Monday, January 30, 2017

Kindred Spirits On The Roof Complete Collection Manga Review

Another Yuritopia!

Creative Staff:
Part A Story/Art: Hachi Ito
Part B Art: Aya Fumio
Part B Story: Toi Amatsu (Toitentsu)
Original Creator: Liar-Soft
Translation: Amy Osteraas
Adaptation: David Liederman
Copy Editor: Shannon Fay
Lettering/Retouch: Karis Page, Mia Chiresa, and CK Russell
Cover Design: Nicky Lim
Proofreader: Lee Otter and Jenn Grunigen
Production Manager: Lisa Patillo
EIC: Adam Arnold
Publisher: Jason DeAngelis

What They Say:
Mako and Shiori are childhood best friends trying to repair a rift in their friendship...or possibly turn it into something more. Meanwhile, fellow student Hase Chiharu joins the Quiz Club to become closer to Natsuki and Rika, a power couple she adores. Tokino, another club member, can't take her eyes off their beautiful upper classmates either, and as Chiharu and Tokino observe the couple together, their own sweet relationship begins!

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
I have been waiting a long time for this. Being a huge fan of the Kindred Spirits visual novel (And the Yuri genre in general), the Seven Seas' acquisition of this two-part manga series was immediately marked down as one of my most anticipated releases of the year. With that hype in mind, let me tell you this -- I was not let down. The Kindred Spirits manga is excellent supplementary material for fans of the game as well as a fantastic standalone manga for fans of shoujo-ai.

This rendition of Kindred Spirits takes place roughly one year after the events of the game. That being said, all of the couples formed in the visual novel version are still going strong at the beginning of the manga -- so don't worry about any potential relationship problems that could have occurred within the time-gap between these two adaptations. Instead of focusing on those old couples, however, the manga delves into several new ones. The first of which comes in the form of Shiori and Mako, two first-year childhood friends who have since grown estranged following a love confession from the aforementioned Mako. Shiori, incapable of understanding her own feelings, runs away and ignores the situation altogether. Luckily for her, she winds up being paired with Hina and Maki (Two characters who found their own respective lovers in the game) to design the set for the upcoming school play.

From this point on, it starts to become evident to Hina and Maki that Shiori is troubled. Hina, being acquainted to Mako as her senpai on the track team, starts to catch on to what may be happening and eventually confronts both parties about it. Maki, on the less-nosy side of the spectrum, simply provides subtle relationship advice for Shiori and takes a bit longer to understand the root of her new friend's problems. Regardless, Shiori is able to find solace in the fact that these two girls are looking out for her and eventually comes to terms with her feelings. And after finding out that Hina is in a relationship with Yuna Toomi (Also knows as best-girl), she starts feeling less uncomfortable about the whole girl-on-girl thing.

Yuna, in an act she has become incredibly accustomed to making, winds up playing matchmaker yet again and tells Shiori a rumor about love being realized underneath the tree in the courtyard. On the day of the school festival (And the play), Shiori makes it her mission to return Mako's feelings -- but misses her chance yet again and runs away when the moment is right. Luckily for us, the good ole' Broadcasting Club is nearby and lends Shiori their PA system to say whatever she needs. So, in a last-ditch effort to renew her childhood friendship, Shiori asks Mako to meet her beneath the tree. Of course, Mako complies and Shiori confesses to her -- starting up yet another wonderful yuri relationship and ending Part A.

In Part B, we say goodbye to the newfound shipment of Shiori x Mako and say hello to two new ones -- Tokino x Chiharu and Natsuki x Rika. Natsuki and Rika are the co-presidents for Shirojo's Quiz Club. After putting on an overly-friendly presentation beseeching new students to join their club, Tokino and Chiharu join simply due to the fact that they want to observe the relationship between these two girls. And, after their introductions come to a close, Chiharu and Tokino realize the true motives of each other, forming a bond in which they spy on their senpai together and ultimately try to bring them closer to one another. In doing so, however, they form a bond themselves and it becomes evident to everyone but them that they're missing out on an opportunity for their own love.

Things with Rika and Natsuki aren't all that simple either, though. Yes, the two girls are incredibly close and even hold hands for a solid 90% of the day, but each of them thinks the other sees them as nothing more than a best friend. So when a rift starts to form between the two due to jealousy, Rika's feelings become more apparent, forcing Chiharu and Tokino into action. Eventually, they confront Rika who goes on to declare that she does have romantic feelings for Natsuki and obliges with her kohai's plan to force them together. Their plan -- having Rika confess in the same exact room that the couple became friends in.

When Rika finally does confess, Natsuki goes on to say that she's been in love with her this entire time. She goes over how she fell for her the first time Rika introduced herself in class and that she's been working hard at getting smarter ever since.Everything Natsuki has done since meeting Rika was all in order to get closer to her -- making this one of the cutest relationships we've seen in Kindred Spirits thus far. The two eventually emerge from the classroom together to find Chiharu and Tokino waiting outside. But instead of detailing their newfound relationship, they simply state that the two younger girls should start bonding over more than just watching other couples. Chiharu and Tokino face each other and immediately blush, hinting at possible romantic growth between them in the future and ending the second and final story.

Even though this manga serves well as a standalone book for those without prior exposure to Kindred Spirits, I really think it's best enjoyed by pre-existing fans of the game. There are so many cameos (Particularly in Part A) that evoke feelings from the past and shine light on how the old couples have grown in the last year without utilizing too much time on them. The scene in which Hina reveals her relationship with Yuna to Shiori is a particularly adorable one -- although that might have only been the case for me considering my affinity for the pairing. Either way, these additional stories really add volume to the Kindred Spirits universe and I truly hope they can find a way to bleed more out of it in the future. I don't want it to end.

In Summary:
Kindred Spirits on the Roof is one of the most adorable, affectionate yuri tales on the market. Even though the manga will be best enjoyed by fans of the game (Due to several cameos from older characters), this book functions well on its own and is an utterly fantastic example of romantic comedy. With cuteness on the forefront amidst well-written comedy and an endearing character roster, Kindred Spirits truly is something special.

Content Grade (Part A): A-
Art Grade (Part A): B+

Content Grade (Part B): B+
Art Grade (Part B): B

Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Seven Seas
Release Date: January 31, 2017
MSRP: $18.99

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