In the face of the continuing moe-fication of the manga world in general, and the Yuri world in particular, it’s nice to know that there are a few men who can buck the trend. Like Kishi Torajirou’s Mars no Kiss, Kindaichi Renjurou’s Mermaid Line is a Josei-style book by a male author.
Mermaid Line is a collection of stories that ran in Yuri Hime magazine. They are collected together as short mini-series, done in an episodic, almost soap-opera-y way.
In “Megumi and Aoi ” Megumi confesses to her friend Aoi that, despite her ungainly swimming, she feels as if she is a mermaid. Aoi finds herself fantasizing about being the prince to Megumi’s mermaid, but Megumi runs to the arms of a boy, trying to put a beard on her feelings. Aoi is turned into the class target, but Megumi realizes that she’s made a bad decision and once more approaches Aoi. Eventually, they go out and, over cake, come to agreement that it’s not male or female that’s important, but that you like someone.
Ayumi, in “Ayumi and Aika,” wants to get married to her boyfriend so naturally, she’s shocked when he tells her that he wants to become a woman. She learns to cope with this and reconnect to him as a friend, but when he comes back into her life, as gay bar hostess Aika, friendless and homeless, Ayumi rethinks everything. It’s not marriage, but Ayumi’s pretty confident she can love Aika as a woman.
“Yukari and Mayuko” are both OLs. Mayuko’s between boyfriends and bored, so she asks Yukari to pretend to be her girlfriend. It works out well, until Yukari realizes that her feelings for Mayuko are more than just pretend. When Mayuko gets a new boyfriend, Yukari lets her go, but there’s no happy end for her.
And finally, in “Miura-san and Me” Okabe loves Miura’s beautiful hair. When Miura-san cuts it all off, Okabe learns to love her for herself.
Overall, the stories deal with feelings that are more complex than just “I like her.” There’s a sense of the characters being realer and deeper than the normal “Story A”types. There is angst and there’s bullying, and being outcast, but there’s also acceptance and growth and of course, love.
While none of these narratives are breath-taking, “Ayumi and Aika” stands out as the best of the bunch. By far and away, the strongest of the series in this book. I liked this series the first time around and it’s just as nice this time. Where something like Kashimashi plays the gender change card as a handwave you just need to go with, this miniseries looks at it with a light hand, a humorous touch and a sensitive heart.
Art – 8
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 9
Service – 1
Overall – 7
The tagline on the obi says, “Love doesn’t come in only one form” which I think it a fitting, and pretty, summation for this book.