Time for Part 2 of Yuri Hime Volume 11. Yay! Wielded with force, this book is big enough to leave a mark. :-)
Miura Shion’s essay on Yuri manga covers a few titles by Fujita Takumi, Goshuujin-sama ni Amai Ringo no Okashi and Yuki no Jou-ou. My thanks to Erin from Lililicious, who assisted me with deciphering Shion’s citations and reminding me that Lili has scanned in at least one of the stories from the former of the above books.
This is immediately followed by Morishima Akiko’s illustrated column, which this time takes us on a tour of manga shops around Tokyo where she and Chi-Ran recently did signings for their manga collection releases. (I’ve reviewed Morishima’s Rakuen no Jouken already. Chi-Ran’s Himitsu Shoujo to come.) I’m really sorry I missed all the signing dates by about a week. Looks like she had a blast. There are several notable things in her column – for one, she refers to these manga as “Yuri” (thank you very much, Morishima-san) and secondly, she comments on how there is yet to be a separate GL section in most of the bookstores, but there are a growing number of stores that are grouping the “Yuri” stuff together in at least small corners. If things keep up the way they are going now, I bet that by the time I get back to Japan, we’ll be seeing a shelf or two at least of GL in most stores.
In “Epitaph” Towa is suffering a little crisis of identity. She wants (it is apparent to me) to be more of an equal to Ash. And she’s jealous of the newcomer to what was her and Ash’s private place in the world. So she’s taking on more responsibility on her own, and simultaneously distancing herself from Ash. Towa’s task is to take a message to a musician, but finds herself drawn back time and time again, to feel the musician’s passion for her work, which is dedicated to a person she loves. Although the musician is clearly dying, she wants to make her mark. Ash joins Towa for her final visit – she’s been lonely without Towa, and finally realized what was going on. The musician is gone, but her legacy lives on.
The Apple Day Dream clothing shop is having an event and everyone is on edge. Mayu arrives and spends the entire time jealous of Kaoru’s attentions to the other women, but rebuffing her attentions to herself. When Kaoru is asked if they are going out and denies it so as to avoid conflict with Mayu, Mayu says yes, just to be contrary. How charming. The clothing designs are so nice. What a waste.
Hiyori Otsu once again takes a stride forward as one of my new fave artists. In the second chapter of “Clover” Sugiura comes every day to the bakery where Midori works. One day, Midori’s co-worker has suddenly quit, so Midori impulsively asks Sugiura to work there. And she does. As Christmas comes, they are busy selling cakes. They talk, as people do, about things they like. Midori wonders if Sugiura is seeing anyone. Sugiura broke up with someone not too long ago, so, not at the moment. As Sugiura describes her ex, it becomes apparent that she is referring to another woman. She then goes on to say that there is someone she likes, so, would Midori go out with her? Midori is embarrassed, but agrees. My favorite panel is the next day at school when Midori tells her classmate that she’s got a girlfriend. “Are you an idiot?” the classmate replies. So, they work together and go out. They kiss. Midori is thinking that this isn’t so bad, really, when two things happen. Her co-worker asks for his job back and a boy from her school stops by the shop with a love letter. Smiling, Sugiura gives Midori a “break-up kiss” and leaves both job and girlfriend. Midori realizes that she doesn’t *want* to break up and runs after Sugiura. When she catches up, she finds Sugiura crying. They patch it up, and continue to go out. The story ends with Midori visiting Sugiura’s home and learning that she doesn’t like sweets at all. She just liked the girl at the bakery. :-) A great story, with a little bit of a story past the “happily ever after” part – just enough to make it all really work.
Haruna’s former crush, her sempai, has returned to Tsunojyo, there’s a rumor going around that Touko-sensei is leaving and the strange girl that has befriended Teshigawara is moving. All three crises are soon resolved in the final chapter of “Hatsukoi Shimai.” Finally, finally, finally, Touko and Akiho kiss. That’s really all I care about. I’m so going to have to write another story for them. :-) Chika and Haruna live happily ever after, and so do Kirika and Miyu, presumably. And all the potential cliff-hanger crises like Akiho’s relationship with her sister and Kirika’s fall simply disappear.
