Yuri Manga: Yuri Hime, Volume 17 (Part 1)

August 23rd, 2009

Welcome to Volume 17 of Yuri Hime (コミック百合姫), which was both very good and very bad – sometimes at the same time.

The cover story, and new series by Eiki Eiki and Zaou Taisho is…really frustrating. It’s the 22nd century, all the men are dead and women have, for some reason, reinvented hesterosexist society for themselves. Women are either “Adam”s who play the male role in a relationship or “Eve”s who are the female role. In effect, the entirety of human society has become Takarazuka. The protagonist of this story, Aoi, is an “Adam,” attending an “Adam’s” private school. The number one rule of this school is that Adams MAY NOT have relationships with one another – only with Eves.

Not only is this ridiculous, it does something I am simply unhappy with – it turns this story into a BL/Yaoi story since it is *painfully* obvious that Sakura and Aoi will be the main couple here. I find this vexing. Severely vexing. Frankly, it just pisses me right off. I have nothing against BL. I understand that Eiki and Zaou specialize in gender-bendy stuff. But. I do not think this is as cute or clever as they do. Gender is, IMHO, far more complex an issue than sexuality. Yes, it is true that anyone with anyone in this manga will be “Yuri” by default, but the faux-heterosexism and overt “homo”phobia annoys the hell out of me. Editorially, it’s sheer genius. Nonetheless, I am irked and disappointed by it.

In fact, so much so that I find myself obsessing about the lessons I’ve learned about all-female societies when the men are all dead, from comics:

1) Women will be unable to restore any of the existing infrastructures – even after several years. (Y The Last Man)

2) Women will become drug-addled and power addicts with a penchant for dressing as if it was the eve of the French Revolution. (Project ICE)

and, now…

3) Despite the fact that there is only one sex, women will mandate a two-gender model and make same-gender relations illegal.

(Do NOT suggest early feminist sci-fi to me. DO NOT. The all-female societies of almost all of those sounded worse than death too. I read them all and hated every one of them. Such bitchy politics. UGHUGHUGH.)

I ask you – is it so wrong to want a story about an all-female society where the women are like, say, women? Guess so.

Moving on before I bust a capillary, “Tokimeki Mononoke Gakuen” follows Arare as she gets really, really, *really* close to going all the way with Kiri, but doesn’t.

New series “Himekoi” lost my interest in, like, the first page. Girls wear underwear. Yahoos. One of the characters wears a kind of S&M-ish thing. I don’t know or care why. Goofy chibi art and BDSM are not a match for me.

The essay this month is about “Infimary after school” a story I don’t know, which is kind of cool.

“Para Yuri Hime” is sort of a comic essay/story kind of thing that you might find in Mist or Anise and one day I’m sure I’ll sit down and read it all the way through. ^_^

“Graffiti” is *exactly* the kind of doujinshi story that works best for me. Two girls are writing messages to each other on the desk they both use at different times. They meet, becomes friends and fall in love. I would so very much like to have this story continue, but it probably won’t. It was my favorite of the new works.

A very short “Sweet Peach” chapter that was almost, but not quite 4-koma-esque. More a survey of characters than a chapter of the story.

Next up is a side story from “Yuru Yuri” which read just like a chapter of “Yuru Yuri.”

Some time ago I reviewed Papaya Gundan by Aoki Mitsue (Volume 1 and Volume 2) and found it to be good. I’m glad to see Aoki joing the ranks of the the Yuri Hime team. The story is quite typical; smart girl Yuri and dumb girl Hime are childhood friends. Not only does their time together pull Hime’s grades up but, when it comes to love, she’s the smarter of the two.

And we’ll end off on a also-kind of typical, but pleasantly doujinshi-like “Back Shot.” Ema sits behind Kanae and finds herself fantasizing about her. When she gets a glimpse of Kanae’s breast under a sleeve, or bra under her sweaty shirt, Ema pretty much looses her cool. Because they have to work together, Kanae soons discovers the truth and has to confront her own feelings. Another Hatsukoi has begun. (That’s like 4 “first loves” in the first half of this magazine.)

