Artist Review: Milk Morinaga

Works 8/10:

Milk Morinaga is probably one of the most popular, if not the most popular yuri mangaka of all time. She already released numerous manga, doujinshi and even one-shots for many different yuri magazines. Furthermore, since she is so popular in this genre and since she already published so many yuri works within the last 10 years, some people even call her “The Queen of Yuri”.
Without doubt, her most popular work is “Girl Friends”, her 5 volume-long yuri manga about the sweet love story between Mari and Akko. Besides Girl Friends she has also released a number of other yuri manga, her most recent ones being “The Secret Recipe” and “Gakuen Police”.
In addition to that she has published numerous one-shots, as well as doujinshi about anime such as Sailor Moon, Utena, Pretty Cure and Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica.
Her works vary from cute and innocent to stories with horror, rape and gore elements involved. And even though almost all of her manga have yuri as a main or a sub-theme, it’s mostly her more innocent and cute works that are really popular among us yuri fans.
Well, does that come as a surprise? Not for me.
I’m pretty sure many people don’t even know about Milk Morinaga’s “Mare” or “Milk Shell” and that’s probably a good thing.
click to enlarge
My personal favorite is definitely Girl Friends, closely followed by Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry-Blossom Pink. These are such cute and lovely stories, that I think every yuri fan should have at least taken a look at them.
Also, for those of you who are interested, I’m going to leave some words on her two most recent works as well:
First we have The Secret Recipe, a yuri love story between two quite different high school girls. The setting for this one is a school cooking club and the genre is mostly comedy.
In the beginning of the manga, the yuri is quite heavy, but as the series continues, the comedy starts to dominate this manga, leaving not much room for some actual romance.
Secondly we have Gakuen Police, yet another yuri love story between high school girls. This time however, they are not really high school girls, but rather undercover police officers, stationed in the same school. There are not that many translated chapters out yet, so it’s hard to judge it right now, but just like The Secret Recipe, I just feel like the romance is missing.
Art 7,5/10:
Mostly you can call Milk Morinaga’s art style cute, with characters with big round eyes and in general with a rather childishly cute outward appearance. Furthermore, most of the characters she draws, are school girls, which she herself states, she likes drawing the most and I have to agree, she’s damn good at that~
However there’s one thing that bothers me a little, even though it might not be a big deal for most of you.
The number one aspect that makes us readers recognize her art style, is the fact that many of her characters look like exact copies of Akko and Mari (Girl Friends); one with short dark hair and one with long blond hair. It is mostly recognizable in her more recent works, but in general I think that the way she draws her characters, partly make them look very similar, which I’m personally not very fond of.
I mean even though I loved Akko and Mari, I constantly had to remind myself that the stories in Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry-Blossom Pink were not a continuation of Girl Friends…

click to enlarge

Yuri 9/10:

As already mentioned above, most of her works come with yuri as the main theme, while some of them only feature a yuri couple as side characters and I think there are even some works with no yuri at all, but those are quite rare.
Completely disregarding her older works such as “Mare”, “Bunny’s Road” or “Milk Shell”, we mostly have high school love stories with a cute and innocent romance slowly building up.
However, Milk Morinaga’s stories are not always as cute and innocent as I just stated. In Girl Friends for example we experience the relationship from the point in which both girls are still strangers, to the point the two of them have their first time with each other.
So in many cases, the sex is displayed in a rather innocent and non-explicit manner, just like it was in Girl Friends. However there are also some more explicit works, but none of them are really extreme or over the top, at least not in my opinion.
All in all I can say that I for one really enjoyed both her SFW and NSWF manga/doujinshi.
Total Enjoyment 8/10:
Milk Morinaga is not my favorite yuri mangaka, but I still think she deserves to be called “The Queen of Yuri”, especially if we take into account for just how long she’s already been publishing yuri stories and how successful she is with it.
Also she’s the author of the most famous yuri manga “Girl Friends” which has already been licensed in numerous countries, even in Germany, which made me really happy~
Find her on the Dynasty Reader:

27 thoughts on “Artist Review: Milk Morinaga

  1. YOU DARE INSULT THE QUEEN OF YURI!?!?!?!? 8??!!! HERESY!!! CANNOT COMPUTE CANNOT COMPUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Jk. In all honesty though, Milk is my favorite Yuri writer/artist. Love her her work.

