Yuri Manga: Galette, Issue 3 (ガレット )

September 18th, 2017

…and we have a winner!

Galette, Issue 3 is the third volume of the quarterly Galette Yuri Anthology created by a bunch of folks whose love for Yuri equals or exceeds my own. It is the first Yuri anthology you can get on US Kindle (albeit still in Japanese language) as well as on JP Kindle and in print from Amazon and in print from another system, Booth, that will ship overseas. (People in Japan also have options of buying it at Comic Zin, Animate, Shosen Book Tower, Gamers, Melon Books and more.)  And you can support it on Patreon-like crowdfunding platform Enty and get – depending on what level you support the work at – early copies of the magazine digitally and various extras. In every way, other than in content, Galette is ground-breaking. So let’s talk about the content.

Galette still has a lot of school-girl stories, from Amano Shuninta’s emotional look at a one-sided love in “Fuma-kun” to Hiyori Otsu’s interesting take on the girl wearing earphones in “Nutmeg”. When you remember how much of Japanese kids’ life is tied up in school activities (teams and clubs, which in the USA can also be community-based are largely school-based in Japan) it makes sense that this is where one might also find friendship, love and lust.

But lesbians don’t die when they graduate and many of us end up in college or careers, still trying to find ourselves. Gotou’s “Takaramono” (which I dubbed “Dude, what do I have to do to get you to notice I want to kiss you” ) was a decent example of that. Ringo Hamano’s “Cotton Candy” took a bit of a twist to show us just how important having adult role models can be to a young woman. And Yatosaki Haru’s “Futari no Arcadia” took a tired trope and turned it into a tale of human frailty.

Fantasy gets played with a lot in Galette. Hakamada Mera takes the innate love of uniforms and Rose of Versailles so many of us have (^_^;) and turned it into a nice little story about two very likable young ladies in “Fuwafuwa Futashika Yumemitai.” Takemiya Jin gets to play around in the darker desires of some humans in the creepy-sexy “Marionette.” I like that Takemiya-sensei is looking at more manipulative characters. She’s established her lesbian cred with her audience, and gets to talk about how not all love is healthy. It’s one thing to be pathologized by straight artists, and another to have one of us note that some people are just not good people.

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Morinaga Milk tells a story that will resonate with a lot of adult lesbians who fall for the straight women in their lives…who then awkwardly begin to question their sexuality in “Watashi no Kawaii Neko-chan” (a story that I feared based on the title, but has turned out to be more about human mortification than cats.)

And Kita Izumi and Momono Moto’s “Liberty” has continued to be excellent, with a silly twist, but one that keeps the story firmly rooted in adult life. I look forward to this story with every issue, as it hits the right notes of setting, character design, and tension for me.

I love the guest art – Etsuko’s color spread is very nice – and I like the photography by Takahashi Minori. The cover design is just lovely.  Issue 3 came with a copy of Petit Galette, an omake volume with a few short comics and a prose story.

Issue 3 has a pretty all-star lineup, with a few notable omissions. Luckily for us, one of those obvious names – Morishima Akiko – will be joining the lineup next issue. Now all I need is for Nishi UKO and Hojou KOZ (UKOZ) and Hayashiya Shizuru to join them and I’ll have all my faves in one place. ^_^ Still, Galette is turning out to be the Yuri magazine I’d hoped it could be. I now hope to see a bit more lesbian identity and it’ll be perfect. ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 9
Story- 9
Characters – 8
Service – 6 Nudity 
Yuri – 10

Overall – 9

Way back in 2005 or 2007 or so, I joked that odd-numbered years are always really good for Yuri. That’s switched around here and there, but here we are in 2017 and I think this is the best year we have ever had for Yuri in the almost-20 years I’ve been doing this. May our tribe increase.

Issue 4 will be out at the end of November and available at Comitia (which I am planning on being at, if all goes well.)

