Of the three 4-koma manga with Yuri put out by Yen Press, by far and away my favorite is the subject of today’s review, S.S. Astro, Volume 1. This should come as no surprise to anyone, since the characters are adults and there is at least one openly Yuri character. (For those of you who truly understand my tastes, you’ll also understand why she is not my favorite character. ^_^)
So, for those of you who have not read it, S.S. Astro is a 4-panel comic strip series about 4 teachers in a generic high school. Izumi Maki is the usual slightly doofus-y lead character, this time a terrible homeroom and P.E. teacher who can’t remember her students’ names, and who is basically coasting through work. She is accompanied by Karasuma Kaname, who instantly falls hard for Maki and who spends the entire volume swooning and nose bleeding. Nagumo Yuko, the Japanese language teacher who looks ultra-refined, absurdly so, in fact, but at heart is a total BL fangirl. And my favorite character, Arai Setsuna, the school doctor who is evil incarnate and spends her days hoping someone will come into the infirmary really messed up and bloody. I like her. ^_^
The comics are typical of the breed – situation setup with pun/punch to the head/nosebleed/hands over mouth -type endings. But unlike many “gag” 4-koma I actually laughed at more than a few of these! Crazy, huh? ^_^
As much as I approve of Karasuma’s suit, glasses, hypercompetence and crushiness for Maki, I find the fact that every time Arai pretends to hit on Maki, Maki forgets to protest, far more appealing. In general, Maki is the clearly Yuri fodder – not only does Karasuma lust after her, and Arai (who went out and broke up with Maki’s brother, so you can be sure that fanfic writers are all *over* that relationship) can’t stop herself from making inappropriate comments, Maki’s an all-around pere who happily plays bishoujo games and sets herself up in very Yuri-service situations.
The best bits are the character profiles, which are not only hysterical, but label Karasuma’s “gender” as “Yuri.”
With a *teeny* little rewrite, this manga would be perfect. If only Maki, Arai and Karasuma were all lesbians and Yuko the straight fangirl. Perfect, right? Only, it’s not, so we’ll just have to accept this not-quite-so-perfect-but-still-very-good actuality.
Art – 5 – sort of generic and hard to follow until you get used to everyone
Story – 7
Characters – 8 they grow on you as the volume goes along
Yuri – 4, with extra helpings of pointless service for laughs
Service – 2
Overall – 8
Kudos to Yen Press for the exceptionally not-jerky translation notes on both Yaoi and Yuri-related items. You win.
And let me thank Jo W. for sponsoring today’s review! A fun manga and a lovely gesture. Thanks Jo!