known for its rocking youthful, yet luxurious look. In some sense, Anna Sui is the perfect brand to add authenticity to this already super chic manga. The intricate designs—often adorned with frills, patterns, and art noveau-esque aesthetics with a dash of punk and Goth—compliment the delicate styles seen on the characters and in Morinaga Milk’s panels. They share the same sexually empowering, but growing maturity.

Anna Sui Net-a-Porter SS Black Sequin Embroidered Tulle Dress

Girl Friends shopping fashion Sugi

That the Anna Sui is a gift to Sugi-san—my favorite character in Girl Friends as well as the most fashion, relationship, and sexually conscious of all the girl—is rather fitting. And just look at those legs~ ♥

Anna Sui

Furthermore, on another level, the brand itself could be seen as a representation of Girl Friends. Anna Sui has an interesting place in the fashion industry. It is at that sweet spot between casual and glamour. It is gorgeously accessible, yet remains very editorial, such that it consistently graces the stages of fashion weeks. This unique blend of fun and serious is not unlike Girl Friends’s approach to yuri romance. The manga hits with considerable angst, but still delivers a fairly fluffy, sugary-sweet atmosphere (as opposed to, say, Octave with its josei styled, down-to-earth story).

Girl Friends Morinaga Milk fashion CECIL McBee Akko Mari

Girl Friends Morinaga Milk fashion Akko Mari

Cecil McBee

Similarly, CECIL McBee brings to mind a further light flirty touch characteristic of Girl Friends. As with Anna Sui, fashion here again wonderfully aligns with the mood of the manga. More than the slightly darker Anna Sui, CECIL McBee adds an even younger innocent, spring atmosphere. It just goes along so well with the other fashions in this story of a maturing, cute romance.

Girl Friends Morinaga Milk cosmetics fashion

Yes, this is my favorite yuri manga. The attention paid to all the subtlest aspects puts Girl Friends above most other yuri manga. Morinaga Milk deserves all the applause and spotlight for fashioning such a stylish, beautiful work. I love it!

About Yi

''lol...you're either sleeping or eating'' ''oh and watching anime'' ''and indulge in fashion.'' ... Ahh the busy life~
This entry was posted in Anime/ Manga, Editorial, Fashion, Girl Friends, Yuri Anime and Manga and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to The Girl Friends of Shoujo: Anna Sui and CECIL McBee

  1. Aelysium says:

    Interesting article. I have always wondered about the use of specific fashion labels in manga and anime, and how far an author will go to imitate the scheme and how much they will put themselves into the design. Whilst an author can be a fan of a certain label, I can also imagine they would want to be a part of the creative service as opposed to just being a copy stamp, so its always interesting to see how a mangaka adapts a beautiful piece of work, into their own style, whist still keeping it recognizably famous.

    • Yi says:

      Yes agreed. Mangaka—or artists in general—tend to draw influences from many places, and it’s always fun to trace such influences. In this case, Morinaga Milk pays homage to the fashion brands, and creates these wonderfully, beautiful fashion pieces for her characters, but in her own manga styles.

      “I can also imagine they would want to be a part of the creative service as opposed to just being a copy stamp”
      I think the transition from fabric to ink is in itself a reinvention. So even if the designs are very similar, they will rarely ever be copy stamps.

      Thanks for the comment, Aelysium darling!

  2. Kai says:

    Girl Friends tend to let it’s readers be attentive to the fashion section of the manga. The amount of attention and focus being poured into these is amazing.

    • Yi says:

      Yep yep. In fact, there are panels dedicated specifically to talking in depth about cosmetics, shopping, styles, and such. The wonderful fashion is hard to ignore.

  3. hoshiko says:

    This is yuri for the “girly girls.”

    Perfect description of the manga. I read this quite a long time ago and I remember it for all the sweetness, fluff and cute girls doing girly things.

