Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Futaribeya volume 2 ups the ship-baiting (Manga Review)

Kasumi and Sakurako
The colors in this photo of the cover don't do it
justice, the pastels in the actual print are beautiful!
Futaribeya Vol. 2 - 9/10 (if you are a fan of moe yuri-ish 4-koma); 6/10 for everyone else

I just can't quite wrap my head around the purpose of Futaribeya now that I'm two volumes in to the series. I don't know who it is written for and that confuses me. However, I also can't help but care about the two main characters, Sakurako and Kasumi. Despite the fact that it isn't the type of series I normally read, and the actual plot is all but non-existent, I find myself enjoying the series.

Volume 2 (Tokyopop) definitely upped the pseudo-yuri. What is intriguing about this light comedy series is that there isn't any explicit guidance on whether or not Sakurako and Kasumi are just friends and room-mates, or if one or both want more, or if they are actually more. In that sense, it's like "ship-baiting" - ie. the series is set up to make people imagine them in a true relationship without providing any sense that it is actually occurring. For people who love "shipping," this is definitely a series for them. And volume 2 really ups the baiting.


Sakurako and Kasumi are two high-school students living in a boarding house and sharing a room. That's more or less the plot of Futaribeya. It's a slice of life comedy. Sakurako is a genius who doesn't need to do much to get good grades but also loves taking care of Kasumi. Kasumi is beautiful but aloof and obsessed with eating and napping. The comedy comes from the interplay between those characteristics and their genuine affection for each other. What form that affection actually takes is the subliminal driving force of the series.

So with volume 2, we get a lot more moments that suggest that there either is something more going on, or that one or both characters want there to be more. Here's a quick summary of some moments from volume 2 (totally de-contextualized so as not to spoil anything for you):
  • There are a few moments where they are depicted holding hands, nonchalantly, and not the purpose of the story at the moment.
  • There is some definite cuddling while sleeping, at least on Sakurako's part. They even share one bed in the nurses office despite two being available.
  • Sakurako is definitely attracted to Kasumi's body (buying her a revealing swimsuit, taking pictures of her at work, imagining Kasumi as a sexy teacher, etc...)
  • Kasumi suggests they live together after graduation - in context, this reads as more than just for convenience.
  • Sakurako's email address hints that she loves Kasumi (at least if I'm interpreting the email address correctly).
  • There are many little spoken moments between them such as: "you can use me as your hot water bottle" or "Sakurako is like air to me" or "I want you to let me take care of you forever."
  • Sakurako is really pleased that their horoscopes show relationship compatibility.
And of course, there is a lot more, plus a lot of just random events, school trips, going to the pool, etc... So I'm curious as to whether future volumes will add to this and make the relationship even more clear, or if the series will retain an ambiguity about their relationship.

Either way, there is something about those two that has me rooting for them and enjoying the series even though it is really unlike what I normally read (usually I read more serious and dramatic shoujo and josei). If you are a fan of moe 4-koma, and like shipping same sex characters, then this is definitely the series for you and volume 2 really raises the game. For fans of moe yuri-ish 4-koma this volume is a strong 9/10, it just hits all the right notes throughout. But if this isn't your thing, it's probably more like an average 6/10. As for me, even though it isn't my thing, I think I might buy the next volume. I'm just curious to see where things go.

🚺

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