Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Kase-san and Morning Glories GN
Kase-san and...GN 1
Yamada is on the Greenery Committee at her high school, and one of the things she's planted is a bed of morning glories. Some days when she comes to water them, however, she finds that they're already cared for – by Kase-san, the star of the track team. Enthralled by Kase's looks and kindness, Yamada begins to fall for the other girl. But are girl-girl relationships really okay when she doesn't know of anyone who's had one?
In the increasingly diverse world of English-language yuri, Hiromi Takashima's Kase-san and Morning Glories stands out as particularly adorable. While it shares some themes with Milk Morinaga's Secret of the Princess in terms of wondering if having a lesbian relationship is an acceptable thing to do, for the most part the tale of shy Yamada's meeting with Kase-san is simply a charming story about accepting what makes you comfortable and being with the person you like.
Despite the title, the main character of the story is Yamada, a second-year high school student on the Greenery Committee. She's in charge of making sure that the school grounds look nice, planting and caring for flowers throughout the school year. It's a job that suits her – Yamada is painfully shy and almost uncomfortable with herself. She has one friend in class, Mikawacchi, and while there's a genuine element to their friendship, it's clear that they're not so much good friends as Mikawacchi is okay with being the one person Yamada can cling to in social or other uncomfortable situations. Kase-san therefore becomes the first true friend Yamada pursues – when she finds Kase watering the morning glories on days when she has track practice, Yamada becomes interested in the other girl, appreciating her care for the flowers as well as her willingness to talk to her. Kase doesn't judge her the way the other girls in her class do, and that alone makes her intriguing to Yamada, forming the basis for her crush.
The fact that Yamada is so uncomfortable with other girls her age (and boys; it is a co-ed school, but the implication is that if girls are scary, boys are terrifying) does lay the groundwork for her to question her own romantic feelings for Kase. Repeatedly throughout the volume Yamada worries about whether or not it's okay for her to want to have a romantic relationship with another girl, essentially trying to figure out whether that's “allowed.” This may speak as much to her own naivety as anything else – at one point Mikawacchi mentions that she knows that Kase-san has dated other girls before, implying that she's an out lesbian and that Yamada's shyness and lack of interaction with the other students has kept her from knowing it. The fact that Mikawacchi doesn't appear weirded out or censorious of Kase again backs up that this is just a known fact about her; possibly she's just trying to make sure that Yamada doesn't get into a situation she can't handle. It certainly helps to make Yamada understand that two girls in a romantic relationship isn't unheard of, and the jealousy it inspires indicates that she likes Kase-san enough that her own doubts don't matter.
Since the book is told primarily from Yamada's perspective, we don't get a whole lot of Kase's thoughts about the other girl. Fortunately Takashima is able to use speaking glances and other wordless actions to show us that she's every bit as infatuated as Yamada is, albeit unaware of the jealousy that Yamada feels when other girls are invited to see Kase-san compete in a track meet. Yamada's failure to show up at said meet because of that jealousy leads up to one of the best sequences in the volume, with Kase-san noticing her absence and then riding to the rescue when Yamada has gotten herself in over her head with her classmates at karaoke. (Also striking about that scene is that Mikawacchi had earlier said that all of the girls in class were invited; when Yamada shows up without her friend, the girls wonder who invited her. This says a lot about the casual bullying Yamada faces.) The sequence ends with Kase giving Yamada a very blatant indirect kiss, making her feelings clear to us, if not to the object of them.
Takashima's artwork is perhaps best described as adorable. Although the cute round faces don't always work on the lanky, cartoony bodies, there's an innocence to the way she draws her characters that makes this very pleasant to read from a visual perspective. There's also a nice sense of physical awareness (it isn't quite sexual tension at this stage) when Yamada and Kase-san are together – the aforementioned indirect kiss is a good example, as is the two of them sharing a handhold on the train. The panels are clear in their transitions and reading order, and if you didn't want to savor the moments, the book would read very quickly.
Kase-san and Morning Glories is a charming yuri tale about a sweetly blooming relationship. If you like your romances on the adorable side with more longing than touching, this is the book for you, and it's nice to know that Kase-san and Yamada's love story is just getting started.
Overall : A-
Story : A-
Art : B+
+ Sweet and charming with a good sense of physical tension and Yamada's personality
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