    Also, it’s really a clever way to use fashion brands to describe Girl Friends because it projects the exact vibe the manga has that the brands mentioned carry. When there aren’t words to accurately describe something, drawing similarities such as this allows prospective readers to grasp what’s to be expected. And I like that.

    • Yi says:

      Marimite popularized the yuri manga that appeals to the softer, more subtle side in all of us, as opposed to the sexual, more blatant sides. Girl Friends furthered that clever blending of target demographics, and the result is something so wonderfully beloved by all.

      Anyway, on the fashion, I agree. It’s a very clever choice of designers and brands for the characters. Morinaga Milk really knows her stuff!

  4. gozieson says:

    Now that you mentioned it, I wonder if there are any other shows out there who would publicly display real world franchise names or goods without actually getting in trouble for using them without permission. I do think that labels should allow the media to openly express their products so long as the writer does not ruin the basic principles of what the franchise is trying to do. In this case it would be horrible for writers to not show what a franchise is all about or write down a franchise name but incorrectly showing what they do if they are using their name in media like this.

    • Yi says:

      This gets into another fascinating tangent. On the one hand, it is as you said. I think most would agree that what you suggest seems fair, but the question then becomes, how does one determine whether the writer has ruined the basic principles of the franchise. For this reason, on major productions, there tends to be extreme care taken to avoid false advertising, even if the appearance of a brand is usually insignificant, irrelevant, or even positive. In this case, if a particular brand does not want to be associated with a yuri-themed manga, or even associated with the whole anime/manga culture, then there is enough cause to sue. I think for this reason, most tend to lean on the careful side.

      Props to Morinaga Milk though for the name-drop. Either she got permission, or she was awesome enough not to care. ^ ^

  5. Anonymous says:

    I was tempting to re-read Girlfriends and then you just have to blog about this ;P (excuses excuses). Nice post Yi~ It’s true, this manga is very ‘girly girl’, as there are readers who find these ‘girly girl’ stuff…boring, and unnecessary I guess.

    • yunra13 says:

      Bahh, I forgot to log in to comment earlier–oh well anyway, that was me!

    • Yi says:

      True true. I’m sure there are readers out there who find this stuff boring. One of the impressive things about Girl Friends though is that I’ve heard a lot of people outside the assumed target demographic–“girly girls” into “girl stuff”–who enjoy these details on cosmetics and shopping and such. This manga really blends genres well!

      p.s. Totally go re-read Girl Friends, Yunra! Have fun, sweetie. ^ ^

  6. Right book at the right time- isn’t there a saying like that? Unfortunately for me and Girl Friends didn’t quite happen. I read Girl Friends just this year after already having read ‘tons’ of other yuri manga. It also seems that I’ve grown out from most shoujo tropes. Thus, although pretty cute and a decent story, I felt unsatisfied, be it the open end, the dragging of the feelings, the closet-ness or the virginal state of the romance. I felt I had read the story somewhere again. I will recognize though it’s fashion sense. Perhaps if I had read it some years earlier, I would love it a lot. Right now I can’t compare anything to Prism*. Only Aoi Hana perhaps.

    I can imagine you reading the manga, then your fashion-radar spotting the stylish clothes and getting excited :) I like Anna Sui’s patterns, but in her bright colors http://www.nitrolicious.com/blog/2009/06/26/anna-sui-for-target-gossip-girl-inspired-collection-look-book/ the bottom 3 orange-brown dresses are really my cup of tea. Still I think I like better Cecil McBee’s design of clothes in combination with the colors http://www.sunrainly.com/cecil-mcbee-stylebook-summer-2012.html

    P.S.:The funny thing is that Girl Friends is listed in Baka-updates as seinen not shoujo. I guess it’s due to where it was published. Because in content aspect it’s totally shoujo.

    • Sari says:

      “be it the open end, the dragging of the feelings, the closet-ness or the virginal state of the romance”

      Eh? OK, the pacing is a matter of taste and I agree on the closet-ness (that’s fairly typical though) but I don’t really get the other points. They do have sex and the ending isn’t open either, not anymore than in any other romance manga.

