Hazumu is a quiet, delicate boy who is in love with Yasuna, a beautiful girl who attends his school. He and Yasuna are friends, but when he confesses his feelings to her, she rejects him. Heartbroken, Hazumu goes off to his favorite mountain to think. Unfortunately, while he is there an alien spaceship lands on him. The aliens manage to save him, but in the process of reconstructing him, they accidentally turn him female! And, as if learning how to be a girl wasn’t hard enough, now Hazumu finds himself, er…herself, caught in a love triangle between two girls: childhood friend Tomari and failed love interest Yasuna!
Alas, though Kashimashi does have some nicely cracky moments, it is simply to moe (for men) for my tastes. Rather than building a solid plot, Akahori relies on many, many scenes of the characters angsting about their feelings for one another. This usually requires Tomari to freak out and hit someone, Hazumu’s male friend Asuta to freak out about his new attraction towards Hazumu’s feminine body, and their teacher Namiko-sensei to freak out about being thirty-five and never having had a boyfriend. (Yeah, I don’t find that last one funny either.) All of those elements made the story plod along dully. There are some sweet scenes, especially between Hazumu and Yasuna, though they are too few in number. I’m not sure that I agreed with the author’s choice to make Yasuna unable to clearly see men. Maybe he felt that making her simply a lesbian would be too much of a turn-off to male readers. It’s too bad, though, because she is sure about her attraction to women and it would have been nice if she had been able to clearly articulate that.
Katsura’s art is moe through and through. Round faces, big eyes, simple body shapes all make her characters look much younger than they are. Sometimes I’m able to get past that, but I simply couldn’t get to that point here. Especially since the adults clearly looked like adults, so I wanted Hazumu and her fellow students to clearly look like teens, which they just don’t. One nice touch on Katsura’s part is that we never see Hazumu’s face when he is still a boy. It is as if he doesn’t fully become who he really is until he is transformed into a girl. I like that hint at transgenderism. It’s a nicely realistic touch in an otherwise fantastical story.
Kashimashi starts to pick up a little by the end of volume four, the last volume I had on hand, but even though the series is only five volumes long, I was not moved to go and find that last volume. The plot is simply too sluggish to make it a great read. If you’re looking for moe yuri, then this might not be a bad pick for you, but for me it just didn’t work.
NOTE: This review was previously posted at an old blog of mine, Fujoshi Librarian.
Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, vol. 1-4
Written by Satoru Akahori; Illustrated by Yukimaru Katsura
Available in Kashimashi Omnibus Editions 1-2
ISBN (omnibus 1): 978-1-934876-70-1
ISBN (omnibus 2): 978-1-934876-76-3
Seven Seas, 2009