Hayate x Blade 2 Manga, Volume 1 (はやてxブレード 2)

October 30th, 2014

hxb2-1In Volume 1 of Hayate x Blade Nyan, the new semester is beginning at Tenchi Gakuen and everything is different. Students have split into two dorms – Tenguu and Daichi, aligning with our favorite scion of the Amachi family, Hitsugi  or her “Black group”-leading cousin, Hajime.

The Hoshitori has been revamped, as well, with more one-on-one battles ahead, and much, much more intense fighting. The first battle nearly mangles Ayana’s poor roommate Kei and introduces us to our first enemy of the new series,  a sadistic sociopath named Terma.

But before we can truly understand what drives Terma, we are turned towards Nagi. Nagi, Hayate’s older, more talented twin, who expected to take her place at the top of the Tenchi hierarchy only to find her goofy little sister firmly entrenched there. Instead of fighting for her place, Nagi has been overwhelmed by ennui. Even the passionate enthusiasm of her shinyuu, Kanai, has been  unable to motivate her. In fact, she’s gone so far as to join the Daichi dorm, but even Hajime doesn’t trust her. Hajime challenges Nagi to a duel and with the help of her shadowy shinyuu Shingetsu, defeats Nagi handily.

Kanai is terribly worried about her brusied and beaten partner, but Nagi insists she feels nothing. Hayate supports this, and calls in their mother to explain. Nagi, it turns out, doesn’t feel pain. At all. Which leads to another worry, because as part of the new Hoshitori rules, individual fighters can be called out for a duel – and Nagi has been challenged by Terma.

As everyone waits on pins and needles for Hitsugi’s opening salvo, the “Ultimate Hoshidori”, they watch as already wounded Nagi and Terma face off in a potentially 5-round fight. Nagi pulls out all the stops and wins the bout in a spectacular display of raw guts and skill. Hayate is so moved that she starts to mimic Nagi’s finishing technique.

Around the corner is Hitsugi’s “Summer Festival”, which they all dread, just because Hitsugi’s looking like she’s relishing the idea.

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Missing from this volume are the linking chapters that ran in the magazine, in which students were forced to slide across greased pipes to get to the new campus, but is otherwise full of the same kind of low gags and awesome fight scenes that we’ve come to expect from Hayashiya-sensei!

Ratings:

Art – 9
Story – 9
Character – 9
Yuri – 1 Hayate gropes Ayana, and reminds herself to tell Jun. ^_^;
Service – 4 Hayate gropes Ayana, and reminds herself to tell Jun. ^_^;

Overall – 9

And, then, Nagi went BAM! and it was like “whoahhhhh….”





Destro 246 Manga, Volume 2 (デストロ246)

October 28th, 2014

destro2 In Volume 1, we met teenaged assassin Imari, who is young, but looks younger than she is. She encounters and fights assassins Touno Sui (pictured on the cover) and Touno Ai, who work for their crime boss brother Touno Ryuichi. She also encounters Ichigo, the daughter of a crime syndicate, and her assassin bodyguards, Manten and Renka. The plot, however, was subsumed in the drive to look up skirts.

In Destro 246, Volume 2 (デストロ246), the story becomes clearer. A Russian mob boss, Laskov, is targeting Yokohama…in fact, he is targeting Imari’s high school, which does appear to be a hotbed of yakuza and professional killers. Ichigo’s crime syndicate, 893, is targeting Laskov, and his lackey Nagumo, a teacher at the school…and *his* assassin and lover, Motoka. Imari, Ai and Sui all join Ichigo to defeat the Russian interloper. Rawr us.

There is more Yuri in this volume than the first. Manten and Renka are definitely lovers, and definitely enjoy threesomes with Ichigo.

The overall feel is that the editor read Volume 1 and said, “get on with it” and Takahashi was required to come up with an actual plot. There’s less upskirting and more general nudity and some implied sex this volume. More importantly, I found I actually like Manten and Renka, as well as Imari, who comes off as being sort of sweet and honorable for an assassin. The characters aren’t nearly as well-developed as they were in Jormungand, but at least I can tell them apart now.

Of course, I couldn’t care less about Laskov and we loathe Nagumo by the end of the volume, so swift deaths can’t come quickly enough, so we can get back to our regularly scheduled teen female assassin bouts.

Ratings:

Art – 6
Story – 3
Characters – 4 I still needed to refer to the Character profiles from time to time
Service – 6

Overall – 6

Not award winning, but I’ll keep reading.





LGBTQ Manga: Lesbian-teki Kekkon Seikatsu (レズビアン的結婚生活 )

October 27th, 2014

ltksIn spring 2013, Higashi Koyuki and Masahara Hiroko made waves all around the world with the first ever same-sex wedding ceremony at Tokyo Disneyland Resort (TDR). The two are both activists and writers, and their story was widely shared around the Internet and in print publications.

