Yuri Manga: Tsuki to Sekai to Etoile, Volume 3 (月と世界とエトワール)

December 21st, 2014

downloadIn Volume 1 of Takagami Yuriko’s Tsuki to Sekai to Etoile (月と世界とエトワール), we were introduced to the Gekkoukan, an exclusive all girls music school, in which skill in singing and music writing translates to rank among the student body  – and pairs of songwriters and singers are known as Etoile and Chevalier. Yozora is an new student, but has already become “engaged” to Sekai, her songwriter. Yozora and Sekai have become a threat to the established top star couple, Umiyuri and Towa.

Volume 2 shows us that behind their beauty, Umiyuri and Towa are not nice people. They’ve been responsible for the destruction of one girl’s musical career already and are clearly, despite their smiles and kind words, gunning for Yozora.  Despite their interference, Yozora persists and, while she loses to them in the big competition, it’s clear that she poses a threat to their rank.

Volume 3 begins as summer vacation looms. Yozora learns that Sekai does not go home, so she invites her Chevalier to join her. We meet Yozora’s grandmother and learn the not-at-all-shocking fact that she and Sekai’s grandmother were once Etoile and Chevalier as well. Sekai decides to return home and deal with her family for the first time in a while.

Missing Sekai deeply, Yozora returns to school, where she is embroiled in some new cockamamie scheme by Umiyuri and Towa to crush her spirit, only to be rescued by Sekai who has come back. Umiyuri asks Yozora to accompany her to a performance, again to make her fail, but Yozora, bolstered by Sekai’s belief in her and her feelings for her Chevalier, rises to the challenge.

As the volume ends, the next performance festival is around the corner and Yozora and Sekai will surely face more outright competition from the school’s star couple.

I had purchased this volume before I left for Tokyo in October. While shopping in Comic Zin, I came across a doujinshi for this series. I scooped it up, with a comment to my wife that if the doujinshi artist was not the actual series creator, it had to be an assistant, the art was that similar.

SekaitoKotori

As it turns out, it was indeed by Takagami-sensei, a fanfic of her own world, which made me quite happy. The story takes place a few years before Sekai and Yozora meet. Sekai manages to help a classmate who keeps cracking under performance pressure. And it sets Sekai up as a bit of a playgirl, as well. ^_^ Yozora isn’t her first girl, after all.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Yuri –7 More kisses and some actual affection
Service – 1, on principle

Overall – 7

This story is growing on me. And it looks like it’ll be one of the first 4-volume series from  Yuri Hime Comics (along with Citrus) that has actual Yuri. This volume is also available on JP Kindle.



Yuri Network News – (百合ネットワークニュース) – December 20, 2014

December 20th, 2014

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Today I’m focusing on some of the interesting stuff I’ve found to read because, I know there are some of you who, like me, want to read this stuff! For a list of research articles, opinion pieces, interviews and essays relevant to Yuri research, visit the Yuricon Essays Page, where you will see that we keep an ever-growing list of on- and offline discussions of Yuri, LGBTQ topics and other essays of tangential interest.  If you’re doing Yuri research, please do keep us in the loop, we’re want Yuricon to be the resource for Yuri scholarship.

Writing of Interest

Mark McLelland, Kazumi Nagaike, Katsuhiko Suganuma, and James Welker have a new book on BL manga, Boys Love Manga and Beyond: History, Culture, and Community in Japan, which will be of interest to those of us doing research in manga.

Not really Yuri related, but this article sent to me by a friend looks interesting: Lesbian identities and everyday space in contemporary urban Russia

If you’re looking for a place to throw your donation money this holiday season, Solomon Fletcher has created a Women, POC, Queer and Trans Creators Patreon Masterpost, so you can locate women, creators of color, queer and trans-run Patreon campaigns.

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Yuri (or Yuri-ish, or we’re keeping our fingers crossed) Anime

The second season of Sailor Moon Crystal has been given the go sign, according to ANN. We’ll be getting the ‘R’ season, which focuses on Chibi-Usa, and introduces Sailor Pluto. Here’s hoping that the intensive marketing will support the third series, as well. ^_^ FWIW, while Chibi-Usa is annoying in the second arc, I think the manga Chibi-Usa is slightly more sympathetic than the original anime version.

Those of us waiting for the Sailor Moon Crystal Blu-ray, will find the art significantly touched up from the TV broadcast. Kotaku has some side by side images so you can see the changes.

Car company Subaru and Gainax teamed up a while ago for a short web anime, Houkago no Pleiades. Well, ANN has the scoop that this whimsical little magical girl series is getting a TV anime. The first promotional video is up on YouTube.

Comic Natalie reports that the OP for Yuri Kuma Arashi, “Ano Mori de Matteru,” will be sung by newcomer – and home-recording artist – Bonjour Suzuki. For a listen, check out YouTube.

Komatsu-san on Crunchyroll says that the Pretty Store Osaka has already started the countdown to the next Pretty Cure season, Go! Princess Precure.

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Live Action News

The Japanese Yuri Live Action Movie Schoolgirl Complex is available with English subtitles on Amazon Video. I reviewed that back in February 2014, but you may wish to watch it first, then read my review, so my opinion doesn’t influence you. ^_^

This last piece of news is not Yuri at all, but I’m ridiculously excited about it nonetheless. Oddly enough, my wife and I were just talking about Shimizu Reiko’s cracktastic series Kaguya-hime, (which I reviewed in 2004 and again when it ended in 2005,) and her art, which is unnaturally gorgeous, when I saw this news report by Komatsu-san on Crunchyroll. that Shimizu-sensei’s series Himitsu – Top Secret is getting a live action film adaptation. No actual humans can ever be as pretty as her art, but I’d very much like to see this. ^_^

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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!



