More first love, more yuri drama and even a little more than that.
I left you hanging last week halfway through the latest and greatest issue of Yuri Shimai. Well, your wait is ovah!
We left off, just after the most recent installment of Morinaga Milk’s saga. Which brings us to a color insert story, “Uka: Aufbl�hen”, by Chi-Ran. This color insert ran for about 6 pages or so, 4 of which were sealed off as a special “present.” Of course, when you open the sealed section, this undeveloped and trite story of a kohai and her beloved sempai becomes an undeveloped romp in the hay. Unfortunately, all of Chi-Ran’s stories read exactly the same – two girls, no development, kiss. Because of the short page count, it ends up reading like a typical “Plot, what Plot?” sex-fic. I thought it fascinating that they chose to include sex in this issue…but desperately wished it had been part of a better story.
The rest of the sealed insert contains reviews of things that made me laugh. First and foremost was a review of the Marimite parody JAV (something made more amusing by the fact that Carmilla just reviewed it, too.) Following this, were a few popular computer games that have explicit yuri. Some of these games had been reviewed before in previous issues of Yuri Shimai, but this time more explicit pictures were included.
After this amusing interlude comes a really lovely story called “The Whisper Under the Rose,” (but I think if I were translating it for real, I’d call it “Sub Rosa,” since that’s what the story implies.) “Sub Rosa” is the story of Suzu, a student of a traditional girls’ school (and based on the clothes, I’m thinking that this is meant to be set in the early part of the 20th century, Meiji period. Everyone looks like Sakura from Sakura Taisen….) Suzu has returned to the school (after holidays? Graduation? I’m not sure) in part to make sure she sees a particular teacher whom she calls Inori-sama. There’s a plot based around Inori buying a bow for Suzu’s hair. Suzu confesses that she’s always admired Inori, and Inori tells Suzu that she once had a lover, someone Suzu reminds her of…alot…hint hint. The story ends with them having a moment…and the implication that they’ll have a lifetime. It was really quite sweet.
“Strange Umbrella, White Umbrella” was this issue’s story by Takahashi Mako, which I have universally found distasteful. For one thing, her characters look six – something that makes my eyes glaze over with disinterest. Also, her characters appear to be terminally insane, another turn-off for me. And her plots revolve around unbelievably boring non-conflicts – in this case a girl who doesn’t have an umbrella. I’m sorry, but…blecch. This story was this issue’s only real stinker.
The next 4 pages are color reviews of anime. I have to laugh again, because it looks like they’ve been eaves-dropping on the Yuricon Mailing List again, and have reviewed the exact same series we’ve been talking about, all of which I’ve reviewed here, too. :-)
Another yurified re-telling of a fairy tale (all of which I’ve really not liked terribly) text story with silly art is followed by a two-page review of Akaiito a popular new vampires-with-yuri-implication game.
32 whole pages have been given to the second installment of “Koi Shimai” which tells the story of the two characters on the cover of the first Yuri Shimai, Chika and Haruna. This is essentially a re-telling of the story as it was on the Drama CD, with a little embellishment. Haruna is even *more* uptight than she is on the CD, and there’s a new, inconsequential, side character, Chika’s and Akiho’s class president. The art for this story is quite decent – the story itself is okay…but I await with anticipation the manga for the second Drama CD and the arrival of Hiiragi Touko! Yum. :-) In any case, Koi Shimai is really pretty decent, even if Haruna’s got a major stick up her butt.
Koi Shimai manga is followed by a short text story, which simply seems to fill in some of the characters throughts, but doesn’t move the plot along at all.
“Voice” is, by far and away, the BEST manga so far by Nawoko, who has contributed to every issue. Music and singing seem to be a strong theme in her work, but as stories go, this one is really much better than the prevoius examples. Kana-chan is a classic otaku. She tends to stay at home and live vicariously through her computer. Unusually, she decides to go outside and take a walk. With her earphones on, she listens to her favorite artist, Hina (whom she calls her “goddess,”) as she gets a new haircut and buys some sweets, all the time musing on how sad and lonely Hina sounds as she sings. Thinking about Hina, Kana looks up, only to see Hina herself walk by. Kana freaks, and ends up handing her box of sweets over to Hina, saying only, “Please, be happy!”
Hina goes home and has a crisis of conscience. Moved to tears over Kana’s simple words, she eats the girls’ sweets and runs off to place an entry on her online diary (something she’s typically uncomfortable with.) Hina thanks the “daifuku girl” for the sweets, and hopes to see her again. The story ends with Hina and Kana meeting up, and the line, “It’s like a dream, isn’t it? To become friends with a goddess.” Really – not yuri, per se, (although we can certainly project potential if we want,) but I thought it was a truly excellent story and the best so far from this artist.
The last manga, “Testify” is a short, tiresome and IMHO, trite vampire story. I guess its a kind of love to let your best friend suck your blood, but, whatever, its been done about a gazillion times. I’m over it.
The remainder of volume 5 is doujinshi reviews and the usual mail bag and assorted fan art, which I always like to look at.
All in all, 260 pages of exceptional work, with few nose-holders. Yuri Shimai 5 gives me hope for future issues and yuri in general. Definitely a end-of-year thumbs up from me.
Next time on Okazu – the stereotypical end-of-the-year-countdown! :-)