I See Them Bloom
Kase-san and Morning Glories (Kase-san, volume 1)
By Hiromi Takashima
The collection Kase-san and Morning Glories includes the first five issues of Hiromi Takashima’s yuri manga Kase-san (Japanese: 加瀬さん). The series was serialized in Shinshokan’s Hirari magazine and also in the Flash Wings web publication between August 2010 and March 2017. The English edition of Kase-san and Morning Glories was published in 2017.
Dutifully attending to the morning glories she planted on school property, Yamada Yui is surprised to encounter track star Kase Tomoka watering the plants. The explanation is simple enough on the surface: the plants are near the team’s practice area and they caught Kase’s eye.
Kase claims to have been mystified as to who planted the flowers. Having met the student gardener responsible, Kase is perfectly happy to befriend Yamada.
Yamada is sure that any overtures from Kase must be simple friendship; Kase is a sports star and a popular girl, while Yamada is simply an unremarkable nobody. In any case, since both Kase and Yamada are girls, the relationship must be the regular sort of heterosexual friendship in which two persons of the same gender covertly check each other out in the changing room. Or so Yamada, who has never dated anyone and must rely on gossip, assures herself. Although as Yamada observes at least once per issue, Kase is a bit boyish. Given how much time Yamada invests in coyly watching Kase, she would know.
Rumour reaches Yamada that Kase does date girls but alas! rumour also credits the sports star with an implausibly vast number of girlfriends, each of whom is far more attractive than Yamada. This must be true! Yamada is so sure that she is an unattractive nobody that she doesn’t even check out the rumours.
Soon Yamada’s dithering won’t matter. School break looms and with it the end of any chances for the pair to run into each other at school. Yamada can see no way around this insurmountable obstacle to her entirely non-romantic relationship with Kase. Kase on the other hand is used to overcoming obstacles. She suggests that she and Yamada stay in contact over the holidays.
I read this manga because it was mentioned in the comment section following Ada Palmer’s Tor essay Manga and Anime in Which Nothing Bad Happens. Which is, as it says on the tin, an essay about manga and anime in which nothing bad happens. Mostly not set in the dumpster-fire year of 2020. You might like the essay and the recommendations.
It’s not quite true that nothing bad happens in this manga. For example, Yamada invests a lot of time overthinking things; careless students trample her plants; and her attempt to impress Kase by training for and participating in a school marathon succeeds right up to the beginning of the marathon, when Yamada gets trampled by the other runners.
On the other hand, this is the sort of story where while the characters may be misinformed, they’re essentially reasonable people. There are a few transient minor characters who aren’t quite nice, but on the whole this is a fictional world without antagonists. Most of the problems are minor, even if Yamada catastrophizes. While Yamada is never going to be able to make the first move (because she’s paralyzed by overthinking everything), Kase believes in straightforward solutions.
It only takes five issues to get to this point! Which is lightspeed compared to other series I could mention.
Kase-san and Morning Gloriesis available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK). here (Barnes & Noble), here (Book Depository), and here (Chapters-Indigo).