Lesbian-teki Kekkon Seikatsu (レズビアン的結婚生活 ) is the manga retelling of their story. Beginning with their decision to do a wedding ceremony at Disneyland and their experiences convincing TDR to accommodate them, the story is a very honest, very real, touching and sometimes painful discussion of their lives, their lives together and their love for one another.

Koyuki-san, a former Takarisienne, is the more high-strung of the two. She has also written a book about familial abuse she suffered as a child. After flashbacks to her first love in school, we hear very little about her life, except to mention briefly how difficult life at Takarazuka is.

Hiroko-san is, of the two, the way more mellow personality. We get a fair amount of detail about her life, and her relationship to her parents, all of which is actually relevant to the narrative at hand, as her parents help pay for the extravaganza. Her father’s speech at their wedding is illustrated with guests bawling happily and I was no different. Hiroko-san’s parents were, in some ways, the real heroes of the book.

My favorite chapter tells of Koyuki-san asking Hiroko-san to propose to her romantically, then grading her half-hearted attempts. My favorite was the moment Hiroko-san came home. “I’m in the bathroom,” Koyuki-san says. “Let’s get married,” Hiroko-san says. “Negative 5 points,” is the reply. ^_^

Many of these flashbacks are related as answering questions from the wedding guests. When did you come out? Where did you meet? Who proposed? All told with humor and honesty, interspersed with educational essays about LGBTQ terminology, coming out and other LGBTQ life issues.

The artwork by Sugiyama Eriko is appealing and cute, rather than realistic. It balances out the heavier moments well and allows readers to focus on the story and the people, rather than getting lost in detail.

If you can read even a little Japanese, I’d recommend this book with all my recommends. The story it tells is a moment of history that may well be the moment a tide turned. This is as real as real gets.

Ratings:

Art – 9
Story – 10
LGBTQ – 10

Overall – 10

Koyuki-san and Hiroko-san have written a second book, about becoming mothers, titled Futari no Mama kara, Kimi-tachi he, so you can follow their continuing story. ^_^





‘My Margaret’ 50th Anniversary Manga Exhibition

October 26th, 2014

mm50Girl’s manga magazines Margaret and Bessatsu Margaret (Bestuma) magazines celebrated their 50th anniversary this year with the Watashi no Margaret: (My Margaret) exhibition at the Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills. Our intrepid team of Okazu reporters took in the exhibit on a fine Thursday afternoon in October.

Margaret has some strong ties to our community. It was – and is again – the home of Riyoko Ikeda’s works, including Oniisama E/Dear Brother and Berusaiyu no Bara/Rose of Versailles manga series. (It also was the home for the Maria-sama ga Miteru manga and early Yuri classic, Futtemo Harettemo.) In addition, fans of sports manga will remember that the first girl’s sport manga, Attack No. 1 and the popular tennis manga, Ace o Nerae!/Aim for the Ace! also ran in Margaret.

Ticket holders were herded into a waiting area, where we were able to get tantalizing glimpses of reproduction color art from the magazine. No photos were allowed, so of course, I snapped this quick picture while waiting.

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Before we were let free to wander the exhibit, there was a 4 minute video that was absolutely fantastic. Individual panels of various popular works from 50 years of the magazine, accompanied by dramatic music and fade-ins and outs of recognizable dialogue, was surprisingly moving. The finale was a collage of kiss scenes from dozens of the series and both my wife and I sniffled a bit. It was hard to not be overwhelmed by the shoujo-ness of it all. ^_^

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(These are the scenes from the video on the front and back cover of the exhibition catalog, which was lovely, but large. I did not get it, despite thinking about it very hard.)

The exhibit itself  was broken into not quite a dozen rooms, the first several focusing on a period of the magazines’ evolution from general “girl’s” magazine to manga magazines.

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These were followed by manga categories, like “Gag and Comedy”, “Horror” and “Sports” with original art from popular series of that kind. The “Sports” room had me riveted, with actual original pages from Attack. No. 1 and Ace o Nerae!, Swan and other famous series.

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Comedy and Gag manga were presented in a cheerily painted area with sound and vocal effects in large word balloons on the wall. Horror was, of course, black walls, splashes of blood-red  and scream effects. ^_^

The “Romance” room, was set up to look much like a reception area of a wedding hall, with banners of cloth hung in a canopy from the ceiling.

There was a focus spot on a series I was not at all familiar with – Hot Road – and we were allowed to take pictures of the motorcycles used in the live action movie of the series. Here is one of the watercolors. It’s an odd choice, since most of the art for this series is full of movement and large vistas, motorcycle noises and cityscapes. This was a cover of one of the manga volumes that manages to be none of that at all.

