Venus Versus Virus Manga, Volume 1 (English)

September 14th, 2007

I have been holding off reviewing Venus Versus Virus. For many reasons. Before I get into them, let me thank the good folks at Seven Seas for a review copy…and let me apologize in advance for what are going to be some harsh comments….

Venus Versus Virus has no Yuri. None. Not a single honest emotional connection between any of the characters, much less love or desire between the two female protagonists.

There are people who say it is Yuri – they are wrong. There is splash page art, in which the two leads are draped over one another. And there is a moment, in which two of Sumire’s friends misinterpret something she says to *assume* a lesbian interpretation where none was intended (and how droll and “Three’s Company” is that?) And, during a crisis, Sumire, scared out of her freaking wits, throws herself into Lucia’s arms.

None of these equal Yuri.

If you come across a mention of the Yuri in VVV, you are reading something written by a person who cannot discrimate between women who love/desire one another (we call those “lesbians”) and women who are posed upon one another for money.

Let’s revisit what “Yuri” is – the representation in anime, manga or doujinshi of a woman in love with, or who desires, another woman. It’s *possible* that Lucia and Sumire could, potentially, someday in the future, fall in love with one another. Possible, not probable. Highly unlikely, in fact, since Sumire is straight and spends much of the series longing after a male upperclassman. But the point is – two women who are sempai/kouhai does not make a series Yuri. Two women in the same frame, sharing a experience, does not make it Yuri. By that standard, I and every female friend I have ever had, regardless of our personal and sexual preferences, are somehow a couple.

Aside from this, the manga itself is simply very…okay. At best. Of the many Dengeki Comics to have brought to the US, this is one of the least good I’ve read.

The story, such as it is, deals with demons that infest humans and take them over (the “Virus” of the unfortunate title.) Lucia runs a clothes shop by day, but her true occupation is to exterminate these Viruses, thus making her the Venus of the title. Lucia wears Goth-Loli getup, packs a gun and wrears an eye-patch which *ought* to be enough to pique my interest, but she doesn’t. I think it’s because she has the eyepatch over the wrong eye for her to appeal to me. (No, I don’t know *why* it matters – but, yes, it matters! ^_^;)

Sumire is the typical schoolgirl until she ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, between Lucia’s gun and a Virus. When she’s shot, she somehow takes on the anti-Virus properties of Lucia’s weapon, and in doing so, becomes a magnet for the Viruses and a weapon against them. And if she had the least little inkling of personality…we might even care.

This series has some potential for some good fights, but eschews it for extended mutation scenes with extra oozing and gloating/drooling.

I want to say that I think Seven Seas did as good a job as they could with this mess – the translation/adaptation is decent enough, but it is not their finest work. The art is dark, a little rough and hard to follow, and the paper they chose makes it all blur together. There are even a few typos, which are inevitable from time to time.

In general, of all the Seven Seas books I’ve read, this is simply the least good in every possible way. As I said in my review of the VVV anime: “This is a classic case of the “Newtype Effect” in which two otherwise straight women are deployed draped over one another to play the Yuri-service card, when there is no Yuri and neither character is remotely lesbian. Not that this will stop fans from insisting.”

Ratings:

Art – 5
Story – 5
Characters – 4
Yuri – 1 (if you don’t care that there really isn’t any, but you can make it work in your head)
Service – 6

Overall – 5

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11 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Erica, Venus Versus Virus isn’t a part of our STRAWBERRY line. There’s no “strawberry” logo on the back… ^_^;

    – Adam

  2. Adam –

    I am so sorry, for that mistake. I’ll pull those bits out immediately. My deepest apologies for my mental confusion…(long week, really.)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Over the years, delusional (but well-meaning) fans have imagined that there’s actually something between such characters as Asuka and Rei from NGE, Reki and Rakka from Haibane Renmei, and Mireille and Kirika from Noir. Thus, I can’t say that I find it terribly surprising that a few of them have tried to claim there’s Yuri in VVV. =p

    Cheers,
    PLFB

  4. You are absolutely right, of course.

    The difference is that while many people have paired Rei and Asuka (and what were *they* watching, I wonder?) NGE isn’t touted around the intertubes as a Yuri series. But VVV is.

