Akebi-chan’s Sailor Uniform

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Fantastic, superb, visual manga.

The three manga I’ll be recommending this week, as usual, have a connecting similarity. In this case, all three are phenomenal. The first is Akebi-chan’s Sailor Uniform (明日ちゃんのセーラー服, Akebi-chan no Serafuku) by hiro (博) (notably the mangaka behind Yumekuri), which is in my opinion a truly special manga. As I stated to begin this article, it’s very…visual.

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The full size of this .gif is very large. Just over 20mb.

This sequence takes up almost half of the prologue and is essentially how the manga starts. Most of Akebi-chan’s Sailor Uniform has an extreme focus on just looking at things. Wordless, soundless, visual splendor abounds. Putting aside this factor the series has a mostly standard premise, though that doesn’t stop it from being special and incredibly good. It’s a slice of life series about a girl and the friends she makes, with some yuri undertones. Still, its sheer atmosphere and style really captured my attention. Upon reading all of what was available translated, I immediately sought out volume 1 and read the latest untranslated chapters. This series is, simply put, awesome, and I’m quite happy it exists.

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I’ve decided to use volume 2’s cover because volume 1’s is a bit…well, I’ll get to that later.

Akebi Komichi is an incredibly enthusiastic, tomboyish country girl who has recently been accepted to the middle school her mother went to. It’s prestigious and all that, and despite being in the Japanese countryside the classes will be big because it’s a famous school, but more importantly its students get to wear sailor uniforms. Komichi is infatuated with the idea of wearing a beautiful sailor uniform like her mother’s. This is partly because her mother wore one, and partly due to her wanting to be like her favorite idol, Fukumoto Miki.

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Unfortunately for Komichi, she has yet to become fully cognizant of another somewhat large focus of this manga.

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Embarrassment. (sound familiar?)

Indeed, although wearing a sailor uniform (a somewhat old style of school uniform) is allowed at Komichi’s new school (though unexpected), they don’t actually…use sailor uniforms (they use blazers). In fact, this scene is something of a gut punch even though you can kind of see it coming, since the prologue is all about how excited Komichi is about her new uniform, and chapter 1 is mostly about how her mother, a dressmaker, selects the materials and creates the uniform that Komichi so dearly wanted.

Although she falls into despair upon coming home, her younger sister, Kao, spanks her back into shape.

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After this, Komichi determines to wear the uniform regardless of potential embarrassment, and the series may properly begin. Also, you may have noticed something by now, something I’ve alluded to but for some reason haven’t explicitly mentioned.

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This series is…hmm…

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Hmmmm.

How do I put this? It’s somewhat…

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Hmmmmmmm.

This series is extremely, and almost entirely, innocent, yet it’s undoubtable that if a thing about it could be called “perverted” it would be the author himself who definitely focuses on posteriors, unusual eroticism, and a few specifically sexual moments (that are still innocent). I have a thing on this site I call a lewdness warning which I’ll employ for series that have a sexual nature. Specifically, I describe the tag as “the manga may not have fanservice, but I wouldn’t read it at work”. Basically, if a series has regular and noticeable sexual content, I tag it with “lewd” and give it a warning. You’ll notice I haven’t given one to this series.

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Well, that’s cause…I really can’t give it such a warning. This is an ecchi manga (in a vein similar to Kine-san no 1-ri de Cinema and Jyoshikausei). I can’t deny that it is a manga that, in some ways, intends to be provocative (though some would deny that; trust me, it absolutely does, and there’s a reason one of the more suggestive scenes is represented on the first volume’s cover). That doesn’t mean it’s sexual, though. This is a series about girls who are young and naive, and even when they’re not-so naive it’s not exactly what I’d call perverted. Nonetheless, if you read this, you should probably expect some “fanservice”, but it’s definitely not normal fanservice.

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In the end, it is simply another contributing factor to the manga’s overwhelmingly unique atmosphere and style. Returning to summarizing, with the manga’s second chapter (have I mentioned the chapter numbering for this series is weird because of the “prologue”?) Komichi meets this girl here, Kizaki Erika, who naturally ends up being Komichi’s “best friend” (read: “uh, are these two more than friends?”).