Although the Eiki/Zaou story is stylish, it put me off. I’m glad to see some new artists, some new, if kind of the same, stories. There’s some excellent (and not so much) stories to come in the second half, so tune back in tomorrow!

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28 Responses

  1. Mara says:

    “Women will be unable to restore any of the existing infrastructures – even after several years.”

    That has always been a big pet hate of mine because not only is it a direct insult but it cuts off half of the interesting things you can do with a single sex society.

    Advertisements in a single sex society would be nice to see for either variant.

  2. It particularly irked in the case of pharmaceuticals, since I know that more than half the people in manufacturing plants and on the lab benches are women right now. (We’re cheaper, you see…)

  3. michiru42 says:

    I’ll be interested to see how the one about “adams” and “eves” will develop, though. If it just becomes an excuse for butch/femme, that’ll be a letdown, but who knows? Maybe she’ll actually put in some ideas about gender, or a forbidden love between “adams” that challenges existing ideology.

  4. @michiru42 – No, that’s what I object to. It turns the story into a BL story which is exactly what annoys me.

  5. darkchibi07 says:

    Well, it did answer my concern of why the girls look really bishounen. This entire premise really splits me.

  6. Cimourdain says:

    >>1) Women will be unable to restore any of the existing infrastructures – even after several years. (Y The Last Man)<<

    This must be the first time I’ve heard Y criticized on feminist grounds. Come on, this is ridiculous. If in the course of one night, half the population of the planet dies, you are going to have irreparable damage, which won’t be fixed in years or even decades. And that’s even before you factor in the massive social dislocation, or the fact that the half killed would have been the predominant employed and industrial part. Throughout vast swathes of Asia and Africa men retain the bulk of employment – these being the places that are lower on manufacturing plants and lab benches, and bigger on mines and farms, where the higher upper body strength of men is quite important. To be frank, when I read it, I was surprised that there weren’t more people dying of stark animal starvation or thirst. Even in the US, only something like 1.3% of pipe-fitters, plumbers are female. Once you start turning on the tap and nothing but spiders crawl out, how long do you you think civil society would last?

    Anyway, if the question is about unfair stereotypes and so on, I happen to be a German geneticist. Care to guess how we get represented routinely?

  7. @Cimourdain – I sympathize. I am a librarian, a breed of (mostly women) who are unfairly characterized as stuffy, spinsterish and shushing, when in fact, we tend to be really odd, very counterculture and cutting edge tech users. Nonetheless, in some fields, particularly pharmaceuticals, there are more women making the drugs than men. If, after two years the world still does not have aspirin, I question the story, yes. Sure, it’s “just” a comic, but it is simply vexing to find that I cannot find a single story that represents an event moderately non-heterosexist post-apocalyptic female society.

  8. Ellen says:

    Suddenly I’m getting flashbacks to old science fiction: A. Bertram Chandler’s Spartan Planet and Philip Wylie’s The Disappearance. The first is a planet with nothing but men – who divide into soft and hard roles. The second is a parallel-worlds story, where the men are sorted into a womanless world, and the women into a manless world. Of the two, I definitely preferred the latter. Of course, it was published in 1951 …

  9. C. Banana says:

    @ Erica – Have you ever read the webcomic Angels 2200? Humanity is in the midst of a huge intergalactic war (which was started before the male gender died off) but society is otherwise portrayed as completely functional.

  10. Cimourdain says:

    Again, I just have to say that I think you’re missing how interconnected our technological civilization is. If you lose the pipelines, or the electrics, or the truckers or whatever, no aspirin, because the factories will quit working. Not to mention that such a catastrophe will drive many people stark, staring nuts.

    What I did like about the book was the characterization of the “daughters of the Amazon”, especially when I consider the kind of guff my FTM friend gets from such types.