    • Roth says:

      Aoi Hana? Well, that’s “dragging of the feelings” alright. After 7 volumes there is only one couple (and another of side characters we barely know the names of) and their status is still kind of ambiguous.

      And I really don’t get the hype for Prism. It was nice while it lasted but the story is absolutely simplistic, after the 2nd chapter it’s basically done and everything after that was slice of life fluff. You can take any Sono Hanabira and get basically the same thing.

      I’m not criticizing your taste, I’m just a bit baffled.

      • Indeed they do end up having sex. I totally forgot it. But doesn’t it say something about how memorable the sex scene was by itself? Aoi Hana hasn’t dragged its feet like other manga in the aspect you have a relationship pretty fast even if it’s not the main romance. What I appreciate in Prism and less perhaps in Aoi Hana is their realism. You have people showing homophobia, you have reactions from family members and friends, you have coming outs. In Aoi Hana you even have different kinds of relationships, loves and sexualities. Prism was super fast getting the main protagonists between the sheets yet it was done with tastefulness. There’s this subletly in both Aoi Hana and Prism that I can’t put in words. At the same time, you get a more mature feeling from both of them. In Girl Friends you get the feeling that the whole story is covered by cotton candy. Even the sex act is somehow glorified and romanticized. That’s tastes alright.

        As for the open end, I can’t compare it with the other two since they haven’t come to an end (and I wonder if Prism ever will TT_TT with that plagiarism issue), but it’s not true that yuri manga end or should end like this. I wasn’t satisfied with just their graduation and a vague love dream of the future. I’d really like to see a chapter of them in the future still being a couple. And not showing any stable relationship (in the future) or plan to survive in the conservative Japanese society as lesbian couple just doesn ‘t touch me or convince me that their love is strong and will last. It seems like a teen romance, more like a teen phase than something serious. Parents are left out of the equation, too, if my memory doesn’t deceive me again.

        • Sari says:

          But it does end with them in the future still being a couple. Granted, it’s just midway through college but again, that’s nothing unusual for yuri or romance as a whole. Only a few ever show a couple years later as a happy family and I personally don’t need a reassurance that the happily-ever-after actually happens just because it’s a lesbian couple this time around. Their feelings are explored in detail over the course of the series, that’s really enough evidence for me and applying the teen phase stigma just because it’s high school is kinda prejudiced. You have hundreds of stories about hetero high-school couples going unchallenged and they are about as likely to break up as this one is.

          Prism on the other hand feels completely token. Yes, you have people showing
          homophobia. Once. They make out, some dicks come along, the situation is resolved and it’s back to flirting without it ever being mentioned again or having any consequence on the characters whatsoever. You have trouble with a friend. Once. It’s essentially resolved between panels in an extra and the friendship is back to what it was without the issue ever touched upon again like it never happened in the first place. And that’s how Prism deals with everything to the point where the entire romance feels shallow. Octave for examples handles those issues much, much better because they stick around for more than a few pages.

          I’m not going the “this one is crap, this one isn’t” route here btw. I’m glad both Girl Friends and Prism exist and I had fun with both, but I do prefer Girl Friends. Yes, it’s overly romantic and sugary but it does that wholeheartedly.

