If I were to describe Tsurezurebiyori with a few words, I’d say it’s a story that thrives in its original simplicity.
What I mean is that nothing this manga does or symbolizes is new or unique. It’s a simple story about a simple life of four high school friends. However, it doesn’t take long to realize that, as far as execution goes, Tsurezurebiyori is a rather unique title for the yuri genre.
First of all, Tsurezurebiyori is not yuri at all for most of its run. There’s barely any romance until the very last chapters. Instead, it’s much more a story about friendship and what these girls mean to one another. They go through their daily lives like normal high school students do, lazing around, doing nothing in particular and just enjoying their time together. This might seem boring for some but stick with me, because thanks to its great execution Tsurezurebiyori is one of the sweetest and most entertaining slice of life stories I’ve experienced in a long time.
One of the reasons why is because it doesn’t use generic and done-to-death plot elements you mostly get to see in similar stories. There are no school festivals and no class trips. There is not even much drama present, and the one chapter that is heavier on drama is still rather well and uniquely executed. The manga really is just a simple story of a simple life that focuses its strengths in areas other than complicated plot. One of those areas is atmosphere.
Tsurezurebiyori understands its atmosphere in a way few yuri titles do. One of my problems with the popular yuri manga Girlfriends was that there was an absolute overdose of dialogue. Those girls just never let you take a breather, which is, in my opinion, a rather important element of creating good ambiance and getting the reader immersed in a story. Tsurezurebiyori is different. Its dialogues are very simple and there are many pages that have no text at all. Sometimes there will be a page with a character sitting alone in a room, looking out the window. Sometimes there will be two friends sitting next to each other and just quietly appreciating their time together. The author follows the idea that ‘words are not everything’, and these quiet moments magnificently help to create a rather interesting and pleasant atmosphere that made the manga much more likable for me than it would’ve been otherwise.
But the atmosphere isn’t just soothing and pleasant, it also can be very nostalgic, empty, or even lonely at times. There is one particular chapter where one of the girls, Nanaya, is alone for a day because everyone else is out of town. She has nothing to do and realizes how important it is to have people around her. Through great paneling and understanding of simple human emotions, the author manages to paint a picture of how sudden loneliness feels on a very impressive emotional level. This is the kind of atmosphere building that sets Tsurezurebiyori apart from its contemporaries.
And it helps the characters of the manga too. By themselves, they’re a very fun bunch of high school girls with some great dialogue and banter. They can play off of each other personalities quite well and they give off the feeling that they’re getting to know each other more and more as the story goes on. But again, it’s the subtle moments that show their feelings that make them so human and likable. Sometimes they’re loud and happy, sometimes they’re a little sad and sometimes they’re just quiet – but it always feels that they’re not empty and there is emotion in them, whatever one it might be. Throughout 19 chapters, these characters show many subtle faces, while stile maintaining their usual fun personalities.
All of this is supported by very decent art from the author, Hamuro Kei. I’d again like to point out their great use of panels and the structure of pages to make the atmosphere stand out.
I must say that, although I’m not exactly a very big reader, Tsurezurebiyori is the most fun I’ve had with any manga in a very long time. I’d even go as far as saying that it’s the most fun I’ve had with any anime, manga or novel in a very long time as well.
It’s a story that doesn’t try to do too much, nor does it feel like it’s doing too little. The author had set small boundaries of what they wanted to do with this manga and decided to push those boundaries as far as possible, while at the same time never overstep them to do something they didn’t want to. Thanks to this great understanding of what is and what isn’t possible to do with this simple story, Tsurezurebiyori brings just the right amount of everything to the table for it to flourish beautifully.
You won’t find much originality in Tsurezurebiyori, but at the same time, its qualities are something you’ll rarely get to see elsewhere.