People may be familiar with Takemoto Izumi's other yuri work, Transistor ni Venus (if you haven't heard of it, you can find reviews of it at Okazu). This work is quite different; it's a school story about three girls (two sisters and one other girl), who end up living (mainly) alone together with a bunch of cats. You can find Okazu's reviews of volumes 1-3 here.
This manga is now being scanlated by Tranquil Spring.
The basic plot:
When Sakura's parents suddenly move to Brazil (her father is transferred there), she goes to stay with her aunt, Tamako, in order to prepare for high school entrance exams. But then her aunt suddenly leaves on a trip too, leaving her all alone (except for her aunt's many cats!). The Uesakura sisters, Ichiko and Futako (their names literally mean "first girl/child" and "second girl/child," and Ichiko is the elder), move in with her. Like Sakura, Futako is preparing for entrance exams; she also used to be the president of the student council at their school.
The three of them grow to be more like a family, with Futako coming to want things like a good-morning kiss from Sakura. When Sakura's aunt returns, she's surprised at the closeness between Futako and Sakura...
Click the thumbnails for the full-size scans.
Sakura and Futako meet for the first time-- Futako approaches Sakura, introduces herself, and asks Sakura if she's staying with Tamako. She tells Sakura that her house is right below Tamako's, and that sometimes her mother cooks meals for Tamako and stuff. Some other students come up to Futako and ask her for help, and Sakura's friend Haruko, comments that Futako is a bishoujo (a beautiful girl). Sakura agrees.
Haruko asks Sakura why she and Futako hold hands when they walk to school together. Sakura doesn't quite know how to answer, and just suggests, "Because it's cold?" Once Futako started acting like a spoiled child around Sakura, she never really stopped. Sakura thinks it's weird that they're holding hands, since people stop doing that after their third grade of elementary school, but Futako insists. Incindentally, Sakura calls Futako by the cutesy name "Futa-chan" and Futako calls Sakura by the cutesy name "Sasa-chan" (Sakura's family name is Sasa, so it could either be from that or from her given name).
Ichiko tells Sakura that Futako was never really taken care of by others much--instead, she tended to take care of her younger brothers. So when Futako was sick and Sakura indulged her by making her pancakes, that started it all.
Haruko comments that she didn't think Sakura was that way (i.e., lesbian/bisexual), and Sakura tells her it's not like that. Misaka-kun, a male classmate/friend, misunderstands and thinks Haruko is talking about liking cats (the word Haruko uses, "shumi," typically means "hobby").
Sakura says she's cold--there aren't any heaters on the second floor. Sakura is sensitive to cold, so her hands and feet get really cold when it's cold out (i.e., she has poor circulation?), and it doesn't really get very warm inside her futon (bedding). Futako says it's warm inside her futon, and Sakura tests it by putting her leg in. Futako says Sakura can move over and share her futon, but Sakura doesn't want to. So Futako moves over to Sakura's instead. Sakura asks her if she does that sort of thing at her grandmother's house, and Futako says she doesn't--she doesn't want to be thought a spoiled child. Sakura comments that Futako doesn't seem to have a problem being spoiled by her...
Sakura says that she doesn't have any siblings, so she doesn't really know what it's like having them. But then she realizes their current living situation is kind of like that. She kind of feels like a parent too, though--in which case she and Futako would be the parents and Ichiko, ironically enough, would be their daughter.
Futako tries to keep Sakura warm. Sakura asks her what she's doing, and Futako asks if she's warm. Sakura says that she is.
Futako wakes Sakura up, wearing bright red lipstick, and Sakura asks her if she's going out somewhere. Futako says she just wanted to try it. Going to brush her teeth, Sakura wipes lipstick off her face, not really thinking about it, but then it dawns on her when she's eating breakfast and she asks Futako about it. Futako says she gave her a good morning kiss, because Sakura wasn't waking up even though she called her name over and over. Sakura comments that it was her first kiss, and Futako says that it was the fifth time she's given her a good morning kiss, but since they're both girls, it doesn't count. Sakura still isn't sure if she's okay with it, though.
