Yuri Light Novel: Wild Bouquet, Volume 2

January 22nd, 2009

When last we left former princess Deriana and former maid Josette in Wild Bouquet Volume 1, they were escaping from Deriana’s arranged marriage to the King of Akabansu, a kingdom of the Glorious Alliance in which romantic love of any kind is expressly forbidden.

In Wild Bouquet 2: The Name of the Flower That Dances (ワイルドブーケ想いを綴る花の名は,) they have ended up in a nearby independent country, earning money to continue the journey. That is, Josette is working to earn money, but she won’t let Deriana soil her royal hands. Deriana really *wants* to contribute, but Josette is having a hard time letting go of their difference in status. As part of Josette’s pay, the two have a pleasant little room above the pleasant little restaurant in which she works, in this pleasant little town.

Deriana spends her days at an archive, reading novels – including the illegal novels of romantic love written by the mysterious author “Lolipop.” At the archives, she meets a girl named Coriida, who is moved by Deriana’s beauty and grace. Despite wanting to be left alone to read, Deriana finds herself drawn into Coriida’s acquaintance.

In the meantime, Josette is befriended by the exceedingly eccentric woman who lives behind the restaurant. Bergamo researches the illegal topic of romantic love. When she pegs Josette for being “in love” with someone, she keeps asking for Josette to deliver her food, then asks her a ton of questions about this whole “in love” business.

However…Josette doesn’t know what being “in love” is – she’s not even sure that that’s what she and Deriana are! Having grown up in a world where any romantic love was forbidden – and same-sex love was completely unheard of – Josette hasn’t the vaguest clue what “love” is. At night, Josette still acts as a maid, brushing Deriana’s hair and washing her back in the bath. She refuses to share a bed with Deriana, until the former princess insists. For her part, Deriana is constantly trying to break down the walls between her and Josette. She insists on brushing Josette’s hair and washing her back, too and reminding Josette to just call her “Deriana.”

In town, there is a church. Separately, Josette and Deriana find themselves there; getting a tour of the building, meeting the occupants. They learn that Cyrano – the obviously bad guy from the first novel who turned out to actually be the psychopomp who saved them – is staying there, bound by some intense, undefined relationship with Miss Roush, the head of the church.

Josette is with Bergamo, and Deriana and Coriida are at the church, when Coriida – who has some past with Bergamo – suddenly wants to see the researcher. Deriana and Coriida walk in as Bergamo is about to show Josette what a kiss is (prompting me to ban all literature from my house that includes the line, “What is…kiss?”)

Not surprisingly, it turns out that Coriida’s actually in love with Bergamo and vice versa, so when Coriida runs out onto the street, Bergamo follows, leaving a flustered Josette to try and explain what was going on to a Deriana who is three steps ahead of her and not the jealous type. Deriana kisses Josette. Finally.

As she runs away from Bergamo, Coriida drops the manuscript she was clutching. Bergamo picks it up only to be immediately accosted by the police, who arrest her for being “Lolipop.” It’s no real surprise to learn that Corrida is the outlaw romance author; it was a marginal surprise to learn that the church was publishing the manuscripts and Cyrano was the one distributing the illegal novels to the world.

Coriida, Deriana, Josette, Cyrano and Miss Roush come up with an extremely overcomplex plan to spring Bergamo and get everyone safely back to the church, then get Josette and Deriana out of town two steps ahead of the law. Coriida and Bergamo make up; Cyrano is vaguely amused, Miss Roush seems vaguely annoyed by everything and Josette and Deriana run off together to continue their journey west and probably into a third novel. The book ends with a romantic kiss in the moonlight for our two heroines.

Why do I think there’ll be a third book? Because there’s a scene early on where Josette’s foster sister and commander of the Akabansu guard, Soliel, is organizing a search to find them. But nothing comes of it. So…book three. (Update” There was no book three.)

This novel was hardly great literature, but it had some good points. The best thing was Deriana. She spent the book trying to bridge the distance Josette kept putting between them – and when the kiss thing came up, she didn’t bat an eye. No histrionics, not even a twinge of irritating jealousy. She stepped right up and used the opportunity to kiss Josette. She was also totally game for helping out with the stupid plan to free Bergamo. It’s kind of expected that the hime-type character will be the haughty, annoying character, but I think I liked Deriana best.

The biggest downside was, that the night before I finished it, I read a Haruka x Michiru shousetsu, a fan novel. That story was equally as predictable as this one (Michiru loses her memory in an accident and has to fall in love with Haruka all over again, but gets her memory back when she transforms into Neptune…it was a totally “duh” plot,) but about 800 times better written – and pretty hot. So here I am reading Josette’s question to Bergamo, “what is…kiss?” and it made me want to stab something. ^_^; Because the whole “this is my first time – teach me” thing totally creeps me out. Thank goodness for Deriana not being equally as tedious.