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Maybe. (yes)

Erika is pretty great. Actually, all the characters introduced so far are pretty great. They’re all quite genuine — genuinely strange and human. Erika, for example, seems at a glance to be perhaps an “ojou” type character, but she’s really just an awkward teenage girl. Her and Komichi’s growing friendship is incredibly nice to see, since it’s not actually immediate and takes a bit of time to cultivate (though they definitely have an immediately fairly good rapport).

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Overall, Komichi really wants to make friends. Similarly to her desire to wear a sailor uniform, her reasons behind wanting to make friends are essentially twofold. On one hand, she hasn’t ever really had friends because she lives in the Japanese countryside (notoriously extremely empty), on the other if she can make loads of friends it’s like she can be an idol. Regardless of her reasons, her dedication is very admirable. She devotes study simply to learning her classmates’ names, and she puts in effort to connect with others, get to know them, and hopefully nurture friendship.

Along the way we’ve got several common factors from chapter to chapter. There’s the eroticism, there’s the pure visual focus, there’s slice of life hanging-out sessions, and there’s a lot of embarrassment-focused comedy.

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This kind of thing happens quite a lot.

Aside from that, we are also treated to sporadic color pages, which don’t necessarily only come at the start or end of a chapter, but are instead used for significant moments and scenes.

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This is something that I’ve only really seen in YKK before, though Akebi’s Sailor Uniform doesn’t have any full-color chapters (yet?). Regardless, that really puts the series in very esteemed company.

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Just absolutely gorgeous. This comes from the same chapter as that last spread, by the way, a couple of pages later. Also, haven’t really seen this kind of blending between color and black and white outside of Dr. Hitomi’s Infirmary.

And aside from that, if I’m allowed to sound a little lofty, this manga has a regular theme of “strength”. Our introduction to the protagonist is her performing a frankly incredible feat of physical strength (though she messes up at the end, showing off the faux pas factor the series regularly brings up). The next chapter, she shows mental strength by deciding to wear her sailor uniform anyway even though it could bring her a lot of stress (because she wanted to, her mother made it, etc.). Throughout the manga she also shows off a healthy amount of determination and zeal, more than I usually see in “genki” protagonists. She embarrasses herself a lot in the process, but if anything that continues to highlight her strength, pushing beyond those pains (and god, they can be painful).

 

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The series thus has an almost rousing influence despite being part of a traditionally relaxed genre. It can certainly be relaxing, but a lot of the time it’s more like “swelling/emotional”. Not move-to-tears emotional, but it certainly got me feeling warm and fuzzy, happy, and confident. And of course, it’s regularly quite funny.

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Kao is one of the large reasons for that.

And…I feel like I have more to say, but I suppose that’s it. Regarding the “yuri” element that I mentioned somewhat jokingly earlier, this author is not unfamiliar with shoujo ai, so I wouldn’t count the possibility firmly out. Anyway that covers all the reasons this manga gets a mega thumbs-up from me. TOTALLY worth reading. If you want to read it raw, it’s an easy read too. Highly recommended manga, one of my new favorites, check it out. The series is available for purchase from CDJapan, bookwalker (guide), honto (guide), ebookjapan. Finally, this series is serialized online, and many of the chapters outside of volumes (prologue chapter aside) are available for free reading! Link is [here].

Next time is another manga I seriously fell in love with. That reminds me, another connection between the three manga this week is that none of them are even close to being up-to-date with translation. But anyway, this next one, It’s very good. Thanks for reading, see you then.

2 thoughts on “Akebi-chan’s Sailor Uniform

  1. Super says:

    I like the way the author talks at the same time for a long time that this manga is about friendship or how pure it is and tries to find a yuri element here.It seems that these days people in the West perceive friendship only as a temporary stage to GL or BL.

    • Edited to consolidate this commenter’s oddly long argument into one post.

      I like the way the author talks at the same time for a long time that this manga is about friendship or how pure it is and tries to find a yuri element here.It seems that these days people in the West perceive friendship only as a temporary stage to GL or BL.

