Mariko "Mari" Kumakura is a Shrinking Violet
who doesn't have any real friends. One day Akko, a pretty Genki Girl
in class, decides to spontaneously befriend her. Mari is unsure about being friends with her but ends up going along with it. Inevitably, Akko helps Mari come out of her shell
while Mari helps Akko with her studies and the two quickly become best friends. With Akko's help, Mari makes many new friends and Mari finds herself happier than she's ever been in her life.
But wait... Mari starts wondering why she's feeling so jealous of the thought of Akko gaining a boyfriend and castigates herself for feeling so possessive. She's starting to blush a lot in Akko's presence and Akko's touch is making her heart race. Could Mari be falling in love with her best friend?Girl Friends
is a finished Yuri Genre
manga by the female Mangaka Morinaga Milk
, and it is considered a modern classic by a large portion of fans of the genre
. New readers should expect lots of Gayngst
and Will They or Won't They?
. It has been licensed in the US by Seven Seas Entertainment
in the form of two Omnibus Collections, with both volumes debuting in the New York Times Manga Best Sellers list on the week of their release.
Not to be confused with the African American sitcom Girlfriends
This Manga contains examples of:
- Anguished Declaration of Love: With rain conveniently setting the mood.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Mari's brother. Though less annoying than most.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Akko
- The Beard: Mari tries to use Harada to become normal, and it fails.
- Beautiful All Along: Mari's cute, but never really put any effort into her appearance until Akko came along with her fashion magazines, haircuts, and make-up.
- Lampshaded in chapter 16 when Tamamin tells Akko that Mari "was able to become cute and fashionable because of your help." Akko responds by agreeing at first, and then reconsidering and stating that Mari had always been cute.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: Taguchi
- Black Comedy Rape: Tamamin drew a rape manga featuring their teacher and a couple classmates.
- Book Dumb: Akko. Considers it a major accomplishment the one time she doesn't have to write any make-up exams.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Mari, who tries to cover up any slip of her feelings as just being friends. And then Akko as well, after Mari's confession.
- The Casanova: Sugi seems to be a female version. She always has at least five boyfriends at her beck and call, and her one stab at monogamy only lasted for a couple of pages.
- Censor Suds: Subverted. When Mari and Akko are taking baths at the same time, they send each other photos with their cellphones. Akko starts it with a (somewhat) modest photo. Mari decided to reply after deliberately applying this. Akko finds it extremely cute... and drops a couple (possibly seductive) full-body shots on her.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Harada and Mayu. From the same flashback.
- The Chikan: The focus of Sugi's day in the limelight. It isn't the molesters that are her problem, though—it's the salarymen that inevitably come to her rescue, ask her for her contact information, and try to be her protector from then on. And the molester of this chapter is her first love, her old elementary school teacher—awkward...
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Kuno, but she finds a boyfriend who likes that type.
- Both Mari and Akko towards each other.
- Cool Teacher: Naru-chan-sensei as her students call her. She's a bit ambivalent about this in a Dude, Where's My Respect? kind of way.
- Cosplay Otaku Girl: Tamamin
- Costume Porn: A shining modern-day example.
- A Day In The Lime Light: A chapter focusing on Sugi and her problems with love.
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: At one point, Kuno catches Mari staring at Akko, to which Mari absentmindedly admits it's because Akko is so cute.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: Subverted. In an attempt to cover up her Did I Just Say That Out Loud? moment, Mari winds up stammering about how soft Akko's skin looks, thinking that just made her crush more obvious, but it diverts the other girls onto a skin care topic.
- Disappeared Dad: Akko's dad is mentioned once as a throwaway comment, then never mentioned again.
- Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Mari and Akko's first kiss. Mari partly blames it on the alcohol.
- Embarrassing First Name: Taguchi thinks her first name of Urara is this.
- Everyone Can See It: Especially Sugi.
- On the contrary, Sugi is the only one who can see it. Everyone else is oblivious to their relationship.
- The Fashionista: Akko and Sugi
- Forceful Kiss: Mari and Akko's second and third kisses.
- Foreshadowing: Chapter 21: Tamamin, the otaku of the group, suggests that Harada, Mari's newly-ex-boyfriend, should try cosplay. "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Tamamin and Harada are dating.
- Furo Scene
- Gayngst: So much... (although mostly from Mari's side)
- Akko eventually inverts it, saying that them both being girls helps their relationship, as they can be clingy in public and have people just chalk it up to a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship.
- It's mostly abated by now in both their cases, although there's still plenty of Angst/Wangst.
- Genki Girl: Akko
- Green-Eyed Epiphany: How Mari realizes she's in love with Akko, and how Akko realizes she is in love with Mari.
- Gonk: Naru-chan's baby-daddy... and their baby.
- Hands-Off Parenting: Akko's mom, for the few pages we see her.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Sugi and Tamamin, though when drunk they like to remove that hetero part. Ultimately though, they are just really good friends.
- I Didn't Mean To Turn You On: Oh Akko, you tease!
- I Have This Friend: How Akko tries to get advice from Sugi about her relationship with Mari, more than once. Sugi plays along, but barely—she just can't help teasing them.