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Yuri Manga: Comic Yuri Hime October 2017 (コミック百合姫2017年10月号)

September 17th, 2017

The October 2017 issue of Comic Yuri Hime (コミック百合姫2017年10月号) surprised the heck out of me. Yes, it’s still got a bunch of stuff that makes my eyes roll and yes, the editorial staff is reallllllllly into characters that are manipulative and two-timing, but I probably read more of the actual stories from this issue than I have in months.

I want to skip to the end of the volume to start, to note that “Missing Rink”, a two-part story by Gotou Yuuki, was pretty good, for all that it was also really tiresome and a gigantic waste of an opportunity. Set on a high school swim team, a rumor is being spread that two of the girls are a couple. Upperclassman Rina, who is, in fact, one of those girls, tries to calm the waters, only to have the team members insist on a witchhunt. The girls who are indicted by the team will be asked to resign – without proof, mind you. Rina’s appalled that her girlfriend, Ayumi, is named and the member who shared the rumor in the first place, Saki. But when we take a look at the story from a different member, Syuuri’s, perspective, we see that Saki and Ayumi are indeed a couple. Syuuri isn’t above manipulating Rina to get what she wants.  The reaction of homophobia might have been (and, legitimately might still be) a teaching moment, and it’s probably not unrealistic, but the story is not about that, but about the creepy Syuuri’s manipulation and Ayumi’s two-timing which is sort of ugh for me. But swim team story that isn’t overtly gross with fanservice, so I think it balances out. I’ll keep reading.

This was one of a bunch of new stories of which I read all, so I’m actually looking forward to next month. A couple of things wrapped up arcs – and Pikachis “Demi-Life” ended – with expected bland coupling so no extra points for those.

On the continuing side, Aoto Hibiki’s odd time-travel story “Kimi ni Aetara” took a turn for the extra-odd when it added the supernatural to the time-travel.

“Watashi no Yuri ha Oshigoto Desu!” by Miman also took a turn and I’m really glad it did. Hime’s self-awareness has gone from “Am I kind of  jerk?” to “Wow, I’m a total jerk.” to “How can I be not a jerk?” in rapid succession with another bold move towards a kind of resolution to her story. When this story arc does wrap up, I hope we’ll turn towards some of the other characters and see their lives and love, as well.  But the really big positive change here is that the customers coming to the Yuri cafe are, in some panels, recognizably female. Yay. The customers seem to be split evenly, which I really appreciate.

And this month’s chapter of “2DK, G Pen, Mezamashitokei” by Ohsawa Yayoi gets my vote for the manga that gets closest to everything I want in a manga about adults for 2017, as Koyuki and Nanami have a fantastic heart-to-heart talk, not about Kaede, but about themselves and each other. This one was a winner. I really need to resurrect my Stargazer Awards for outstanding moments in Yuri. This deserves one. (Note to self: Do that for the end of the year lists.) This series would make a fantastic live-action web series.

Ratings:

Overall – 9

Good issue, some very strong stories. November Comic Yuri Hime hit shelves in Japan this week.

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Yuri Network News – (百合ネットワークニュース) – September 16, 2017

September 16th, 2017

Yuri Manga

Via YNN Correspondent Jin H., Seven Seas has announced a new Yuri manga license! Mushroom Girls in Love by Morayama Kei is exactly what the title says. In fact, we have a guest review by Bruce P to prove it to you. Take a look at his review of Kinoko Ningen no Kekkon  (きのこ人間の結婚) – which would translate to The Mushroom People’s Wedding, which wouldn’t tell you how gay it is. So there you go.

Also out this month are two do-not-miss manga: From Seven Seas is Kase-san and Shortcake by Takashima Hiromi, the third of this excellent schoolgirls-in-love series.  Volume 1 of Viz’s edition of Sweet Blue Flowers, is  heading for American shelves this week, as well. This will be the third translation of this same volume I’ve read. I wonder what I’ll think about it!