      If something seems romantic, between the same or opposite sex, I’ll make note of it. It’s disingenuous to pretend intimacy as displayed in this manga is not at least somewhat dubious, and this is no Western-exclusive convention: it’s very prevalent within slice of life manga, hence this tag:
      https://terrenceswiff.wordpress.com/tag/surprisingly-not-yuri/

      Nobody says that this should be ignored, but it also does not mean that such fanservice (which, as you yourself admit, is quite typical for all-female titles) should immediately be taken as a real yuri, and more restrained titles should be marked as “suprisingly not yuri “. You forget that these are all-female works for a male audience, so obviously the female interaction in them will be overly cute. It doesn’t make the work romantic yet.

      >>should immediately be taken as a real yuri
      I’ve never called it “real yuri”. I have a tag called “subtext yuri” that I seem to have forgotten about, but at any rate I never intended it to be seen as “absolute, definite, this a romantic series yuri”. Rather, this is not even marked as romance at all so I’m not sure what your problem is there. If it has the tag, it’s more like “if you enjoy yuri, check this out”. If it doesn’t say it’s romance, you should be able to put two and two together, though regardless I am indeed incorporating a “subtext” tag. Otherwise, the tags are literally just for convenience. I told you elsewhere, this is a site for recommending things to people, not nitpicking and literally making things arbitrarily more difficult to find or parse. If you like x, read things tagged with x. If you see that it doesn’t say romance or does say subtext, and you get bitterly offended, then don’t read it.

      Last thing I’ll say is that although this isn’t front and center, the yuri and shouji ai tags on this site have always read as such:

      I will slightly edit it for clarity, also.

      > Manga without any romance both in the plot and in the tags.
      > Advise as romantic manga due to homoerotic subtext.

      It feels like you know so little of yuri that the recommended yuri section had to be supplemented with a bunch of all-female ecchi and “super duper female friendship” like Akebi-chan’s Sailor Uniform. I don’t understand why yuri fans discount all the great yuri they have by constantly trying to fool themselves with it? I’ve never seen fujoshi make up some BL TOP with a bunch of sport shonen titles like Haikyuu that are BL only in their heads.

      If you’re interested in subtext or light teasing, the series here are listed to appeal to such readers, as well as readers who want true romance, If I see it discussed in yuri fandoms (East or West–yes, this is based on what I see in Japanese communities as well), I list it, I recommend that you chill out and remember that this is a resource for recommendations, not an ideological platform,

      Many Shonen Jump titles deliberately tease “certain” audiences and are widely discussed among BL communities on both sides of the ocean, but that doesn’t make any Haikyuu or MHA yaoi. I don’t see anything wrong with recommending some works to yuri fans, because it has one or another subtext, but when such works are non-ironically called yuri, it looks extremely pathetic.

      Okay.

      Replies to this in bold
      How can the fact that Japan also has yuri fans who also like to interpret certain things as yuri denies the existence of platonic homoeroticism in Japanese culture and that in many works it is nothing more than a fanservice? Never said it does. Never, even once. I’m saying that people, in general, have the ability to completely misinterpret things, such as most people — yes including in Japan — swearing that the character “Yuri” in WataMote is in love with the protagonist.
      With this logic in mind, Yukinon x Yui’s existence on Oregairu fandom proves that the two were meant to be a lesbian couple, LMAO. You’re imaging arguments I never made.
      Once again, the point is not that there are supposedly no yuri shippers in Japan, You essentially said as much
      I don’t understand why you persist in trying to take things this way. You essentially said as much
      The point is that the Western audience does not understand where these things are just fan service and style, and where is the real romance. See? You’re up your own ass and trying to be angry over nothing. This wasn’t tagged as romance, you thought I was saying it’s romance, the site’s tag says that the yuri tag is not only for “romance” series but anything with teasing, you’re insisting that only the West can misinterpret things when you brought up BL communities and I mentioned GL communities in Japan, you seem to think that Japan is special, and you paint with a wide brush. You say western audiences don’t understand the difference: I quite literally do and the site has several examples showing that I do, including things like not labeling series like Yuru Camp which have large yuri followings in Japan AND outside of it as “yuri” simply because I don’t even see any teasing or anything of note. Stop pretending this is some sort of platform or statement. I do not give a shit. I don’t give the slightest shit about whatever you’re going off about

      Okay. Not what I was saying but you do you.

