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.”
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