    I’m not sure what “heterosexist” means, but any post-apocalyptic society is going to be, well, post-apocalyptic.

  11. Cimourdain says:

    Oh, just have to say this:

    >>. I am a librarian, a breed of (mostly women) who are unfairly characterized as stuffy, spinsterish and shushing,

    Actually, the image of a librarian that springs to my mind is a lot of red fur, a pear shape, and the ability to rip someone’s arm of with their leg. ^_^

    All the best.

  12. @Cimourdain – I understand that it takes more than a working plant to get aspirin to store shelves…but I will not believe that, after two years women will not have managed to get basic infrastructure up and running – at least in some places. Yes, there are fewer female truckers than male – are you seriously proposing that woman could not just freaking learn to drive a truck, lay some cable (I know *two* women who have that done that for work) or fix a sanitation plant? Or that, after 720 days, no women would be able to get the plants that manufacture medicines back up and running? I’m sorry. I don’t agree. I’d be very miserable at the loss of the men I know and love, but that doesn’t mean I would be incapable of learning how to make and pour cement, lay cables, or hunt and skin an animal, if I had to. Just because men “traditionally” do a job does not mean there is any actual barrier to women doing it other than, frequently, the men who do it.

  13. Cimourdain says:

    >>Just because men “traditionally” do a job does not mean there is any actual barrier to women doing it other than, frequently, the men who do it.

    True, and also irrelevant to the point I was making. Learning a skill takes time, and that time is measured in years. Now imagine trying to retrain a populace after you’ve lost half its workforce. That applies whether it’s all the males, all the females, or even just half of the population selected by lot killed off.

    To be sure, women could learn to lay pipes, as they could learn to do almost any profession just as well (the ‘almost’ refers to those, like mining, where upper-body strength is a crucial factor). Yet you’d need the trucks to run and the pipes to flow and the airlines to carry equipement and all the thousand thousand things that go into making up our industrial civilization to work – all at once. Because if one piece doesn’t work, if the water-plant fails, or the power-station is attacked by looters, or if the person who coordinated all the truck routes happened to be male, well, then no aspirin.

    Consider just a simple situation where the water fails. If the people at the power-plant suddenly find spiders crawling out of their taps, will they stick around? If a railroad or a bunch of truck convoys fail, will people still devote themselves to learning pipe-laying, or will they be desperately trying to find food. And with that desperation comes further neglect, and the ruin expands.

    None of this depends on the jobs being only performable by men in principle, or even mainly performed by men in practice. It just depends on a siginificant chunk of the workforce being male. Consider a power-supply that’s split fifty/fift in terms of maintenance between the sexes. There’s going to be some wire that’s crucial to the whole enterprise that the women-workers either didn’t know about, or forgot in the panic that would follow such a catastrophe. When that snaps, and the city’s in darkness… Again, it would play out just the same if it were just the women who died.

    I wasn’t suggesting the things you suggested I was, but pointing out that an Industrial civilization is enormously complex, the product of centuries, and quite fragile. I’ve been in a few societies that have gone belly-up, and you’d be surprised at how quickly it happens. From one day to the next.

    If you want to seriously explore the idea of a female-only society, while separating out the apocalyptic aftereffects, a great way to do it would be to have a gradual dwindling of the male portion of the populace. Adjustments could be made in that instance, and it wouldn’t have the same disastrous consequences. Or a post-human society where more and more choose to be female, until that’s all there is.

  14. Cimourdain says:

    Addendum; I hope you know the reference I was making about the ‘red furred librarian’, otherwise I’m once more sporting egg on my face

  15. Senbei says:

    “Arare as she gets really, really, *really* close to going all the way with Kiri, but doesn’t.”

    Sounds like an editorial choice. Maybe we’ll see 南国ばなな (another BL writer) moved to Wild Rose. Which might suck because i don’t really read it.

  16. Pocky-san says:

    what…?

