Winter 2007 Anime Season: Three Dribbles of Yuri

March 22nd, 2007

Along with all the Yuri-friendly OVAs like Maria-sama ga Miteru, Ichigo Mashimaro, Mai Otome Zwei and the “keeping our fingers crossed” Ikkitousen: Dragon Destiny, and the “Yuri, but who cares” (lol) Kyoushirou to Towa no Sora, and the “not really Yuri, but with a lesbian character” (one excellent, one pathetic) Red Garden and Code Geass, all of which I have reviewed here, there are a few other anime that came out this winter with sort of dribbles of Yuri that aren’t really “Yuri anime.” So I’ve lumped them together for today’s review.

First up is a anime whose manga I have been following since its inception in Dengeki Daioh magazine, Manabi Straight. I did not peg this as an anime of Yuri interest, since the manga, while incredibly charming and cute and appallingly loli (the characters are meant to be in *high school*…I mean really…) has just about as no Yuri as it can have. The girls are all very huggy, and there’s lots of friendship…but no Yuri. The anime has upped the fanservice level considerably…in ways that frankly make me uncomfortable at times in some episodes…and has *strongly* upped the Yuri implications between nearly every main character. It is possible to pair up both Mikan and Mei with nearly any other main character, if one was so inclined to do so. So, while I personally don’t consider this a “Yuri” anime, there’s no doubt many will.

The story is fairly straightforward: Manabi is a transfer student into Seioh High, and brings with her an enormous amount of energy and passion for experiencing a fun school life. Sadly, students in this future time have had most of their joie de vivre sucked right out of them and Manabi and her friends, who become the school student council, have an uphill battle to bring their vision to the students of the school.

If you can ignore the service – and it’s much less prominent as the series goes on – it’s got some great qualities. Although it lacks the Yuri, the manga also lacks the service, so I’m sticking with that.

Secondly, let’s take a look at Saint October – an anime made by Konami, and which reeks of really being a game in a thin disguise. Our heroine, Kotono, pitches in part time at a detective agency in a fictitious city. There have been a rash of kidnappings, all targeting young boys – so, of course, Kotono walks right into the middle of one. As she strives to protect the boy, he gives Kotono mysterious magical powers as “Loli Black” (and in this case, it’s *supposed* to be indicative of the Goth-Loli outfit she wears as a costume.) The boy was, in fact, the target of the evil baddie…for what reason, we don’t learn by the time I stopped watching this anime. It’s pretty basic Monster of the Day vs Magical Girl fare. I did like the evil baddie, who is played entirely for laughs and the Tarot imagery on both sides…but other than that, snooze.

Yuri comes in the form of Natsuki, Kotono’s very best friend ever, and her future partner as “Loli White” (they will later be joined by “Loli Red”, as well) who idolizes Kotono and uses her family’s impossible wealth to make Kotono “goods” – wall scrolls, figurines, body pillows, etc. Natsuki’s obsession/desire for Kotono puts her at odds with Ewan, Kotono’s pet boy victim. After we establish that Nastuki is hopelessly in love with Kotono, we drop the issue, probably forever. I sincerely doubt we’ll ever hear of it again outside fan art or fiction.

Lastly, let’s take a look at Tokyo Majin Gakuen Kenpuchou. Completely unlike the previous series (which are both bishoujo series) Tokyo Majin is a grim fighting series that is also a game. A bunch of high school kids (who, for once, look their age, especially compared with the two previous series) find themselves fighting demons and monsters in their area of town. This is a grim, dark and depressing Monster of the Day series. The fight scenes are largely metaphorical energy-type fighting, but that doesn’t stop lots of blood from gouting. It also doesn’t ever kill anyone.

Yuri in the series can be summed up in a sentence. Komaki likes Aoi and they fight monsters together. Komaki’s skill is in archery, so I kind of liked the scenes where she got to do her thing, but she’s not the lead female, so it was Aoi’s mysterious mystical energy and desire to protect her companions that saves the day. (Must drive all the others crazy, because of all of them Aoi has the least fighting skills, while the rest are mostly highly trained weapons and hand-to-hand combat specialists. On the other hand, she’s cuter than the rest of them, so there you go.) I stopped watching this one, not because it was particularly awful, but it was a tad boring. Every other episode was decent, which isn’t enough to keep my attention when I’m trying to keep up with a dozen series at once.

Ratings:

Manabi Straight

Art – 6
Story – 6
Characters – 7
Yuri – 5
Service – 8

Overall – 6

Saint October

Art – 3 (For Goth-Loli costumes made with love, watch Rozen Maiden instead)
Story – 4
Characters – 3
Yuri – 2
Service – 3

Overall – 4

Tokyo Majin Gakuen Kenpuchou

Art – 6
Story – 6
Characters – 7
Yuri – 2
Service – 3

Overall – 6

Nothing here that’s brilliant but, depending on what you like, you may find something to watch.

(Oh and I just realized I should have covered Pretty Cure 5 here too, but I didn’t. Oh well. ^_^

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