Maria-sama ga Miteru (Virgin Mary Watches Over Us) based on the novels by Konno Oyuki, has Japanese lesbians hopping with excitement and anticipation. Marimite, as it is called in Japan, is actually a series of 12 novels written about girls who attend Lillian Girls’ Academy, a Catholic school at, roughly, the beginning of the 20th century. Similar in its flowery, talcum-scented feel to Yoshiya Nobuko’s TwoVirgins in the Attic, Marimite is a fairly straightforward story about love between girls. In other words, almost ten years after Sailor Moon brought us Uranus and Neptune and five years after Anthy and Utena, the new yuri poster children for the 21st century will be Sachiko and Yumi, from Marimite. How do I know this? Because for decades, Sachiko and Yumi have been an insanely popular doujinshi pairing in Japan…and that was before the anime and manga were even created.
Here’s a *very* basic overview of the plot:
Lillian Academy’s Student Council is call the Mountain Lily Council. (Note the ubiquitous lily imagery…) They all live in a house called the Lily Mansion. The Council is composed of three girls, each of whom takes a flower title: Rosa Gigantea (white); Rosa Chinensis (red); Rosa Foetida (yellow).
Each Rosa can take a junior, referred to as “Rosa XXX En Bouton.” Each En Bouton is allowed to pick a junior, referred to as “Rosa XXX En Bouton Petite Soeur.” The usual pattern is a senior student as Rosa, a second-year student as En Bouton and a first-year student as Petite Soeur.” You can see this easily on the character chart on the Mariamite anime site. The procedure for asking someone to be your junior is to very formally address them with, “Please accept my rosary.” Not surprisingly, this leads to a very romantic/adoration-filled relationship between each girl on the Council.
The Rosa Foetida is Torii Eriiko, her En Bouton is Hasekura Rei. Rei is ultra-cool and unflappable and she finds Yumi (the heroine) adorable. Her Petite Soeur is Shimatsu Yoshino, a very sweet and shy-type girl.
The Rosa Gigantea is Satou Sei – another uber-cool character, with a
great personality. The En Bouton for Gigantea is a first-year, a very perceptive and forthright (despite her delicate appearance) girl named Toudo Shimako. There is no Petite Soeur in this hierarchy, because Shimako is a first-year student.
The Rosa Chinensis is Mizuno Youko – she seems like a really solid person, with a teeny bit of a mischievous nature. Her En Bouton is Ogasawara Sachiko, a moody and mysterious girl. Sachiko does not like many things – including men, ginkgoes and sakura. She is reticent about herself, and in many ways distant, but determined in her desire to have Yumi as her Petite Soeur.
The heroine of the story, Fukuzawa Yumi, is a cute first-year student at Lillian Academy. She has always admired Sachiko but, when Sachiko asks her to become her little sister, Yumi declines. When pressed for a reason, she herself isn’t sure, but she knows that something is not right. As the story progresses, she realizes that her feelings for Sachiko are deeper than admiration but…
The plot of this story has no major conflicts – it’s a warm, fuzzy look at a developing relationship, a complex and romantic courting ritual and a hothouse environment designed to create intense, romantic relationships between girls. Just *exactly* what yuri fans need. :-)
The official Marimite website has some lovely art – and its minimialism gives you an idea of the feel of the story. :-) The official anime site, as mentioned above, has a nice character chart and will, eventually, have some other features. And, lastly, here’s an anime trailer that gives you a really wonderful idea of what we’re in for!
All in all, I’m thinking this is going to be 10 out of 10 for pure “S”. For more news, manga synopses, and lots of enthusiasm join the Yuricon Mailing List and share the excitement!