Yuri Manga: Between the Sheets

February 17th, 2004

Miserable Classics of Shoujoai!
Part 4

Between the Sheets – Sakurazawa Erica, 1996

Saki and Minako are as close as two friends can get only…Minako realizes that she really wants to be closer. Unfortunately, not only is Saki straight, she’s really not a good person, playing various boyfriends off each other and off Saki. Ultimately, Saki finds comfort with one of Minako’s jilted boyfriends, as both of them seek to get closer to Minako through each other.

This story is altogether unsatisfactory as an early Yuri story, but it’s actually a pretty good exploration of immature sexuality. Minako seems charming to the other characters, but from a mature perspective she’s manipulative, superficial and mercenary. Saki’s weak-willed, and the various boyfriends are all clueless and selfish. There’s really not a single sympathetic character in the story. (Gosh doesn’t *that* make you want to run right out and get a copy?)

Nonetheless, this was one of the first josei manga that explored a Yuri theme and *the* first translated to English. The art and story are more adult that the average shoujo manga and the consequences have more to do with the essential qualities (or lack thereof) of the characters, than circumstance. This alone makes it worth a read.

Tokyopop produced an English edition and I have to say, they did a really decent job of expressing the bleakness of this story well in their translation. This is NOT a story to read if you’re a young lesbian looking for some reflection of lesbianism in manga…but as a character study, it’s pretty good. It was also Tokyo Pop’s first step into josei manga – an interesting choice for a company trying to reach a mostly shoujo audience.

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