        • Who said I like shoujo het romances through high school? =.= I don’t remember me mentioning this… And I do find such stories lacking when I don’t see sth in the future, too. If you’re wondering, my all time OTP is YurixKail from Anatolia Story. I’m not prejudiced… if we talk in reality terms, these girls just discovered another aspect of their sexuality. I don ‘t remember any of the two knowing they are lesbians from start, unlike Hikaru… So there’s always a chance of changing paths or succumbing to social pressure. Ok, there was this boyfriend arc that solidified the feelings somehow. Still, I can’t come to feel satisfied from GF… What I say is that I don’t like the ‘bubble’ romance trope in general. High School as well as college are ‘protected’ places, without the worries of adulthood. Plus I don’t really understand your point, when you said yourself some comments below that the last volume is meh…

          As for Prism, you’re being unfair since it has just 6 and a half chapters out while Girl Friends has 35 completed ones and in GF’s span I’m not able to recall even one such incident, apart from the fact that they are ‘hiding’. In Prism there’s also a chapter about the sister of Megumi getting grasp of the situation. After all, if it was about bullying then it’d be a drama rather than romance (I refer to Prism). I’m a person of details no matter how small. The mention of condom or lube in het or yaoi manga is, for example, enough for me to respect the work more. These are taste matters, so I think the discussion became too long needlessly…

          I haven’t read Octave yet. I’ve tried starting it, but always put it on hold.

        • Sari says:

          The last volume is a bit meh because unlike Prism, the story in GF is really about them getting together and not about them being together so the last volume is the decline in the dramatic arc; the main problem is resolved and the rest they are tackling isn’t really all that relevant to what the volumes before were about.

          Prism might have changed my mind eventually (and I kinda hope the paste tense I’m using here is proven wrong) but it really felt shallow to me because it doesn’t explore the pitfalls of a relationship in general or a lesbian in particular, it just mentions them in passing without any lasting effect. It’s not really funny, dramatic or romantic either. It’s still well done but I just don’t understand where the hype comes from.

          But yeah, this discussion now is purely about taste and we don’t really share the same one. Still, even considering this statement, give Octave a try. It’s not an easy read, especially since the main character is a moron you want to slap across the face for much of its run, but it’s worth it.

        • Yi says:

          I have to disagree with Ayame about Prism showing realism. Aoi Hana and Octave both do so much much greater. Prism, on the other hand, barely addresses homophobia and other issues, and it’s wrapped up in a high school, everything-will-work-out-fine vibe. Granted, Girl Friends does this as well, but Girl Friends was never a story that wanted to tackle LGBT issues directly. I don’t put Prism up alongside these other titles because of this inadequate half-way realism. Prism felt much more like a one-shot.

          Thus, I’m inclined to agree with Sari and Roth about Prism.

          “And that’s how Prism deals with everything to the point where the entire romance feels shallow. Octave for examples handles those issues much, much better because they stick around for more than a few pages.”

          Exactly my feelings. Take Octave, for example. The manga is not afraid to really show the insecurities the main heroine faces. (Spoiler alert!) In one scene, her insecurity about being in a lesbian relationship leads her to sleep with a man. That’s realism without the comfort of a typical romance manga, where we know things will get resolved easily.

          Aoi Hana, on the other hand, I totally agree with you, Ayame honey. The subtlety is beautiful.

          One final note. GF is essentially just a romance story. It just happens that Akko and Mari are both girls. Some issues facing LGBT in society do arise, but GF does not try to go too deeply into it. But what it does try to go deeply into—that is, the developing relationship between two clueless teenagers—it does so wonderfully.

          On the other hand, my feelings on Prism is that it tries to address more than just the romance, but ends up not being able to get there fully on any aspect. That said, I love Prism. (Just not as much as some other titles.)

          p.s. Definitely read Octave! One of my favorite yuri manga along side these others.
          p.p.s. A lot of this discussion probably boils down to our individual tastes. ^ ^

    • Yi says:

      @FoxyLadyAyame (In response to the top comment): I had a conversation on Twitter with @adaywithoutme and a few others sometime ranking the major recent titles in yuri manga, most notably: Girl Friends, Aoi Hana, and Octave.. I believe Day is right in that doing so is a bit moot as they are fundamentally different types of stories in their tone and mood. Aoi Hana and Octave cut much harder and closer to reality, while Girl Friends try to avoid the harsh cynical realities and give us an essentially shoujo romance. If that’s not your thing… ^ ^

      An aside. I think a lot of the major manga index sites don’t have all the information. I remember there was a manga retailer site that once described Girl Friends, in a tweet, as a story about two girls in a platonic friendship.