    And, as we’ve gone over many times here, Kirika and Mirielle were set up in a way to imply Yuri if a viewer wanted to see it. Bee Train said that if you want them to be a couple, they are – if not, they aren’t.

  5. AnimeJock says:

    I’m a few days behind on this site *curses retched computer* but I gotta say thanks for the post on VVV. When I look up the manga on other sites they swear by the Yuri content. I don’t always agree with your reviews but I really respect them. When you say there’s Yuri there is. Anyhoo, not sure if I’m going to check it out.

    I wanna comment on the Asuka/Rei Yuri like delusions. Please give me whatever they are smoking. I’ve seen the series multiple times, it’s one of my all-time favorites and never in my life did I get that “Yuri feeling” between them.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Gee, aren’t you quick to judge? Not all series have “OMG TEH GAY” on the very first volume. Their relationship develops as the series goes on, and there’s more subtext to go by.

  7. Anonymous says:

    …Hmph!…>> Did you read all the volumes released?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dear Erica,

    I must have a serious problem. I see Yuri where there is none. Or perhaps I just have my Yuri goggles on too tight.

    I actually have a love/hate relationship with this series. I watched the anime, the ending made me so angry I could’ve punched a baby (luckily there were none in the vicinity) and I’ve read all the volumes currently released in the U.S. My reading often result in me either drooling from fan girl anticipation or wanting to bang my head against the wall repetitively.

    I adore Lucia, even if her eye-patch is on the wrong side. And Sumire has her redeeming qualities, I think the fact that she’s become more mature than Lucia over the duration of the series is kind of endearing. The rest of the characters seem rather contrived to me, but it’s ok because I’m too distracted by my own “delusions”.

    I suppose my problem lies in the pre/post chapter art which often depicts the two protagonists holding hands or touching in various ways. Or maybe it was some of the events that take place in volume two. Or even the bedroom scene in volume 4. Have you read either of those?

    I don’t know, I might be stretching but I definitely see at least the possibility of Sumire and Lucia getting together. It’s actually pretty evident in volumes 2-6, more evident then some of the other manga you’ve given a 5/10 on the Yuri scale.

    I think you might have judged this series too quickly.

    -RM

  9. @Anonymous – I read it all the way to the end and watched it all the way to the end. You’re just unhappy that I don’t agree with you. Feel free to see Yuri there. It would be nice if you also acknowledge that I have the right to not do so.

  10. Anonymous says:

    “…If you come across a mention of the Yuri in VVV, you are reading something written by a person who cannot discrimate between women who love/desire one another (we call those “lesbians”) and women who are posed upon one another for money. In other words – a Loser FanBoy or Girl. This is a good identification method for LFB/Gs…”

    ?

    From what I heard elsewhere, it’s bian or bara if it’s about “women who love/desire one another” or “men who love/desire one another” (a la Rica ‘tte Kanji!?) and it’s Yuri or yaoi for LFB/Gs instead if it’s about “women who are posed upon one another for money” or “men who are posed upon one another for money” (kinda like “lesbian” porn filmed for straight men).

    For example, see here:

    http://www.gottsu-iiyan.ca/gib/index.php/2009/03/27/you-say-anime-i-say-motion-comic

    “…Some of those terms that have no business being used by anyone who would agree that Japanese society is wrong for continuing to openly marginalize and demean women, doing little to protect innocent children from sexual predators, and giving homosexuals no rights other than to provide entertainment by parading flamboyantly around on television like traveling circus performers.
    I’m talking about shonen-ai, yaoi, Yuri, lolicon, hentai and all those other words non-Japanese toss around as if they didn’t really mean what they mean. I don’t see anyone writing about those things using their English equivalents. I wonder why?

    “Seriously, I want to know why the hell some things are okay only if referred to in Japanese! I wonder if people even really know what they are talking about, or if they would talk about that stuff in English outside their fan communities…”

  11. Anonymous says:

    Erica –

    Oh, of course we’re all entitled to our own opinions. I was just trying to get a word of defense in for my fellow -ever hopeful- Fan Boys and Girls…we’re not all losers you know. I hope you didn’t think I was trying to be rude or aggressive, I know tone is often misinterpreted through written text. I only have respect for you and your reviews and often turn to them when I need something to read.

    -RM

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