Although I’ve already reviewed some titles by this author, I’ve been saving this particular title for a special occasion.
Love My Life – Yamaji Ebine
Why do I call this the “perfect Yuri manga?” because it is written by an out lesbian, about a young lesbian, for an audience of women. By my standards, that makes it about as 100% yuri as possible.
Love My Life is the story of Ichiko, a college student who lives with her father, a translator. Ichiko’s mother passed away when she was very young, but she and her father have always been very close.
The story starts as she tells her father what every father fears to hear – that she has a lover. Her father’s reaction is cool, and when she follows the information up with the fact that her lover is another woman, after an initial moment of surprise, Dad is fine. In fact, he has something *he* wants to share with Ichiko, and he’s glad to be able to at last tell her that he’s gay…and so was her mother. They met, became friends, and although they weren’t interested in each other as lovers, did conceive Ichiko together. And, although they raised Ichiko as husband and wife, they took outside lovers for themselves. But mostly they loved each other and her very much.
As the story progresses, Ichiko introduces her father to her lover, Eri, and meets her father’s younger lover. She talks over her confusion about the revelation that her mother and father were gay with Eri, but it’s not until she meets her mother’s former lover that she pretty much decides it doesn’t make any real difference.
This story has no high drama – the concerns of Ichiko and her friends are small, personal and intimate. There’s a relaxed pace about this book that makes the reader feel happy and comfortable in Ichiko’s world, with no real need for melodrama or angst. Which doesn’t mean nothing happens.
We’re drawn in as Ichiko deals with her parents’ secret, a small crisis with and separation from Eri, and a gay friend. Take’s, search for a boyfriend. There’s no suicide attempts here, but there is a sense of personal involvement in a life that feels much more *real* than most manga.
Like other Yamaji Ebine manga, Love My Life relies on minimalist art, a background of jazz music and good literature, and characters that live in a real world, rather than a staged one. And while there are some intimate scenes between Eri and Ichiko, the story is hardly drawn simply to frame lesbian sex. It’s just part of Ichiko’s life…just as it is part of anyone’s life, in reality.
Ultimately though, the strongest point of Love My Life is reflected in the title – Ichiko, and by extension we, the readers, do indeed love her life. Every time I read this manga, I finish it with a smile on my face – in fact, thinking about the ending as I type now, I’m smiling. It’s just that nice.