Yuri Manga: Strawberry Fields wo Mou Ichido ( ストロベリー・フィールズをもう一度)

January 16th, 2018

Akira is pretty much a loner. With her gaming system and her headphones, she prefers the company of otome games to other people. So when an attractive new transfer student, Pyua (pronounced the way “pure” is in Japanese, pyoo-ah) tries to befriend her, she’s not that interested.

Pyua keeps at it, and, when she finally manages to get Akira alone, tells her that in 7 years, they will be lovers. She’s traveled back in time so they could see each other as high school students. Causing this reader to wonder if Pyua knows what the Boostrap Paradox is. Probably not.

Strawberry Fields wo Mou Ichido ( ストロベリー・フィールズをもう一度) Volume 1 is that ever-so-popular fantasy of one member of an established couple trying to get the other one to fall in love with her again, only without the established couple part and with added time paradox, because if Pyua had done this seven years in the past, then does Akira ever really fall for her in the first place? This paradoxical question is not at all addressed by anyone in the story. But that’s not the only thing left unattended in this narrative. 

When Pyua learns that Akira lives with her shut-in brother after their parents died, she’s shocked and appalled. Why? How is it that she doesn’t know this already? 24 year old Akira just, you know, never mentioned once that she effectively lived alone, while taking care of an emotionally crippled brother to her lover? That seems likely.

Nor is it ever really a concern whether meanie Akira will ever really fall for Pyua. Akira, on the other hand has some valid concerns about this stranger telling her her future as an adult. So while she’s supposed to be equally emotionally crippled, and we’re supposed to root for Pyua to break through her icy exterior, I kind of respect Akira’s choices, her caution and think Pyua damned lucky that Akira does indeed fall for her.

Ratings: 

Art – 7
Story – 7
Character – 7
Service – 3
Yuri – 6

Overall – 7

The story continues is supposed to continue in a future Volume 2, although what could possibly happen, really? ^_^;

I first encountered news of this series on Twitter, where a Japanese Yuri fan had posted the news with a confused musing as to what the connection between Yuri and strawberries were. It surprised me, because with the endless succession of Yuri series that utilizes Victorian flower language and the obvious connotations of springtime, sweet juicy fruit and purity to young women seemed rather, well obvious, to me. Is there a nickname for the paradox of every generation of new fans never having heard of old, established tropes before and being completely confuzzled by things well-established for 100 years? There ought to be. Let’s call it the “Strawberry Paradox.”

Strawberries, by the way, mean “perfect goodness” in the language of flowers. Just FYI.

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2018 Okazu Patreon Campaign

January 14th, 2018

8 events, 5 posts a week, 40% more patrons – we’re now able to pay Guest Reviewers – 2017 was amazing year for Okazu!

And we expect an even better 2018, with new goals and a new reward for all patrons on Patreon!


 

 

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Yuri Network News – (百合ネットワークニュース) – January 13, 2018

January 13th, 2018

Yuri Manga

Loads of new titles for us today!

Kase-san and Apron, the 4th volume of Takashima Hiromi’s adorable high school Yuri romance, hits shelves in February.

Also available in late February is Kiss and White Lily For My Dearest Girl, Volume 5.

Fan’s of Canno’s work, will be pleased to hear that a third Eclair anthology is being published this month in Japan. Eclair bleue – Anata ni Hibiku Yuri Anthology (エクレア bleue あなたに響く百合アンソロジー) has a release date this week.

I’m not entirely sure how Yuri Hagino Makoto’s story, Nettaigyo ha Yuki ni Kogareru  (熱帯魚は雪に焦がれる) is, but a lonely clumsy girl falling in love with a snow girl sounds like it’s in our wheelhouse. As does Yukio Yuki’s Mabataki Dekinai ( 瞬きできない) in which a NPC falls in love with a player character.

And I am more than a little interested in Yubisakikara Suberiochiru Valetta (指先から滑り落ちるバレッタ), even though it looks a tad grim. ^_^ A girl blackmails another girl into being her “friend.” Yeah, uh-huh.

BE Comics, from a publisher I am wholly unfamilar with, Fusion Product, is putting out Yuri + Kanojou (百合+カノジョ) and I have no idea what to expect.

Rap-battle sport-manga-like story, Catcher in the Rhyme (キャッチャー・イン・ザ・ライム) has been collected into a first volume. So has the ambiguously promising Kuroyuri Gakuen Oooku Gakka (クロユリ学園大奥学科)  (by Young King comics, so don’t get your hopes up!) with a Volume 2 coming up next month.

Other News

This is an absolute must-read: Vrai Kaiser’s article on Anime FeministLand of the Lustrous, singular “they,” and the politics of subtitles.

Justin Sevakis takes on the big question as Answerman on ANN – Why is Anime Still region Locked?

The Seijinshiki is a annual ceremony marking a Japanese person’s majority. The Kansai LGBT Seijinshiki recognizes you as the adult you are and who you want to be. This year’s event, held in Kyoto, with celebrity guests, will be held on January 21.

 

Become a YNN Correspondent by reporting any Yuri-related news to anilesbocon01 at hotmail dot com with your name and an email I can reply to!

Thanks to all of you – you make this a great Yuri Network!

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Yuri Manga: Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl, Volume 4 (English)

January 11th, 2018

Mizuki is facing a crisis. It’s her senior year and her last chance to make the nationals in track. But her longtime friend and her inspiration, Moe, can see that it’s not so simple as just ramping up training.

