Of course, some companies take a risk on niche titles and succeed. One of the few things I will praise Seven Seas for is for being the first and few manga distributors to take a chance on yuri titles. This decision has paid off in recent years when they started licensing the works of Milk Morinaga, whose yuri anthology I reviewed last year. Well, they licensed yet another of her works this year, and it's certainly a change in pace for her.
GAKUEN POLIZI, by Milk Morinaga. First published in 2012, and first published in North America in 2014.
Aoba Sasami has a dream. She wants to be a great policewoman so that she can not only follow in her family trade, but also become a champion of justice. She's so dedicated to her cause that she joins the polizi, a group of teenage undercover police officers who protect the area schools. Too bad for Aoba then that she's assigned to Hanagaki Girls' High School, one of the most mild-mannered and peaceful schools in the city. Worse still, she's partnered with Midori Sakuraba. She's the chief's daughter, and she's as studious and by-the book as Aoba is exuberant and hasty. Still, the girls must find a way to work together and help their newfound friends.
So thanks to Girl Friends and Kisses, Sighs and Cherry Blossom Pink, Milk Morinaga has been established as a yuri writer of exceptional quality. So what happens when she decides to shake up her own formulas and try to write something a little less romantic? Well, the result is something of a mixed bag.
This is less about schoolgirls in love as it a buddy cop comedy. Aoba is the bad cop as well as the living personification of 'genki girl,' all heart and empathy but no forethought. Midori is the good cop, the one who lives by the rules but requires someone like Aoba to show her there is more to life than police work and making manga. While this combination works more than well enough for the polizi antics, it feels somewhat lacking in comparison to Morinaga's previous works. This is being marketed as yet another yuri title, and yet I don't get any sense of attraction or romantic tension between these two. Admittedly, in her previous works Morinaga tends to go for a slow burn sort of approach to her couples, building things gradually to romance, and she do a good job at establishing the building friendship between Aoba and Midori. I just wonder how she's going to transition this into a romantic relationship because there's no sense of anything beyond the platonic with these two.
The story itself follows a fairly straightforward formula. Aoba hears a rumor about some terrible crime and drags Midori along to investigate. The 'crime' turns out to be something mundane and silly, and the two girls have to clean up whatever mess Aoba might have created without revealing their identities as polizi. The formula breaks up during the last story, where the girls help one of Aoba's friends get over her fear of the police by hunting down her older sister's stalker. Aoba, true to her nature, confronts him outright, but her investigation forces her to question if someone who committed such a personal crime should be allowed to move on with their lives and if forgiveness can be given with time. The end result is messy and complicated, but it's a welcome bit of seriousness in what had been up to that point a lot of silly fluff. I'm hoping that this is the direction that future volumes will take, one where the girls have to deal with a lot more personal issues and conflicts instead of a lot of silly, forgettable wackiness.
While the story might be slacking a little on the story side, her artwork is up to its same high standards. The character designs are simple and cute as her girls so often are, and befitting the lighter, more comedic tone there are a lot more broad, super-deformed reactions. The backgrounds are rather infrequent, aside from the odd change in location. Still, Morinaga never lets the franticness of the comedy impact the flow the panels, as the story is always easy to follow and good looking.
While Gakuen Polizi isn't as strong as Morinaga's more intimate romances, it's still light, charming, and pretty enough to be appealing.
This series is published by Seven Seas. This series is ongoing in Japan, with 2 volumes available. Both have been published and both are currently in print.
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