Yuri Manga: Yuri Hime, Volume 1

October 28th, 2005

Only three months late and just in time for the arrival of Yuri Hime, Volume 2 comes the “more detailed” review of Yuri Hime, Volume 1 I promised back in July.

For new readers, let me give a quick historical overview: Comic Yuri Hime, as it is more properly titled, is the newest incarnation of the quarterly yuri manga anthology magazine that was begun in 2003 as Yuri Shimai. The series that became popular from the original magazine were all transferred to the new version, pretty much intact. Only a few name changes show that there was any switcharoo at all. ^_^

Let’s start with the cover, which is more important than you’d think. The cover characters are pig-tailed Chika and wavy haired Miyu not, as you might suspect, Yumi and Shimako. You may remember that the cover artist is Hibiki Reine who *happens* to also illustrate the Maria-sama ga Miteru novels.

Chika and her eventual girlfriend Haruna are the cover characters for the first Yuri Shimai, and the focus of a short story in that issue, which was turned into a Drama CD, and eventually into a manga. Miyu and *her* eventual girlfriend Kirika (I think) were on the cover of the third Yuri Shimai. Remember this…or bookmark it or something, because it *will* all be very important later. Promise.

In the meantime, let’s move on to the content. The book starts off with a color poster of Kouya and Yamato, the lesbian couple from Loveless, drawn as children by Yun Kouga. The back of the poster is the Big, Bad Wolf and Riding Hood envisioned by Shio Sakura, who illustrates the yurified fairytales in each volume.

We start off with the next chapter of “Strawberry Shake Sweet.” This chapter is the usual hijinks between Ran and Julia. Complications this time once again come in the form of band members from all-lesbian band Zlay and Ran herself who seems to be flagging. It turns out that Ran feels as if she is being stalked. Julia nearly loses her mind when she’s volunteered to stay at Ran’s apartment for the night. She most definitely loses serious blood out her nose when Ran offers to give her a massage in thanks. ^_^

Next we’re treated to the sweet “Kuchibiru ni Cherry” by Morinaga Milk. In this continuing saga of the all-lesbian high school, we meet Chiharu who is deeply in love with her best friend, Eri. Eri was a star flute player until she suffered an arm injury. Since then, she’s turned her attention to making sweets, which Chiharu loves as much as she does the cook. One day, while over Eri’s to try a new recipe, Eri offers to serenade Chiharu with her fluter, which becomes a confession of love. All very blushy and sweet as befits Morinaga’s yuri saga.

Following this is a Yuri life essay by Miura Shiwon, all of which are interesting to anyone who can read Japanese.

“Shortcut” by Mako Takahashi is a story about a girl who cuts her hair, and how the girl who loves her simply isn’t fazed at all by it. Personally, I always try to like Mako’s work, but it doesn’t do it for me – the characters always look too young and are too…broken, for me to like them. Of the stories so far, this is definitely the best.

It would be work to translate the next title and my dictionary is all the way over there. So I won’t. But the story is drawn by Himawari Souya and is a fairly tale of a emotional princess and the paladin she loves. It’s cute. Really. The princess gets all jealous of her knight, when she thinks that she’s playing around with commoners…but of course Louise has eyes for no one but her Hime-sama. They make up with a kiss.

“Alice Turn Back the Clock” is drawn by Shinkai Inoue, who drew “Pops” and “Pops 2nd” for Yuri Shimai. The basic premise of “Alice” is the same as those for the earlier series – a relatively “normal” student is drawn into weirdness by a hyper goofball student. Unlike the original series, *this* particular weirdness involves Escher-esque buildingscapes, a sexy Queen of Hearts, a disturbing alien Cheshire cat and a desk island that floats in the middle of an endless sea, along with other Alice-in-wonderland-esque stuff. (Did you know that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is the third most quoted book in the *world*?)

Well-known for their yaoi, Eiki Eiki and Zaou Taishi started to do yuri for Yuri Shimai, but just as they were hitting their stride, the magazine was discontinued. Their story of a girl who sexually harasses (in a funny way, you know) “Female Wolf” was followed up by a story that took place in the same school, but involved two of the adults, instead. Reprinted in Yuri Hime, “First Kiss” promises to be the first in a series of stories about the school doctor and her first love, now a teacher at the same school. It’s pretty darn obvious that the doctor has it very, very bad for her friend…but by the end, we still aren’t *quite* sure that the feeling is returned, although we have an inkling that, since this is a yuri mag…it might just. We do learn that they shared their first kiss when they were students at this school. We are also treated to color pages of them in bed together as young women.

