Butterfly 69 is everything that is good and right about Yuri manga. It makes me happy to be a manga reader.
Right from the first panel of the first story that ever appeared in Yuri Hime, I found Natsuneko’s art appealing. It has vibrancy, an energy that lacks in most manga these days. It’s not just that there’s action and energy depicted. The characters feel lively and real – even when the situations are ridiculous and unreal. Which they mostly are. ^_^
In “Butterfly 69,” the title story and one of my two favorites, we are introduced to Maria, the mixed-race singer of Butterfly 69 and Ageha, the prim and proper President of the Student Council at the elite music school Maria attends. Maria is an affront to everyone and everything at the school, with her crazy clothes and earrings and wild not-really Japanese self. Unbeknownst to the student body and staff, Maria and Ageha are engaged in a passionate love affair. Maria is given the opportunity to make it big overseas, but will have to leave Ageha behind, so she says goodbye the best way she knows how to – with a concert that rocks the school to its core.
Sakura is a young dress designer and her lover Dahlia is a model just about to become the Next Big Thing in “Quilt Queen.” This story reminded me strongly of Mist magazine stories, with the dress designer theme and a conflict straight from the pages of The Well of Loneliness.
Two sisters share a delusion in “Beautiful Pain.” My favorite part of this story, honestly, is that not just once, but twice, someone is hit by a truck. Made me laugh. I know, I’m a terrible person. :-p
In the unique, funny and offbeat story, “Okujou no Kiseki,” two women meet as they ponder committing suicide by jumping from the same roof. The joke is on them because they have been jilted by same girl. What makes this story really different, aside from the silly-awful premise, is that both women actually say they are Lesbian. Mind you, its sort of spit out as a little bit of self-loathing right before they throw themselves off a roof, but hey…. Oh and by the way – the story has a happy ending. Just in case you were worried.
“Spicy Sweets” was the first Natsuneko story to run in Yuri Hime and, as I said, I just liked it instantly then and no less now. Aki is a high school student with the dream of becoming a pastry chef and Yuu is a runaway daughter of a Yakuza household. There’s basically no reason to think they could ever live happily ever after, but they do. ;-)
As an omake for this collection, we get “Butterfly Effect” in which thwarted plans and jerky people keep Ageha and Maria apart – but not for long.
My *only* complaint about this volume is that they should have dropped the sister story and included the vampire story. It was much stronger.
Art – 9
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Yuri – 10
Service – 3
Overall – 9
The art is not at all moe, the stories run the gamut from classic Yuri to funky weird to absolutely silly, and in every case are thoroughly enjoyable. The manga is an easy candidate for my Best Manga of 2009. I very much look forward to more from Natsuneko.