Yuri Manga: Itoshi wo Tome (Volume 1)

July 8th, 2009

Set in the Heian period, Itoshi wo Tome ~ Kimi ga Kokoro ha ~ (愛しをとめ~君がこころは~) is a story about noblewomen Tachibana and Sakura, whose older sister had been a lady of the Emperor’s palace, but had died. Sakura is living with Tachibana’s family as a courtesy.

Tachibana falls in love with Sakura’s tearful face early on but as much as they wish it, their story is not as simple as “Happily ever after.” First, Tachibana is betrothed to the stupidest, most cheerful doofus ever. His words are decorated with ASCII art just to give you an idea of his depth and intelligence. When he discovers Tachibana and Sakura locked together in an embrace, Sakura is able to convince him to be their friend and ally.

But a far, far worse threat is around the corner. Tachibana remains engaged to her doofus, knowing he won’t press the issue – but when Sakura is called up by the Emperor to be one of his women, there is no escape. Tachibana wails that as a woman she is powerless, but then comes to the surprising conclusion that even as a man, she would have had no power over the whims of the Emperor.

To protect her beloved Sakura, Tachibana takes her place in the Emperor’s bed. It is not a happy moment for either woman and eventually Sakura interrupts to stop what she cannot bear to see or hear.

The Emperor claims that he has no intention of separating them, instead asking them to have sex in front of him, to “prove” their love. They do, because it’s that or have sex with him (the saving grace of this scene is that he is young, attractive and not doing anything that would make a Yuri fan cry while he watches.) Unrealistically, he allows them to leave, unharmed. And despite my and Tachibana’s suspicion, he appears to be as good as his word. The book ends with them in each others arms thanking the gods that each other exists.

I can’t say I liked this book, really. It wasn’t vile or anything, but it just didn’t grab me. The art wasn’t up to either the Heian clothing or the “beautiful people” that populated the Imperial Palace. The few glimpses of actual Heian-style art served to really pull us down to reality on what was considered beautiful during that time – something I did quite like. I would have liked a more elegant style, something more Mist-like.

Mostly, I just didn’t like the story. It was very “Plot? What Plot?” Tachibana and Sakura barely talk before they are having sex and the sex isn’t really portrayed well. (If you do that to breasts, guys, it hurts. I recommend not doing that if you don’t want to be slapped.) The scene where the Mikado has them have sex in front of him is, perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not so much, the sexiest scene of the book.

The *best* scene of the book, IMHO, was a moment when Tachibana carves Sakura’s name (桜) into her arm with a knife. Sakura grabs the knife and threatens to carve Tachibana’s name (橘) into her own arm. That’d be a heck of a carving.

This manga is a collection of another of the cell phone manga distributed by Ichijinsha. I’m not sure I’d subscribe to it – there is better out there.

Art – 6
Story – 5
Characters – 7
Yuri – 8
Service – 6

Overall – 6

OTOH, it didn’t suck massively, either. I’ve read better, I’ve read worse.

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