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This lead into a full room of original art from this series..and wow do I have a new appreciation for manga artists after this. Much of this, and the next rooms, which had original water colors for color pages were…amazing. You could just about point out the moment that screentones were introduced into manga art, and marvel at the early effects created by ink, cutting, splattering and the liberal use of whiteout. The water colors of the 70s and 80s were absolutely breathtaking in some cases. The painting and drafting skills of the artists were evident in these full-size original pages.

Towards the end, there are a few rooms focusing on other popular series, such as Hana Yori Dango and current favorite Ao Haru Ride/ Blue Spring Ride, which is getting a live action movie in the upcoming months.

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The end of the exhibit was focused on Riyoko Ikeda’s work. In a room patterned after, one supposes, wallpaper in Versailles, we are in suddenly in the presence of the original art from Berusaiyu no Bara/Rose of Versailles, the timeless tale of the female soldier and leader of soldiers during the French Revolution, Oscar Francois de Jarjeyes.

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It was wonderful. ^_^

You remember the painting of Oscar as a classical hero on a horse? That’s a real thing. In full color, beat to shit on paper that has been folded and mishandled for decades…there it was.  Along with (of course,) Takarazuka costumes from one of the first performances of the musical.

This lead into a wall of Ikeda’s art from Orpheus no Mado and a few original pieces of Oniisama E/Dear Brother. (Kaoru no Kimi with a guitar. Squee.)

Then we come around the corner for the ultimate photo op.

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This life-size sculpture comes with a wall of photos from every angle, and a couple of French flags you can hold and take a picture of yourselves in the same position. I declined to pose, but got a cute picture of a couple of girls doing so. ^_^

From there, you are herded into the gift shop, where naturally, you buy way too many things you neither need nor want, because they look so cool!

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(That is a Wada Shinji series on the bottom. It’s from Gin-iro no Kami no Arisa, which ran in Betsuma.)

When we had consumed goods to our satisfaction, we went up on the Sky Deck to check out Tokyo. Considering I took this on a cellphone, with the sun glare making it impossible to see the screen, this picture of the Skytree and Tokyo Tower came out damn good.

 

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I’m really very glad we managed to get to this exhibit. It was exceptional in every way.





Yuri Network News – (百合ネットワークニュース) – October 25, 2014

October 25th, 2014

YNN_MariKWell, we’re back and there’s a *lot* to talk about!

Event Reports

Here’s big news in LGBTQ Comic events: Queer and Comics. This is the first-ever university-based LGBTQ comics conference! It is being held at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY on May 7-8, 2015. Panel Proposals are open, so put this on your calendar for this spring. Panel proposals for manga-related topics are welcome! I’ll be there and hope to see you all. You’ll be hearing about this conference in the upcoming months, until I convince you all to be there. ^_^

Geek Girl Con is highly recommended. We had a blast, saw a lot of friends, and saw the shape of fandom where everyone is welcome and there is no “wrong” way to be a fan. It was great!

My write up of Girls Love Festival 12 is up on The Mary Sue, I’m hoping to introduce Yuri doujinshi to a wider fan audience. So be patient with the intro, which eases into what doujinshi and the shows where they are sold are.

In cased you missed it, I’ve also shared my most recent experience at a Takarazuka show, Snow Troupe’s perfromance of 70’s shoujo manga inspired Hakushaku no Reijou.

And I’ve uploaded the full-text of most recent lecture…and given you some broad hints about the future of Crunchyroll Manga in my first installment of the 2014 Tokyo Journal.

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Yuri Manga/LGBTQ Comics

Seven Seas has announced that they are releasing the Bodacious Space Pirates: Abyss of Hyperspace movie manga in August 2015.

Liz McMullen and JD Glass speak with Joan Hilty, Jennifer Camper and Kris Dresen about being Queer Women in Comics and the New York Comic Con Panel of the same name.

The Infinite Loop, by Pierrick Colinet and Elsa Charretier, which is debuting in France next month, about time-travel and a love affair between two woman, is shopping around, looking for an American publisher. Here’s hoping someone will pick it up. Click the link for sample art.

Anastasia Moreno and Nogami Takeshi-sensei have introduced a new character to their comic Marine Corps Yumi.  A foul-mouthed Evil Psycho Lesbian Navy Corpsman named Erica Busch. You’re welcome. ^_^

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LGBTQ Games

Playable character parity, a queer character, progressive male characters and game devs having fun while creating actual character moral complexity…Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel sounds like a winner to me!

Paizo is looking to hire female gave devs and designers for Pathfinder.

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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!