Sunday, August 23, 2009

Manga Review: Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl

Manga Review # 003
Title: Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl
MSRP on Individual Volumes: US $10.99
MSRP on Omnibus Volumes: US $14.99

Delayed but not stopped, here comes another manga review! I'm your Navigator Richard J., fresh from watching the Team Marilyn battle in The Law Of Ueki. (This series started off as a guilty shonen pleasure but it's gotten better and better as it goes.)

So, now let me introduce you to this complete manga review for Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl! Originally, this series was released as five single volumes and is now being re-released as Omnibus collections. For this review, I'm using the individual volumes no one gives me free stuff to review so everything I review, I've bought. (If I gain enough followers, I can conquer the wor- er, I mean get free stuff to review. Yeah, that's what I meant.)

Our guest host today is Yuria of the manga series Yuria Hyaku-shiki! Tell the folks a few things about this manga please Yuria!

Yuria: Ah, okay. Hello everyone!


The story of Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl is by Satoru Akahori who has been involved with script writing for Dragon Ball Z and Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi among others. So you know you're dealing with talent right?

The art is by Yukimaru Katsura, a talented artist who worked on the manga adaption of AIR. Did you know that series started as a visual novel with ecchi scenes?

Richard J.: Focus Yuria! This is a family blog! (Maybe?) I know you've got a bit of an addiction to H things but keep it together!

Yuria: Oh! I'm sorry, I'll be good. Mostly.

The manga has been published in it's entirety by Seven Seas, who my host is a bit annoyed with due to their canceling a lot of titles he was buying or wanted to buy. The light novels going away really bugs him. They could have at least finished the one's they started.

An anime adaption of the manga was released sub-only by Media Blasters. However, don't let that bother you too much dub fans! The anime was an example of adaption decay due to coming out before the manga was complete. It missed a number of the more interesting twists of the manga, made one character act very out of character and ended in a way so incorrect that had to make an OVA to try and fix it.

Of course, it makes my host's blood boil a little just to hear about that company since they've recently made a bad dub decision and. . . oh, his veins are bulging and not in the right place, so I'd better move on!

Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl was selected as a Book of the Month by Newtype USA prior to it going under!

Richard J.: I'll take over now Yuria! Don't leave though.

First, lets see some covers! This is part of why I recommend the single volumes!


Now here's the backs!


There is a single color page per volume. I would have taken pictures of them but, honestly, I just couldn't seem to get the covers to open enough to take them without damaging my volumes. I don't know if they are retained in the omnibus editions but they are just various images, typically of the girls in the series and some that are just Hazumu the main girl.

All volumes together now!


Yuria. . . Okay, fine, hog the spotlight a little.

Yuria: I'm sorry, I just can't help it! You looked so annoyed before and I know you like my uniform.

Richard J.: You're such a sweet girl.

Okay folks, here's the details. Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl is a romantic sci-fi comedy/drama with gender-bending. Yuri isn't just a theme in this manga, it's very much a driving force.

The story centers around Hazumu Osaragi, a very feminine and delicate boy who has a lethal close encounter with aliens. Fortunately for him, the aliens bring him back to life. Unfortunately, the process doesn't work right and he's brought back as a she! To top it off, he was rejected by the girl he loved, Yasuna Kamiizumi, right before it happened! Hazumu takes the whole gender change remarkably well and, frankly, considering how girly he was before, I think you could safely say he was a lesbian trapped in a boy's body from the start. (His childhood wish was to be a friend's bride.)

Anyway, after the gender change is when things get REALLY complicated. Now, Yasuna's suddenly interested and Hazumu's best friend Tomari Kurusu is freaking out, his father is humorously turning into a dirty old dad, his mother couldn't be happier since she can dress her daughter up and Hazumu's best male friend Asuta can't quite come to grips with the situation because he's torn between thinking of Hazumu as his best bud and as a cute girl who happens to be his type!

And that's before the aliens come to live with him. Well, one alien and a spaceship.

Yes, you heard that right. A spaceship. It turns into a ridiculously moe girl who also wants Hazumu, in a probably platonic way. (However, Jan-puu is also very likable just as a character once she calms down a bit.)

