BTW – if you look at the cover picture, the characters on the cover are Chika on the left and Akiho on the right, both from Koi Shimai. Chika and Haruna were the characters on the first volume of Yuri Shimai. Issue two sported Akiho (left) and Touko-sensei (right), while the third volume featured the next couple whose story will become a Drama CD.
Errata – Yesterday, I mistakenly identified the artist for Koi Shimai and the cover art as Nagasawa Satoru, the artist for the Maria-sama ga Miteru manga. I was being brain dead. The character designs for Koi Shimai and all the Yuri Shimai covers are done by Hibiki Reine – the illustrator for the *novelisation* of Marimite, from Cobalt Shueisha. The manga adaptation of Koi Shimai is being done by committee, apparently. ^_^
Okay, onwards – more about Yuri Shimai 4. After the new Koi Shimai manga, and the most recent issue of Strawberry Shake, comes a short fiction and then a longer, heinously illustrated fiction about mermaids, which made my face go all scrunchy, called “Mermaid Princess.” Ugh. Followed by an essay and a lolicon art short that has something to do with one girl’s sandals. It was dire, so I kind of skipped it.
Then comes a (“lyrical, magical”) story with a few color pages about a witch and shrine priestess. More cute than anything else, but it’s kind of sweet (the witch frees the shrine maiden from her duty and rescuses her from being bound to the shrine forever. It definitely involves a few kisses – and the characters don’t look like little kids. It will take me sometime to translate the title on this one, so, my apologies – it’s “the story about the witch and the miko,” for now. Upon re-read, this story was really cute and likeable.
Next up – Morinaga Milk’s next entry. If you remember back, the first stories in this saga were the wonderful “Even If We’re Not Friends” and “A Kiss, Love and A Prince,” which set the scene for this high school where a significant portion of the population appears to be lesbian. The third entry was a little less strong, mostly because, to me, it had some serious cliche’ problems. This issue brings us “The Summer Closest to Heaven”, which I really, really enjoyed.
“Summer” is the story of a ghost of a girl who attended this high school a while back. She was in love with a classmate, but before she could graduate, she died. The classmate (who did manage to graduate) has become the school’s doctor, so the ghost hangs around to stay near her beloved. One day, one of the girls on the basketball team sprains her ankle and heads to the doctor’s office to get it taped. The ghost ends up inside her and now the girl wants to spend all her time with the doctor. Eventually, they end up on the roof, talking, and the doctor figures out that the girl is inhabited by the ghost of her dead friend. They talk, and kiss, and the ghost moves on. When the girl wakes up, all she knows is that she’s got a thing for the doctor now. ^_^ Trust me – it’s cute. And Nana and Hitomi from “Even If We’re Not Friends” makes a cameo, as they have in every story in the saga. Check for them in the beginning at the basketball game. ^_^
Then next story is…different. “Female Wolf” is a little disturbing, for the discussion of physical and emotional abuse, and for the creepy behavior of the eponymous lead. It has some nudity, which makes it stand out in this oh-so-cute magazine. But the characters look and act their age, and for that, I am pleased. (Now if only the stories featured 20- and 30-something women who looked their age…. )
Another short color story, with a creepy ghostly quality and a title I can’t translate without work, followed by a short color manga for Saphizm Cruise, a yuri hentai game that’s making the rounds. To me the characters read very loli, but it’s an h-game and they always seem to emphasize that. In this issue, we see the backstory of, presumably,the first officer, as she grows up to be worthy of the captain. (The captain appears to sleep with all the characters in the game, if I’m not entirely mistaken.) I’m betting we see more of this story in future issues.
A third short story called “Swear”, which made no impact on me, but was a kind of “I’ll protect you forver” pseudo-wedding kind of thing, and last, but definitely not least, “Wish on A Star” which was an utterly depressing story about two friends coping (or not) with the loss of a third friend, with whom one of them was in love. It was an interesting take on the classic love triangle. I actually thought that it had some serious merit, and I liked the art quite a bit.
And, of course, there were the usual film, novel, manga, anime and doujinshi reviews, which are very helpful when I’m planning future purchases. ^_^ I’ll also be sending them a copy of Yuri Monogatarai to review, hopefully.
So – overall, this was a really strong issue. The art looked tighter, there was a minimal amount of lolicon, the stories are getting better and I noticed a few Yuri-flavored ads creeping into the advertising, as opposed to all the BL-centric ones that were in previous issues. The survey in the editorials were still more “Huh, what is that?” than “Yay! Yuri!”, but from the quality of this issue, I’m hoping that we can look forward to even more and better Yuri from the next Yuri Shimai!