Yuri Manga: Love Vibes

February 18th, 2004

loevibesAfter the last few reviews, you’re all probably wondering if there are any early Yuri stories worth your time, i.e., where the girl gets the girl and they all live happily ever after. The answer is, of course, yes, yes there are. And this week I’ll be looking at a few of my favorites. Love Vibes by Sakurazawa Erica from 1996, is classic Yuri that does not suck.

Mako is happy with her boyfriend, so when she’s propositioned by outspoken lesbian Mika, she’s flattered, but not really interested. Mika’s goodnatured about it, and steals a kiss betwen friends. The two women become closer as time passes and a real friendship begins to develop.

But as Mako’s relationship starts to falter, she finds herself turning more often to Mika for advice, then comfort. Mika finds herself hopelessly attracted to Mako, but she’s not stupid and won’t wait around for Mako to change. She meets and falls for a mysterious and beautiful stranger, who has a bizarre story of her own. (I mean, a *bizarre* story…)

Mako and Mika’s relationship stalls, as Mika begins to date this fascinating new woman. Mako desperately tries to figure out her feelings for Mika, and for her boyfriend, who now wants to be reconciled. Neither relationship works, and ultimately, Mika and Mako end up together.

Mika is happy enough, living for the moment, but Mako becomes increasingly concerned about her sexuality and being labeled. When she meets a man who recognizes her as “lesbian” she has a little crisis of identity. And to add to her stress, her boyfriend is back, and now he’s angry at her for leaving him for a woman. In the meantime, Mika’s former lover has come back as well and wants to see her again. Ultimately, a final confrontation leads to a happy ending as Mako and Mika literally run off hand in hand together.

Like most Sakurazawa stories, the characters are wildly imperfect. Mako’s vacillating and unintentional manipulation is frustrating, but in alot of ways, she’s the most realistic character. I wish there *were* more girls like Mika in this world, but there aren’t – her self-confidence is unreal, but delightful. The story is, like so many josei stories about the spectrum of human sexuality,a little overwrought in its consideration of “what is gay?” but overall, this is a huge step forward from earlier yuri stories, where all that consideration leads nowhere. This is not the perfect yuri story, but it’s a happy one and therefore worth a look.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 7

Overall – 7

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