Yuri Manga: Yuri Shimai, Issue 1 and 2

January 26th, 2004

What’s really, really hot right now? Well, with the advent of Yuri-filled schoolgirl romance in Maria-sama ga Miteru , schoolgirls are hot, hot, hot. So hot that manga and anime are popping up left and right with a bazillion versions of the same old sempai/kohai romance, over and over.

Do I sound jaded? I admit, I kind of feel it. A steady diet of mediocre high school lesbian drama has worn me down a little and I’m a little less enthused by the new yuri than I had expected to be. It’s great to see more Yuri and all, but does it ALL have to be high school confessions that lead nowhere? (To be fair, it’s not Marimite‘s fault – it’s all the knock-offs and me-toos that have me cringing. And the subject of today’s review is *not* to blame, since it came out last summer, well before the Great Schoolgirl Rush of ’04.

Yuri Shimai is definitely the front runner in the Yuri manga category at the moment. Published quarterly by SunSun Magazine (the folks who bring you June magazine) Yuri Shimai is now on its second issue. While the second issue of YS suffers a very little from “second album” syndrome, there’s much more good here than bad…although, as I say, I’d had my fill of schoolgirls by the end. Since girls in school uniform…indeed women under the age of 25 or so…do nothing for me, I get bored pretty quickly of one teen romance after another. You know, lesbians *do* survive to adulthood…

That having been said, there is much to recommend Yuri Shimai to any Yuri fan. For one thing, it’s very slick. Nice color covers, about a dozen color pages and inserted color posters make both issues of Yuri Shimai worth the purchase price. Sun Sun has got the money to drop into this book – and it shows. Production-wise, we couldn’t ask for anything better.

The stories are variable in art and content, but most are sweet and charming. A few transcend the usual Yuri conventions to create interesting characters and motivations. One of my complaints about the second issue was the overuse of breast-grabbing as a plot point. I don’t know, maybe Japanese girls do go around doing that, bit it always seems forced and unreal to me.

There’s at least one continuing story, “Strawberry Shake”. So, get together with a few friends, open an account with Amazon Japan and *buy* the magazine, or this one too, will go the way of Mist, Anise, Phryne and all other lesbian-oriented Japanese publications, which have become defunct. Because, in the end, the only thing that talks is money.)

Another useful and fun part of YS is the “Vox Populi” section, which outlines manga, anime, novels, movies and games with Yuri content – I steal freely from this section to fill my shelves at home. ^_^ Additionally, the second issue has an encouraging fan art section – one hopes that they received so much mail that a switch to monthly may one day be in the making. And the second issue provides a form for yuri doujinshi/manga artists to send in their work to be reviewed. One day you might see Rica ‘tte Kanji!? or Yuri Monogatari covered in those pages! (Now, wouldn’t that be cool?)

Ultimately, time will tell whether YS has any staying power, but even despite my eventual longing for a story about a lesbian chain gang, I know that I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed. ^-^

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