Easing into yuri: Sasameki Koto
Although I’m a long-time anime fan, my familiarity with yuri / girl’s love is a bit lacking. They’re a bit more niche in the west due to differing cultural views and the fact that they are often associated with hentai. So my experience is limited other than the regular exposure of the odd girl couple here and there in a mainstream series. Well, that and I did read the complete novelization of Strawberry Panic, but I wasn’t even aware that it was yuri until I started reading it; I was more interested in support YenPress for throwing out more light novel translations. That said, I was very pleased to find Sasameki Koto on Crunchyroll. It’s a pretty tame series all in all but is a very heartwarming romance comedy that is almost indistinguishable from other series of the same genre. Except, of course, that it focuses on the romantic relationships between all girls.
Murasame Sumika and Kazama Ushio are best friends and share a very close relationship. Ushio outwardly displays her affection for “cute girls,” which labels her as a bit of an oddball in the eyes of her fellow students with the exception of a select few. Ushio seems to fall in and out of love at first sight as a daily occurrence, much to the dismay of Sumika who often finds herself cleaning up the mess or being the shoulder to cry on. This is complicated since Sumika secretly has a crush on Ushio, who remains oblivious. While Sumika struggles to be the friend that Ushio will always need, she also finds herself trying to win Ushio’s heart for her own, despite constant affirmations on Ushio’s part that Sumika “isn’t her type, but [she’s] glad that Sumika is [her] best friend.”
This series is hilarious. The story mainly follows Sumika, who is the top student in her class, is extremely athletic and is very tall. This puts her at odds with many of the boys because her height and athletic ability give her a reputation of being “decidely uncute.” This, unfortunately, is also to her disadvantage in Ushio’s eyes since Ushio primarily has a thing for “cute” girls, which Sumika does not consider herself to be. Personally, I think that Sumika is about as cute as a girl could get: she’s bashful and timid, extremely naive and (for those that favor some moe) wears glasses. In many ways, Sumika reminds me of Kyon (Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) and the narrative does lend itself to that idea; a lot of time in the series is told through Sumika’s inner monologue. With the depth of personality diving that you do into Sumika’s head, it’s hard to not like her no matter how pathetically pressed she may be over Ushio. Ushio however is considerably less interesting. She’s the trophy girlfriend that doesn’t seem to know what she really wants and the way that it affects Sumika is a bit irritating, but the comedy elements that are often thrown into the mix seem to lessen the ill will I have towards her, especially since many of the scenes leave off with a big smile on Sumika’s face.
Sasameki Koto focuses on a group of six girls, and all but one of them are in some way linked to girl’s love. One of the more notable characters in this group is Aoi Azusa who, with the help of Sumika, writes yuri doujinshi. A yuri convention is present in the series, and I had to smirk to myself when I realized how the production team was spinning the typical “anime convention scene” that is present in many series. I appreciated that one.
As expected of a romance comedy, the serious “lovey dovey” scenes are kept to an absolute minimum, and barring the outlandishly off-hand remarks and inner thoughts of the cast in regard to their feelings for other girls, you could definitely just view this series as one that focuses on strong friendships and not romantic relationships.
I was very impressed with Sasameki Koto and didn’t find any elements of it overwhelming, so I do think that it was a good (if timid) way for me to dip my toes into the whole yuri thing. I am definitely a fan of watching relationships grow, especially under hardship so I’m certainly up for watching more series that focus on the emotional than sexual aspects of the relationships. Though I would have to say the same for any romance series, regardless of cast genders and the like.
Now I have to find a similar yaoi series and see how I feel about that. Immediate availability is a bit lacking, and I don’t want to get into anything that hasn’t finished airing yet.
Sasameki Koto – Character Ranking
- Murasame Sumika
- Torioi Kiyori
- Aoi Azusa
- Akemiya Masaki
- Hachisuka Tomoe
- Taema Miyako
- Kazama Ushio