The next entry goes back to the cover characters. As you may remember, the story of Chika and Haruna’s meeting was retold not in the original cover story, but on the original Drama CD from the earlier magazine, entitled “Koi Shimai.” It was turned into a manga in the fourth volume of Yuri Shimai. When the new publishing company bought the magazine, they bought the characters and the story and it continues in Yuri Hime as “Hatsukoi Shimai.” The first HS entry is a short story about Haruna and her beloved little sister, Akiho (who is, because of the second Drama CD, one of my two favorite characters.) Again – it’s a text thing, so if you don’t read the language it won’t mean much to you.

Then comes the next chapter of the manga. Chika, having been frozen completely out by Haruna finds herself in a huge academic slump. The school they are in is pretty tough, so this ain’t so good. Akiho fights against her natural tendency to be overprotective of her sister and arranges for the two of them to get together. Yay.

Then comes the fairy tale of Snow White told as a yuri tale with an all-female cast. I am not enamored of these little stories or that art that accompanies them, myself.

“Kotonoha no Miko to Kotodame no Majou” is the renamed (and thank god for that!!) story by Fujieda Miyabi about Letty the English witch and Tsumugi, the miko she rescued. I honestly adore this series. There’s something so uncomplicated about Tsumugi’s admiration and desire for Letty that it’s plain refreshing. Today’s thrilling adventure – clothes shopping, then bed! Whee! Letty’s a sweetheart, but is in full self-flagellating mode about her desire for Tsumugi (who is totally game and says as much…repeatedly) so she protests much too much. But sleep together they do after a kiss which Letty insists is just a goodnight greeting in her country. Uh-huh. I’ve been to England, dear….I’m not fooled. ^_^

Natsuko Mori is Japan’s most noted lesbian novelist – and a very lovely and gracious lady, I might add, having had the pleasure of her acquaintance. She has been writing essays on yuri since the first YS issue, about love and life and yuri.

Sunao Minakata’s story, “Nanami to Misuzu” (which I am convinced is a title full of puns that I am only partially getting) is about a chibi-ko with cat-ear things and a habit of whining, crying, face-fauting and other oh-so-endearing qualities, and the normal looking girl who does not kill her. You can tell I liked it…not.

At last we reach the always-color Chi-Ran story. This short “plot what plot” entry, which reads like exactly every other Chi-Ran story involves two girls undressing and four pages that would naturally follow “I want to see your body” when two of the four pages are the credits and the first is the set-up.

The rest of the color pages are full of internal ads, reviews of anime we talk to death on the Yuricon Mailing List, and other colorful things.

All of a sudden, we are back in the black and white pages and in the rest of the Chi-Ran story that started so bluntly above. As it turns out, superstar model Mahime has come to an all-girl high school and for reason unknown to her, focused all her attention on our overwhelmed protagonist, Mari, in the sexual tension filled “Shoujo Bigaku”. They end up together, don’t worry.

Akiko Morishima reprints one of her doujinshi stories, about a younger girl and the older one she admires, called “Momo no Aji”. Akiko’s art is very cheerful, everyone has pink cheeks and happy smiles. The story is most notable because they *don’t* end up together. Yet. Perhaps.

This is followed by a report of the Yuricon in Tokyo event, also by Akiko Morishima. She was very funny about this – she did an interview with me and asked me a question that I understood, but had a REALLY hard time answering. How nice that she managed to convey my frog-like expression for this volume. Her version of the event is slightly different than the English-language version she wrote for Yuri Monogatari 3, where she left out my line about if I like it, it’s “Yuri.” ^_^ The funnest part about her reports, to me, are that I can recognize many of the folks there – not just organizer and all around-goddess Rica Takashima, but also translators Ive and Trevor and a lot of the guests, and some of the folks who came dressed up. Between the two reports I feel like I can never forget the event. (That and the fact that the café owner’s wife is now in NYC and we’ve had dinner together.) These things reminds me that it wasn’t a dream…it really happened after all!

Last up is “Let’s go Tengoku” by Izumi Yuu. It’s a slightly disturbing, sort of sexual harassment story, with a happy(?) ending? I’m not in love with it. One girl attempts to convince another to go to paradise with her – by which she seems to mean she wants to have sex. They both look too young and the word “no” doesn’t seem to make an impression, but wait! They really are in love with each other, so it’s okay. Bleah. Thumbs down.

There’s also reviews of books and other items of yuri interest, presents I’ll never get, because I’m not in Japan and can’t get my mail back fast enough, letters, comments, more internal ads for the next issue and the like. All very shiny and wonderful and which I will one day read from beginning to end. But not yet. ^_^

Once again, if you have not gotten YH1, I heartily recommend it, if only to prepare you for the *next* issue which is just about the best Yuri anthology I’ve read, barring of course, Yuri Monogatari ^_^ So run on over to the Yuricon Shop and grab a coupla copies of each (one to read and cut up, one to keep, one to give away to the girl you’re trying to get into Yuri, obviously) and check back soon for the next detailed review for which you will NOT have to wait three months. I promise. YH2 was way too good to wait to talk about!


Overall – 8

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