To say that Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl has all the elements of a wacky sci-fi comedy would be an understatement. And it does have some very funny moments, generally involving Tomari freaking out early on about Hazumu's change, Asuta at almost any point where he can't turn off his hormones and of course there's Hazumu's teacher Tsuki Namiko who has but two purposes in the story: to fall in a silly way and to inform the reader, in an over the top way, that she's been single for 35 years. However, this series shines brightest when it gets deep and emotional.

The tangled web of relationships is watched over by another of Hazumu's friends, the quiet Ayuki who thinks of herself as being in a cocoon and has no intention of involving herself in the world as she likes just watching it all. She's a very interesting character in her own right as she isn't emotionless like most loner characters of this style but rather detached from it all. She's an interesting contrast to the alien.

The solid love triangle that forms between Hazumu, Tomari and Yasuna takes many interesting and emotional turns. The book actually opens with a kiss and it ends with a true life-time commitment. There is so much in terms of character development and interpersonal drama that to talk about it all would spoil too much. Let me just say that the alien scientist living in Hazumu's bedroom, who takes on the name Sora Hitoshi, spelled with characters that could be read as "space man," has plenty of research to work with.

Tomari's fierce determination to protect Hazumu, Yasuna's desperate desire for a connection she rejected initially and Hazumu's inability to make a choice lead them down some very unpredictable turns. The character drama between the three main girls is intense and lightened by the comedy bits, though many of those begin to feel quite out of place over time. (And, frankly, Namiko-sensei falling stopped being funny to me in the first volume.)

The plot twists near the end that revolve around the reasons why the alien's regeneration technology turned Hazumu into a girl also play a major role. (Yes, there is an explanation that is quite a shocker.) The reason for the alien and his spaceship girl to have even come to Earth is quite serious as well. Even the feelings Asuta begins to develop toward Hazumu, initially played for comedy, are allowed to be treated seriously.

Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl is a series you need to own. Despite some flaws with the comedy, the romantic drama is incredible and the ending really ties things together and shows just how strong love can be.

I don't know if the omnibuses will contain them, but the individual volumes have excellent omake comedy bits with the cast (several focusing on Ayuki being a bit of a mad scientist) and there are excellent translation notes. Even the Japanese names of flowers are talked about, which is a big help.

Again, here's all the volumes.


I highly recommend this series if you like Yuri stories or if you just want a powerful romance tale. As I've said, the comedy is actually a drawback as the series progresses but it never quite manages to derail the flow and becomes less as the story moves along. I wouldn't buy this manga for the comedy though I wouldn't say it's not funny when it wants to be. (Except with the falling. Poor Namiko-sensei must have pissed of a god of falling or something.)

This manga is available at the following fine retailers: Robert's Anime Corner Store, Amazon, Books-a-Million and The Right Stuf.

By the way, in case anyone has been wondering why I give a link to Books-a-Million and not Borders or Barnes and Noble, it's because I've personally had some negative experiences with Borders and Barnes and Noble, plus they're hurting economically. I've linked to the omnibus editions because of the lower overall cost but I recommend the individual volumes.

Also, you might want to get this figure if you like the manga/anime. I don't own it myself but it makes me drool.

And also, you may want to buy another lovely lady!


Yuria: Huh? Me?

Richard J.: Sure! You've been a good guest host and, frankly, I think you're figure is very nice and more than a little ecchi. Plus my pics don't do you justice as they didn't quite come out right. I think people should buy your figure because you're cute and sexy and I'd like to see your manga, Yuria Hyaku-shiki come out over here. How many other machines like you are portayed with personalities?

Well folks, that's it for another review. I'm trying to come up with a separate scale for manga (Cat Girl Scale is great but I want something different for manga and something for light novels as well since I hope to see Yen Press publish many.)

Since I don't have one yet, let me just go ahead and say I'd consider Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl a Five Star series if not for the constant falling of one teacher, which brings it down to Four. (But this one has special merit, despite coming from a cancel happy publisher.)

*EDIT: I now have a scale for completed manga series! Behold the Library Girl Scale!



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