Yuri Manga: Gunjou, Chapters 3 and 6

May 9th, 2008

Back in March, I reviewed a new non-moe Yuri manga series by Nakamura Ching, Gunjou. After I posted my review, Nakamura-san offered to send me a back issue of Morning 2 – the magazine in which Gunjou runs – which I of course accepted with great joy. And just yesterday, I received my copy of the current issue of Morning 2, to get the next chapter.

I love this manga with all my love.

It is not cute. It is not adorable. It it not moe. It *is* stunning. So, with my apologies to Nakamura-san for the hideous nicknames, I’d like to tell you all about the new bits.

Chapter 3 covers a tale from BL and BN’s high school days. The brunette, BN, is a champion runner, but wears a crappy pair of beat up cleats. The blonde, BL, is hanging around, and the track club is creeped out by her because she’s, you know, *lesbian,* but BN tells them that she’s just a nice person and to stfu, thanks awfully. When the team captain tells BN to get new cleats or else, BN and BL go to a store where BN attempts to steal a nice shiny new pair. To stop her from being arrested, BL offers to pay for them (she’s a rich ojou-sama,) but BN tells her to take the cleats and shove them.

BL visits BN’s house and learns that she lives in a crappy shack with a drunken and abusive father. At the end of the chapter, BL offers to *lend* BN the money, so she’ll stay in school and keep running. We see them 5 years later, as BN – now sleek, happy enough (we think) and married – pays back every yen. BL leaves, putting down exactly half the bill for their coffee – a beautiful and subtle touch. We go back to the present, with the two of them on the run, and we learn that BN still has that 550 yen in her wallet.

In stark contrast to Chapter 3’s happy ending, chapter 6 is BRUTAL. They take a hotel for the night, but BN gets weird about sleeping in the same bed as BL, so they get separate rooms. We learn from the news that the police know BL did the murder and that the two fugitives are being sought. BL can’t sleep, so she goes out. We see BN looking in the mirror at her body, which is covered in bruises. Since they have been on the run for a month – at least some of those bruises are probably not from the dead husband…. BL grabs a taxi to go back to the hotel. The taxi driver solicts a hand job, which BL does, flashing back and forth the whole time to the murder. She leaves the cab and when a fortune teller approaches her and tells her that she’ll get married, she goes postal on the lady, who asks for forgiveness as she reaches for a stone to bash the crazy, violent woman on top of her.

BN notices BL’s not back and eventually finds her, trying to kill herself by hanging herself from the bathroom door. BN takes her back to her bed, while BL flashes back to the murder and to their school days where she first met BN and they became friends . BL has a complete emotional breakdown to match her physical beating. As the chapter comes to a close, BL tells BN that instead of killing her husband, it would have been better if she had killed BN. BN goes out into the hall and cries.

There is just nothing about this series that is Akihabara. But, in between the severe mental unbalance, the extreme violence and the raw, unsexy sex, there are moments of such intense tenderness that they quite take one’s breath away.

The Yuri actually identifies as lesbian, so perhaps this is a lesbian manga, rather than a Yuri one. BL is quite obviously hopelessly, dangerously in love with BN…and BN is suffering from all kind of mixed emotions, compounded by the fact that they are both just so very broken that a normal relationship seems impossible for either of them. And, despite the fact that this manga perpetuates the murderous lesbian trope, I think it completely transcends the stereotype.

Gunjou is not a “good” manga – it is a “brilliant” manga.


Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 5
Service – 2

Overall – 10

I recently learned that gunjou, which translates to the color Ultramarine, is considered to be the most highly revered blue hue in the Japanese artist’s palette.

Once again, thank you Nakamura-san, for the issue of Morning 2 and for creating such a magnficient manga.


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5 Responses

  1. Sarah says:

    God, this sounds exactly like what I’ve been looking for in Yuri all my time as a fan. Be sure to give us a heads-up when the first tank gets a release date!

  2. sarah – you bet! I know I wait on pins and needles for it.

  3. basic.syntax says:

    In an interview with Stan Lee, he related that some fans give him a hard time for making Peter Parker’s life so difficult. But Lee replies that seeing how your character handles problems is what makes a story worthwhile. “I couldn’t give him ENOUGH problems.”

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’ve always wondered what the difference between a “Yuri” manga and a “lesbian” one is. Please shed some light on the subject.

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