As you may have realized by now, I’m always on the lookout for characters that break out of the conventional molds of shoujo manga. And to be honest, right now I think that there are exactly *two* Yuri artists out there who do so successfully. I’ve already reviewed Free Soul and Indigo Blue by Yamaji Ebine – today I want to talk about a wonderful, very unconventional Yuri manga – Rica ‘tte Kanji!? by Rica Takashima.
Let me state this right up front – I translated this comic, and I’m good friends with the author. That having been said, I think that this is one of the very few “pure” Yuri manga available – and the *only* one available in English at this time. (By pure Yuri , I mean that this is a lesbian narrative, written by a lesbian, for an audience of women.) Indeed, it’s *because* I felt that way that I wanted to bring this story to the English-speaking audience.
Rica ‘tte Kanji!? (the title has no meaning, by the way – it’s like saying, “Like, Rica!?”) is the story of a young woman who moves to Tokyo to attend a Women’s College to study early child development. Rica is idealistic and funny, but not completely starry-eyed or naive. In fact, she’s probably the single most realistic character I’ve ever read in any manga. In an early scene, she frets over what to wear for her first time at a gay bar, ultimately deciding on her regular clothes…but she makes sure she has clean underwear on. ^_^
Rica meets quite a few nice people in the Nichoume (Tokyo’s Gay and lesbian District,) including a cool and interesting art student, Miho. Rica and Miho’s relationship progresses in Rica without high drama, angst, self-doubt, obsession over sexuality or roles. It’s a refreshing and adult look at two women who know who they are and don’t question their own sexuality. For this reason alone, Rica is entirely unique.
The emphasis in Rica is on character and realistic, but humorous, situations. We watch Miho nurse Rica through a cold, Rica makes dinner for a crampy and miserable Miho (one of my favorite scenes, as Miho bitches about the monthly joy of being a woman), they fantasize about each other, and in the end, they are just so damn cute, you can’t stop smiling. There is some conflict, but don’t expect suicidal angst here – these two women are long past high school drama.
The art in Rica is nothing like the conventional shoujo style – it has alot more to do with pop art, and contemporary modern painting, than shoujo manga. When the mangaka *does* use conventional imagery or themes, she tends to use it self-mockingly and point it out for us, so we can have a good laugh along with her. (Rica is portrayed fantasizing about her first time in the Nichoume with a background pattern of lilies – an author’s note points out the flowers and comments “The usual flower imagery.” ) It’s touches like this that make Rica so delightful and approachable – we are allowed to laugh at the characters, and ourselves, through the artist’s work.
The biggest downside to Rica is that, at the end, I wanted more. I hated to leave Rica and Miho behind, so I hope to convince the mangaka to do more for us. Hopefully we’ll be seeing a sequel in the next year or two. ^_^
Yuri – 10
Art – 9 (I *like* pop art!) Story – 9. Characters – 10. Overall – 9.5
Now here’s the advertisement:
To get *your* copy of Rica ‘tte Kanji!?, Look for the English-language manga at the
I mean this quite literally -this is the Yuriest manga you can get in English. Get yours today!