And now to the “rant” I mentioned yesterday in regards to “Aoi Shiro.” I obviously don’t know what editorial decisions are being made, but am I alone in thinking that Yuri Hime is becoming a big lump of dropped crises? In Simoun, the story was just beginning when it was ended. “Aoi Shiro” had just got going – I mean, the first three chapters were practically all introductory. And now this – we had about three or four completely disappearing cliffhangers/climaxes in Hatsukoi Shimai. I honestly don’t know if it’s editorial pressure to not let a series run too long, or if there are other factors that force stories to be cut short. In every one of the above cases, it feels very much like the story was just stopped. It may just be that they are trying to keep things light. I simply have no idea. But it’s starting to feel like a pattern. And it’s making me jumpy, because as a crisis/confrontation/climax arrives, the story just sort of peters out.
Anyway, enough discussion – let’s move on.
“Ameiro Kouchakan Kandan” continues on it’s path of non-crisis filled happiness. Having determined that they were both pretty hopeless without one another, Seriho and Sarasa have decided to visit some other cafes in hopes of coming up with ideas to invigorate their business. Seriho finds herself enjoying watching Sarasa eat – a sure sign of complete besottedness. :-) As they end their day, Seriho thanks Sarasa for the date, which flusters Sarasa, who thought they were out on business. Seriho corrects her – they were, for the first half of the day, the second half was their first date. Tee hee.
“Reijin” by Chi-Ran, starts with a different point of view than usual. In this story, the protagonist hates women. And she doesn’t hate them any less when the school doctor hits on her. But the seeds have been sown and despite her reluctance – nay, abhorrence – of her own sex, at the end, our protagonist admits defeat by asking the doctor her name.
In Takahashi Mako’s “Yuki no Ashimoto” we watch a girl find her adored sempai’s cell phone and answer it when it rings. As a result, she gets to meet Misaki-sempai face to face. Misaki says it’s a fateful meeting, as the story ends.
Hisako is a writer. The other girls make fun of her writing, but Sayako defends her. For this, and many other reasons, Hisako writes a love letter to Sayako in Hakamada Mera’s “Love Letter.” The wind rips the letter away from Hisako, and delivers it to Sayako. Fate strikes once again. :-)
The last story, “Nightmare Syndrome” by Natsuneko, is helpfully labeled “Vampire Love” for the two people who missed it. lol Alicia has been planning on getting her revenge against sexy vampire Berger for her father’s death. Only, Berger sort of stops her by being, you know, a sexy vampire. While Alicia is staying in Berger’s mansion, they are attacked by Reynolds, who conveniently was the real culprit in Alicia’s father’s death. Alicia, Berger, and the eye-patch-wearing maid all survive to live eternally as happy sexy lesbian vampires. The plot is pretty well done to death, but I really, really like Natsuneko’s art and the action-filled panels. I am very much looking forward to any forthcoming collection of this artist’s work. Her (I’m assuming here) stuff is fun, with a pleasant touch of off-beat edginess. And her sexy lesbians are sexy.
All that’s left is the Petite Yuri Hime, the extra mini-comic included with this volume. As they announced in their press release, this was a combination of artists from Yuri Hime, Yuri Hime S and Yuri Hime: Wildrose, with the common theme of “New Year’s” although there are exceptions, like the Alice in Wonderland chapter of “Hatsukoi Shimai.” Some of the stories are cute, some are funny. The winner for “made me laugh out loud” was a funny but gross little short called “Girls Don’t Cry” which centered on character snorting noodles out her nose. It was low humor, but it *was* funny. :-)
As I said originally, this volume was so large that, if you include the Petite mini-comic, you have 36 comics to read, plus essays and commentary and letters and the like. I enjoyed more than I didn’t. Above all, there was Touko-sensei and Akiho finally getting together and the greatest chapter of Strawberry Shake Sweet ever.
And now that I have finally reviewed it, I’m going to have to go back and read it all over again. Excellent, excellent volume. May we see it go bi-monthly soon.
Overall – 8