Sometimes, when I type “Yuri Anime” or “Yuri Manga” in the title of a review, I know I’m being disingenuous. It may be there there is a little Yuri in the series or, that there is none but Yuri fandom insists on seeing some anyway, as we are wont to do. But in the case of Shoujo Bigaku by Chi-Ran, I have no guilt, as it is another 100% yuri collection of stories that ran in Yuri Shimai and Comic Yuri Hime.
Unlike some of the earlier collections, Shoujo Bigaku (which would translate to something like Girls Aesthetic) is a series of mostly unconnected one-shot stories. In each story, the aesthetic, as the title points out, is that of a girls’ world. Most of the stories take place in, or involve, girls at all-girl’s schools. The bulk of the stories involve akogare/idolization that becomes something more, and in two of the stories, one of the principal characters is an actual idol. The aesthetics of being a woman’s woman is actually touched upon in some of these stories, so the title is not out of place. (Also of note, many of the main characters in these stories are women-identified…they do not “hate men” or even dislike them, they are simply much more interested in women.)
The stories are not particularly deep, they all involve bed scenes and some slightly explicit sex. (Can explicit be qualified by “slightly?” I think so, yes. There’s explicit…and then there’s *explicit.* This is the former, not the latter.) Included in this volume are the color pages that ran in the both Yuri magazines – including the adult supplement (what fanfic writers call a “PWP”, a “Plot? What plot?” where the two characters fall into having sex without any context or buildup) which ran in Yuri Shimai.
The stories in this volume are primarily girl-has-already-met-girl-and-has-fallen-in-love, with complicating emotions because of their shared gender. As teen idol Matsuri puts it though, what’s the difference – if you love someone, you love someone. This is the same message we are given when, in a later story, Natsuki is revealed to be a girl after having deceived her girlfriend as to her gender. Only one of the stories contains characters that are a priori self-identified as “lesbian.”
The “mostly” in the “mostly unconnected” above comes from the final few pages, which contain an original piece for the collection. This story involves a girl who embarks upon “Lily’s” bus tour, after having broken up with her girlfriend. To her horror, she is surrounded by nothing by happy girl x girl couples…in fact, they are all the couples from the stories in the book. They cheer her up and cheer her on and in the end, she gets her girl back. Thus making a sort-of connection between the stories…but not really. ^_^
And then we all live happily ever after in this girls’ world, with shoujo bubbles and flowers and candy and stuffed toys and lots of Yuri sex. The End.
Art – 7
Characters – 6
Story – Variable, from 5-7
Yuri – 10
Service – 5 (the aesthetic may be for girls, but this is kind of unavoidable when you’re talking about naked chicks in bed…)
Overall – Not world shaking, but enjoyable at 7
There’s nothing challenging here – the art is pleasant, the characters not much more than names, the endings happy.