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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
First Love Sisters Vol. 1 by Shinonome Mizuo 
1st-Feb-2008 11:43 pm
Shinonome, Mizuo. First Love Sisters. Vol. 1. Trans. Beni Axia Conrad and Lorelei Laird. Seven Seas, 2007.
          Summary: A chance meeting with the elegant Haruna Kizaki at the prestigious Tsunokamizaka Girls' Academy, and for Chika Matsuzato it's love at first sight. Chika manages to get accepted to Haruna's school specifically to be with Haruna...but once she gets there, winning the regard of the object of her affections proves to be a challenge. Fortunately, she's got Haruna's little sister Akiho on her side.
          Comments: This multi-volumes series, with a story concept by Komao Mako and character designs by the legendary yuri-ista Hibiki Reine, is actually a collaborative project...and thank goodness, because I think this meeting of minds improves it tremendously. So, whereas a lot of the Yuri Shimai/Yurihime titles go nowhere veeeeeeeeery slowly, First Love Sisters is plodding surely along the prototypical shoujo school romance plotline. As per the tried and true formula, by the end of the first volume, the protagonist Chika and the object of her affections Haruna have decided (at least nominally) to be couple. Next up will undoubtedly be The Appearance of the Rival subplot.
          I was delighted to note that all of the color pages of the Japanese book have been preserved intact for the Seven Seas edition...although, unfortunately, Shinonome's artwork isn't necessarily something to write home about. Though the layouts are sufficiently professional, I couldn't help but notice that characters' faces are inconsistently drawn. In some places, particularly the cover and pin-up illustrations, they look like something straight out of a second-rate parody doujinshi; in others, they boast characteristic shoujo elegance. Ah well. I wasn't expecting a masterpiece (and, sure enough, I didn't get it). By the way, the editorial quality of this volume is decidedly slapdash; I noticed a few typos and a really embarrassing error on the second page of four-panel strips at the end.
          Notes: A5 paperback, 1st American edition; first published in Japan by Ichijinsha in 2006
          Rating: 5.5/10 - Not quite a total waste of time, particularly if you like shoujo and/or yuri manga. I hold out hopes that the story will strengthen in subsequent volumes.

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