In any case, unlike Volume 1, Volume 2 of this Yuri fairy tale met my minimum requirements for Princess and Maid love stories. ^_^ If you must read the whole series, fine, but if you want to pick one – pick this one.

Ratings:

Art – 6 (light novel, remember)
Story – 6
Characters – 6, Deriana – 8
Yuri – 7
Service – 1, unless you fetishize “pure, innocent” feelings, then 8

Overall – 7

I’m a little worried about the creepy factor of Volume 3, though. I shudder to think we’ll have to read through awkward discovery of heavy petting. Ugh. FanBoy heaven, Erica hell.

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11 Responses

  1. Katherine says:

    I like to think that since this is part of a light novel line aimed at the shoujo demographic, the characters’ naive/glacial romantic behavior is just following the formula for shoujo aimed at younger teen/preteen readers? Or maybe I’m just being naive… Wild Bouquet sounds like any number of princess fantasy/adventure novels you’d see in the tween section of a bookstore (but with a Yuri bent), so I have a hard time seeing that many guys wanting to read through this.

  2. Mara says:

    “…you fetishize “pure, innocent” feelings…”

    Sorry to be a bother but I still do not understand what this means. Could I please be so annoying as to ask, how one is supposed to fetishize such a thing? It really hampers my understanding of the criticism.

  3. @Katherine – Maka-Maka was written for a male audience. That didn;t stop it being read by women, and seen by many fans as a “Yuri” romance. Similarly, the large body of Yuri fandom in Japan is still male – many of them will see this kind of story as a glimpse into what they think is a women’s mysterious secret world of pure romance.

    @Mara – many Yuri fans de-lesbianize their Yuri by placing it in a pre-sexual knowledge space. More often than these fans will admit, they are eroticizing the very innocence and purity of the feelings that they say they enjoy.

  4. Katherine says:

    Wow. All I would have to say to those fans is “lol.” So much for their understanding of female psychology. Somebody get them a Yamaji Ebine manga, a.s.a.p.

  5. Senbei says:

    The last sentence in this blog was so funny i fell over backwards in my chair. Thanks for a wonderful synopsis once again.

  6. Mei says:

    My, looks like you haven’t failed to keep up your usual heavily opinionated attitude. You know, reading these entries is rather depressing. I’m sure many people are looking for clean, objective perspectives in their reviews of Yuri animes, which, sadly, are quite non-existent. Yeah, this is a personal blog, but with its popularity it has been established as “the” Yuri blog, if I may quote. You must understand that your opinions carry heavy weight in the Yuri world.

  7. @Mei – I honestly don’t know why you believe reviews are in any way objective. *All* reviews are merely one person’s opinion of anything.

    I imagine that many reviewers pretend to have objectivity in their reviews, but they don’t. All reviews are based on a reviewer’s knowledge and opinion and colored with their bias. If I pretended to objectivity, it would only be a ridiculous facade – and ultimately would render my reviews useless. Instead, I’m up front about my likes and dislikes and you can use that to judge whether a particular anime/manga/novel might be to your liking more easily. If you like what I don’t, go for series I dislike and you should be fine.

    If you’re actually objecting to me publicly stating that I dislike something you like – well, then I’m very sorry but I can’t help you there. Feel free to start a blog of your own that praises the things I dislike. That’s the nice thing about the Internet – it’s a pretty open forum for opinion.

    And, of course, you are under no obligation to read this blog, just as I am under no obligation to change my opinions or pretend to an objectivity I don’t have, to soothe the people who like the things I do not. Feel free to get these books/manga/anime on your own and form your own opinions so you don’t have to read mine.

  8. @Mei – I’m rereading the review and overall it’s pretty positive so I really can’t imagine what the heck you’re complaining about…. How can me saying that I found this book pretty good be “depressing?”

  9. Mei says:

    Wow, I really wrote that? Sorry, I guess I was just in a bad mood. Gah, that’s a sick excuse and I know it, but generally it was something bothering me… I guess it didn’t come out right. Really sorry about that. I must admit that Okazu is among my top sources for finding references to Yuri… It’s not your fault. It’s a personal blog and I understand that, and I have no quirks with that. I’m sorry about that. I guess I was wishing for too much… on top of that I wasn’t having the best day with the family deaths… you have every right to be, well, if I were in your position, rather angry. And I know, lame, it’s just I was never good at apologizing…

  10. @Mei – I’m sorry to hear about your bad day and no, you didn’t get me angry. Just thought I’d clarify.

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