Saturday, March 18, 2017

Kiss And White Lily For My Dearest Girl Vol. #01 Manga Review

All's fair in love and war.

Creative Staff:
Story & Art: Canno
Translation: Jocelyne Allen
Lettering: Alexis Eckerman

What They Say:
Two girls, a new school, and the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
In middle school, Ayaka Shiramine was the perfect student: hard-working, with excellent grades and a great personality to match. As Ayaka enters high school she expects to still be on top, but one thing she didn't account for is her new classmate, the lazy yet genuine genius Yurine Kurosawa. What's in store for Ayaka and Yurine as they go through high school together?

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Considering the recent boom in popularity for yuri manga and anime, it was only a matter of time before Yen Press hopped on the gravy train and grabbed a title or two of their own. So, considering that I am incapable of letting any shoujo-ai title sneak past me, I immediately marked this down on my list of '"Cute things I need to check out" and eagerly awaited its arrival. Now, it isn't wrong of me to say that Seven Seas has started to create a sort of monopoly on Yuri titles -- the proof is in the pudding as far as that goes. But now that the manga giants of Yen Press have gotten their foot in the door with the long-awaited translation of this 2013 series, they are true challengers to the aforementioned monopoly. But can Kiss & White Lily compare in quality to the outpour of yuri from Seven Seas?

Heck yes, it can.

Our story begins with the beautiful and talented Ayaka Shiramine as she starts her new life in high school. Being the top student throughout all of her middle school years, Ayaka is determined to keep up the hot streak and remain 'perfect' in the eyes of her peers. However, things don't necessarily go according to plan. After months and months of trying to reach number one, Ayaka has fallen to one of her classmates -- Yurine Kurosawa. What's even more surprising than this sudden fall from grace is the fact that Kurosawa spends pretty much half of every school day asleep at her desk. Despite Kurosawa's narcoleptic tendencies, she excels in everything under the sun. This girl, known as a 'prodigy' or 'genius' to her classmates, just isn't interested in anything. That is, until Ayaka waltzes into her life.

From the moment these two first come into contact, Kurosawa is enthralled. Never before has she encountered another person she's actually been interested in. Ayaka, on the other hand, is convinced that Kurosawa is her arch-nemesis. After all, she's the only thing keeping her from reaching that goal of perfection she's had in mind since her elementary school days. So when Kurosawa decides to get all-out obsessed with Ayaka, she doesn't know how to handle it. It escalates even more when she kisses her out of nowhere one day. So now we're blessed with an archetype we don't commonly see in shoujo-ai -- a tsundere.

That's right. Ayaka, kicks into full tsundere mode the second Kurosawa kisses her, lighting the fuse for what is going to be an adorable and interesting relationship from this point on. But the growth between these two isn't the only thing that keeps the ball rolling in this volume. Ayaka's best friend and cousin, Mizuki Senoo, has a love story of her own as her crush is right there next to her on the track team. This love story, however, is a bit easier to follow. Moe Nikaidou, the object of affection for Mizuki, is the ideal partner. She pays close attention to detail and has an air of maturity hanging over her. So when problems for Mizuki begin to arise, Moe is the first to notice. The best thing about the relationship between Mizuki and Moe, though, really lies in their openness with one another. The two become a prime example of that wonderful type of yuri love where neither girl care's about the sex of the other. To put it plainly, they're in love. It creates a great contrast with the "main" love story between Ayaka and Kurosawa.

Eventually, our romances coagulate into one, unified love story within a group of friends. Kurosawa, determined to have the track team stop pestering her to join them, begins running with Mizuki whenever she so feels like it. This way, she won't technically have to join and is thus freed from any form of commitment. But the bigger part of this is that now everyone is linked together. And we all know that love can't stay a secret within a small group of friends. So, in just the first volume, we already have the groundwork for what could go on to be one of the most intricate love stories in the yuri genre. I'm getting intense Kindred Spirits vibes from this, and that is undoubtedly a great thing.

This is a goldmine for yuri fans and an absolute gem for everyone else. I just hope that this isn't a one-off for Yen Press and that they continue to pursue the genre as a whole. 

In Summary:
The artwork is beautiful, the story is detailed, the characters are relatable, and the love is real. There isn't much else you could ask for in one volume of manga. Despite having only two standalone titles to her name, Canno provides a deep understanding of shoujo ai that transcends expectation and tailors to each sect of the fandom. Kiss & White Lily is one of the most well-rounded love stories out there.

Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: B

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: March 21, 2017
MSRP: $12.99

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