To put it simply, Iono the Fanatics, aka Iono-sama Fanatics is an excellent yuri manga and everyone who enjoys Yuri really needs to run out and buy it now.
To start with, the artist is Fujieda Miyabi of Miyabi’s Moonphase, the same artist who does Kotonoha no Miko to Kotodama no Majyo to, the cute miko/witch story for Yuri Hime. And a bunch of other stuff you may recognize if you are in the habit of trawling the Japanese Yuri blogs and boards.
The story is, simply, a love comedy starring Iono-sama, the queen of a small country, who happens to love women with long, black hair. She comes to Japan to hit on girls and try to convince them to join her as a sobame, a lady-in-waiting.
Iono is rejected by one girl – and this same girl keeps coming back like a bad penny as a running gag – and runs into our heroine, Eto. Eto agrees to be a sobame, but insists she’s only joking, when a crazy woman attacks her and the Queen. The Queen takes off, carrying Eto with her. They end up at an onsen, where the Queen convinces Eto to join her and, incidentally mentions that the crazy lady who attacked is one of her staff. ^_^
We learn that Eto was, in fact, in love with her kouhai in high school, but the younger girl left her for someone else. Now she’s in college, but she thought she was past this kind of thing – but Iono is *very* convincing. Iono goes super cool and hits Eto with her magical lesbian powers and classy style and Eto falls into her arms, happily.
Iono is very, deeply and personally, in love with all her sobame. There’s Cass, the blonde crazy who attacked them earlier. She’s Iono-sama’s personal secretary and insanely jealous. She wants Iono to love her exclusively. Which Iono does, when it’s Cass’ turn. ^_^
Aida Bloomer is the Queen’s costumer. She seems to understand the Queen – and Cass – way better than they do themselves. I’d say Aida has a thing for Cass, but as Cass is obsessed, Aida just plays with it a bit and doesn’t stress.
Freshi is the Queen’s security chief and her daughter Argent acts as the Queen’s security force. Freshi is the black-suited G-man type, while Argent, who everyone calls Arugi or Aru, is a little goth-loli girl. With a sword.
Eto is a little depressed when she meets the other sobame, because they all have specific roles, while she’s sort of a free agent. The Queen convinces her that her role is to “be there” and that’s enough and invites her to debate various topics with her in the evenings (to which Aru comments that Iono probably means ero-topics…). But Aida helps Eto decide on the role of Tour Guide (complete with cute costume) to Japan, in order for Iono-sama to find more cute girls. Eto gets to show Iono-sama her favorite place in the world. Iono comments that this is no longer her job – this is now a date, and they spend quality time together.
Iono determines to hold auditions for more sobame, which drives Cass crazy – and into disguise. But Iono-sama knows all the women she loves, in disguise or out and Cass is found out. Cass gets some quality Iono-sama time, this chapter.
My personal favorite is the last round of auditions. One of the candidates, an adorable girl named Arata, misunderstands “sobame” to mean a woman who makes soba noodles. :-) Arata is initially unsure whther she can do the job, but she decides to go for it, after Freshi meets her in the hall and gives her encouragement. Arata does make delicious noodles. After an attempt on the Queen’s life, leaves Freshi wounded, when Arata and Freshi are staring deeply into each other’s eyes, Argent just gives her mother the old “Gambatte, Mom” and Iono-sama gives her blessing to them. They are impossibly cute together, especially as Freshi is a tough as nails, black glasses, gun slinging kind of gal, and Arata is a little soba maker. All I can say is “squee!”. ^_^
I recommend “Iono-sama Fanatics” highly for Yuri that makes you smile. For Yuri that is sexy without explicit sex, and funny and cute – this is an excellent example of the breed. I know that I personally am looking forward to more.
Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 10
Overall – 9
2005 has been abysmal for yuri anime, but the manga has been exceptional. Let’s all support Iono, Yuri Hime, Hayate Cross Blade, and of course all the 100% yuri from ALC Publishing! If we buy good Yuri manga, they’ll make *more* good Yuri manga…