Yuri Manga: Yuri Tengoku (and Strawberry Panic)

January 22nd, 2004

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
Part 3

When one person has a good idea, it is inevitable that there will be a rush of copycats, trying to get their two cents in, too. Anime and manga are no different. It appears that the yaoi market has matured, so many manga publishers are rushing to get new yuri products to market as fast as they can. The second half of 2003 gave us more anime and manga with yuri elements than I’d ever seen before at one time, and 2004 is shaping up to be even more chock-full of lilies.

Today, I’ll briefly cover two publications that have been released that are *clearly* something borrowed. This past August, the first yuri manga magazine since Mist* went out of print, was released (not counting lesbian publications, Phryne, Anise and Carmilla, which aren’t specifically manga magazines – they cater(ed) to a more general lesbian population.) I’ll talk about Yuri Shimai later, in more detail. But almost immediately upon Yuri Shimai’s tail feathers came yet *another* Yuri magazine, this one cleverly and subtlely called Yuri Tengoku(Lily Heaven).

This is more of a slick, widely distributed doujinshi than a true magazine. It may be a one-shot, certainly there’s no advertisement inside for a second volume. The cover and the first few pages are nicely done color art of schoolgirl couples, but nothing suggestive in sight. The stories inside range from (IMHO) utterly mediocre fairly decent – but I am very not into moe art, of which there was a preponderance. Of the dozen or so stories, there were only about three or four where the characters actually looked to be the age they were supposed to be, and of those, only one that went beyond a confession followed by nothing much.

Call me unreasonable, but by the end, I *longed* for a story about a bored housewife and lesbian trucker. And I *am* being unreasonable, since Yuri Tengoku says right on the cover that it’s an anthology of stories of love connections between girls. So one shouldn’t expect more than a few kisses here and there. And that’s about what one gets. The stories are very sweet, I can’t fault that – and most of them end with at least the possibility of some further developments between the girls in the future (at least one hopes so!)

I will say this in favor of YT, it did not suffer from an overabundance of fanservice – just erred on the ootsey-cutesy side. Only one story really wandered into that particular field and, as it was played for laughs, it was actually pretty funny.

Interestingly, Yuri Tengoku suffers from a layout issue that plagued ALC Publishing’s first Yuri Monogatari. There’s no spacer art or splash pages between stories, so the transition from one to another is abrupt. Hopefully, if Daito Comics does another issue, they’ll be able to resolve that issue.

Is it Yuri? Indubitably. Is it worth it? That depends on whether you like sweet stories about girls in school uniforms. If that’s your thing, then it’s worth it.

I can’t really rate it, since, as an anthology it has a wide array of art style and story.

***

Another brand new “me-too” entry into the Yuri manga market is another loli-art-style entry,
Strawberry Panic, brought to us by Dengeki Comics, who also brought us the manga for Battle Athletes, Stellvia of the Universe (which I will review later on) and Azumanga Daioh…as you can see, Dengeki is our friend. ^_^

(Please look at the Strawberry Panic category for all my later reviews of the anime, the light novels and manga.)

Strawberry Panic is not only *another* Yuri story, but is strongly “me-too”ing the schoolgirl theme Marimite; i.e., girls’ relationships forming at private schools, only this time with a slightly more sexual twist. From what I can tell, the story revolves around three schools, all of whom draw their “little sisters” from among the younger students (ala the soeur system of Lillian.) When a girl is chosen, she is initiated into her school by an older student who “lilys” her. (I swear they used the word “lily” as a verb.) The relationship is defined in the write-up as being more than friendship and the word lily is sprinkled liberally throughout. As I haven’t seen any more than this website, I can only imagine what it all means. B

*Mist magazine was the coolest Yuri manga magazine ever. It was Yuri from beginning to end; mostly manga, some short stories and usually a “photo” story, which was really silly The stories were for a mature female audience, so they were essentially Yuri porn. I have two copies gifted to me by a friend and they are my prize possessions. If I ever find any more, you can be sure I’ll scoff those babies up!

If you’re looking for good Yuri manga and doujinshi, don’t forget to stop by the English and Japanese-language manga and doujinshi at the Yuricon Shop, where the girl always gets the girl and the Yuri is really decent stuff written by lesbians for a adult audience.

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