Gina Biggs’ long-running Red String series (volumes one, two, and three are all available at Amazon) is reaching a climax. The series has been focusing on the trials and tribulations of three high school girls as they come to terms with their sexuality and burgeoning adulthood. While it’s drawn/plotted as a conventional manga, it’s far more than that. Miharu is bold, assertive, and the aggressor in her relationship with her soulmate Kazuo. Reika, the shy one, has been growing into a more confident young woman after a jerk from her school jilted her. What’s even cooler is that she did NOT fall into the arms of her grouchy, grumpy best friend Eiji, even though he seems to have feelings for her. Instead, she’s taking some time to work on herself. Fuuko has finally come out of the closet, and handled her “coming out” conversation with her first crush (the captain of the girl’s volleyball team) with well-earned poise. Plus, you’ve got to love that all the characters are drawn as Japanese, unlike in some other mangas or animes, where it’s blondes, blondes, blondes, and Brits every frickin’ where. I love that the colored versions of each girl shows different skin-tones, and that their various (dyed) hair-styles are treated as essential components of their characterization, not as a generic component of their ethnic hotness.
Finally, while the datin’-drama is fun, this is really a story about those friendships that sustain girls as they morph into young women. Miharu, Reika, and Fuuko’s friendship has been the series underlying driving force for a while now… they’ve been separated, but it’s been great to watch them start new friendships and work to maintain these life-preserving old ones.
I wanted to mention this comic because Miharu and Kazuo might be ramping things up very soon — and what’s great is that it’s Miharu who’s initiating their growing intimacy, and it’s Miharu who’s making sure they’ve got condoms. GO MIHARU! There’s totally going to be angst, but damn, chica, way to prove you’ve been thinking ahead.