Yuri Manga: Yuri Hime Selection, Volume 1

July 25th, 2007

First of all, welcome to everyone that comes to Okazu from Afterellen.com! I hope you’ll enjoy the reviews, the biting humor, the random mixture of internet and anime fandom slang. :-) I apologize for starting you off with a Japanese-language magazine – it was what I had slated to review today, since I expected the Afterellen article to run tomorrow. Woops. :-) I’ll try and put definitions after all the jargon for non-otaku (obsessive anime/manga fans.)

Today’s review is Yuri Hime Selection, Volume 1 the third all-Yuri quarterly publication from Japanese publisher Ichijinsha. Sister to Yuri Hime and Yuri Hime S, Yuri Hime Selection is a mix of stories originally published in the now-defunct Yuri Shimai magazine and new stories. Yuri Hime Selection is, for our new readers, a Japanese-language magazine.

One of my original complaints about the stories that ran in Yuri Shimai was that they were heavy on the schoolgirl crushes. While reading Yuri Hime Selection I was also reminded that many of them were about abortive schoolgirl crushes or were, in other ways, kind of annoying…

Case in point, the first story, “Under the Rose” about two half-sisters whose incestuous and abusive relationship got completely under my fingernails the first time around. Four years later, it is no less irksome. But the next two stories, also by Kita Konno, are much more interesting, if a little on the bland side.

This goes for many of the stories that follow – Girl A finds Girl B interesting, but don’t expect much more. Some lost opportunities, pleasant memories of school years gone by – even the ghost story is about a love lost. There’s a lot of that in this book. When one remembers that the audience for Yuri Shimai was straight women, this is not too surprising. This is not “Yuri” nearly so much as “memories of first crushes for women who went to girls’ schools.”

The second half of the book contains new stories. The first, by Hiyori Otsu, fits right in with the first half of the book. The second, by Morishima Akiko, stands out as being completely out of sync. About Sarina and Sumi (from Yuri Hime 8) the story is about adult women on the cusp of a new relationship, with only a short flashback to their school years.

This is followed by the 4-panel comic “Apple Day Dream” which, if you’ve ever read any of my previous Yuri Hime reviews, you know that I enjoy about as much as biting my own cheek. Kaoru and Mayu work at a fashion house. Kaoru still likes big breasts and Mayu still has them. Lots of passive-aggressive behavior and pretty clothes.

Following that is yet another story of children with absurdly large heads and awkward relationships, by Hakamada Mera. Less repulsive than the most recent Yuri Hime S story, it’s got that similar bitter unrequited love feeling as most of the stories in this magazine.

Next is more of the wacky 4-panel comic “Nanami and Misuzu” which remains impenetrable and unfunny as always. LOL (Why is it that comic strips are so exhausting to read? In English, they are the easiest to understand – in Japanese, I feel like I need an advanced degree to “get” them.)

The final story is a sketchily drawn, but entertaining sempai-kouhai (upper-/lower- classman) relationship by Aikawa Jinko. Still, in the end, there is nothing more than beautiful memories.

I can’t say that Yuri Hime Selection is my favorite of the YH magazines. Many of the older stories seemed pale in comparison with the likes of the currently running series. The newer stories fell into line with lots of unrequited love, lots of first loves, beautiful memories of love, etc, etc. Not at all to *my* taste but, if you’re a completist, or only started collecting after Yuri Shimai went out of print and want to have everything in the series, you’ll probably want to get Yuri Hime Selection too.

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