Moe insists that Mizuki stop using her as a muse and find it in herself to run because she wants to. In Volume 4 of Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl, Mizuki loses the battle, but wins the war when finds her love of running again, and she and Moe get to admit their true feelings for each other.

This is, to date, one of my favorite volumes of Canno’s series. The set-up feels more honest and less “plot complication”-y than most of the scenarios in the series so far. I also quite like Moe because she’s says what she’s thinking, a quality not often see in Yuri romances. Additionally, the series has sort of settled in for a longer haul now, and we can turn our eyes almost completely away from main couple Kurozawa and Shiramine without fearing that the entire series will disappear in a puff. So, while Yurine and Ayaka do make an appearance, it’s almost a walk on, until the amusingly snarky final chapter, which was all obligatory Valentine’s Day stories ever, all at once.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 7 Cute, sweet, etc
Yuri – 8
Service – 1 on principle only

Overall – 8

The English-language Volume 5 has a release date of late February, and I’m working on Volume 7 in Japanese right now. At this rate of release you’re all gonna all catch up with the Japanese series by next summer!

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Attack on Titan Anthology Manga (English) Guest Review by Eric P.

January 10th, 2018
Happy first Guest Review Wednesday of 2018!  Thanks to Okazu Patrons, this is also the first paid Guest Review ever here, hopefully, the first of many. I cannot think of a better person to be our very first paid reviewer here than our longtime supporter and friend Eric P.! Please give him your attention and a few kind words and away we go!
 
You know a series is a huge popular hit when the manga remains bestselling to this day, when it inspires a big-budget (underrated) live-action movie adaptation, and when a devoted fanbase (im)patiently waits for the next anime season to adapt the next arc to the screen no matter how long the gap between. Another sign is when manga authors/artists get together and create a special anthology of original stories paying tribute to the series. But how often is it when western authors/artists do the same thing for the same purpose, and still under the original creator’s supervision? It does not get clearer than that in how successful Attack on Titan has been in achieving a cross-cultural impact.
 
The Attack on Titan Anthology is a collection of 12 personal takes by supposedly high-profile comics creators. I say “supposedly” because I confess I do not normally follow western comics and am unfamiliar with all the listed names, so I could really only judge this book by the content within once I open the cover. The results found are indeed diverse as well as widespread. 
 
Some titles are more lavishly illustrated than others, and some are more intriguing and poignant than others. All the dramatic stories are meant to take place in the manga’s universe. They may not be taken as “canon” per se, but their placement within the original continuity not only still feel like they make sense, but they also help expand on Hajime Isayama’s mythos. The first one, Under the Surface, provides a window to a world far more familiar to us right before the Titans begin their invasion. Another called Live and Let Die is about a Survey Corps member separated from her party outside the walls, before finding a group of other stranded Survey Corps members that chose to never return. Even though there is danger to be had dealing with the Titans, they ironically find more freedom outside the walls than they do within. One other standout is The Glorious Walled Cities, not a story but a field guide styled as blatant propaganda depicting the world within the walls as a paradise. The last entry, however, is disorganized and cuts off abruptly when the writer apparently ventured into confidential territory.
 
 
But the story relevant to Okazu would be Skies Above,written by Rhianna Pratchett and Ben Applegate, illustrated by Jorge Corona, colored by Jennifer Hickman, and lettered by Steve Wands. In a time before Eren, there was a female engineer named Lyla who also dreamed of breaching the world beyond the walls. This was when Erwin Smith was student-aged, long before the Survey Corps existed and when the Military Police was Law itself, and scientific bureaucracy prevented any and all technological innovation. Rene, a teacher acquainted with Erwin Smith’s father (both worked at the same school), on the other hand is content with the world they live in since they have everything they need. But Lyla recognizes everything as nothing but a cage to break free from, thus in secret she puts together a flying contraption to serve that purpose, seated for two. Rene, her confidante and lover, in the end resigns to Lyla’s wish as they make the attempt, and escape the Military Police’s clutches. Just from reading this, one could already assume this story about two people ahead of their time in an oppressive world does not have a happy ending. But depending on how one looks at it, especially with how beautifully drawn the final page is, one could still get a strange sense of alleviation that counters the usual Attack on Titan themes of cruelty and injustice.
 
But not all in this anthology is drama, it also balances itself out with parodies poking fun at the source material, some being far more amusing than others. In the original story, you know how the characters have a habit of consistently screaming out their dialogue? That gets spoofed here, and there was one other clever bit about how the title, Attack on Titan, actually does not make much sense when you think about it.
 
When this book came out last year, Kodansha had raised hype and excitement over it, yet in the end it seemed to garner a mixed reaction from its fanbase. Having read it just recently, I am surprised that it was not better received. Like with most anthologies, there are both hits and misses to be found, but it can really vary depending on the reader’s personal taste or expectation. Ask this reviewer, and there are a few stories I cared less than others, with maybe a couple I did not get at all, but there is too much more to like and appreciate. If you are an Attack on Titan fan, and are open to western interpretations—especially by artists that clearly did this out of passionate love for the original—you are bound to find at least a handful of titles to your liking, and even that still makes it worth the purchase for one’s collection.
 
Ratings: 
 
Overall-a rounded-out 8 (Solid without being completely perfect, once again due to personal tastes)
 
Erica here again: Thank you Eric for this look at something I would never have thought to take a look at. Which is exactly why I love Guest Reviews. Gail Simone, Faith Erin Hicks, Tomer Hanuka and Attack on Titan creator Hajime Isayama all have stories in this collection. Now I’ll keep an eye out for this. Thanks!
 
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