We left off after the stellar chapter by Morinaga Milk. That’s a pretty hard act to follow, so as we’re sitting there, all smiley and afterglow-y from that, we jump right into the one other series that matches it punch for punch, “Strawberry Shake Sweet” the love comedy by Hayashiya Shizuru. You may remember that Julia was “forced” to stay the night with Ran, because of worries that the young idol-to-be was being stalked. This chapter opens up with Julia’s worst nightmare and greatest desire…sharing a bed with Ran. In fact, they did not start off by sharing a bed. Ran, ever the sweetie, gave Julia her bed and she took a futon on the floor. Only, late at night after a trip to the bathroom, Ran didn’t think about it and got right back into her bed. With Julia. Who hasn’t slept a wink as a result. ^_^
As they leave the apartment, they encounter the stalker – who turns out to be freelance photographer Sera Mutski, and she is very interested in Ran. Sera asks Saeki if she can photograph Ran – she’s *just* the person they were looking for. Immediately Julia is suspicious – no nude photos, she insists, even as she fantasizes about that very thing.
Saeki is excited – this is Ran’s big chance to debut and she sets up the session. Julia is, however, still very suspicious and rightly so, because there seems to be something up… In the meantime, Ran is dressed up to look either super-cool, or like a 1982 music video, whichever way you want to look at it. And she’s very lonely without Julia…. Tune in next time!
I forgot to mention – this volume also includes fanart of all the continuing series, which is really cute. ^_^
Another fantastic story from Volume 1, “Voice” is continued in “Voiceful”. Bashful Kanae is still overwhelmed every time she’s with her beloved Hina, the singing star. But Hina is a very down to earth person and just wants to have a little fun. Hina confesses that she’s only 17, but never been to school, so she’s never worn a school uniform…and Kanae looks awfully cute in her’s…hey, wait a minute! Hina drags Kanae off to the bathroom to switch clothes, but is dragged away by a call from her manager almost immediately.
Hina dutifully goes off to record, but her heart’s just not in it – she wants to be with Kanae, and runs off to tell her so. Hina asks Kanae if she likes her music – and Kanae responds that she loves it, that she loves it so much…and Hina smiles, thinking that she can go back and record now with all her heart, if Kanae likes it. This story is to be continued, which makes me extremely happy!
The fractured all-female fairytale this time is Rapunzel, in which the witch is damn sexy and the Prince/ss is kinda cute and if I were Rapunzel, I’d just choose both and alternate. ^_^
Yuri book reviews are followed by more color pages that intro a odd, but kind of fun story called “Sekai ni Itsudake no Atabana”. Honestly have no clue what it means and haven’t had time to figure it out.
Hana and Yuki are having a little light “relations” in the classroom when cute/innocent Haru walks in on them. She appears to be clueless…but isn’t. And when she walks in on Hana *again* this time with a different student, Haru comments that she wishes Hana wouldn’t do stuff like this at school – it causes rumors. ^_^
Haru, after some cute pouting gives in to Hana, but just then an alien pops in and steals Haru! No, seriously. She’s a little older looking and had mad magic usin’ skillz, which all of a sudden Hana is able to match! Lo and behold, Hana, too, is a whatever it was and she just sort of forgot. Haru forgives her and they both remember a past experience that they kind of dropped from their collective memories. In the end, they are lovey-dovey, except at school, because Haru doesn’t want any weird rumors. ^_^
Next up is this installment of “Hatsukoi Shimai” in which something actually happens! Chika, depressed about being rebuffed by Haruna has let her grades slip. Cleverly Akiho (who is the only intelligent creature in the school, as far as I can tell) sets it up that Haruna becomes Chika’s tutor. This is good for both of them – they are now spending quality time together in the library every day, laughing and studying (while poor tortured Akiho is forced to watch them be giggly at each other,) and Chika’s grades go up. They go up so much, in fact, that after the mid-terms, Chika is accused of cheating and asked to take a re-test. This is all from the original Drama CD, in case you care. However, the class president, a pinchy-faced jerk named Teshigawara is not. And SHE accuses Chika of cheating – even though she is perfectly aware that Chika has been studying every day with Haruna. It’s kind of instantly apparent that Tshigawara has some kind of problem with Haruna – either she’s jealous or doesn’t like her, but we don’t know which yet.
More interesting to me is another scene not on the CD. Akiho and Haruna are at home and Akiho mentions that recently, since she started to hang out with Chika, Haruna has been very cheerful – like she used to be. Haruna agrees, that she was a little over-serious, and thinks back to a few years earlier when she apparently have a very close relationship with a sempai…oh-ho, a new plot twist!
Anyway, we leave poor Chika being confronted by the Teshigawara gang and Akiho and Haruna wondering why she hasn’t shown up at the library. Cliffhanger! Tune in next…oh, wait. I used that one already.
Okay, you know how I harp endlessly about the “Koi Shimai” Drama CDs? And how I go on and on about how great they were, but you haven’t heard them, so nyah nyah? *Well*! The next entry in this volume made me so jealous that I was jumping up and down with jealousy. Nyah nyah, indeed.
Akiko Morishima, you may remember, drew a lovely Yuricon in Tokyo report for the last volume. In this volume, she reports on a recording session of the NEXT Drama CD, “Hatsukoi Shimai” which stars not only the sexy Romi Park as Touko-sensei, but a host of other great seiyuu from very, very Yuri series. Including Tsutako from Marimite. :-) And they’ve added Miyu and Kirika, the missing other cover girls from Yuri Shimai and Yuri Hime, so it’s a whole new story – not just a redo of the original ones. Even better, it looks like Touko-sensei and Akiho are still paired! Yay! I cannot *wait* to get a copy of this. I will move heaven and hell to get one. When it becomes available, do rush off to get it – it’s too cool not to have.
And I’m very, very jealous, Akiko-san. You got to meet the seiyuu. Argh! Jealous, jealous….
Moving on – “The unfamous country’s song of love” is a silly story of a cry-baby ninja and the princess she loves. As children, the princess could hear the ninja girl crying, even when she couldn’t see her. Now, the princess is going to get married and go to another country. The ninja has promised to be with her forever, but she is told that she cannot come. In order to keep the ninja from following, the princess fires her, but on the way to the wedding, her retinue is attacked. The ninja appears from nowhere to save the day, then disappears once again. But on the day of the wedding, everyone can hear someone crying, even though they cannot see anyone. While everyone interprets it as an unlucky sign, the princess knows that she’s very lucky indeed to have such a devoted protector.
There’s more general fanart in the back of the book – which I enjoy every time, because it’s not particularly good – just fans drawing Yuri couples. It all makes me happy.
And that brings us to the end of this truly excellent Yuri anthology. With maybe one or two stories that would score 6 or so, I think the rest of the book is easily an 8 and in some cases 9.