Hazumu is a shy and quiet boy who loves flowers and is forced to rely on his tomboy childhood friend Tomari as a bodyguard. Yasuna is the prettiest girl in school but she avoids men like the plague… until she meets Hazumu. Encouraged, he confesses his love; heartbroken, he heads for the mountains to be with his flowers. As if Hazumu’s troubles aren’t enough, his day is further ruined when an alien ship accidentally kills him. Luckily, alien technology exists that can revive him, but not without a price: Hazumu returns from the dead, but in the form of… a cute girl?!
Story 7.5/10 Sometimes, the source material really is better than the anime. In the case of Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, this statement rings true. As I stated in my review of the anime, this straightfoward gender-bender love-triangle offers both a touching love story, and a feasible look at gender identity (as feasible as a story involving aliens and overnight sex-change could be). Instead of re-hashing my review of the anime, I'll point out why I think the manga does a better job. To put it simply: pacing and plausibility. Where the anime spirals toward a contrived climax that requires a choice out of the pathologically indecisive Hazumu, the manga provides a more deus ex machina scenario that jibes better with her personality. Without spoiling terribly, the manga further attenuates the tension between the protagonist and Tomari, which means the final act flows better than the on-screen version. What's more the storyline here also provides the added benefit of explaining Hazumu's sex change, albeit with a little alien-science mumbo-jumbo. All-in-all, the manga contains less DORAMA than the anime, but actually comes across better for it. Though Hazumu steals a larger portion of the focus than she has in the alternate telling, the real tension still comes from the two girls in love with her. The more dire stakes of the comic also add a sense of urgency that the show needed to bolt on by playing up Yasuna's unique condition. Lastly, the omake chapters go a long way toward enhancing the inherent comedy of the series and become welcome additions as the story turns more serious. Given that the auxiliary cast spends little time in the spotlight during the main story, the extra vignettes really fill out their characterizations in a delightful manner. Art 7.5/10 Yasuna, Tomari, and Hazumu look lightyears better here than they did on screen. The large-eyed expressive character recieve incredible attention to detail and rarely suffer from proportion issues. Additionally, Katsura-san's artwork features some ambitious layouts that help highlight out the story's important moments. Thanks to the combination of this quality storyboarding and some ephemeral, shoujo-tastic spreads, readers should find much in these books to drool over. The only gripe comes from the fact that Katsura's artwork flails a little during the chibi and comedy portions. Funny as they are, they lack the quality and care apparent in the more serious content. The frequency of these interludes means that at least once per volume, I wonder if she was even paying attention to what she drew. Characters 7.25/10 While Hazumu doesn't perform her random change of personality toward the end of the story and Tomari doesn't seem like such a wet-noodle, the manga fails to make adequate use of Yasuna (arguably the best part of the anime) and barely touches the auxiliary cast. Larger roles for Sora Hitoshi and Tomari rob Ayuki and Asuta of some of their time in the sun and hardly any time gets spent on Yasuna's family trouble. Though much of this inadequacy comes from the tight pacing that the story maintains, the flattening of the beautiful flautist removes some of the impact from the work. Overal 7.5/10 All that said, this verion stands head-and-shoulders above the anime. The superior art and more coherent stoy propel this manga into "read" territory for yuri fans by a mile. The Seven Seas' Omnibus edition (which I read) collects the whole thing in two extremely afforable volumes and make it into a no-brainer. Simple, easy on the eyes, and satisfying: you can't ask for much more from a manga.
After having read a couple of gender-bender manga, both good and bad, it seemed like they had, without exception, ecchi written all over them. Bracing myself for another flesh-fest, I was pleasantly surprised by Kashimashi’s focus on non-ecchi comedy and romance, all while keeping the gender change as a solid central theme. Story When Hazumu awakes after a surreal alien-encounter, he finds himself in surprisingly good shape, with one exception: he’s no longer a “he”! After this bizarre event, you follow him around as he tries to cope with his new body and all the effects it has on his old friends, parents and crushes. This is, by quite a long shot, the most tastefully done gender-bender manga I’ve read so far. Where most seem to focus on the changes of the body, accompanied by a fair share of ecchi, Kashimashi lays the focus on the gender change in regard to relationships. Carried by a good amount of (often random) comedy and pretty good romance, the manga goes from being plenty lighthearted and hilarious to more serious as it goes on, all leading towards a very satisfying conclusion. Art There really isn’t a whole lot to say about this section. The designs are well done, but still pretty average and standard. The overall quality is, while being a bit better than average, still pretty middle-of-the-road, making for an easy read. Characters While no one really stands out (with the exception of Sora-sensei who I will mention later), every character is done just right for their roles. All of Hazumu’s friends are obviously affected by the change, but don’t alienate him, (luckily) preventing a lot of potential angst. Sora, an alien with a mission to observe emotions of the human race, is a bit of a weird case, and basically provides a good amount of the comedy Kashimashi has. I’m not sure whether I loved his presence or not, but since a couple of the funniest moments were caused by him, it’s safe to call him a successful comic relief character. The only complaint I’d have is that one of the heroines of the story didn’t reach me in terms of emotional depth like the other did. The gap between the two isn’t huge, but still bothered me a little. Overall Kashimashi successfully mixes comedy, romance, drama and even a bit of suspense towards the conclusion. The gender-bender premise is handled in a tastefully, yet funny way. While not being above and beyond in any aspect, it’s very enjoyable from start to finish. Recommendable.
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