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What is cotton? A kind of fabric? A plant often asscociated with the the south areas of the USA? All true but it’s also the title of the manga I am going to write about. It’s sweet but not damned cheesy or childish, short (just four chapters) and without filler, it has gorgeous looking characters who are also interesting and get quite a lot of development. And (shock and horror!) it doesn’t go over the top with the amount of angst. What’s not to like? Wait, did I mention the yuri undertones?

Of course, if you are a die hard yuri fan you will probably be disappointed by the relationship between the two leads which at least to me seemed to be more of a “normal” friendship as opposed to anything romantic or sexual. But then again, if you are a die hard yuri fan you are probably used to such ambiguity. So clearing this issue, we can move to the story.

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It’s simple almost to the point that we can hardly talk of a real plot. It’s just the story of a friendship. An accidental meeting between the two main character seems to be almost forgotten when they meet again and realise that by virtue of a recent wedding they are now sisters in-law. Yes, good old concidence. The younger woman, Michiko, who is still in high school seems to be inexplicably drawn into spending more and more time with Natsuki, her new sister in law. And they learn a lot about each other, then we have a bit of angst and drama between them and then game over, I mean end of the story. Boring, huh?

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But since the focus of the manga are the characters and their relationships I can live with such a plot. Let’s take a look at the main characters. Natsuki’s pretty much fits with one of the types of characters I’d like to see more often in manga and anime, namely the seemingly timid girl who is a bit weird and a loner but can use her brain and is not a helpless damsel in distress. For some reason the last two requirements are met by a very small number of characters, at least from what I have seen and read. Natsuki also has a temper that is not easily angered but unlike some sorry excuses for a character who can bear any humilition like the submissive morons that they are, she can and does reach the breaking point and shows the fury of her anger. Last but certainly not least she is just beautiful and in a non-loli-like sort of way, mind you.

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Michiko is a highschool-girl-with-a-problematic-behaviour. Run the cliches are attacking! Despite being a walking cliche, Michiko manages to be relatively interesting, too. She is spoiled and self-centered but her teasing of Natsuki is often quite fun and I never got the feeling that she really meant any harm, she was just being a bit childish. When I say childish, I don’t mean as “anime childish” considering the trend which forces 16-18 year old character to look dumber than elementary school brats. I mean the normal amount one could expect from a spoiled teenager. The main sourse of anything that can be described as suspence is the question whether Michiko’s virtual stalking of Natsuki is anything other than a fun way to waste time teasing her new relative. And of course, Michiko is strikingly beautiful, a few seconds after seeing her I decided that I will read this manga to the end. Yes, I can be this shallow. πŸ˜‰

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The art is somewhat minimalistic, the background not detailed and few things drawn in dark colour but the character designs are top notch. Maybe that’s just me getting tired of huge eyes and “cute” faces but it’s refreshing to see characters who would be instantly recognizable as humans even to people who don’t know what manga is. Yes, a terrible exaggeration, I know. Let’s just say I find them very appealing. A highschool girl who looks like a grown woman and not liΠΊΠ΅ a child with big boobs? Somebody call the police please, that cannot be manga! I am kidding of course but that statement is not far from the truth. Anyway, I think that the mangaka also did a superb job in making the characters emotions be clearly seen in their facial expressions. Natsuki especially is so expressive yet manages to keep the timid loner image.

Anyway, since my motif in this review seems to be the lack of certain cliches let’s continue with it – the two main characters have never met as kids and their first meeting in the manga is their actual first meeting. No childhood promises and all that jazz. Also, we have a character who is still goes to school and no scene that takes place in the school. Considering the apparent Japanese artists obsession with school life that is not exactly common.

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OK, enough about cliches. “Cotton” is just a simple story about friendship with a few hints about how to not raise kids and what is the difference between adult and a child. Absolutely nothing grand or pretentious. There are some really poetic moments, there is a bit of comedy, a bit of drama. It’s a manga that can make you feel all nice and warm inside. But I suspect it can also inspire someone to write a hardcore yuri fanfic so it’s a win-win situation. Although I have been told there are fanfics full of sex for all kinds of innocent series\mangas so understand the last sentence as you see fit. πŸ˜‰

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