Friday, June 29, 2018

Kiss & White Lily For My Dearest Girl Vol. #04 Manga Review

It's okay to cry...I'm the only one watching.

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:
(Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Remember in my last review where I praised Kiss & White Lily for getting back to its main couple instead of dwelling too much on establishing side characters and subplots? Well, this volume really hammers it in that the alternating-formula, which has become increasingly popular in the yuri genre, is going to be the same one this story follows for the most part. That being said, you can expect a heavy dose of side characters this time around. Unlike my qualms with issue two, however, this fourth installment breaks away from my initial distaste for the formula by proving the subplots, too, can harbor emotional weight. In fact, this might be the most well-constructed book in the series thus far- and it's in no way thanks to either of the main characters.

Volume four brings us back to what I believe was the first side-couple we were introduced to- way back in the first book. Mizuki and Moe, track star and manager respectively, are approaching the end of their high school careers. With that, they're obviously on the brink of saying goodbye to track forever as well. It's already been established at this point that these girls are interested in each other, so the bulk of this volume elects to focus on their personal issues rather than romantic ones. Mizuki, faced with her final race of...well, pretty much forever, has only managed to achieve success because she's been "running for Moe." But when Moe reaches out to her and says that she needs to learn to run for herself, it creates a rift between them that tears at their psyches to the point of breakdown. Mizuki, now alone and confused, must discover what it is that attracted her to running in the first place. Moe, on the other hand, must battle with questions of self-importance and exactly what role she's supposed to have in Mizuki's life.

While Mizuki's battle may have been hard fought, it ultimately ends in failure. However, sometimes failure leads to great things. Even though she had lost her last race ever, she grew strong enough to mend the broken bond with the girl she loves. The rift turns into a spark and, for the rest of the volume, the girls remain head over heels for one another. This continues sporadically throughout the volume and culminates with a beautifully executed kissing seen under the cover of fireworks.

While Mizuki and Moe were clearly the focus of this book, it does not mean the other characters went completely unnoticed. Kurosawa sees a fair share of screen time, though it is in result of yet another character introduction -- Kaoru Machida. Apparently, Shiramine isn't the only girl with feelings for the school's top student. Kaoru has actually been watching Kurosawa since middle school. After transferring out for several years, though, she had all but given up the idea of pursuing her. Well, at least until high school rolled around and she was placed in her class again. Now, Kaoru must find it within herself to overcome her introversion in order to get close to the one girl no one can get close to.

There are two central themes that volume four hones in on- looking toward the future and remedying the problems found within oneself. These ideas, when executed correctly (And I assure you that is the case for this installment), go hand in hand with one another in a multitude of ways. Book-four is not only interesting and engaging, it's a heartfelt injection into self-struggle and perseverance. From a sheer thematic standpoint, this book may just be the best in the series so far.

In Summary:
The jump back to a side character-centric formula may seem off-putting at first, but book four quickly regains its footing thanks to the excellent characterization and chemistry of both Mizuki and Moe. The gap in terms of time between the first and fourth volumes may cause a bit of confusion for some readers, but the fact that we've already been introduced to these two easily aids the continuation of their story. With a heavy thematic focus and some of the most gorgeous artwork the series has seen, Kiss & White Lily remains just as enchanting as always and reminds us, once again, that Seven Seas isn't the only group who can publish yuri.

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

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: November 14, 2017
MSRP: $12.99

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