Why do I like yuri? That’s actually a harder question to answer than I initially thought. I can’t say it gives me a nostalgic and longing feeling, even though it kind of does, despite having never experienced any lesbian relationships in my past. Is it the difference in narrative when it comes to themes, dramatic conflicts and overall storytelling? Potentially. Is it simply because it focuses on a romance between two girls? On a very base level I’d say yes, that would have to be one of the main reasons why I like yuri so much, and I’m sure for many others. There’s some shift in the dynamic that different from two girls in love to heterosexual relationships, otherwise we wouldn’t be here right now. It’s hard to exactly say why I like yuri, but I can definitely show you why:
Just look at it for a minute. Maybe two. Everything that yuri means to me exists in its pure, unadulterated form. But also understand that this is a sensationalized, fantastical version of the lesbian love that I’m so fond of. Something this pure cannot possibly exist in the real world, right? To know the boundary between fantasy and reality is important. However…
Enter Honey & Honey, a special little manga that shows what a realistic lesbian relationship may look like. Honey and bee stings and all. Written by TAKEUCHI Sachiko in around 2006, published by Media Factory (sources unclear on publisher), this cute little manga acts as an autobiographical window into the life of the mangaka, a lesbian herself and her relationship with her girlfriend. As such, it also provides a look into what that lifestyle pertains to. Where do they go for dates? What type of friends do they have? How do others in Japan react to the LGBT community? All this in more in this bite-sized, 34 chapter romp through a world most don’t really think about. It’s not your typical pure schoolgirl love, but sometimes reality can be sweeter than fiction.
Let’s start with the artwork, since it’s ridiculously easy to talk about. It’s very, very, very simple. Sachiko and Masako look like they got stuck in the chibi-artstyle dimension of Kiniro Mosaic. The dot eyes, simple design, Masako’s smug grin, it is not the big-eyed shoujos we’re so used to. It’s simple, but it works. If you end up liking the manga the art is not the reason why you’re coming back to it.
In Sachiko and Masako’s world they are referred to as ‘bians,’ since ‘lez’ is determined too derogatory. It’s a world where their dates take advantage of women-only discounts. It’s a world where they debate between what vibrators best suit each other as a couple. It’s a world where people of all walks of life and orientation volunteer to celebrate the diversity of said orientation. It’s a different, yet interestingly endearing world to enter. And guess what? It’s the real world. Largely a slice-of-life story, there honestly isn’t any real story to grasp at. There’s no overarching plot, no deep metaphors, no Shakespearean storytelling to elevate the narrative from what it is. While at the same time, no one should be entering any medium of storytelling with that high an expectation, Honey & Honey works because of how simple and easygoing it is. It’s fun to sit back and relax and watch these two live their lives through the lens of being a lesbian.
The writing is good at showcasing the slice-of-life angle of the manga, Sachiko herself talking to the audience quite often to put in her own commentary of her own life and its goings-on. The comedy is light, but when it hits, it can be pretty funny.
A quality I enjoy about the writing specifically is how casual Sachiko treats her love life and how seemingly different it is to others, which it is. It’s fun to read in this sense, you might be surprised how much you can relate to Sachiko and her girlfriend, even if you’re straight yourself. The pre-date getting ready ritual, being familiar with both the virtues and flaws of your lover, dealing with jealousy stemming from having friends outside of each other, these are all things couples universally experience, regardless of sexual orientation. It’s almost surprising to see how things don’t seem too different at all, but it shouldn’t be. We’re all people after all. And in all of that, you can still find some sweet yuri moments that we all crave. Normally I will use spoilers to help properly review a manga, but in this case, I’ll leave them out. It’s not necessarily exciting or gripping, but I feel like this is something worth going in blind.
Due to the very simple and easygoing nature of Honey & Honey, there isn’t really much else to say other than… read it. Chapters are generally short and succinct, and you can finish the whole thing in a day if you wanted to. But I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s the lightest read in every sense, and as such I recommend taking your time reading Sachiko and Masako’s story. Maybe one chapter or so after you read another yuri manga. Think of it like supplements, getting both sides of the yuri spectrum, both the idealized and realistic. Understanding where the line exists between fantasy and reality. And in somewhere in there, you’ll find the quaint entertainment that is Honey & Honey. I give it a light to decent 7.