      On the fashion, yes! I got totally excited when I saw the trademark Anna Sui logo. And I love those bottom three dresses too! They give off a really vibrant, exotic, bold feel. She’s incredible with colors and lace and details.

      By comparison, I think CECIL McBee is a lot quieter, which has its own demure beauty. The softer elegance as opposed to Sui’s sexuality. (Sugi vs. Akko).

      Anyway, thanks for the lovely comment!

  7. kimaguresan says:

    I’m terribly fashion stupid, but when I read this manga, I did note how excellently portrayed the fashions were to the story. Nice post correlating the two. As fashion dumb as I am, I really appreciate when a series doesn’t just keep the characters in the same stock uniforms/clothing, and this delivered nicely.

    • Yi says:

      Nowadays, a lot of anime and manga have strayed away from stock uniforms/ clothing (perhaps because of higher production values and budgets), but few are as fashion conscious as Girl Friends. I’m really glad you appreciated this post! And thanks so much for the nice words, darling. ^ ^

      Cheers~

  8. @fkeroge says:

    This is yuri for the “girly girls.”

    Does this mean I’m a girly girl too? I loved the heck out of Girl Friends.

    • Yi says:

      Well, “girly girls” only used in reference to the assumed target demographic and, more importantly, rhetorically. As for the actual audience who loves Girl Friends, I’m sure it’s much larger.

  9. Yerocha says:

    This was the first yuri I read, so at first I passed off the emphasis on fashion as something that was more common in these kinds of stories. After reading some more, I realized they weren’t all like that, so it’s good to be able to look back and see what fashion really meant to this series. Plus I think I can understand Sugi a lot more now.

    • Yi says:

      Yep yep. Girl Friends, more specifically, Milk Morinaga, does a lot of things that are uncommon (at least when it was first released) among yuri manga. And because of its success, it has had significant influence on yuri manga today.

      For one, it combines elements of shoujo with yuri, which have in the past been aimed at a male demographic. Further, the emphasis on fashion, although not uncommon among shoujo manga, is especially detailed in Girl Friends; it is even used as a major theme.

      Anyway, thanks for reading and the comment, darling!

      p.s. Sugi is ♥♥♥. She is probably my favorite character in Girl Friends.

  10. Wieselhead says:

    “Two girls can cling together as much as they want” Aww thats sounds like a nice romantic manga =) I don’t really have a preference torwards yuri, but I like romance.
    Mhh would it be strange for a male to read this girly manga?

    funny that you mentioned Cecil McBee, I stumbled over their shop two years ago. They have such cool and adorable clothes. I like the ones on the asian models the most to be honest, since the clothes appear more playful and cute :D

    • Yi says:

      “Mhh would it be strange for a male to read this girly manga?”

      Oh no no, not at all. That is one of the major points I tried to make in this post. It’s that it so flawlessly blends targeted demographics, such that it it a huge hit for all, even if it has a heavy shoujo bent.

      Anyways, yea, I totally love CECIL McBee’s clothes. The clothes flow so well. Flirty, cute, and elegant. ♥

      Thanks for visiting, Wieselhead. Cheers~

  11. bladezer says:

    Ah Girl Friends. An absolute classic of Yuri manga in my opinion. I didn’t really pay attention to fashion side of the manga,, but I will say that different types of cloths did help add to Mari/Akko cuteness.
    My main reason for reading it was because Moringa Milk wrote it (My absolute favourite yuri mangaka, along with Fujieda Miyabi, of cousre) .How I’d love to tell people about her work, but I know I shouldn’t because I would just start fanboying over it.

