It has been a while since I last wrote about yuri manga. After having read so many one-shots and short romances, many blander stories just start to blend together, especially, say, those about two young students in school mired in love triangles. Yuri manga really needs something special–whether in theme, plot, or execution–to really grab me. And, Honey Crush by Asu Tsubaki does that with floating colors.
In addition to having really adorable art styles, a wonderful pace, and very very likable characters, the story is incredibly emotional. Honey Crush finds a perfect balance between the cute, somewhat silly (in a good way), idealistic romance and the subtly-presented stark realities of life, death, and love. The short manga works its way slowly up to a beautiful climax.
Mitsu Amemiya secretly had a crush on a girl from another school, but never had a chance to confess–or even talk to that girl–before Mitsu dies of an accident. Mitsu, now existing as a confused ghost, does the only thing she thinks sensible: stalk her crush. While following her crush around, Mitsu meets her crush’s best friend, Kyoko, who can see ghosts and demons. Kyoko also fancies Mitsu’s crush, but unlike Mitsu, Kyoko is a confident, charismatic girl who is not afraid of confessing even in the face of gender and societal barriers. Unfortunately for Kyoko, the girl rejects her love.
The two lost lovebirds strike up a friendship, partly because of shared unrequited feelings, but largely because Mitsu will not leave Kyoko, the only person who can see and talk to her, alone. Various hi-jinx ensue. An adorable Zashiki Warashi and another ghost move in with Kyoko. Some exorcists try to help the dead girls move on. And, some people disappear from the world of the living. As Mitsu and Kyoko spend more time with each other throughout all these ordeals, they begin to realize that their crushes prior are mere fleeting feelings that cannot compare to the deeper, more meaningful connection–love. Yet, there are certain impossibilities. Beneath the cute facade of the charming artworks, Honey Crush is actually a very bittersweet tale.
Honey Crush explores one of my favorite themes; I love supernatural stories with strong traditional folklore leanings. Mitsu is a ghost, or more specifically, a Yurei. According to Japanese folklore, when people die, their souls normally enter a sort of purgatory (or heaven, or whatever most aptly describes the world of the afterlife), where they eventually move on to join their ancestors. However, under certain circumstances, a soul may not move on to this purgatory, often because of strong unfulfilled feelings of love or hate. The soul then becomes a yurei–a ghost who haunts the world of the living until either an exorcist forces the yurei to move on or the emotions are resolved.
Mitsu is bound to this physical world because of an unfulfilled love. Fulfilling those emotions will lead to the end of her existence here, and the end of any relationship that will have just begun. Mitsu realizes this. Kyoko knows it as well. They both have words that they must keep to themselves to preserve whatever “friendship” or whatever thing they have right now.
But maybe, just maybe, it is still better to let those feelings known.
- That is not to say I am bored of yuri manga. There are plenty of school life romances of recent that are quite lovely: Sorairo Girlfriends, Blue Friend… etc.
- Zashiki Warashi is a child-like yokai that brings a residence good luck.
- Heart-Pounding Excitement at Mononoke Girls’ Academy also plays with youkai and folklore even more significantly than Honey Crush. It is another good read.
- “We… Can’t! If we do this… I’ll… go to… heaven.”
Oh my~ ♥
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