- In Vino Veritas: Revealed some Unresolved Sexual Tension between Sugi and Tamamin...
- Indirect Kiss
- The Internet Is for Porn: The first time the Internet was used in the series involved Akko using it to surf for porn as research for her planned first time with Mari.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Which may be the main cause of Akko's obliviousness to both Mari's feelings as well as her own.
- Kissing Discretion Shot: Akko and Mari's fourth kiss.
- Kissing Under the Influence: Sugi and Tamamin strip and make out when heavily drunk. This apparently isn't unusual for them.
- Lipstick Lesbian: Akko and Mari. Particularly Akko.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: Akko's night with a guy after a party, to her great embarrassment and irritation. He has one of the predictable reactions, begging her to keep it secret. And now he's Kuno's boyfriend.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Akko is shown to be fairly well-off with her mother just giving her money for whatever she wants. Her home life is also shown to be very lonely before she and Mari hook up, in contrast to her social life.
- Even in her social life, she doesn't seem to have any long-lasting friendships, as she notes that none of her classmates from junior high have called her since.
- Love at First Sight: Played with as it's implied that Akko became obsessed with Mari after first noticing her, but didn't fall in love, or at least realize she was in love, with her until long after the two became friends
- Odd Friendship: Tamamin, the Otaku and Sugi, the Fashionista.
- Onee-sama: Used in Tamamin's yuri Doujinshi. Mari gets freaked out about the Doujinshi because she interprets it as something else.
- A closer look at the doujinshi cover shows that the two characters look a lot like Tamamin and Sugi. It's also a loose reference to Revolutionary Girl Utena.
- One-Gender School
- Otaku Surrogate: Tamamin
- Parental Abandonment: Averted with Mari. Possibly played straight with Akko, whose father is a DisappearedDad and whose mom never has time for her. Case in point: Akko's childhood is depicted as watching TV by herself, and taking shopping trips by herself as well. The kicker comes in the Graduation chapter, when Akko's mom showed up and Akko is honestly surprised.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Tamamin has a few of these for cosplay purposes.
- Product Placement: Almost every chapter. Mostly for makeup/beauty products and perfume, which is somewhat strange considering Girl Friends is serialized in a magazine targeted at men.
- Public Bathhouse Scene: During the class trip. A self-conscious Akko tries to see Mari without letting Mari see her. Unfortunately, Akko passes out in the bathwater, prompting Mari to carry her out of the bathhouse, dry her off, put on her underwear and pajamas, and tuck her into bed.
Akko: Just kill me now.
- Really Gets Around: Sugi
- Schoolgirl Lesbians: A rather realistic portrayal, Akko and Mari are very confused about their feelings at first.
- Secret Relationship: Mari assumes they will eventually have to tell people but for now its a secret. Though Sugi already knows
- Sensei-chan: Narumatsu-sensei, AKA Naru-chan.
- Ship Sinking: In the final chapter, it's revealed Tamamin is going out with Harada, sinking the Sugi x Tamamin ship.
- Shipper on Deck: Sugi is a subdued version of the trope. While at first shocked that two of her friends are going out with each other, she enjoys watching the two together and sometimes helps them get some alone time. That said she mostly enjoys teasing them since they don't know she knows.
- Shotgun Wedding: Naru-chan ends up in one. And it's an Ugly Guy, Hot Wife marriage at that.
- Shout-Out: Several, using cosplay. Tamamin suggests that Harada should cosplay Lelouch in chapter 21.
- In chapter 32 it's stated that a girl in Mari and Akko's class named Hakamada wants to become a mangaka. This is believed to be a shout out to Morinaga's fellow yuri mangaka, Hakamada Mera.
- In the final chapter there's a picture of Tamamin and her boyfriend dressing as Miku and Kaito.
- Akko says her favourite anime is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
- In one chapter, Taguchi expresses her fear of seagulls plucking her eyes out, to which Akko responds "This isn't The Birds."
- Non-cosplay example: Akko's supposed first time. Her boyfriend is frantically trying to avert The Loins Sleep Tonight, crying out, "Stand! Stand up, Joe!"
- Shrinking Violet: Mari
- Single-Target Sexuality: When telling Akko about her feelings, Mari tries to invoke this by saying she doesn't think she's gay but then says she doesn't know.
- Their First Time: Subverted twice, for both Akko and Mari. With Akko, the guy she was with experienced The Loins Sleep Tonight because he'd had too much to drink, and she was too embarrassed to admit to anyone that she couldn't turn a guy on. In the latter's case, she let Akko believe that she had slept with Harada, for a number of different reasons. The truth does come out, eventually. Moments before the two of them play this trope straight.
- Two-Teacher School: Naru-chan is the only regular teacher shown though many others are mentioned.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Lots involving the main couple.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: Akko threatens to stab any would-be train molesters with a safety pin.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Showing that Akko and Mari are still a couple while studying at different schools.
- Will They or Won't They?: Akko and Mari, of course.
- Wingding Eyes: Mari's after reading Tamamin's yuri manga.
- Yuri Fan: Tamamin, who collects yuri Doujinshi.
- Yuri Genre