Some more exciting news from Seven Seas…ANN reports that they have licensed the original Cutey Honey manga! This is so full of wtf, ugly art, naked women, and extraordinary violence, you’ll either love it or hate or, more probably, both at the same time. This news comes on the tail of a release of the best version of this mythos.  Cutey Honey-a-Gogo is, in my opinion, the ultimate manga version of the Cutey Honey story. With art by Shimpei Itou and story by Go Nagai, I love this manga so much. Cutey Honey was the first magical girl who didn’t need a man, and this version presents us with a butched-up Na-chan for our viewing pleasure. It’s not “Yuri” per se, but it rides the line closely and I love it. ^_^ So, we’re getting the oldest and the newest in the franchise. If Seven Seas is smart, they skip any other versions and stick to the two good ones they have.

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Yuri Anime

The anime based on Amano Sakuya’s Konohana Kitan, which originally began serialization in Comic Yuri Hime S, but has since moved to Birz comics, has announced new cast and staff. members Among them Ogata Megumi announced that she’ll be playing the landlady in the upcoming production. The anime will premier on 9/24 in Japan. This is a Yuri story that stars fox-girls at a hot springs, so expect very high fanservice ratings on this. I made the mistake last week of bitching that Ichijinsha was at fault putting this anime out. I was mistake –  the publisher is Gentosha, but perhaps you’ll forgive me when you realize that Itou Hachi is currently drawing a *different* moe kimono-clad fox-girl manga called Tsuki ga Kirei desu ne for Yuri Hime magazine right now – I have to be honest they looked the same to me. I never even noticed that it wasn’t Amano’s story, but a wholly different identical concept. Guess the editor-in-chief has a(nother) fetish. 

Crunchyroll has added Kurau Phantom Memory, an anime that I loved and hated and finally came to like. Here are all my reviews of the series.

Over on Anime Now, Kat Callahan has a look at the Yuri in the anime A Centaur’s Life in A Centaur’s Life’s Low-Key Lesbian Relationships Add to Positive LGBT Representation In Japan.
 

Event News 

For folks in or near Tokyo on September 24, 20OL is an all Yuri-about-adults comics event. Don’t think I haven’t thought about just flying over for the weekend to go to this. In fact, my fingers hovered over the button for hours last night. If anyone is able to go, please do report back! If (it doesn’t blow and) they hold a second one, I’ll add it to my schedule. ^_^; 

 

Other News

The Powerpuff Girls are getting a new addition to the team, and the folks at Pink News note that she’ll be voiced by South African lesbian singer Toya Delazy.  

 

Know some cool Yuri News you want people to know about? Become a Yuri Network Correspondent by sending me any Yuri-related news you find.Emails go to anilesbocon01 at hotmail dot com. Not to the comments here, please, or they might be forgotten or missed. There’s a reason for this madness. This way I know you are a real human, not Anonymous (which I do not encourage – stand by your words with your name!) and I can send you a YNN correspondent’s badge.

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

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Drama CD: Grand Stage Special Performance (グラン・ステージ 特別公演)

September 14th, 2017

The Drama CD Grand Stage Special Performance (グラン・ステージ 特別公演) is technically the end of the first season of the series, but I had listened to the second group CD, Grand Stage Daiundokai , first, so I ended up listening to this one last of all the Grand Stage Drama CDs. And I have to tell you, it worked really well as a final CD for the series, so I don’t feel bad at all about it.

In the opening tracks, the established otokayaku of the Sora-gumi troupe, Suoh Yui, Hiou Akito, Subaru Ryoya and Kazmiya Eru meet the newest of their group – Minami Kohaku. Kohaku’s sister Kurea, is well known to all of them, so Kohaku, it turns out, has a reputation to live up to.