Yuri Manga: Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san, Volume 3 (犬神さんと猫山さん)

December 19th, 2014

istns3Here we are at Volume 3 of Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san (犬神さんと猫山さん) and…I’m not tired of it yet. Why? I don’t know, but I’m not! There’s something about Kuzushiro’s characters that make them completely not-boring to me. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a gag comic this muchsince…well, ever really.

So here we are and Nekoyama is fully invested in being too interested in Inugami, with no real way to express herself, while Inugami wears her heart on her sleeve.  We follow Aki for a good portion of the book and get a new seasonal addition with her Kendo sempai Touko (whose name is written with the character for “winter.”) Most of the other animals take a back seat to  to Ryuuzaki and Torao. And we see that indeed, they are the couple they appear to be. In addition to Otome and Mari, we get to see Nekoyama’s older sister, Tamaki with her girlfriend. So the Yuri level is significantly higher than previous volumes.

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For the rest, it’s basically a balanced mix of genuine emotion and excruciating jokes that I nonetheless laugh out loud at.

What is it about this comic that I like so much? It’s taken me a while to nail it down, but I think I’ve figured it out. Kuzushiro-sensei likes these character and as a result, so do I. ^_^  Despite the animal puns, there’s a sense of depth to all the characters (except Torikai). While we’re mostly seeing the silly side, every once in a while we see that depth – just a glimpse – and it convinces us that time spent in this boisterous crowd is time well spent.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 7
Character – 7
FanService – 6
Yuri – 8

Overall – 7

Apparently the key to a good gag comic is not one loud joke-cracking annoying character, but about half a dozen of them all at once. ^_^

This volume is also available on Kindle for folks with Japanese IP addresses.

 



Mangatime Kirara Magica (まんがタイムきらら☆マギカ) Magazine

December 18th, 2014

kstarm16Once again, we begin today’s review  with me standing in an Animate in Japan. There I was, staring at the piles of manga and magazines. (“Piles” is not a metaphor. This week’s releases are stacked in piles in the front of the store.)

And I see a, well, probably a clearfile, but it’s shrinkwrapped to a magazine, of Devil Homura and I think “Okay, I’ll get that when I come back down.”  I don’t have a single use for a clearfile, but I like the picture. QED.

The clearfile was attached to a  magazine that kind of made my head spin. I’ve seen Gundam magazine and a few issues of an Evangelion magazine, but had no idea there was an entire magazine devoted to Puella Magi  Madoka Magica, called Mangatime Kirara Magica. As it happens, I purchased Volume 16, which is still available. Volume 17 is the current issue.

The magazine is surprisingly enjoyable, for a derivative of a work created by committee for the sole purpose of taking as much of my money out of my pocket as possible in the form of every consumer good in the world.

I actually laughed at some of the 4-panel gag comics, enjoyed a few of the longer form stories  – and it made an awesome prop at a high school talk I did yesterday on panel structure, genre and storytelling because of the sheer variety of the of genre types in the magazine.

Just when you think that every single drop that can be wrung out on Madoka has been, you find you are so very, very wrong.

Ratings:

Variable, but actually worth my money beyond even that clearfile. ^_^ Let’s say a strong 8



Yuri Manga: Pastel Days (ぱすてるディズ)

December 16th, 2014

pasteldaysYou cannot judge Yui Hinako’s Pastel Days (ぱすてるディズ)  by its cover. Like Fujisawa Makoto’s Himitsu no Kakera from last week, I found it to be a surprisingly satisfying read.

The first story is roughly drawn, and is a pretty basic “Story A” set in a typical school setting.

The second story, although the art is still very moe, follows the meeting of two adult friends and how they both come to realize their relationship is more than just friends.

The third story goes back to the rough style and is again a old friends story with some passive-aggressive hijinks for spice.

It’s the fourth story, “Ai no Tane” which elevated this book for me. Set in an office, Oono is really irritated by Sasaki-san. She’s just so damn cheerful all the time and hangs around with suspicious men and…she’s just annoying, right?

Sasaki immediately recognizes this for what it is and asks “Do you like me?” Oono denies it, but it’s only a matter of time before Sasaki pushes away the lame excuses Oono has for not admitting what is obvious to all of us.  What really makes the story work is the third co-worker, who also sees what’s going on but is completely taken aback when, the day after Oono left alone and fuming, she and Sasaki come in the next day, all smiles. The art by now has tightened up considerably, as well, with better production and finishing.

In the fifth story Haru and Hana are roommates, but when Hana mentions that she’s got a marriage offer, everything changes between them.

The final story follows two sisters who go away for an onsen holiday so they can have alone time.

Interestingly, all these stories were originally doujinshi. This is an original collection by Yuri Hime Comics, nothing that has run in the pages of the magazine. Its not going to be a go-to book, but I definitely smiled more than I frowned. While I did not love every story, I found myself enjoying most of them.

 

Ratings:

Art – Variable, her art improved vastly between 2012 and 2014
Stories – Average 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 8
Service – 3 1 on principle, +2 for the infantalizing of adults

Overall – Let’s call it an 8

 

This was a nice before-bed read. Nothing harsh on the sensibilities and “Ai no Tane” had a punchline that actually made me laugh out loud. For that, it was totally worth my time.

The book is also available on Kindle for those with  JP IP address.