Cocoon Entwined belongs to the genre of elegant yuri manga like Maria Watches Over Us or Revolutionary Girl Utena, stories about elite students at the creme de la creme of girls’ schools, campus “princes” and “princesses” who seem untouchable by ordinary girls’ standards. As beautiful and as charming as these characters are, inevitably their odd personalities provide an off-kilter twist to the atmosphere of classiness and grace.
There’s something sinister about Cocoon Entwined, which feels as if it’s constantly teetering on the edge of dark, unnerving secrets. Hoshimiya Academy has an extremely unorthodox custom: senior students create uniforms for first-years out of their own hair. An explanation for this tradition is suggested early on when one of the first-year girls observes that she can feel her uniform “breathing.” As the story progresses, some of the girls say that they can sense their uniforms “speaking” to them, or that they feel alive.
Hoshimiya Academy is a strange place indeed, with students growing their hair out until graduation so it can be used for incoming freshmen uniforms, and a massive vault of old uniforms stored at the school for safekeeping. Hoshimiya, the headmaster’s granddaughter, has the most gorgeous, flowing hair of all and is revered throughout the academy. When protagonist Hana meets up with her, she immediately falls under Hoshimiya’s spell. While Hana is fascinated by Hoshimiya, classmate Saeki develops a crush on Hana.
This dark love story unfolds at the center of a web of mysteries. It isn’t clear by the end of the first volume exactly what sort of terrifying secrets Hoshimiya Academy holds (if it even does), but it’s off to an intriguing start. Hara’s artwork is detailed and dazzling, especially where hair is concerned, with a dynamism that sets it apart from many other yuri manga.
Some may find Cocoon Entwined a bit slow, but its pace is deliberate, the romantic plots develop at a satisfying slow burn, and its tone is entrancing. If you’re tired of predictable yuri romances, pick up the first volume and see if it scratches that itch for weird fantasy. If nothing else, check it out because these young women are wearing uniforms made out of hair—that’s fascinating in and of itself. Goku uniforms, eat your heart out!
publisher: Yen Press
story and art: Yuriko Hara