    And it seems you dont understand all the rapey thing in Japan (You mentioned it on your VN article, and rebellion review) Quite frankly, my western cultural standards (I'm Canadian) is….let's say “vastly” different then Japan's. Things that are acceptable in video games, literature, manga, visual novels, over there…can be vastly different over here. In North America (and maybe Europe?) a rape scene in a video game or movie or over sexualisation of a scene will usually attract a huge backdraft from the media, while in Japan…yeah, go to the visual novel encyclopedia, and press random visual novel a couple of times, and you'll eventually see what I mean. Hence how common rape is in Japanese entertainment things. It's acceptable to depict in Japan.

    Dont get me wrong. I think rape is an abomination, and hugely disgusting and unethical. But if it's handled in a mature manner in a book, movie, video game, visual novel, manga, and it adds to the storyline instead of being made for some perverts fantasty, I can live with it.


  2. Haha calm down, Milk Morinaga is a great mangaka, no doubt about that, but she is simply not my favorite 😉

    Why are we talking about rape again? I think I just mentioned it briefly in this review and it doesn't even affect my rating.

    It is true that Japan handles this quite differently than we do in Europe or you do in Canada and personally, I just try to avoid rapish stuff.

    You mentioned Chikane, and well she had her reasons, even though it's of course still not ok.
    But it's like you said, it also depends on how the anime/manga/book handles this topic.
    In Kannazuki no Miko, it was (kind of) necessary and at least in the anime, we didn't really see much of it. Furthermore Himeko forgave Chikane in the end and understood why she did it.

    I don't wanna justify something like this, but as you said, as long as it's done in such a way, I'm mostly ok with it.


  3. Oh hehe well, I really did say that about her manga “Mare” 😉

    I have only read the first chapter and then dropped it, but that's what the description on the Dynasty Reader says:
    ” It contains rape, hetero, tentacles, gore, and of course yuri (which isn't til later).”
    So yeah… 😛


  4. i like milk morrinaga's work a lot and i love the stories she puts out because they start off slow paced and then the relationship starts which i really love and she is definitely one of my favorite mangaka (this is just all in my opinion)


  5. >In the beginning of the manga, the yuri is quite heavy, but as the series continues, the comedy starts to dominate this manga, leaving not much room for some actual romance.

    Huh? I think you have it backwards. Comedy was always dominating the series. Hell, the entire premise is about a girl molesting and basically blackmailing another! This turning into a romance didn't start until later and has been slowly but steadily progressing since.

    >many of her characters look like exact copies of Akko and Mari (Girl Friends); one with short dark hair and one with long blond hair. It is mostly recognizable in her more recent works

    Sigh. Okay, one: The last part is blatantly untrue. Even Secret Recipe (which is 4 years old and hardly qualifies as 'recent') is a tenuous comparison. Two, I don't see how favoring a character design detracts from the quality of the artwork. Van Gogh painted a lot of sunflowers, that doesn't make him a bad artist or the paintings less enjoyable. Hell, you can level that 'accusation' at a lot of yuri artists with a distinct character style – including Amano Shuninta, who you gushed about.


  6. When I said that the yuri was heavy in the beginning I was not talking about the romance, but just about the fact that we saw them making out a lot, even though one was partly against it.
    In my opinion, even in recent chapters, what we see is one girl having a crush on the other, while occasionally having some yuri delusions.
    It is heading into the right direction, but right now, I don't really see much romance.
    Also you're right, the comedy has always been the dominating genre in this series, but I guess I was just distracted a little from all the kissing in the beginning.

    A recent work is one that is still ongoing, which The Secret Recipe is, at least the translated version.
    Also I said, that it's probably only me, who has a problem with similar looking characters, because it just makes it hard for me tell all the characters, even from different manga, apart.

    It is true that many artists tend to draw the same thing numerous times, which of course doesn't make them a bad artist.
    But I just think it's a little different when it comes to manga artists, because I think their works loose a bit of their individuality if I can't properly tell apart the characters.
    Well, I think I have to repeat myself, this is just my opinion.


