This collected volume of works by Ichijou Yukari, titled after one of the stories, Maya no Souretsu, (Maya’s Funeral Procession,) is the most wonderful collection of over-the-top obsession and melodrama. I don’t know why I like it, as I tend to shy away from “tales of dark obsession” (as novels are almost inevitably described on their inside covers) but I’ll chalk it up to the fact that these stories are SOOOOOOOO melodramatic that it would take a harder person than even me to hate them.
All three of the stories in this collection were originally published in the bad old days of 1972 – a particularly loathsome year for me. I was forced into consciousness of an outside world by several traumatic personal and world events, and have never really forgiven that year for it all. But unbeknownst to my seven-year-old self, a mangaka named Ichijou Yukari was writing about people for whom my personal issues would have been laughable – I can just about hear the hysterical, mentally unhinged laughter now. And it makes me smile.
The first story of the collection, “Little Brother” (“Otouto”) is the story of an unhealthy obsessive love by an older sister for her little brother. Need I mention that tragedy awaits them both? Actually, it doesn’t. Sylvia and Bjorn sort of wander off into the sunset together. I have no idea if they are happy, though.
Secondly, we follow the poignant trials and tribulations of two lovers in war-torn Spain of the 30s in “Christina’s Blue Sky” (“Kurisuchiina no Aoi Sora”.) I imagine that no one will be surprised to find that I have not managed to actually *read* this story yet. My brain absolutely refuses to process anything at all that includes the Spanish Civil War. I blame Hemingway.
At last, we find ourselves facing the pulp gothic horror Yuri romance mystery soap opera that is “Maya’s Funeral Procession” (Maya no Souretsu”). More adjectives welcome, feel free to suggest some.
We meet, blonde, petite Resine, erm, no, I mean, Himeko, wait, no, uh, this time it’s Reina. Reina is the spoiled, yet neglected, daughter of a rich jeweler. Her family visits their summer house where she meets and is instantly wowed by Sachiko, no, it’s Simone…no Chikane… Yes, Maya, like Simone before her and so many stately brunettes after her, falls for the cute, ditzy blonde girl who practically falls into her arms.
(Let me remind you all that this average blonde and stately brunette is not a recent stereotype for yuri couples. It began right at the beginning in 1971, with Simone and Resine in Shiroi Heya no Futari and we haven’t been able to shake it since.)
Aside from the fact that their love is forbidden on the grounds of it being lesbian and all, it would be fine if there weren’t also about 72,000 secrets getting in the way. Reina’s family history is filled with murder and corruption, while Maya’s life is consumed with revenge for same. So of course, Reina and Maya fall madly and passionately in love, cocking up both Maya’s revenge o’matic scheme and Reina’s conveniently advantageous pre-arranged marriage to Generic Nice Guy (TM).
Happy ending? Imagine me laughing in a mentally unbalanced, yet slightly infectious way, in response. This manga ends in horrible tragedy, and Reina unhappily marries the poor bastard who will never ever be able to make her happy because he is not Maya.
And yet, I love it.
Maybe because it’s short, maybe because it’s early, OTT miserable Yuri, with so 70’s art, or maybe because it’s in a foreign language and I’m an absolute sucker for pop music and tragedy in foreign languages. Whatever it is, I adore this story for the hand-to-the-forehead drama. Percy Bysshe, eat your heart out.
Art – classic, yet not terribly good. 6
Characters – Crazy older sister, creepy stepmom – this manga won the lottery on gothic horror stereotypes. 8
Story – Page-turning soap opera trash. 8
Yuri – Tragic, but more kisses than the 80’s not-quite-tragic-but-not-quite-happy Yuri ever got. 8
Service – Can’t think of any service. How nice. 0
Ultimately, I probably like it because it reads very similarly to the lesbian pulp novels that I adore so much – high drama, sex and tragedy, all rolled up into a big ball o’pulpy goodness. If you can’t stand a story without a happy ending, avoid this manga. If you can handle a large spoonful of overdone gothic horror with Yuri romance, it’s a must have. I strongly suggest you buy the actual book itself, so you can show the world outside your head that you do, in fact, support Yuri.