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Manga / Girl Friends

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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. Or with a non-yuri romance manga called Girl Friend (no s). Or the 1978 indie film 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.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: References when Mari and Akko end up in a stalemate just short of "They Do" because neither of them is quite sure what to do in this situation and thinks the other is more experienced; a caption declares them "Two Bokes" with Sugi wondering if she is the Tsukkomi. The official translation instead declares them "two clueless virgins".
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  • Book Dumb: Akko. Considers it a major accomplishment the one time she doesn't have to write any make-up exams.
    Tamamin: I don't think barely passing is something to be proud of...
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The volume 3 omake is each characters "thing you always have to take with you to school". Sugi's is her purse.
    Sugi: It has my makeup kit, my curling iron, my nail kit, my cellphone charger, and condoms.
  • Broken Pedestal: Sugi's Day in the Limelight shatters her previous image of her old elementary teacher.
  • 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.
  • Butt-Monkey: Naru-chan, the girls' beleaguered homeroom teacher, gets absolutely no respect from the girls she's devoted her career to teaching. It reaches the point that they gossip and spread disparaging rumours about her age, love life, intelligence, and appearance whilst she's still standing in front of them. She eventually ends up becoming pregnant and having to marry a Gonk to retain some dignity. When Mari finds out about it, she admits to being ashamed to have ended up in a marriage like that, not really understanding her husband at all, and that they constantly fight with each other. She then goes on to reveal that she suffered romantic trauma in high school, lost a lot of her friends, and then didn't date anyone else for about a decade until she met the man who got her pregnant. Despite all that, she still strives to be the best teacher, wife, and mother she can be.
  • 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.
  • Cat Girl: Mari has an Imagine Spot of Akko as a catgirl.
  • 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.
  • Chaste Hero: Variation. Akko is a bit of an idiot, and doesn't actually think anything of kissing or stripping down with other girls. It's just playing around with friends, not sexual - or even romantic - at all. This causes a bit of tension with Mari, who may not be the most experienced of girls, but knows that her First Kiss with Akko was the real thing.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When swimsuit shopping, Akko notices a bikini that looks 'gaudy' on her, but that she reasons will look cute on Mari. She buys it along with one for herself, with intention to invite Mari to the beach; alas, Mari, currently "with" a boyfriend, declines the invitation. After a shopping trip just after Valentine's Day, they have a 'fashion show' like Akko used to put on before she met Mari, and she stumbles across the swimsuits; Mari in a bikini + Akko in a bikini = They Do.
  • 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.
  • Coming Of Age Queer Romance: Akko and Mari start off as friends, each of whom thinks they're straight. Eventually though, Mari falls for Akko, and has to deal with the idea that the girl she loves is possibly straight, and would be unable to return her affections, as well as a more general feeling of gayngst. Akko does eventually reciprocate, however, and they end up in a very loving relationship.
  • 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.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Tamamin manages to play this trope straight while simultaneously taking "Crazy" and "Prepared" in very different ways.
    • Her bag is always packed tight with manga in case she has an 'emergency'. "Like if I need something to read."
    • On the class trip, she brought a hand-fan and a Victorian-era parasol... on the grounds that "You never know when you might need a Victorian-era parasol".
  • A Day in the Limelight: 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: On the contrary, Sugi is the only one who can see it. Everyone else is oblivious to their relationship.
  • Fanservice: In Chapter 33, we have Akko and Mari kissing while wearing bikinis.
  • The Fashionista: Akko and Sugi
  • Forceful Kiss: Mari and Akko's second kiss.
  • 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, or at least, "cosplays friends".
  • Furo Scene: Frequently used, usually in tandem with...
  • 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 Pseudo-Romantic Friendship.
    • It's mostly abated by now in both their cases, although there's still plenty of Angst/Wangst.
    • Mari eventually reveals while the two are about to have sex, that she was still unsure if Akko was really attracted to her or just being nice, luckily Akko's body answers that for her.
  • Gay Romantic Phase: Our main couple's relationship starts out this way, which makes it a little more difficult for them to realise they're genuinely in love with each other rather than just practicing for adulthood.
  • Genki Girl: Akko. She talks a mile a minute and has no brain-mouth filter.
  • 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.
  • Housewife: In the end, Mari decides to go to junior college to study home economics and nutrition, so she can support Akko with healthy bento lunches.
