Husky and Medley is incredibly unique in the field of yuri manga. Like a few other works, such as this year’s fantastic My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, Husky and Medley is based on a true story. What makes it far more interesting is that it wasn’t written by those in the story, and was instead made using info from a series of 2ch threads. In the mid-2000s there were a number of these 2ch real-life love stories, most notably Densha Otoko, and this is the yuri version of those stories.
Husky and Medley, or HasuMedo, is a schoolgirl love story, but the reality of the situation gives it a different feeling to a lot of similar yuri manga. While ordinary high school yuri series can totally ignore sexuality, that’s not really possible for a story that actually happened. Because of that, HasuMedo is much more queer than many other yuri manga. The main character, Husky, explicitly identifies as a lesbian within the story, something which is all too rare in this genre.
The story starts as Husky asks 2ch how to find out the “weakness” of Medley, a “perfect” girl in her class who she has a crush on. From here the manga shows their quickly evolving relationship, as they briefly play around with one another before beginning to go out. It’s incredibly cute and it’s also very easy to get invested in our two leads. The knowledge that they’re real people gives the story more weight, since it makes their progression and happiness all the more joyous and well-earned.
At the same time, the manga does occasionally feel a bit voyeuristic. Husky willingly told the whole story to 2ch of course, so it’s not like we’re seeing something we’re not supposed to, but occasionally it feels like we’re peering into someone’s lives through their windows or something. This isn’t a major issue for me but it could be for others, so it’s worth being aware of.
HasuMedo stands out for being a real story, but that’s not actually what makes it good. Like many other yuri manga, it does a great job of exploring young love. Their relationship development is cute and avoids overplayed drama. That’s not to say there isn’t any drama at all; there are complications, but they’re dealt with well. For instance, Husky and Medley at one point overhear some homophobia coming from some of their classmates. They never directly face it, but a chapter is devoted to how they feel about those words and how they comfort each other. What little interpersonal drama we see mostly comes from them being inexperienced in love. Again, it’s a very realistic manga, as you’d expect from a true story. It’s fluffy, but not overly so.
HasuMedo has sexual elements, but it’s certainly not pornographic. The actual sex is, for the most part, off-panel, though you do see some nudity and such. Again, it might feel a bit voyeuristic to see these elements, but they were included by Husky and are fairly tasteful.
The final level on which the manga succeeds is the ending. It’s not some ground-breaking ending or anything; it’s a real story after all. Simply put, the ending is hopeful, adorable, and very emotional. It’s not long, but it does a good job of showing that Husky and Medley really love each other and won’t be breaking up anytime soon. In the realm of yuri manga, proof of a continued relationship can be hard to get, and I’m glad to get it here, especially since it’s based on a real story that could easily involve a break-up.
Miraculously, that break-up never happened. Husky has a twitter account, and if you check it you’ll see that she’s still happily dating Medley, 8 years after the manga takes place. She’s even shown up on 2ch a few times to talk about their relationship again, and if what she says is to believed, they’re in a very healthy, happy relationship.
At times, it’s easy to think that yuri manga is some miraculous wonderland, a place real Japanese queer women can’t access. And that’s not entirely untrue, since real women definitely don’t live in that magical world without homophobia. But HasuMedo does a great job of showing that life isn’t absolute shit for Japanese queer women. There are difficulties certainly, as there are for queer people in the West, but queerness is not a curse, and it doesn’t necessarily condemn you to a life of suffering. HasuMedo proves that, and for that I thank it. It’s worth a read for every yuri manga fan.