Sakura says that since they're on break, she could have just gone back to bed after feeding the cats, but Ichiko tells her that winter break is over.
The Making Of Sakura no Kiwa.
The mangaka comments that yuri manga is popular these days. Ichiko asks why he's saying that now (i.e., after having already written Transistor ni Venus). Sakura asks if this is a yuri manga. Futako suggests that it's a school love comedy.
The mangaka says that he got various requests, but ended up drawing a plot he came up with a long time ago (20 years ago!), about three girls living on their own.
Futako gives Sakura lip balm, saying her lips are rough and it hurts to kiss her good morning.
Sakura tells Futako that she can't buy so many desserts, and Futako looks at her pleadingly. Sakura tells her that face isn't going to work. Then Futako says that if Sakura buys them, she'll look over her entrance exam studying, but Sakura still says no. Then Sakura caves and says that Futako can get just one. Futako tells Sakura she loves her. Sakura isn't too happy about being loved because of a snack... Futako says that she's going on ahead. Sakura and Ichiko don't really understand why, since the house is right in front of them. But then when they get home, Futako greets them and gives Sakura a welcome home kiss. The next day, Haruko accuses Sakura of being all lovey-dovey with Futako in the supermarket.
Sakura is up late studying. Futako hasn't fallen asleep yet, and Sakura asks her if the light is too bright. Futako says she'll bear with it if Sakura gives her a good night kiss. Sakura asks Futako if she likes kissing. Futako says not really in general, but she does want to kiss Sakura. Sakura says that that's all right, but she's not going to marry Futako. Futako seems shocked/upset. Then she says she'll bear with it if Sakura cooks for her. Sakura asks if she means she wants her to cook for her forever, and Futako says yes.
The next morning, Sakura is awake and downstairs before Futako. Futako tells her it was terrible of her to be up before Futako gave her a good morning kiss. Sakura says Futako can kiss her now, and then afterwards Futako asks for pudding, which Sakura also gives her (she's so spoiled!).
Tamako comments that Sakura is popular with both girls and cats.
The night Tamako comes back, Sakura and Futako take a bath together. Sakura thinks that she's gotten used to spoiling Futako, and that she might be doing something bad without realizing it. Looking at their relationship objectively, it really does look like "that" (i.e., a romantic relationship, I think).
Sakura and Futako come out of the bath, and Tamako asks Sakura if they always bathe together. Sakura is surprised by the question, saying that people take baths all together at bathhouses and then asking if there's something weird about her and Futako bathing together. Tamako says there is. Sakura then remembers that the first time they got in the bath together, she sensed something off about it for a moment. The bathtub is pretty small, after all. She realizes that maybe it really is strange...
Futako asks for her good night kiss, and Sakura gives it to her. Tamako, watching them, says, "While I was gone, you-" and Sakura replies, "Oh, this is-"
After finding out that Futako got the top scores on an exam, Sakura tells her she's incredible. Futako asks Sakura to praise her more.
Sakura is woken up in the morning by both Futako and the cats.
Futako gets close in bed.
Takemoto introduces himself and the manga, and starts to say what the theme of this manga was. Futako finishes the sentence for him, suggesting "yuri-yuri and love-love." Takemoto says that's completely wrong, but Ichiko questions him. Takemoto says that as he was creating the story, he kept coming up with tons of plot related to Futako. Ichiko replies, "So it really is yuri-yuri and love-love." Takemoto replies that that's just an occasional occurence, not the overall theme. Takemoto says that he wanted to make a spaced-out manga this time, but the characters argue that his previous works were the same way. He argues that a fairly recent work of his was a violent spy story, but the characters say it's the same as his usual stuff. There's a brief plug here for the manga in question, Transistor ni Venus. Sakura accuses him of writing the same thing but making it a school story, and all the characters agree that he's absent-minded/dim. They ask him if he's okay with writing a serialized manga without a real story, and he doesn't really know what to reply.
Futako asks for a kiss to commemorate the story being continued in the second volume. Sakura agrees, but the mangaka asks Sakura if she's really okay with it.