The bulk of the CD follows the otoyaku as a group. The leader of the Sora-gumi is planning a special performance and the otokoyaku are being asked to do a play – “Passive-Aggressive Red Riding Hood.” Frankly, I think Ryoya is a natural fit and I’m not the only one, but there’s a problem. The otokoyaku are not well-suited to play the female role. Hiou and Yui try to play the part together, but they both end up sounding like otokoyaku. Eru has a small crisis at the very idea of even attempting to play a female role, something that had this been in any way an LGBTQ series they could have made a plot point. But instead, they just circle around Eru’s insistence on being a cool guy on stage. They do the same for Ryoya’s inability to be in Kabuki. Lost opportunities to speak about gender roles and Japanese culture, but oh well. In the end, they play it for a comedy with Hiou in the role and then look forward to their musumeyaku doing their performance.

Ratings:

Overall – 9

It was a a fun end to what was a more amazing than I could have ever have expected series of Drama CDs. I’m gonna have to listen to them once more from the top. ^_^

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LGBTQ Webcomic: Always Human

September 12th, 2017

Webcomics are one of the most fascinating niches in the comics market and it’s long past time that we talk about them once again..

Webcomics became a “thing” in the late 1990s, and by the early 2000s, it was already possible to find LGBTQ content on any number of platforms. By 2003, I was keeping bookmarks of aggregate lists of lesbian and “Yuri” webcomics from half a dozen sites. Finding webcomics wasn’t hard, but finding really good ones, well that’s always been the challenge.   ^_^ As time has passed, webcomics have gone from being a junior league for upcoming artists to being a marketplace in their own right. Webcomics can successfully raise money from backers for print books, publishers are looking at Pixiv and deviantart for talent, and with Patreon and Webtoons, comic artists can get get paid for the work, as well as for the finished project. This particular niche in the comics ecosystem has only just developed those bridges to the larger comics landscape, and I don’t think we’ve more than just barely begun to see their potential. 

Which brings me to one of the best webcomics I have read. Ever. Today we’re talking about Always Human, by Ari North.  Ari sent me a message in 2016, asking me to mention her comic to you as part of a YNN report and I was glad to. I’ve been reading Always Human on Webtoons ever since. This week I finally had a chance to catch up and complete it and all I can say is that this is one of the best uses of the Internet for comics that I’ve seen. 

Ari’s art is colorful watercolor-like washes, with a vertical scroll and a lot of white space. It could, of course, be  reformatted for print, as Pulse was, but the larger, more open format of the online page, means that you can enjoy the details that fill up your screen, and not lose any of it. Often chapters comes with an original soundtrack, which you can listen to for free on Soundcloud. This really added to the atmosphere of every chapter. 

The story is sweet, honest and realistic. It’s also a lot of fun. Set in a future Earth, where virtual reality allows for body modification, gaming, communication – humans are working in deep seas and space- the people who populate Always Human are indeed quite human. Designer Sunati meets college student Austen, and they fall in love.  

While the story is primarily romance, it’s a romance that doesn’t isolate Austen or Sunati. Theirs is a world with colleagues and friends and family, which is so important to me as a reader. Unlike mainstream media, which seems to want to wallow in alternative worst scenarios, without  allowing us to work through our uncomfortable realities first, Always Human provides a more progressive world for us to spend time in. Austen has two fathers and Sunati’s parents have a boyfriend, and none of that is a “thing” that must be dealt with, beyond the stress of meeting one’s lover’s parents, which is – as we all know – stressful enough in itself.

Sunati and Austen are adults living adult lives, but they are still young adults, so they are neck deep in the process of creating the lives they hope to live. They aren’t perfect, they make mistakes and deal with the consequences, as we might expect. Even when they annoyed me – and they did – I was rooting for them As Ari says about her comic,”This is a story about nanobots, genetic engineering, and two girls falling in love. No matter how technology changes us, we’ll always be human.” And so they are.

Ratings:

Art – 10
Characters – 10
Story – 10
LGBTQ – 10
Service -1 on principle

Overall – 10

If you’re looking for a really good webcomic to read, I recommend Always Human. Luckily for us, Ari’s working on another comic for Webtoons. I’m waiting with bated breath for more from this talented artist.

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