Title: Strawberry Fields Once Again
Author: Kazura Kinosaki
Release Date: December 20, 2020
Publisher: Yen Press
I find that yuri manga can be hit-or-miss. It doesn’t take much of a yuri story to grab my attention, but I appreciate the stories that put a little more effort into the premise and characters. I feel like Strawberry Fields Once Again Vol. 1 from author Kazura Kinosaki really raised my genre expectations. It’s made more interesting after a haphazard.
Strawberry Fields Once Again Vol. 1 introduces Akira Kouno, an otaku otome lover who only wishes to be left alone. On a seemingly normal day of her ignoring everyone, a transfer student named Pure Sakurasaka appears and says that they are married in the future, and she’s traveled back six years from the future because Akira’s future self said she wanted to spend high school with her. I know that’s a lot to digest, but it does create a layer of disbelief in terms of plot.
You see, if Pure really was married to Akira in the future, I’m sure she would know more about her when it comes to her likes and dislikes, but things don’t really work that way. That said, there’s a lot that the author is holding from the reader only to give you a tease that not everything is as it seems. We learn about Akira’s past and family issues and a bit about Pure, but most of the story is focused on them actually becoming friends.
Akira isn’t a friendly person, and she doesn’t want Pure around her. However, Pure’s personality makes her out to be rather intense with letting Akira know how much she loves her. It’s interesting to see Akira come around to Pure’s advances, but she’s not completely sold on the whole time-traveling thing.
If that were it for the premise, I’d probably have passed up on this title as just another yuri visual novel, but there are some exciting plots developing here. Pure is a complete mystery and drops these hints about any truths to her story. It turns into a driving point to want to continue, but if that’s not enough, there are some hilarious moments between the two girls, along with a few adorable scenes.
The illustrations are incredible as they bleed into each other and display the various location that the two travel to. I think a huge emphasis was made on the character’s facial expressions, which really shine in every scene. This shows up when emotions are high and when Akira is trying to get what she wants, and you get to see her come around to the idea of friends.
The themes of yuri are also interesting since Akira isn’t technically out as a lesbian. However, she’s not opposed to the idea of girls, but she hasn’t really given it any thought, either. I thought these scenes were important to the tone of the plot because they cleared up any confusion about her sexuality. Most of the time, it seems she’s more into otome boys, which is what she seems to like more about Pure.
Strawberry Fields Once Again Vol. 1 is a solid opening to a yuri visual novel that offers more than your typical slice-of-life yuri elements. I was drawn in by the mystery of it all and by just how adorable these two girls are together. I found Akira to be a great lead protagonist since her attitude about friendships stems from some real traumatic moments in her life. If you’re looking for a yuri manga that tries something interesting but still features funny story elements, then I would really consider this manga.
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