Hanjuku Joshi – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Hanjuku Joshi

 

Genre: Yuri Romance

Length: 2 volumes

 

Positives:

  • The side characters’ romance is a good portrayal of sexual confusion and exploration.

Negatives:

  • The main couple’s story is generic and doesn’t hold interest.
  • Frankly, it has the wrong protagonist.
  • No understanding of how bras work in real life (you can’t magically shrink a dozen sizes with a small bra).

(contains high levels of nudity and sex)

I am torn on Hanjuku Joshi. On one hand, the main couple of Yae, a girl self-conscious of extreme femininity, and the out-going Chitose is as generic as a bad Monday; on the other hand, the subplot between Mari and her female teacher is surprisingly good. It’s ironic that the easy romance between two students fails (‘fail’ is a little harsh – unremarkable, rather) while the often nothing-but-smut student-teacher relationship succeeds.

Once more, the setting is an all-girls school (not prestigious sorority! *Tears of gratitude*). Yae and Chitose’s relationship focuses on Yae helping Chitose accept her femininity – she hates her high voice, large breasts, round face and curly hair – which is a fine theme to explore. The problem is that her agitation is petty. I can’t see how anyone could conceivably empathise with such an inconsequential problem. Certainly, the writer could have succeeded by showing actual consequences of being ‘too cute,’ such as not being taken seriously by others. Unfortunately in this case, it’s just a little girl whining about her breast size. It doesn’t help that the humour is incongruous to the narrative – girls don’t randomly get naked at school just because it’s all-girls.

Then we have Mari and her teacher, Ran. Their plot delves into sexual confusion as Mari slowly realises she is a lesbian, making her question what she considered normal in terms of sex and sexuality. Furthermore, the characters don’t pretend that a student-teacher relationship is an everyday occurrence like in other yuri manga. Mari should have been the protagonist, not Yae.

I wish the whole manga was about them to give space for even more depth. Rubbish like Hen Strange Love gets eight volumes while a story with a modicum of talent barely receives a volume of page time.

Art – Medium

Uses a cute art style, but the quality, particularly with the backgrounds, is inconsistent. Little variety.

Story – Medium

The side couple’s plotline is good, shame that the main couple gets in the way.

Recommendation: Try it. Worth a read for the supporting cast, so give it a go. At only two volumes long, it won’t take much of your time.

(Find out more about the manga recommendation system here.)

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