    Eiki and Zaou Taisho sounds like a first attempt at Yuri by very, very yaoi orientated artists/writers.

    yaoi is all fine and good (I can’t say Yuri is awesome and say yaoi sucks, that’d make me a hypocrite), but it’s almost like an insult

    it’s girls who are ‘socially’ men, falling in love… in other words, yaoi in the guise of Yuri

    also, the authors really haven’t seen any studies on gender/sexual identity in biology or society, and it’s effect on individuals…

  17. Pocky-san says:

    also, I don’t believe women would do any better/worse than men in running the world

    I’m also pretty sure there would still be crazy politicians/leaders/etc.

    oh well, I agree with you’re hope for a world of women, behaving like women (not in the stereotypical ‘girly’ way either)

  18. @Cimourdain – Yes, things take time. Took me some time to get cement. Took my friends some time to get cable – Not years, motivated by a need to survive.

    The Eiki/Zaou story is a case of the men dying off slowly. It’s a functional society that has a stupid fake two-gender no-same-gender love rule.

    @Pocky – It’s not their first attempt at all. They wrote a number of stories for earlier issues of Yuri Hime.

  19. @Senbei – Unresolved Sexual Tension is a pretty common tactic in all manga. Hardly unique to this.

  20. @C.Banana – Nope, never read it.

  21. Zefi says:

    Yeah, I have exactly three criteria a story about love between women needs to meet.

    One is: The story must not be happening in a one-gender society.

    I hate these stories. And it seems that this one is particularly awful in its concept. I forced myself to read it to the end.

    I was disappointed. I’m not sure if I read future installments.

  22. @Zefi – Don’t leave us hanging! What are the other two criteria? I think the first one is solid. I’d love to know what the other two are. :-)

  23. Miwa says:

    Takarazuka was the first thing I heard of when I found out what Project EDEN was.

    To be fair, the main character in Love DNA xx agrees with you that the ADAMs and EVEs assigned gender roles are rubbish. I think the story will probably go on to have Aoi challenging the system in some way, though hopefully in a more meaningful way than by romancing a fellow ADAM. I think it’s a bit early to write it off as shoujo-ai doing shounen-ai.

  24. Miwa says:

    Oops, I meant “Takarazuka was the first thing I thought of”.

    It was the bit where Abel or Abelle, whatever her name is, is talking to Aoi defending the system that I thought that Aoi would have to end up… er… revolutionizing her society. Project EDEN is (I bet) going to burn down like a straw man before the end of the story.

  25. poteito says:

    I think Eiki and Zaou are actually setting up a pretty interesting setting/characters here. While I do agree with you about the irritating bi-gender system, it’s obvious the main character is against it if you know Japanese. Also, I hear you complaining it’s really BL– not true. The main character also clearly identifies as female (IMO) despite being classed as an ‘ADAM’, a gender-type she’s ‘forced’ into and thinks females are females, there should be no bi-system. This is setting things up as Yuri, or even het (as Sakura may be a true transgender girl->guy, who knows) I think it’ll be interesting to see those gender politics in play, and generally I think they’re just doing another manga that genderbends because they like proving gender stereotypes are wrong and that the popular bi-gender no-man society trope is a good way to tackle it. All in all, I think it’ll be an enjoyable take.

  26. lilmagi says:

    Erica. Have you read “Ammonite” by Nicola Griffith?
    Its not post apocalyptic, but rather a new planet where there are only women.
    I too am rather disappointed by proper representation of all-female society in popular culture, especially manga/anime.

  27. @lilmagi Yes, I’ve read it.

  28. Yaleo says:

    I found another review of Double X that looks at the premise in a different way.

    http://lanithro.livejournal.com/87931.html

    At first, the views expressed above were the ones that my own thoughts on the series mirrored. However, I want to see how it turns out and I look forward to seeing if Aoi manages to break the system. That’d be cool.

    Plus, I’m an Utena fangirl, and the uniforms remind me oh-so-much of Ohtori, so cut me some slack in that regard. ^-^

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