Tori Koro, by hai ran, is another one of those series that rattled around forever on Japanese Yuri lists and sites, but I had never had a chance to look into it. Conveniently for me, DrMaster picked up the license to it and last year released volumes one and two.
Tori Koro, according to the comic itself, stands for “Tricolor.” The cover states, “tricolor-sisters +1 girl / nanase family’s 4-panel comics” Not very helpful I know, but it will make more sense in a second. ^_^ Tori Koro is yet another Dengeki Daioh series and one that I read monthly in that magazine. But…there’s a catch. I’ll get to that later.
First, the plot is a simple one. Nanase Yae, high school 1st-year, is informed rather suddenly by her mother, that two daughters of friends are coming to live with them. Sachie (Mom) wants the house to be lively again, as it was when Yae was younger and her husband was alive. Yae naturally is shocked – she hardly has time to get used to the idea before the two girls, Makishi (from Osaka) and Tatami (from Hiroshima) arrive. They immediately look at her cute, little body and think “yay, little sister” only to be amazed that Yae’s the same age they are.
The entire comic is slice of life “4-panel” strips, so there isn’t really a plot. The gags are mild, light-hearted and slightly goofy. They are also often based on cultural differences between regions of Japan. For instance, Makishi arrives with a takoyaki plate and Tatami brings a hot plate, to represent their local stereotypical cuisine. (Like, oh, someone from the South of the US bringing a deep fryer when they move.) Other gags are personality clashes and bad puns and some general stupidity. For example, when the postman arrives to deliver a package, he comments that he thought Mrs. Nanase only had one daughter. Sachie says that recently, she was reunited with her late husband’s two illegitimate daughters. Yae flips out at such an inappropriate joke. Of course, she also got burned by being put last on the family register at the front door, even though she’s the oldest of the three – and the only natural daughter….
And there is the catch. Between Makishi’s and Tatami’s accents and the silly gags, I find it nigh on impossible to comfortably read this comic in Japanese. Sometimes I can make the gag out, but often I really can’t without alot more work that I currently have time for. So I was *very* glad to see it in English. Tori Koro is not laugh-out-loud, gut-grabbing hysterical, but it’s cute and good for a smile. I haven’t seen any sign of Volume three from DRMaster, but if sales are good, then they may go ahead and put it out. So follow the links above and buy copies. Buy several. I want Volume 3+. :-)
Okay, so. The question you probably have is – where’s the yuri? And indeed, when I began to read this, I also had this question. I kind of assumed it would be fanservice yuri – misunderstandings between the new “sisters”, etc. Right at the beginning Makishi is talking to the person giving her a ride to the Nanase’s and she mentions that there’s a daughter and how she hopes she’ll get along with her. The driver comments that in cases like this, sometimes marriages come out of the situation…Makishi responds, “I said it was a girl!” and I thought, okay, that’s the kind of Yuri we’re likely to get. Fine.
Well, no. Wrong again, Erica. ^_^ I’m glad to report that, in this case, I just hadn’t been patient enough.
A few chapters in, a new character is introduced. Niwatazumi Keiko (“Niwa-chan”) sits in front of Yae, is very cool and very intimidating. And, it turns out, has a raging huge crush on Yae. A crush which she does not much to hide and everything to promote.
As far as technical issues go, the book has some good and some bad. Reproduced color pages look very spiffy. Sound effects are written in next to Japanese, which doesn’t bother me, although “bill and coo” for “betabeta” was just a weird choice. Using a 1930 dictionary are we? ^_^. It does look a little strange, especially when the S/fx could have been cleaned up. There’s consistency issues – in some case the page was retouched, in some cases not, Tatami’s name completely miswritten in an intro panel and honorifics are left intact in some cases but translated in others, which is very disconcerting. Even with editors and proofreaders, things slip through the cracks. But they probably should have stuck with either American or Japanese honorifics, not flip-flopped between them…in the same panel….
Ultimately, none of these issues make it difficult to enjoy the comics. Niwa’s crush is cute, Tatami and Makishi’s treatment of Yae is always good for a laugh, Sachie’s a nutball and as “wackiness ensues” type stories, this one is not at all taxing on mind or spirit. ^_^
Art – 4
Story – 6
Character – 7
Yuri – 5
Overall – 6
Tori Koro is perfect for an enjoyable rainy afternoon reading. ^_^