Mizuno and Chayama, by Yuhta Nishio, is a yuri manga that explores the lives of two high school girls who are isolated and suffering due to the ways they are viewed by their community. Can they finally find accpetance in each other? Or will they be torn apart by their roles in society?
Mizuno is counting down the days until she can leave her small town and escape to college. Her father is currently running for mayor and she can’t stand all of the scrutiny and pressure that comes from living in a place where everyone knows her. The only chance she gets to blow off steam is when she sneaks off to meet her classmate Chayama in the abandoned third floor of their school building. There the two can flirt, make-out and get up to all kinds of raunchy mischief.
Once they’re outside of their secret space and back amongst their peers, however, the two ignore each other. This is partially so no one will find out about their sexual orientation, but also because Chayama is the daughter of the owner of the biggest business in town. The same man who Mizuno’s dad is running against in the election!
Based on my description of the plot, you might be inclined to view this yuri manga as a Romeo and Juliet type narrative. Chayama and Mizuno’s parents are on opposing sides of an issue that’s dividing their town, as Chayama’s family tea business is suspected of polluting the local water supply with chemicals. Mizuno’s father wants to thoroughly investigate and put a stop to any pollution and, while most of the residents seem to be on his side, Chayama’s company employs a sizable chunk of the people in the town and aren’t without influence. As a result, Mizuno and Chayama feel like they can’t be seen to be friendly with each other, lest their classmates view Mizuno as a traitor to the cause. Rather than a story about star-crossed lovers and opposing factions that need to put aside their differences, however, Mizuno and Chayama explores the way that social expectations can be suffocating and harmful.
Mizuno feels a great deal of pressure to meet the expectations of her classmates and the other people in the town who are in support of her father. She feels people’s eyes on her all the time and doesn’t feel like she can be herself. Meanwhile, Chayama is seen as a safe target that her classmates can vent their frustrations and anger on because of her family’s company’s alleged actions. She’s regularly bullied and harassed, and everyone seems to feel like she deserves whatever torment she gets. Chayama doesn’t think there’s any point in trying to reach out for help and she just quietly endures their abuse. She doesn’t even ask Mizuno for help, even though she secretly wishes that she would save her.
Both girls are trapped by their roles in this town and the only comfort they have is each other. Despite this, their romance felt underdeveloped to me. Mizuno and Chayama’s relationship started mostly due to a random whim Mizuno had and, while they do come to care about each other, the story spends more time on the girls’ inner turmoil than exploring why they’re interested in each other in the first place. I found the first half of this manga a bit slow and I think that’s because their relationship seemed to lack the spark of connection. Chayama and Mizuno seemed to be just licking each other’s wounds, rather than forming a serious bond.
The story does pick up as it goes, thankfully. The second half of the book features some very dramatic turns and even an unexpected action scene that got pretty suspenseful. While I’d still say this is a manga that focuses more on personal drama than on romance, I did believe that these girls were in love with each other by the end and was rooting for them to find a way to have a future together.
A bit of a different addition to my yuri collection, Mizuno and Chayama is a title that will appeal more the people interested in an introspective coming-of-age story than those who are looking for a sweet love story. That said, it was an interesting read and I’d recommend yuri fans looking for something on the serious side give it a try.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
For more information on this manga, visit Yen Press’ website.
What did you think of this manga? Let me know in the comments!
Be sure to check out some of my other recent yuri manga reviews:
- More Yuri Manga Mini Reviews
- 5 Seconds Before a Witch Falls in Love Review
- The Girl I Want is So Handsome: The Complete Manga Collection Review
- Otherside Picnic (Manga) Vol 1 Review
- I’m in Love with the Villainess (manga) Vol 1 Review
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Does Mizuno do anything to at least redirect the classmates from Chayama? Or do they at least address it since you mentioned she secretly wishes Mizuno would save her?
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Sort of. She intercedes during one incident of bullying, albeit in an indirect manner. For the most part Mizuno doesn’t really do much, though, despite knowing the bullying is happening behind the scenes. The story does address it to some extent and her failure to act during one particular event is something we see Mizuno feel guilty about. It isn’t delved into as much as I would have expected or liked though.
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