      And I’m sorry, but no. There is a difference between “this style is popular in manga” and “Western audiences like to interpret it as gay.” This is not so ambiguous from a Japanese point of view and is a fairly typical idealization of non-sexual intimacy in Japanese or Asian media in general. Have you ever heard of things like skinship and shinyuu?

      I don’t really have any intention to argue with you about your interpretations. For simple examples of Japanese fans interpreting things as yuri or at least enjoying series within yuri communities look at “Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui” and “Miss Bernard said.” This is *not* something only westerners think up. I don’t care if you want to believe it is, it isn’t. If anything it’s more endemic to Japan where the doujin scene heavily encourages people making their own homosexual OR heterosexual fanwork of any series you can name.
      No these are not the only two series. No I’m not willing to list every last one. Yes I think you’re overreacting. You’re making a lot of assumptions and getting heated over nothing, take it somewhere else. You’re preaching to the choir.

      So, as I understand it, we should treat any BL ships in a show like MHA as worthy of attention, since people can’t ship characters just for fun and the very existence of the ship or ship material proves that it has a chance? Should we take this attitude towards incest ships too? RemRam in ReZero, for example? Incidentally, this is the most popular ReZero’s ship on pixiv (as is Yukinon x Yui in turn). Should we read this that Rem and Ram’s typically Japanese intimacy was not just sisterly?
      You keep not seeing (or noticing) the difference between original content and fan reaction, which is often wishful thinking or just having fun at all. Not to mention the fact that from your words one might think that you only met yesterday with such a phenomenon as shipping and do not know how it works. I hope I don’t need to tell you about things like Shipping goggles or remind you how many Japanese titles even directly parody it? Even the WataMote you mentioned did this even before it finally became a CGDCT.

      >So, as I understand it
      You don’t understand and that’s okay. You want to argue based on your misunderstanding. I don’t.

      I love the way you simultaneously accuse me of coming up with arguments that you did not speak and, without any argumentation, bring my arguments to the point of absurdity, claiming that I deny the existence of yuri shippers in Japan, LMAO.
      Once again, my main and only gripe was that you were mixing real yuri with works that can only be yuri bait at best. But for some reason it made you mad and you started to prove to me that if in Japan itself people can also take titles like yuri, then reading it as yuri is not wishful thinking and not understanding Japanese culture.

      And this stubbornness to insist on arguing with someone who agrees with their points is why I removed the reply string. He did add:

      Judging by the way you decided to attack only the first few words, ignoring all the other obvious sarcasm, I understand that the meaning of my comment really reached you. I am glad.

      Obvious sarcasm is getting your head stuck in your ass and writing wall after wall of complaints regarding issues that have been addressed, apparently. I think this commenter knows a few Japanese concepts but hasn’t spent any time amidst Japanese forums or literally in Japan where things like WataMote get shelved and advertised within/as girl’s love in some bookstores. Not saying it’s yuri: it’s not yuri, but people read it as that. While there are people who separate “fanon” and “canon” in any fandom, there are also people who don’t. Yes, also in Japan. I assume the commenter thinks only people outside of Japan can be obnoxious and that within Japan that simply does not exist. Nippon banzai

      Also he mentioned something about getting “nervous”. Not nervous (I’m not sure what would make me nervous? It’s just a frivolous semantic argument), but annoyed (because it’s a frivolous semantic argument and you’re spamming the comments because you insist on maintaining it). I’ll archive his words here:

      My God, you started to attribute non-existent statements to me even more or even try to read my mind. And after that, are you seriously trying to accuse me of accusing you of statements that you did not make? You are literally provoking me to continue the argument and hypocritically trying to accuse me of this myself, LMAO.

      +

      Ahaha, and now you just delete comments that indicate your hypocrisy or a direct distortion of my words. Why am I not even surprised?

      + (New usename)

      Ahaha, and now you just delete the comments where I point out your hypocrisy or gross distortion of my words. Why am I not even surprised?

      + (New usename)

      So, as I understand it, from now on you will either just delete my comments, or try to present them in the light you want, “sincerely” not understanding why I see pure bait in this. Classic. On this I say goodbye to you, do not forget about another salty answer to this, sayonara.

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