Today I want to go over a few of the classic Yuri manga titles once again – a few that I already mentioned briefly, but have revisited recently, and a few that deserve revisiting for one reason or another. I’d like to start with Pieta, a surprisingly well-done little classic, by Haruno Nanae, published by Young You comics way back in 2000. (It seems a lot older than that, really.)
Pieta tells the story of Rio and Sahako, two girls in high school together. Rio seems cool and aloof and is the subject of many rumors in the school. Even though the girl’s uniform includes a tie, she wears it like a boy and is very boyish in looks and manner. Rio very overtly is dating one of the girls in her school and doesn’t seem to care what people think of her.
Sahako finds herself fascinated by Rio, and is very quickly drawn in by her charismatic, yet enigmatic, personality. For her part, Rio makes no bones about the fact that she’s interested in, and attracted to, Sahako, even going so far as to break up with her current girlfriend.
We learn that Rio, for all her external coolness, is actually a seriously emotionally fragile individual, with very painful memories of abandonment and rejection – and a classically evil, hurtful stepmother.
Very much because of this situation, Sahako is drawn closer and closer to Rio, until it becomes obvious to both themselves and everyone around them, that they belong together. The climax is not the final crisis, but in the end, there is a happy ending for them – and the girl does get the girl, which sets this story up among the few and far between.
On the whole, Pieta a slow-moving and sometimes painful story, but it is undeniably sweet and romantic – and in places genuinely touching. Watching Sahako watch Rio is so sweet and a little heart-rending. The plot is not earth-shatteringly new or unique, but it is tight and well-constructed, with a fair amount of tension.
While Rio is given a lot of depth, as a character Sahako is left a little fuzzy. Her family seem to disappear by the end, and there’s no conflict in her life, as there is in Rio’s…I keep wondering how her family reacted to what’s going on with her (remembering that my completely functional family certainly had a reaction to when I was falling in love the first time…), but we never see any of that.
The art is smooth and slow and very open, with white space and implications of motion and position, which goes well with the feel of the story.
All in all, you could do way worse than Pieta as a solid Yuri story.
I recommend that you get an actual hard copy, even though it’s out of print. You can usually find it wherever used manga is sold. Pieta would make *great* beach reading. ^_^
Art – 8
Characters – 8
Story – 8
Overall – 8