Friday, February 16, 2018

Kiss & White Lily For My Dearest Girl Vol. #03 Manga Review

Maybe it's time to give up?

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

What They Say:
Ayaka Shiramine and Yurine Kurosawa have started a new year at school as second years and are classmates once again. Yurine is practically assaulting the gardening club so she can join. Meanwhile, the rest club struggles valiantly to ensure the survival of the rose garden. Amidst this, they meet Yukina Ooshiro and Towako Mita. The story of kissing girls continues!

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
After coming back to Kiss & White Lily following a rather dull second volume, I had cleared my mind and prepared for the worst. Too many times now I have seen series with great potential falter under pressure and pacing, falling victim to themselves and the mangaka who created them. And after finishing this third entry in the series, I can safely confirm that this is definitely not the case. Book-three regains its footing and gets back to focusing on Shiramine and Kurosawa as their relationship continues to get...weird? I'm not really sure how to describe it, to be completely honest. Yuri relationships are typically easy to decode: girl thinks girl is cute, wonders if liking girls is socially acceptable, proceeds to like girl regardless. With these two, however, it's hard to say that there are any romantic feelings at all.

Before you start angrily mashing away at your keyboards telling me I don't understand love, allow me to elaborate. The feelings between Ayaka and Yurine are by no means love right now. In the future, who knows? But as of volume three, I feel like their relationship is more akin to Batman and the Joker. These two characters exist to sort of keep each other in check. A codependency has been established and each one serves as the motivation and/or MacGuffin for the other. They just also happen to kiss sometimes...Hey, I'm not complaining- are you? At the end of the day, the chemistry between these two is still the greatest part of the series. Despite being polar opposites and arguing every second of every day, the way Shiramine and Kurosawa thrive off of each other is a great foundation for shoujo-ai. The difficulty the series ran into last week was figuring out how to balance that with side-stories.

This week, there's really only one side-story we need to pay attention to- Yukina and Towako. This quickly flares up once Kurosawa is forced into joining their gardening club as it teeters on the brink of being disbanded. In a format rather similar to the first volume, Kiss & White Lily tails off into the lives of these two childhood friends. Unlike our first side-couple, however, there's a bit of a dark undertone to this relationship. While Yukina and Towako seem like your stereotypical inseparable couple, one of them harbors a secret, manipulative background.

Throughout the second half of the book, it's clear that there's someone out there trying to dismantle the gardening club. But what we don't figure out until later on is that this is actually Towako, simply trying to preserve her relationship with Yukina in perhaps the rudest way possible. Despite attempting to justify this with an onslaught of "I don't want our memories to fade over time!" Towako still comes across as a sort of impulsive (Forgive me for this next part) bitch. And while this might spell a tragic end for most other couples, Yukina is mature enough to see through the devilish guise of her friend, ultimately forgiving her and agreeing on starting things fresh.

On paper, this relationship might sound like an off-brand stereotype for less cutesy shoujo-ai series- but the way it was incorporated into this one was very impressive. Yukina and Towako weren't just randomly tossed into the mix after a main chapter concluded or anything. Instead, they were seamlessly integrated into the lives of Kurosawa and Shiramine as they, too, attempted to further their feelings for one another. So not only was the gardening club the birthplace for what is potentially the best side-couple in the show thus far, it is also a platform that will propel the relationship between our two protagonists. Given just how smoothly this was executed, saying that Kiss & White Lily is still recovering from its last volume would be a bold-faced lie. The series has gone back to its roots (Not a gardening pun, I promise). And for that, I am thankful.

In Summary:
The inclusion of a yet another new couple into the world of Kiss & White Lily actually works out in a positive manner this time. Yukina and Towako share a side story that is not only interesting and unexpected but also a great example of how to work past your problems on the way to a healthier lifestyle. Shiramine and Kurosawa still display the same level of codependency they had in the past, but with Kurosawa's outlook on life slowly changing, we may expect some additional changes in the romance department as well. I'm elated to see this series back on its feet again. It would be a terrible shame to see such beautiful artwork and interesting characters go to waste.

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

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: August 22, 2017
MSRP: $12.99

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