Yuri Manga: Kimochi no Katachi, Volume 1

January 18th, 2010

You know the old stereotype of an old person crying tears of joy, saying something like, “I’m so glad to have lived to see this day”? I am that old person. ^_^

Almost all of my favorite original doujinshi artists have been discovered, their stories collected, their work recognized for its innate value.

Today’s review is a collection of a series I talked about five years ago. Sakuraike was one of the first original Yuri doujinshi circles I began collecting, and we had the incredible pleasure of being able to include some of their work in our Yuri Monogatari 5 anthology.

Kimochi no Katachi (きもちのかたち) is the collection of all the Tact doujinshi series in two volumes.

The first arc of the volume is by Kitao Taki and introduces us to Mako, a boyish, athletic, but sweet and kind and soft-hearted girl. Her best friend Takemi is protective of her, but not grasping. When another female student falls for Mako, Mako resists primarily because she’s already been burned for having feelings for another girl. But Rina is nothing if not persistent. Mako’s relationship with Takemi suffers because she can’t find it in herself to tell her best friend what’s obviously going on. Takemi knows – she’s not an idiot – but she needs Mako to be the one to say it. Takemi’s right, too. Mako needs to be able to be honest with herself.

Rina is fighting to get Mako to say her name, when Mako’s former love interest shows up to complicate things. Mako has to move past her old unrequited love, her fear of her own feelings and plain old embarrassment. But she does, and by the end of the arc captured in this volume, Makoto and Rina are finally able to be a couple.

The second arc, by Mitou Kana tells the story of Satsuki, who falls for her sempai in the Library club, Kano. Satsuki is very well aware of how people perceive women who love women, and she carefully draws an imaginary line between behaviors that are acceptable and those that are not. By accident, she meets a lizard who teaches her the meaning of “being gross” and “being different” and learns to accept her own feelings.

Satsuki is assisted in this by her friend Mana, who sees immediately what’s going on and – like Takemi in the first arc – demands that Satsuki be honest with herself. At the end of the first volume Satsuki admits to Mana that, yes, she does like Kano. Since the very first 4-koma of the arc shows the two of them as a couple, we can relax…a little bit. ^_^

When I first discovered Sakuraike, I was enchanted by their characters. They were doing what everyone else wasn’t. Their characters were talking about, thinking about and dealing with the reality of being in love with another girl – territory that’s *still* pretty rare in Yuri. Thanks to the leveling up of artists and circles like Sakuraike, UKOZ, Morinaga, Takashima, Tadeno and Morishima, we’re getting more and more realistic situations in our Yuri.

Artistically speaking, there’s some good and some less good in Kimochi no Katachi. Remember, Tact is pretty old now (I started collecting it in 2004 and it had already been a round for a while), so as artists, both Taki and Kana have improved since then. Taki’s art tends towards a loose playing-free-with-proportions style, and Kana’s style is more 4-koma cute.

For me, it’s the characters that rule here. Satsuki is instantly likeable, Kano is fun and you know, when Rina’s aching because Mako’s so cute…you feel it, you really do. The story lines might appear to be paths that have been well-trod, but they weren’t – not when these stories were first written. And they still hold up today, I think.

If I wanted to give a good Yuri manga to a young woman who was questioning her right to love another woman and worried that people might think she was weird, this is the manga I would give her.

Ratings:

Because this volume is a collection of doujinshi that were released over years, the ratings are amost all variable.

Art – From 3-7
Story – From 6-8
Characters – 8-9
Yuri – 9
Service – 1

Overall – 9

I am so glad to have lived to see this day. I mean that. Holding this book in my hand was like a gift from heaven. 18 days into it, 2010 is still the best year of my life (so far!)

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3 Responses

  1. Cryssoberyl says:

    Thanks to the leveling up of artists and circles like Sakuraike, UKOZ, Morinaga, Takashima, Tadeno and Morishima, we’re getting more and more realistic situations in our Yuri.

    Also Chi-Ran. Her plots aren’t the most “realistic”, but she definitely takes time to explore the identity and realities of her characters’ same-sex attraction.

  2. redfish says:

    I grabbed both volumes last year after it was mentioned here (I think) and it was indeed among the better purchases of the year. I picked up Sakuraike’s more recent works at the last Comiket and the only thing I’m regretting is not buying all that were on the table.

    (As a note to prospective buyers, I think it’s a good idea to get both volumes of Kimochi no Katachi at the same time; vol 1 has the first parts of both arcs and vol 2 has the endings for both. You may have a painful time waiting for the next package to arrive at the end of vol 1 if you only got that.)

  3. DezoPenguin says:

    Sakuraike’s stories were my favorite things in Yuri Monogatari 5, so I’m really happy to see them get a release. Honestly, I’d have a preorder down in twelve seconds flat if it ever got a U.S. release…

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