Part two starts with some color introduction pages to the new line of Yuri novels that Ichijinsha has published, Wild Bouquet and Period. (Yuri Hime S came with a sample of each that I haven’t yet read. I’ll get there eventually.)
This is followed by “Adachi no Yukue” drawn by the artist who did the “Aoi Shiro” manga for Yuri Hime S. This is a period piece about two students at a girls’ finishing school. Asahi and Komachi are in love, but Asahi knows that it has to come to an end and, indeed, she receives a letter from her family which tells her to leave the school and come home to be married. To her deep distress Komachi doesn’t protest, but wishes her happiness. They leave the school together and stand on the train tracks as the train comes, speaking of their love and the future they won’t have – but at the last minute, they push themselves off the track and survive, deciding to leave together and find a place where they can stay together forever.
Akiko Morishima once again touches a little on what it actually means to be a woman in love with another woman in “Ruri-iro no Yume,” in which we meet Rokujou-san the morning after she wakes up in bed naked with a female coworker, after a drunken romp in the hay. In her mind, Rokujou has always assumed that she wants the usual – marriage, a house, a kid whose name she has already picked out, but instead finds herself irresistibly drawn to the company of Mikuni, her unabashedly not interested in guys coworker. Night after night they go out, drink, come back to share a bed, but still, Rokujou holds this totally average dream for herself. One night, while out with her coworkers, she lets her dream slip – Mikuni reacts by suddenly having plans and leaving. At work, Rokujou meets Mikuni for lunch up on the roof as usual and everything seems normal, but when they finally get to the point, Rokujou surprises herself by admiting that, yes, she is utterly average and normal – and loves Mikuni.
Takahashi Mako’s “Untitled” was quite possibly the least bad thing I’ve seen from her. The characters appear to like one another, not be violently insane and no blood appears.
On the other hand, “Sesshoku” was a dreadful little drag through the failed first love pile, with hideously drawn characters. And even though it technically had a happy ending, I can’t say it made me feel happy.
“Sweet Peach” continues, with a look into the protagonists tragic past and a bunch of stuff happening in her current wacky future, but I can’t get past the perverted hamster and the elf ears. My limitations, I know.
Hanatsu Yaya wins the award for the most distubing manga of the book, with “Futari no Mirai” about, you guessed it, twins. Only this time, one of them has only one eye and no arms and thinks the other one would be better without her. The other twin agrees and tries to kill her, but don’t worry, they end up living happily ever after together.
In “Apple Day Dream” Kaoru continues to think about Mayu’s breasts.
I can’t believe I’m about to say this but – I actually *liked* Hakamada Mera’s “Kono Onegai Kanaugara.” Three friends are inseparable, until one day one of them sees the other two kissing. There’s some angst and misunderstanding as it’s assumed that she will begin to hate them, but her real concern was that they never *told* her. Of course she likes one of them, as well, so we can expect a love triangle thing in the next chapter. How awkward.
Once again, I was surprised to find that “Usotsuki Engage” was a continuation of the teacher-student story that I continually find myself surprised by. You’d think I’d remember one day that this story is a series. lol Nanao wants to go away wth Matsumoto-sensei for summer vacation, but the teacher uses Nanao’s studies as an excuse to not go. Nanao is considering not going to college at all, and wants to move in with Matsumoto, who says no, flat out, but gives the girl her key. Yes, they are lovers after school, but what are they really? Nanao wonders. She confronts the teacher, who gets upset and asks her to consider her feelings. Nanao runs out of the room in tears. Another series I really want to know what will happen in the next issue!
And this volumes draws to a close with “Nanami to Misuzu” which I will continue to skip.
So, overall, a really strong volume. Not nearly as many sisters as in Yuri Hime S, but the one story was way creepier than anything in S, so this volume both wins and loses in that respect over its brother publication.
I can’t face the next volume knowing that “Strawberry Shake Sweet” will draw to a close, but I will fervently pray that Hayashiya-sensei will create another, equally as wonderful series for us. In the meantime, I really liked 8 of the 19 stories and only really didn’t like 4, so I think the average has gone up.
Overall – 8
I look forward to many of the upcoming collections, especially “Clover” and Kazuma Kowo’s series that I can never remember is a series. ^_^