    • Yi says:

      Even without a keen attention to fashion brands, readers can easily appreciate the gorgeous aesthetics. Agreed that the clothes really added to Mar and Akko’s cuteness. That’s what matters most in the end. ^ ^

      Morinaga Milk is also my favorite yuri mangaka as well (along with a few others including Fujieda Miyabi ^ ^). Whenever people ask me for recommendations, Morinaga Milk’s works are always where I start.

  12. The first yuri like manga i read was karashima girl x girl, that basicaly put me on the path to yuri heaven. the second was shojou sect then girl friends, after these i kept on searching for more yuri manga like strawberry panic, gokujou drops, L size little sister, first love sisters, Aqua Blue Cinema, Chatting at the Amber Teahouse, Husky & Medley, If Wish Comes True, heartpounding excitment acadimy and a lot of others that i can’t remember the names of. there is this saying in koihime musou 2 “She used her fingers the climb the stairs to heaven” and i think a lot of us has followed that particular advise on more than one ocation. 0__o ^ V ^

    • Yi says:

      That’s quite a lovely list of yuri manga. I think I’ve read … all of them. ^ ^ Among those, Shoujo Sect, Gokujou Drops, Amber Teahouse, and Aqua Blue Cinema are my favorites.

      Also, you might be interested in Iono the Fanatics as well. ^ ^

      “‘She used her fingers the climb the stairs to heaven’ and i think a lot of us has followed that particular advise on more than one ocation. 0__o ^ V ^”

      Oh my! ^///^

  13. jreding says:

    Yet another enticing looking manga I’d like to read one day!

    From your photos I like the second one most. For some reason, the ball reminds me of an egg… But also fashion-wise I prefer the subdued design. Also, the model looks younger than the others. Maybe Girl Friends isn’t the right choice then?

    • Yi says:

      I’d highly recommend this manga. In fact, this is usually the first thing I recommend for anyone who wants to explore yuri, and is not sure where to start. So yes, definitely!

      I love that photoshoot as well. Very editorial and very Anna Sui, so I included it in the post.

      “Maybe Girl Friends isn’t the right choice then?’
      How so?

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  15. Nopy says:

    Honestly, I’ve never heard of Anna Sui or Cecil Mcbee, but looking at those pictures, they do look nice and represent Girl Friends well. If I ever get a girlfriend, I’ll buy her some of those clothes and see if she likes them :D

    • Yi says:

      CECIl McBee is a much smaller brand, but Anna Sui is quite internationally well-known. Nearly every shopping mall in Taiwan has Anna Sui cosmetics. I’m glad you like them. ^ ^

      As a side note, I’d avoid buying clothes for girlfriends. It’s usually too hard to pick out just the right thing. I can rarely ever get the perfect, or even a decent thing, for another girl. What’s usually more effective is taking a girl out shopping. Part of the fun is trying on clothes and finding just the thing. Plus, you get to spend time with her, and still be classy.

  16. Sari says:

    I’m not really into girly girl fashion thing but those details really helped with the immersion into the story. And that’s one of the biggest appeals of Girl Friends in my opinion. Some people call it plodding and padded but I really love this detailed slice-of-life-ish way of following two girls from the beginning of their friendship to a full relationship. Last volume was a bit meh though.

    • Yi says:

      Yea, I thought so as well. And I’d say that’s one of the strongest elements in Morinaga Milk’s style. Further, I think such details are especially important for a slower-paced or slice-of-life type story. Thinking back now, I think some of my favorite slice-of-life shows are all rich in details, although not always necessarily on fashion.

      p.s. Agreed about the last volume. Once they got together, it just isn’t as exciting, but I suppose an angsty story like this calls for a more relaxed denouement.

  17. bluemist says:

    Thanks for this recommendation. I’ve been away from shoujo for a long time, this should be a wonderful read.

  18. kokujin-kun says:

    I wish someone would hurry up and scan Milk’s latest manga, “Gakuen Police”

    • Yi says:

      Same here!! It looks really good. Hopefully, it does get scanlated in time.

