By Canno. Released in Japan as “Ano Ko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo” by Media Factory, serialization ongoing in the magazine Comic Alive. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Jocelyn Allen.
Those who follow my reviews know that I have a certain penchant for mocking the monthly manga magazine Comic Alive, which has always seemed to cater to the audience who wants fanservice, tie-ins, and the latest trends, and they want them now. Sometimes that can be a disaster, but on occasion Comic Alive will throw me a curveball and give me a series I can truly enjoy. Kiss & White Lily for My Dearest Girl is one of those series. I came to it at the end of a glut of yuri manga volumes (and who’d ever imagine I’d be typing that phrase even two years ago?), and was worried that a lot of this review would be finding ways to say the exact same thing again. But this title is different enough from its predecessors that there’s some interesting things to discuss.
The cover is somewhat deceptive, leading me to believe that we’d be seeing one of the common default yuri pairings (or CDYP for short), the shy easily embarrassed girl and the overly genki enthusiastic girl. Luckily, that’s not the case. The premise is actually similar to the old shoujo manga Special A – Ayaka is a hard-working diligent student who always gets the best grades, but now in high school she’s up against Yurine, a lazy and apathetic girl who nonetheless always manages to get first place in everything. Ayaka’s competitive nature (instilled by her parents, it’s hinted) won’t allow her to accept this, and so she grows more and more frustrated with Yurine. As for Yurine herself, nothing challenges her anymore, and therefore nothing is interesting… except maybe Ayaka.
By itself this would probably be enough to sustain a series, likely about 2-3 volumes. But halfway through we shift to Ayaka’s roommate and cousin Mizuki, who’s athletic, handsome, and the male half of the Takarazuka pair she has with her friend Moe, who manages the track team and is angling to get Yurine on it. Yes, you guessed right, this is a School Full Of Gay (TM), and so the second half of the story focuses on another couple and their own travails. This one is more easily solved, while it appears that Ayaka and Yukine will be the developing pairing we keep coming back to after wandering away for a bit. There’s also a few one-page shorts detailing that yes, everyone in this school is indeed gay, and while it’s unrealistic, it’s also quite cute.
As I said above, the thing I enjoyed best about this series is the way that Canno’s characters don’t quite go the way I expect them to. They’re still types to a degree, but this first volume gave them a bit more depth than I’d expect for a series like this, particularly Yurine, who also gets a chapter near the end where she hangs out all day with the exceedingly hyperactive Ai, partly in an effort to try to be more open and sociable. (She’s lucky she tried it first with Ai, who plows through social cues like a train.) I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll see more of ai and her own romantic travails in a future volume. In the meantime, Kiss & White Lily for My Dearest Girl may walk on some well-worn paths, but there’s surprising depth here. A must have for fans of yuri.