Yuri Hime, Volume 9, starts off with a not horrible poster by Sakura Kinoshita of – I know you’ll be shocked – school girls. (I say “not horrible” because with *every* issue of Dengeki Daioh magazine, I open the book, look at the posters, cringe, then vow to burn them. It’s made me wary of those first-page posters.)
We move right into a new manga based (probably pretty loosely) upon a new game by the same folks that brought the world the lily-scented vampire game Aka Ito. “Aoi Shiro” follows Akita Momoko as she enters the girls’ private school that she has aspired to. When she enters her room, she finds a girl sitting there, looking pale and tragic. After a short time, Momoko decided that she likes her roommate, Aizawa Yasumi, and thinks that she’d like to see the serious girl smile. The two become closer, mostly due to Momoko’s irrrepressable good nature. Momo gets “Zawachi” to smile eventually. Ultimately, Yasumi confides in her. When end of term comes, and Yasumi admits her grief at the loss of her mother, and the loss of an admired sempai, Momoko is right there to pick up the pieces. This is a first chapter with a low Yuri quotient. But it’s a nice friendship, with a lot of embracing and we’ll see what progresses.
Teen star Julia has won a trip for two to a high-end resort in this issue’s “Strawberry Shake Sweet” and she asks recently debuted idol Ran to come along. Ran initially says no, thinking that the two of them alone would be a bad thing, now that she’s decided that she’s in love with Julia, but the idea of Julia going alone is even worse so…. Now both Ran and Julia fight off temptation as they travel to and arrive at the resort. Just as they relax for a second, they are shocked to find that Ryou, the lead singer of the all-lesbian band Zlay, is sitting a floor below them. When Ran comes to the balcony, Ryou’s gaydar tingles visibly. She asks if they have plans and, when they say they don’t, asks them to join her for a consultation. The chapter ends there, and I have to admit – I’m intrigued. What could Ryou possibly need to discus with Julia and Ran???
“Summer Window Syndrome” is one of two teacher-crush stories in this volume. In this case, school doctor Mastumoto-sensei is speaking to student Nanao, who insists that she not be called by her given name. When pressed as to why, she admits that hearing Matsumoto-sensei say her name, she begins to shake in a distinctly crush-y way. Matsumoto kisses Nanao, and later when the teacher is asleep in the bed in the health office, Nanao returns the favor. Matsumoto awakens, asks her what she’s doing. When Nanao says she was just playing, the doctor tells her to do it seriously. It’s a nice, if provocative, one-shot.
“Epitaph” continues from last issue as Ash fights off some threatening behavior from adults who ought to know better. When they return to their home, Towa flashes back to her lonely existence at a hospital sans family. She was rescued from her loneliness by Ash. When the same two men attack them later, Ash defends Towa, who licks Ash’s wound. That night Ash kisses a sleeping Towa, affirming that their life together is what saved her too. So, the Yuri quotient is up, but my opinion is still in reserve on this series, while I wait for the plot to arrive. (Good god, I’m being hard on this series. lol)
The essay on Yuri manga covers Himitsu no Kaidan, which I have reviewed here, as well.
This issue’s “Nanami and Misuzu” is comprehensible for a chance, but not any funnier than usual. Nanami’s cat ears appear to be missing. This puts the class president (who has cat ears) into a near hysterical state and forces her to be bedridden. But, oh, wait, the ears were there all along – they were just under Nanami’s hair. … Ha? …
Next up is “Soshite, Bokura ha Ai wo Mezasu” (“I’ve got our love in sight”, or something close to it). This comic has Morishima Akiko’s trademark chubby-cheeked faced characters. For the adult scenes it’s a nice look, but the kiddy scenes look a bit Hakamada Mera-ish for me. Shinobu is a successful career woman who lives with her sempai, whom she met way back when she was 13 and Lalaa was 17. Despite the four-year difference between them, Lalaa looks much younger than her age. She works at a cosplay store and is, no doubt, very popular because she looks underage. But in their relationship, Lalaa is still sempai. Shinobu flashes back to their meeting in which Lalaa was her savior, when she became emotionally overcome from family situations and fell in the rain. Now, as an adult, the rain still affects Shinobu the same way. When a downpour arises, she collapses to the ground, only to have her beloved Lalaa appears and rescue her once again. It’s a love-love ending all around.
I’ll end today’s review with Chi-Ran’s “Dream Drops.” Miki is in love with Yui, but can’t tell her. On the way home, a magic urchin offers her the deal of the year – a little bottle full of candy that will give her dreams that will be her desires. Miki buys the drops and immediately dreams of her and Yui becoming friends…then more. When she and Yui meet accidentally at school, Yui reddens then runs off and Miki is mortified to think that her fantasies have been discovered. After her last dream drop shows Miki the two of them happily holding hands, she throws caution to the wind and confesses. She shows Yui the bottle the drops came in. Yui’s response? “You too?” We can only assume that they are destined for happily ever after. ^_^
Fundamentally, the first half of this volume was pretty strong. Other than “Nanami to Misuzu” which…well, I won’t beat this horse anymore. It’s just not funny to me. Otherwise, it was a nice variety with some non-school stories to break up those ever-present schoolgirl crushes. And the art was, by and large, decent and variable, with probably something for everyone. I favor Hayashiya’s clean, open art over something like “Aoi Shiro,” but in general, a really strong level of variety. And as far as I can see, the second half continues the trend, so check back tomorrow for the rest of the review. ^_^