      Anyway, thanks for the visit, and I hope you enjoyed your stay. ^ ^

  19. erobotan says:

    Aaah! Girl friends! my all time favorite along with Aoi Hana and Sasameki Koto. and Chatting at the Amber Teahouse and … ok I should stop now. I think I have too many favorites XD

    .I didn’t really pay attention to their clothing because I’m too busy wanting them to get together fast XD. Thanks for bringing this to my attention ^^

    • Yi says:

      Loll. That tends to be a problem among yuri fans I think. If I were to list off my favorites… I’d probably rant on for the entire page as well. ^ ^

      Glad you enjoyed this little fashion spot. And yes, I thought the drama and the angst were done very effectively. It teased and dragged in just the right pace. I was very much hooked into wanting them to get together fast the whole time as well.

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  21. Akito_Kinomoto says:

    Well, I certainly don’t agree on Girl Friends being the most influential series for the yuri fandom although it still is one of the more noticeable ones for the genre. My choice for most significant yuri title, however, would go to Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakura Iro.

    Most of Kuchibiru’s stories, I will admit, have that “will-they-or-won’t-they” cliche that is prominent in most romance anime/manga (or maybe just romance period). The real reason I enjoyed reading Sakura Iro, however, was for Nana Kobayashi and Hitomi Fujimori. Girl Friends was just another romance (complete with will-they-or-won’t-they™) with the skin of yuri while Octave is more drama and less romance. This is where Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakura Iro really shines; Nana and Hitomi’s stories combined the best aspects of both Girl Friends and Octave: the sugary sweet feeling derived from the former and the latter showing a relationship working out its problems.

    My thoughts seem to mirror Morinaga Milk’s, actually, because she wrote a sequel called Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakura Iro II (most original name ever I know) which just focuses on Kobayashi and Fujimori. If you read the follow-up, maybe Girl Friends will get dethroned for the original Mari and Akko. :P

    However, I will say this: I don’t recall Kuchibiru I or II having this much fashion sense. Girl Friends showcases wardrobes so much, in fact, that I wonder if Morinaga was also advertising for clothing lines.

    The only thing missing from Girl Friends were pizzas. Pizza Hut-sama ga Miteru~

    • Yi says:

      I think within Moringa Milk’s works, Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakura Iro is certainly the earlier and more style-defining piece. Its influence can certainly be seen in Girl Friends. However, I maintain that considering the yuri canon as a whole, Girl Friends is more influential in its reach and popularity. Between the two titles, Girl Friends is the more widely known one. Moreover, it is also a way more expansive work with far more volumes. One other consideration, too, is that Girl Friends is released at around the same time as when yuri really started to become more than a niche genre. Its role and position thus cannot be ignored. Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakura Iro, however, came a little earlier than that, if I remember correctly.

      Now, on to the topic of which is better… That’s a tough one. Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakura Iro is the title that really solidifies Morinaga Milk’s prominence as a yuri mangaka. And for good reason. I loved the story, the characters, and the style. And as one of my first yuri manga, it has a special place in my heart. (I’d imagine Morinaga Milk feels similarly about this… Hence, the sequel. As another aside, I don’t think this sequel means that Morinaga Milk feels that Girl Friends is less significant. If anything, it’s that she felt Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakura Iro was not fully complete.)

      Girl Friends, on the other hand, is, as you said, just as romance. But it’s not just a romance. It is a beautifully written romance with all the intensity, drama, angst, and sweetness that comes with it. Granted, it never gets too heart-wrenching or too dramatic, but I feel that the moments of insecurity and relationship kinks the pair in Girl Friends face are not less than the pair in Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakura Iro.

      “Girl Friends showcases wardrobes so much, in fact, that I wonder if Morinaga was also advertising for clothing lines.”
      We can only guess~

      “The only thing missing from Girl Friends were pizzas. Pizza Hut-sama ga Miteru~”
      Loll!!

