Tomodachi No Hanashi or The Secret of Friendship revolves around two girls: The beautiful yet caustic Moe and the plain push over Eiko. Moe easily attracts the boys but most are turned off by her condition for being with her, Eiko must be put first by them. While the book never attempts to portray it as anything but unreasonable it does take the time to flesh out why Moe thinks this is a reasonable request. The story is split into 3 sections each from a different characters perceptive and how they deal with Moe or in the last sections case how Moe sees everything. It still forms a cohesive story that contemplates what friendship means to different people and how it affects them.
The first section follows Eiko as she deals with Moe's relationship with Tsuchida, a guy smitten enough to go along with Moe's requirement. Eiko is really embarrassed by the fact that she's being dragged along but she is way to nice to actually say no. Instead she starts lying to Moe,which is a stride forward in her development to being a stronger person. She's growing because of her friendship's with the other two as the other two learn that they can be themselves around her. Eiko's development after this is rather down played as the story shifts focus to the other characters but it's done rather well regardless. This part ends on Moe dumping Tsuchida for her perceived callousness towards Eiko. The events here do make both girls come of as a bit selfish is some regards but it serves to highlight how deep this relationship really is. This is more deeply explored in chapter three once we get Moe's side of things.
The second part follows Tsuchida's friend Narugami as he deals with the fallout from the previous chapter. His role for most of the part is that of vengeful jerk,the part usually filled by random bitchy girls. However the major difference is that the book explains his feelings, Moe hurt his best friend so he's going to go after her best friend. He has his own hang-ups with women and his arc concerns learning that women are people too and that the way he treated Eiko was wrong.
The advantage of his perspective is that we see an outsider's take on Eiko and Moe's friendship. To him it seems terribly lop sided but as he starts to talk to Eiko he sees how similar it is to his friendship with Tsuchida. It fits in with the books theme of friends are forever and to hell with what others think of them. Through out the book the characters are shown as awkward around others but it doesn't matter to them since they have each other. While it does get a little heavy handed it never veers into preachy instead just showing how these friendships affect the characters.
The final part is told from Moe's POV as Narugami attempts to make up with the girls and dealing with his love for Eiko. It is some what side lined as a huge part of it is Moe's perspective on why she is friends with Eiko and why they are so close. With all this back-story laid out it paints the previous parts in a new light. Moe's reasons for her crazy actions are much more clear now: Eiko gets her like nobody else does and she only wants Eiko to be happy because then she'll be happy
It's here where the more yuri inclined fans can read Moe's actions towards Eiko as slightly lesbian in nature. I don't particularly feel that way as its more about Moe reacting to her best friend changing than actual romantic jealously towards Narugami. The romance is playing out and again we are on the outside looking in as Moe struggles with abandonment issues and her friend changing. It gives Moe much more depth as a character and adds an interesting side we don't see that often.
The only real weak point to me is that Tsuchida falls off the face of the earth for most of the final part. Which given how deep his and Narugami's relationship is supposed feels weird. Especially when Narugami is trying to date his ex's best friend. Given that friendship is the major theme and Moe and Eiko's has such much nuance and depth; it's odd that Narugami and Tsuchida's relationship is hardly explored past chapter two. Again more of a nitpick since Narugami's character development is solid on it's own.
There is a side story in the book about a girl trying to catch her friend's boyfriend cheating on her. Along the way she meets the guys friend and it blossoms into to romance. Very sweet navel gazing chapter that ponders how far are people willing to go for friends. A nice compliment to the main story but nothing special over all
Tomodachi No Hanashi is an interesting little book that digs in to the exploration of friendship without being cheesy. The three different perspectives really help make the relationships work and give the story some more interesting facets . Featuring way more character development than I would expect for a manga of this length and a very tight if minuscule cast. It's a sentimental journey that you shouldn't miss out on.