  7. I agree with you, I mostly enjoy a yuri romance that starts off slow paced and takes its time until the two characters really get together.
    Well, I think especially with this kind of manga, it is really hard to wait for another chapter to come out 😉


  8. have the same (art) problem with many authors, let's say Hakamada Mera and Morishima Akiko (whom i love the most in this wide world but i just see Yae and Chitose everywhere, because that was the very first work i read from her).
    Back to Morinaga, her works are, at least in my humble opinion, a MUST READ for everyone willing to know a little about yuri. My favorite is Kisses, Sighs and Cherry-blossom pink. There's drama but is also sweet and the pace is fast enough. Still, i consider Girl Friends her master piece and it's a manga i recommend to introduce people to the nation.
    Oh, Mare… i read it, didn't understand it, then forgot it. I know i don't want to read it again but i don't remember why. Milk Shell and Bunny's Road are random but quite funny and lewd enough, i love them ♥
    Her doujinshi, specially the precure one, her art prevents me to really get into it. You see, when i read a doujinshi i like to think they're a possibility, that they're like an unanimated chapter or something… but with her art being so distinctive, i can not think that wat. Instead, while reading i keep thinking on it being an 'original Milk Morinaga work', like it's written all over it xD it's frustrating
    'Gakuen Police'… i just said 'what?, what?, what?' every chapter i read (until chap 3), i'm waiting for it to get some more chapters then i will re read it… maybe i'll get to like it at some point.
    On 'The secret recipe'… my lord. I just love Wakatsuki, more and more with every new chapter. The pace is fine as it is, comedy and a little yuri-love. I may be getting ahead of myself, but i think i would be fine even with a non-canonical ending… The president is so cool and Wakatsuki being 'cute but overly clutz' is just hilarious! Can't wait for the next chapter 🙂

    Overall i quite enjoy Morinaga's style and every time there's an update from her works, my day becomes happier (yes, even if it's from gakuen police). I thinks she's one of the best (if not 'the most') representatives for the genre. Nice review and sorry for the crappy english xD


  9. I understood everything perfectly so you're English is really fine 🙂

    I've been thinking, if a friend asked me to recommend him/her a manga to get into yuri, I would probably name Girl Friends first. It's nothing out of the ordinary, just a very well done yuri romance, which is exactly why I think it's so good.

    Also I have the same problem you have. I just found some of Morinaga's Madoka Magica doujinshi and even when reading these, I kept seeing Akko and Mari. The characters don't even look that much like Akko and Mari, but I just can't help it when reading her works 😛


  10. I found Mare right after finishing Girl Friends and her Hitomi x Nana stories and I was kind of shocked, because I didn't think Milk Morinaga could come up and draw something like this…
    But the same thing happened to me with other artists as well, so I'm not really that surprised or shocked anymore.


  11. ya i agree. right now im still waiting for a new chapter of both himitsu no recipe and gakuen police to be released but its killing me because i really want to read the new chapters but they arent out yet :'(


  12. Girl Friends is already a cult in the lands of yuri manga. A must read for any beginner. haha
    But her most recent works, I must say that is not very interesting to me.
    I dropped Secret Recipe due to the shameless amount of sexual harassment that seemed to lead nowhere. This annoyed me so much I couldn't bear.
    Gakuen Police is not bad, but as you said, lacking in romance so far…
    Well, nice post. I'm enjoying your authors' series.


  13. Thanks 🙂

    I have trust in Milk Morinaga, which is why I won't drop Gakuen Police or The Secret Recipe.
    But I guess I'm also a little disappointed because Girlfriends and Kisses, Sighs… were so great that I just expected more.
    Then again, it surely won't take long until she releases a new series, at least that's what I'm hoping for~


  14. I read Mare before Girlfriends finished the remember she once said she can't write a good non-yuri manga (at least she claimed that)…
    I think she refers to Mare here…

    Well, can't really comment about Morinaga Milk because I just love her work…
    Girlfriends will always be my favorite…


  15. I return to Girl Friends again and again when I get bored with recent yuri releases. As for Secret Recipe I'm starting to get excited because the president seems to be coming to terms with her feelings now. I agree with you that the character designs seem similar most of the time like Nana&Hitomi and Mari&Akko for example, but somehow it grew on me that I could tell which is which. I do like Wakatsuki's character design, though… and her goofy character.

    Who is your favorite yuri mangaka by the way?


  16. I actually do the same thing, even though I have a lot of manga that I can read over and over again.

    My favorite mangaka is without a doubt Vivit Gray, even though he/she is rather a doujin artist than a real mangaka, but either way I love Vivit Grays yuri works the most.
    That reminds me, I should also make a Top 10 favorite yuri Artists List in the future 😉


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