  • Hypocritical Humour
    • Shortly after Akko and Mari get off a train, they meet Sugi, who's complaining about how molesters are always trying to grab at her. Akko (who had rather less-than-subtly told Mari that she was open if Mari was feeling frisky) quickly and suspiciously denounces molesters as scum.
    • In one of the extra stories, Tamamin tells off Sugi and Akko for playing mean pranks on Naru-chan-sensei... only for Sugi to reprimand "You draw pictures of Naru-chan naked." Unbeknowst to all of them, Naru-chan is watching them, and her opinion of Tamamin quickly switches from "seems like a nice girl" to "the evilest one of all".
  • 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
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Akko frequently takes off her shirt in front of the other girls, and tries to help Mari change clothes - she doesn't really process anything that might be wrong with it. Until she does start worrying about Mari seeing her naked...
  • Insecure Love Interest: Mari is sure that her feelings for Akko are one-sided. She eventually learns they are not, but a part of her still feels insecure about their relationship.
  • 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 Fashionable: Akko does this to Mari from the first chapter, and things only get more fashionable from there.
  • 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 - Akko has also gotten involved from time to time.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: It's easy for a first-time reader to mistake Taguchi for male before recalling that Mari goes to an all-girls school.
  • Lingerie Scene: Invoked by Sugi-san, who enjoys taking her clothes off when she can.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Akko and Mari. Particularly first.
  • 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
  • Luminescent Blush: On both covers of the manga.
  • Market-Based Title: In Germany, it's called "Wir Beide", meaning "The Two of Us"
  • Milholland Relationship Moment: Akko finding out about Mari kissing her while she was passed out. Later, it's revealed that it was fine.
  • Moment Killer: During the class trip, Akko is trying to mentally sort out some complications between her and Mari while riding the ferry... and a few other tourists start talking trash about the class' behaviour and uniforms.
    Akko: (to herself) Get lost, you pervy old farts! I'm trying to angst here!
  • Nice Guy: Harada, he is very patient and understanding of Mari, it's just that Mari is using him to try and get over Akko.
  • Oblivious to Love: Akko for the most part doesn't notice at all that Mari has developed feelings for her, at least until Mari pushes her down and kisses her. Mari herself, has so completely convinced herself that she could never be with Akko, that it isn't until they have sex that she fully understands that yes Akko feels the same way
  • 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: Based on one the author use to attend, they even went back to take photos "like a creeper."
  • Only Sane Man: Sugi. When Akko needs advice on her relationship with Mari, she cuts through the crap, asks her if she wants to do it with her "friend," and then tells her to get a move on already before someone steals Mari away.
  • 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. At one point, she explains to Akko that she has to keep five guys from finding out about each other. By the end of the manga, she's got a sixth, and is trying to decide whether or not to go to a mixer because she doesn't want to pick up a seventh.
    Mari: Everyone is Sugi-san's boyfriend.
    Sugi: I need a day to myself...
  • Same Clothes, Different Year: Mentioned in the first chapter, where Mari mentions that her 'causal clothes' are an outfit she's been wearing since elementary school.
  • Secret Relationship: Mari assumes they will eventually have to tell people but for now its a secret. Though Sugi already knows
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Sugi, if only because she loves to tease Akko and Mari with just the right words.
  • 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!"
    • Another non-cosplay example: during the class trip, Taguchi visits a second ghost-story session (Naru-chan had already forbidden them after the first) because one of the story-tellers can "see dead people".
  • Shower of Angst: Mari gets one when she thinks that (three kisses into their relationship) Akko is just being friendly and kind to her. This sounds a lot worse than it is; Akko and her clique are firm believers in frisky friendships.
  • 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.
  • Teens Love Shopping: Akko initiates Mari into her popular group of girls by taking her shopping and they often bond while shopping.
  • 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.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: In a non-canon filler comic, a shrunken-down Akko gets a ride to school in Mari's bra. Skinship Grope ensues.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Played for laughs when Mari and Akko are on a train at rush hour. 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.
  • Write What You Know: Invoked by the mangaka, who mentioned (on-panel) that the school in the manga was based on her own high school.
  • Yuri Fan: Tamamin, who collects yuri Doujinshi.
  • Yuri Genre