Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Kiss & White Lily for my Dearest Girl Volume 8 was fine (Manga Review)

Nagisa Tatsumi and Hikari Torayama
I so like the idea behind Kiss & White Lily for my Dearest Girl (Yen Press) as a series, but have been up and down on each volume. Volume 8 arrived last week (and I devoured it) but I'm only now getting to my review. Like previous volumes, half the time is spent on Ayaka and Yurine, whom I love, while the other half focuses on another "couple."

Our newest couple is Hikari and Nagisa, both of whom have worked for the student council and are now going to run against each other in the upcoming election for president. What the rest of the student body doesn't know is that Hikari can't stand Nagisa, Nagisa can't understand Hikari's popularity, and they both live together. Hikari's parents are away with work (I do wonder what work manga parents do that take them overseas for such long stretches) and so she has been living with her "rival."

While living together, Hikari gets to see the messy but real sides to Nagisa. As they prepare for the election, they finally get to a point where they both must face their feelings about each other, as well as their intimate knowledge of each other, and decide what sort of race they want to run. This is a story that is devoid of obvious romantic interest and is focused more on an odd-couple friendship that seems to be blooming. While not super exciting, it is well done, and the resolution rewarding and extended beyond just the student council election (which I'm happy about).

Yurine and Ayaka on the other hand perplex me. Not them so much as the way they and their stories are written. The writing of their characterizations, particularly Ayaka's is inconsistent volume to volume. Just like so many other volumes in this series, Volume 8 presents Ayaka as seeing Yurine as only a rival she must conquer. But this confused me as there were so many times where they were getting closer in past volumes and Ayaka had been acknowledging her growing feelings. But here, there was a regression to a more initial state.

BUT then they end up progressing forward once more and giving us hope that they may finally become the couple we've been waiting for. I don't mind a nice long slow journey, it's the back and forth without meaningful emotional explanation and disjointed writing that is bothering me. I think of the scene on the beach in a prior volume where it was clear where they were heading, or the growing way that Ayaka was confronting her mom's criticism of her, only for her characterization in this volume to feel many volumes regressed. Thankfully, the end result of this volume was a glimmer of forward progress. As always, I won't spoil the good details for you.

In all, this volume was fine, but not great. The art continues to have some nice moments, but the lines can get heavy handed (and not always in an intentional way) and the basic anatomy isn't real strong (arms and perspectives especially can get weird). Couple that with our secondary couple being a somewhat perfunctory (if enjoyable) non-romantic story (at least I liked the characters) and a strange blandness to Ayaka's initial characterization, especially in the first chapter, and it's just not one of the best of the series. I'm giving it a reluctant 7/10. But with only two volumes to go, I'm still rooting for Ayaka and Yurine to become a true couple.


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