Despite Yuri being a well known genre among anime fans, it is hard to find many actual yuri anime series. Sure there are plenty of fanservice series featuring women, but they are generally not the same thing (although they are certainly good too). The main reason for this is that yuri, otherwise known as “shoujo ai “or “girl’s love” tends to be focused on appealing to actual lesbians instead of males That is not to say that series in the latter category can’t appeal to us as well.
Some well known examples include Yuru Yuri and Strawberry Panic, but in this review, I plan to tackle a slightly lesser known one. Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl a title that obviously screams yuri, is a series that not only focuses on a cute character driven lesbian romance, but there are also even elements of gender bending thrown in. So the question is: is this series is any good, or if it is not worth meeting?
To get the technical stuff out of the way first, the art style is pretty good. The characters are well drawn and the animation is effective. It is not overly impressive in a technical sense, but artistically it is pretty good. The music is also effective for the most part and really drives some of the more emotional moments, but at the same time, there aren’t many stand out tracks either. The voice acting in the English dub was fairly decent. There were a few instances where it sounded strange but it was still decent enough. Unfortunately, I was unable to hear the Japanese dub so I am unable to comment on it here. Now that we got this stuff out of the, it is time to touch on what most are here for; the story.
The story begins when our main character Hazumu Osaragi, tries to confess his feelings to a girl he has a crush on. Unfortunately, he ends up being rejected by Yasuna (the girl he tried confessing to) which causes him to become depressed. He ends up climbing to the top of a hill when an alien spacecraft lands on him and kills him (well that escalated quickly). The aliens rectify this by bringing Hazumu bring to life and restoring his body completely; only they made a mistake and restores him as a female right down to his DNA (*grumble* lucky bastard…).
Surprisingly, the whole sudden sex change is not the focus of this series. In fact, Hazumu has practically no difficulty adjusting in the slightest. Granted Hazumu was never particularly boyish personality wise. In fact, it is very possible to come to the conclusion that Hazumu was transgender via some subtext if one observes closely. However, I will say that that everyone’s reaction to such an event is downplayed a bit, but it is not hard to suspend one’s disbelief here.
The actual story of the series was based on a love triangle between Hazumu and her two friends, Tomari and Yasuna. As such, it is a series that relies very heavily on how likable our characters are and how much you care about the romance aspect. Thankfully, our characters are likable for the most part. Tomari is Hazumu’s childhood friend and she tended to be the one who protected and cared for him most of the time. In fact, Tomari tended to be the more tomboyish of the two and she promised to always protect him. Her reason for falling in love with Hazumu was that there was the oh-so typical childhood marriage promise between the two of them when they were both very young. She also tends to have some light tsundere tendencies.
Our other love interest is Yasuna, the girl that Hazumu had his sights on before the accident that turned him into a girl. Yasuna is, basically, the typical, shrinking violet, shy moe girl. She ends up revealing that the reason she rejected Hazumu was that she has a condition where she is unable to distinguish men from each other. She is however, able to see Hazumu and is worried that she will lose that ability over time if she gets too close to him (this is mainly because she actually could see men earlier in her life but ended up losing said ability). Now that Hazumu has become a girl, she no longer has to worry about that and feels it is safe to be with her.
You also have Asuta, Hazumu’s male best friend who also developed a crush on her and who is one of the few male characters to be given any real focus. While I liked Asuta’s character, as I rather annoyed at how his character was implemented in the plot. While Asuta had a place in the first few episodes, his role gets reduced to butt monkey status in later episodes. It gets to the point where all three main characters suddenly don’t care about him at all. Hell at one point, they refuse to invite him to a day at the aquarium, and he outright protests towards them refusing to reschedule it so they can make room for him.
Hazumu, the nicest and most caring character in the series, shows no sign of remorse in abandoning her best friend and demonstrates a clear lack of care. That is not even going into the typical tsundere beating he gets from Tomari. None of these gags are funny in the least and they simply taint our characters if you bother to look into the subtext a bit.
However, the major issue I had with the series was that it just had a massive drop in quality during the second half of episode 10, and during the entirety of episode eleven. Prior to that point, the series was a bit slow paced, but it lent itself well to the nature of the series and it was very cute and pleasant to watch. The 9th episode even tends to have a rather powerful emotional moment regarding Hazumu’s pressure when it comes to choosing between Yasuna and Tomari. However, episodes 10 and 11 devolve into a bunch of drama based off of jealousy and forced drama that happens by contrived coincidence. Two otherwise good characters, get flanderized into being passive and jealous over someone who out right stated that she did not want a relationship if she had to choose one, and Hazumu is guilt tripped into choosing one that the plot outright demands she choose.
Even worse is that this episode has the gall to lecture Hazumu as if she was in the wrong for waiting when it was the immature actions of these other two characters that caused all these problems to begin with! The eleventh episode of Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl is by far the worst episode I have seen in an anime series I otherwise enjoyed, and it served no purpose other than to taint the entire series in my eyes. Episodes 12 and 13, thankfully, manage to become far more pleasant to watch and bring a satisfying conclusion to the series.
Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl was an enjoyable series to watch. While it may not appeal to those who prefer a more tense or exciting series, it serves as one that can be very cute and relaxing. However, I am very tempted to say to stop watching after episode nine. The tenth and eleventh episodes end up almost feeling like a good friend of yours turned out to be a huge jerk and stopped caring about you. This normally would not be a problem had it not been for the fact that this series is driven based on its characters. As such, it makes these two episodes very frustrating, unpleasant, and incredibly jarring. However one cannot just skip these episodes because it would end up being awkward to go from episode 9 to twelve while missing the events from the previous two. Yet it would feel too weird to stop at episode 9 considering that it is not set up to be a conclusion.
So the final question is if I can still recommend Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl. Despite the jarring nature of the aforementioned episodes, I can still recommend this series to any fans of cute romance anime and yuri. I can at least say straight out that this series is enjoyable to watch for nine episodes, and that some may not be as bothered by episodes ten and eleven as I was. So overall, Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl gets my approval.