Yuri Manga: Shiroi Heya no Futari

June 3rd, 2004

The arguably oldest shoujo Yuri (Yuri manga written for a female audience) is Shiroi Heya no Futari, which means “Our White Room”. Published by Ribon Comics in 1971 (back far enough that even I was a child), written by Yamagishi Ryohko, this story is the mother of all Yuri that came after it.

And, oh, what melodrama it is!

Shiroi Heya no Futari introduces us to blonde, doll-like “good” girl Resine, as she’s dumped by a uncaring aunt at a boarding school. Because she’s a late transfer, the school puts her in a room with “bad” girl Simone – with the admonishment to not take notice of Simone and, if it gets too much, she can ask for another room.

Unfortunately for the school, Resine and Simone get along reasonably well, even going so far to actually like one another, then really like one another…then really, really like one another. When Simone plays the Prince to Resine’s Princess in the school play, their kiss is passionate – and real.

Their confession of love is overheard by a classmate and soon the entire school knows about them. In denial, Resine begins dating a young man with a vengeance, but her jealousy for Simone keeps pace with Simone’s own dark feelings. When the pressure becomes too much, Resine runs away, leaving Simone to find her own reconciliation, alone. Of course, Simone, high strung and emotional, finds her denouement in a tragic and pointless death.

Resine, having returned home, finds out about Simone’s death many months later and rushes back to the school. All she is able to do is learn the truth of Simone’s death and swear that she will continue living for the two of them, loveless and cold, forever.

It’s evil of me to say this, but it’s actually a pretty amusing ending, merely by being so hyper-melodramatic.

The story (as you might be able to guess from the names) is set is France, which fits well with the overblown melodrama of the story. The setting was current for it’s time – early 70’s – so the clothes are a scream and there’s underage drinking going on in very French-looking clubs.

Of course this has a tragic ending. Could we expect anything else? Not in the 70’s, no. But the love and physical attraction Resine and Simone had was real – not just akogare/admiration, but actual desire, which made it groundbreaking stuff.

I recommend reading this manga, if only to see one of the mama of Yuri manga and to appreciate our historical roots. Plus, the story’s soap-opera fun. You can still find copies in secondary markets like Amazon JP marketplace and used manga stores.

Ratings:

Art – very 70s. Give it a 8
Story – 8
Yuri – 10
Character – 10, just for Simone’s brooding Heathcliff-ness. ;-)

Overall – 9

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8 Responses

  1. Serge says:

    I have to say I was annoyed by the ending, but that was before the manga was put in the proper historical perspective, and then I understood it couldn’t have possibly ended any other way.
    Though, as you said, it’s kinda of a must read, to see how far things have changed in a generation. Also if, like me, you’re highly amused and entertained by good melodrama.

  2. Yeah – if you read this in a vacuum, then yeah, it’s annoying and silly.

    But go ahead and look at the envelop-pushing stuff chronologically, Shiroi Heya in 1971 then maybe, oh, wait…there’s NOTHING happy until 1994, when Haruka and Michiru join Sailor Moon. Think about it. 21 years and all the Yuri ends with a death or a separation…or is really not more than overblown akogare. With the exception of Love Vibes in 1996, and Himitsu no Hanazono in 1999 (and that’s questionable ebcause Sakuya passes as a guy) there are really NO happy endings until Yamaji Ebine’s works in 2000, 2001 to the present.

    That’s pretty sad.

  3. Kaite says:

    I love this manga so much. I cry every time I read it. Good review too, but you said that Resine was “Dumped by an uncaring aunt” at the school. I just thought I should say that Resine wanted to go there because her mom did, and her Aunt was reluctant to let her go.

  4. jelabarre59 says:

    I am wondering what age Resine and Simone are supposed to be in the story. I’ve been dusting off an old story from 20 years ago a d decided a minor character would be somehow related to Resine. Of course, now that I did that, the character has jumped up and said “hello, i’m no longer a minor character”

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