Story and Art by Haruka Fukushima
Released in the US by TokyoPop
Slugline: Can step-siblings be in love? If you even have to ask that question, you haven't read much manga.
Minami and Otome are step-siblings that after five years have finally managed to negotiate a truce between themselves, acting most of time like a real brother and sister. But there is still a weird undercurrent in the relationship between them that even their school friends pick up on. But despite that, Otome is sure that she has a desperate crush on her fellow kendo student Hasaki, who is also Minami's friend. Minami, on the other had, is the bishi de' resistance to all the girls in school because of his looks and his membership in the cooking club. Minami is protective, perhaps even in love with Otome, so when Hasaki and Otome kiss, Minami logically of course sneaks a kiss from Hasaki also. And so it begins, a dance between the characters that continues to leave the exact depth of feeling between Otome and Minami deliberately ambiguous.
This is the sort of manga that usually drive me nuts, where everything seems to be built around the premise that nothing gets solved and nothing is revealed. Add in a sometimes confusing panel flow and character uncertainty (as in you are not sure which character is talking) one would be surprised that I didn't give it a worse rating, but there is some solid storytelling here and occasional flashes of insight that makes it tolerable. This has many of the same problems I had with another one of Haruka Fikushima's works, Kedamono Damono, without the strangeness of randomly transforming boys/girls to make it slightly more interesting.
Cherry Juice, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.