      Anyway, thanks for the lovely comment. And it’s always nice to discuss yuri!

      Cheers, Akito. ♥

      • Akito_Kinomoto says:

        You’re right in saying Girl Friends is more well-known than Kuchibiru and how the former was released when yuri was becoming more than a niche genre. However, I wasn’t criticizing Girl Friends for being just another romance more than I was praising Sakura Iro for being quite unlike most of its contemporaries. Morinaga Milk dared to go beyond the point where the couple gets together while Girl Friends, as good as it was, didn’t push itself past Mari and Akko’s consummation. My problem with Girl Friends isn’t an issue with the manga itself but for what I expected from its author. If I didn’t know the series was written by Morinaga Milk, I actually would have liked Girl Friends better than I do now.

        On a side note, is yuri really becoming more mainstream? It seems like only yesterday I was reading Kuchibiru and scouring the net looking for material beyond pictures. Likewise, Girlfriends was one of the last yuri manga I followed seriously before my reading time was super-replaced by watching anime. If so, we saw a genre change right in front of our eyes…damn that makes me feel old. ^_^;

        And you’re welcome, Yi…san? kun?

        • Yi says:

          Oh yes, I get that. I’m talking only of influence on other yuri works and on manga readers. Also, on the point that Girl Friends didn’t continue the story past the two getting together. I don’t think it’s a particularly impressive feat that Kuchibiru did. It’s simply a different story that ended at a different place. I don’t think Kuchibiru is that revolutionary or that much better as a romance than Girl Friends. The story is as cliche as Girl Friends if we were to look at all shoujo dramas (not just the yuri ones). And the execution is excellent, but on par with Girl Friends. But, I guess it’s simply a difference in taste.

          “On a side note, is yuri really becoming more mainstream?”

          That’s a complicated question, In short, I think yuri themes are, but not necessarily yuri-centric stories.

          “And you’re welcome, Yi…san? kun?”

          Haha! Cheers, Akito Kinomoto. ^ ^

  22. Mikoto says:

    This does seem to incorporate fashion brands even more so than other yuri manga I’ve read. In fact, even the art looks more shoujo than other yuri manga I’ve read!

  23. Isn’t yuri wonderfull, by the way most of these mangas can be downloaded at mangatraders.com

  24. Pingback: More Vanity Posts: Aniblog Tourney | Listless Ink

  25. Pingback: More Vanity Posts: Aniblog Tourney | Listless Ink

  26. Rinca00 says:

    GIRL FRIENDS,,,

    At first i was kinda “o.o”, although I read its genre description was YURI, I didn’t expect to much of it not until I read the whole thing. Morinaga-san sure showed how her characters learned their feelings for each other.

    I loved how Akko helped Mariko to turn from a plain looking girl to a super cute one.
    It isn’t bad, actually it did make it to my top ten favorite mangas. My issue with it was that I didn’t actually like the ending. I was left craving for more.

    • Yi says:

      Yea, I think that’s one of the biggest charms of this manga. It shows the two girls each coming to learn about her own feelings through different ways. And neither one has a smooth time.

      Akko and Mari have such a wonderful dynamic. Akko helped Mari gain self-confidence and taught her to make herself super pretty, only to then fall in love with her. It’s cute.

      “I was left craving for more.”
      Fair enough. ^ ^ I think a commenter above had similar feelings.

      Anyway, thanks for visiting! I’m always happy to meet someone new here!

      • Rinca00 says:

        I’ve been following your posts for about a year now, ever since I was fascinated in playing Sono Hanabira,,,,, :)
        Keep it up and more powers to you Yi :)

  27. Your attention to detail is at least as impressive as Morinaga’s, Yi~

  28. I re-tweeted your tweet to Morinaga Milk herself herself♪
    For the girly girls I agree. (Unfortunately I’m not.)
    Do you know ‘Kuchibire Tameiki Sakurairo’ remake version includes new episodes?
    Very nice.

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