Yuri Manga: Papaya Gundan, Volume 1

November 20th, 2008

When you think of hostesses at Japanese clubs, the first thing you think of is…what? I’m betting that the characters that make up the “Sweet and Juicy Papaya Girls” of Papaya Gundan aren’t it. ^_^

Club Papaya is run by Hajime. Like most hostess clubs, the girls who work for him use aliases. Chieri, a popular girl with his customers, who happens to have a sex-friend relationship with one of his other girls, Mika. Mika definitely takes it way more seriously than Chieri, though and it’s causing some friction between them.

In the meantime, Hajime has fallen for one of his employees, an attractive, classic beauty who goes by the name Kyouko. Little does the owner know that Kyouko’s true passion is writing Boys’ Love doujinshi.

And then there’s Mariko who sort of adopts a younger guy she meets on the street. The next thing we know they are involved, and things are just getting plain weird between them.

The stories stand alone, but they don’t live alone – each intertwines with the other, and at least for this volume, the story of Chieri and Mika takes the lead spot.

It turns out that Mika knows Ryuu, Mariko’s adoptee boyfriend, from previous years of dancing practice. Of course when Chieri and Mariko learn about this – they want to see them dance. (Seriously – if it was your lover, wouldn’t you want to, too?) The surprise is on them when they learn that by “dance,” they meant “ballet” – and they are both damn good, as it turns out. After they finish their dance, Ryuu runs up to Mariko and confesses that he loves her, loudly, awkwardly and adorably sincerely.

In the mean time, Hajime pursues Kyouko, and upon learning that she’s called in sick, rushes over to pay her a visit with flowers and food. She’s actually called in sick to write her next doujinshi, but she can’t bring herself to tell him the truth. Nonetheless Hajime earns props, because indulgence goes a long way with winning a woman over. ^_^

One of the biggest points of contention between Chieri and Mika is the truth. Mika won’t give Chieri her real name, or tell her where she lives. One early spring day, Mika asks Chieri to meet her in town before work. Chieri is a little surprised to see Mika approach wearing a school uniform. She asks what the deal is, and is even more surprised to learn that Mika, whose real name is Kurara (oh, god, so cute! thinks Chieri) has just graduated from high school. The reason Mika never said where she lived was, because, when she turned 18 she ran away from home and is living with her brother Hajime, the club owner. Chieri forgives the deception, and takes Mika to a hotel to have a dirty weekend.

This volume wraps up with Kyouko coming in to work with a slapmark on her face, the result of her boyfriend stating that it’s either him or the doujinshi. When he comes to the club to beg her forgiveness and ask her to marry him, she responds with a chokehold of foul language and a piledriver of a middle finger. Hajime, mister cool, jumps right in to ask her to go out with him. ^_^ You really gotta love him.

This was the third of the three manga I recently purchased which surprised me by not sucking. It’s published by Fx Comics, the same company that publishes Aoi Hana, so it probably runs in a magazine for guys, but there’s a decidedly josei feel about it in art and content. If you’re looking for a josei-style story in which the women do *not* put up with abusive and assholish behavior from men, and in which the girl gets the girl to boot, you might want to give Papaya Gundan a chance. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. :-)

Ratings:

Art – 4 (I cannot stand the sex-doll lips style of josei)
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Yuri – 9
Service – 4

Overall – 8

It’s, like, for grownups. About grownups. Kinda weird, huh?

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15 Responses

  1. Katherine says:

    This sounds like a really good series. ^^ Yuri aside, honestly, I would want to read this just for Kyouko’s story. I hate manga and anime couples where you have the arrogant a****le guy who’s nice to his spineless girlfriend/love interest for like, 1 minute, which “allows” her to justify his crappy behavior. Like Hot Gimmick (which is one of the worst examples), Fruits Basket to some extent (I feel like I’m the only person who doesn’t really like FB, because Tohru’s such a wuss), etc. Sorry for the rant, it’s just an issue that can spoil an otherwise perfectly good series for me. Anyway, I’m looking forward to hearing about more of Papaya Gundan. ^^

  2. Tohru is meant to be the “good wife, wise mother” perfect stereotype.

    I loathe her.

    You are not alone. :-)

  3. Victoria says:

    Lol, normally any manga with the words “Sweet and Juicy” in the title would represent bad hentai and/or a trashy romance, but I guess it doesn’t this time around! Thanks, Erica!

    And yes, I HATE the “good wife, wise mother” steorotype. For years, I’ve tried to explain to my friends why I don’t like FB, and NO ONE ever got it before.

  4. Senbei says:

    “The name of the era has changed three times, but even on this day in the Heisei-era…”

    We’re still teaching “Good Wife, Wise Mother”?! Someone restrain my militant feminism before I write a nasty letter to Takaya-sensei.

  5. Filo says:

    Furuba’s getting no love here, obviously. I see where everybody’s coming from with Tohru’s character, but instead of thinking ‘good wife, wise mother’ I just think of her as a sweet girl trying to make everybody come together…well, I just like the series. I don’t like stereotypical heroines either but I make a single exception with this one, because each new volume of this story grabs me. Feel free to shoot this viewpoint down.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hehe. Erica, your obsessive hate for “sex-doll lips” is one of the fun things about reading Okazu. ^_^

    Anyway, I like the sound of this very much. I hope it comes over in English format. Thanks for telling us about it.

  7. JazzCat says:

    What’s with all the bashing of Fruits Basket? Just because Tohru is a sweet girl who wants everybody to get along doesn’t mean she is subject to the “good wife” stereotype. I’m not a big FB fan myself, but I think it’s a bit silly to over-analyze everything in this fashion.

  8. @Anonymous – Obsessive? I’ve mentioned it like twice, for this and Simoun.

    @JazzCat – It’s not over anylyzing, Tohru *is* supposed to represent that figure.

  9. Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous – Obsessive? I’ve mentioned it like twice, for this and Simoun.

    I was engaging in comedic hyperbole. :P

  10. LOL – well okay then. There are things I obsessively dislike, so that just seemed odd. ;-)

  11. misza says:

    second volume contains more heterosexual scenes (including sex scenes), first is much better for Yuri fan :>

  12. Anonymous says:

    “It’s, like, for grownups. About grownups. Kinda weird, huh?”

    Adult material *about adults* rocks! :D

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