Yuri Hime S, Volume 11 comes with a calendar for 2010, each month with an illustration by one of the artists from the magazine. Whether you think it’s great or mediocre will entirely depend on whether you like the artists in this magazine. The front illustration is hitting Dengeki Daioh levels of icky and then it heads right into that paean to passive-aggressiveness, “Flower Flower.” Nina sees Shuu through the eyes of the common people who adore her and at the end she’s still passive-aggressive
The second story of the collection was so surprising, so breathtakingly stellar, that the bulk of my review today will be centered around it. Minamoto Hisanari’s “Fu-Fu” is a story that I have already read three times and cannot stop boggling at how it managed to be included in this magazine and thanking the deities that it has.
Today is the first day that Su-chan and Kina are living together. They are already a couple, and clearly have taken the next step forward in their relationship. Kina asks if she can be Su-chan’s hanayome. That is, her bride. Su-chan wants to know why the word “lovers” (koibito) isn’t sufficient. Kina answers that their relationship is more than just lovers, now that they are living together, and she’d like a word that recognizes that fact. She suggests the traditional word for a married couple, fufu. This word is written 夫婦 in Japanese, the first character symbolizes the husband and the second, the wife. Kina likens it to sushi. Tuna is maguro, but there are specific words for the parts of the tuna that are special, toro, chuutoro and ohtoro. Likewise, when a person takes a special place in your life, there ought to be a word for it.
Before I deliver the punchline here, let’s stake a step back and look at the magazine once more.
This is Yuri Hime S which, since it’s inception, has targeted the male, moe Yuri audience. This is an audience that is not particularly LBGT friendly in any country, preferring to see Yuri as entertainment and titillation for them, and nothing to do with real, probably ugly lesbians who don’t really want them to watch, so screw off.
This story is quite sweetly making a case for what is arguably one of the two main issues involved in the question of same-sex marriage. One is, obviously, an issue of unequal rights and benefits. The other, more pernicious issue, is that of wording. The word “marriage” is powerful, precisely because it gives a name to a very specific joining of two people that is recognized by their community, potentially their deity, and their government at *all* levels. Likewise, the words “husband” and “wife” are equally powerful because they provide an instant way to establish the relationship between two people that combines their emotional and legal existence in one word.
Significant other, girlfriend/boyfriend, lover, just do not do that. They don’t and all of us who have to correct, reply, cajole, point out and casually mention what we call the other person in our lives who happens to be of the same sex, know that.
And here is this quiet little Yuri manga addressing what is a traditionally ultra-conservative group of people. (I was at a lecture at the Japan Society in which a Japanese art professor excoriated otaku for clinging to outmoded gender roles and national identity (I.e., focusing on fantasies of male/Japanese supremacy) to the exclusion of all else, but I sincerely doubt that the American otaku in the audience realized that he was talking to them, as well. Updated: I just read a chapter of Genshiken which made the same point, in which a male otaku insisted it wouldn’t be right for him to sit on a subway when there was a woman with him. She said, “how typical of an otaku.”)
I read this story open mouthed, agape, amazed and exultant. No, still not the “L” word, but I will gladly bypass that conversation to resolve this one. I will give up the word Lesbian, to be able to call the woman I love, “my wife.”
That is exactly what Kina and Su-chan do. While they can never be fufu, 夫婦 , they decide that they will be fufu, 婦婦. A word I whole-heartedly approve of.
This is meant to be a continuing series, so I now have a grain of hope that Su-chan and Kina will cutely and sweetly train the male Yuri fans of Japan to have a clue. In fact, between this and Poor Poor Lips I have more than a grain of hope. (Day 33, 2010 is *still* the best year ever!)
“Konohana Teikitan” has fox girls in kimonos doing things cutely for people who like that kind of thing.
“Osanajimi to Yobanaide” is a drippy looking story about a love polygon at school, by an artist who draws drippy looking stories about love polygons at school.
“Zettai Shoujo Astoria” combines EVERYTHING. For pity’s sake, even the title is a combo of everything ever. Rito comes to a new school, with a mysterious “unicorn horn”pendant around her neck and finds herself in love, then enmity, with her roommate and there’s school mysteries and stuff, and fighting, too. This series is a total ice cream sundae of a series and all it needs is a transformation scene to have one of each and some sprinkles on top.
I’ve stopped reading “Honey Crush.” Not because it offended or disgusted. I just got tired of it. It failed to hold my attention.
“Hatsujou Jijou” by the same artist who drew “Love Cubic” so I skipped in on principal.
Twice as much blood than ever before in “Shinigami Alice” which is desperately flailing for a plot. Dead people everywhere this time, including the protagonist. I guess that means something will actually happen now.
I can’t believe I’m saying this. I was so happy to see “Kaichou and Fukukaichou” in this volume. I guess I just wore down from the constant onslaught of carnival-head Yuri. Fine, fine, I like Hakamada Mera – are you *happy*?!?
In “Casseopeia Dolce” Anna gets lots of kisses and is surprised when her doll talks. I can’t imagine why…the one doll has been talking since the beginning of the series. Oh, and for some reason, not a single bath was taken this chapter. Takagi is falling down on the job.
“Yuru Yuri” follows that. Again, I have no particular reason to not read it except that it doesn’t interest me.
Yoshitomi Akihito’s “Futari to Futari” looks like every one of his last fifteen stories. I think he’s played out, overstretched, something. There hasn’t been a single story in any of his stories in three magazines for over a year.
More fox girls, more “Konohana Teiktan” followed by the resurrected, but no more interesting than it ever was “Nanami to Misuzu.”
Another skipped story and this time, I can’t even be bothered to translate the title it’s so unappealing. lol
“Ko-no-hana-link” finally hits the big day of the school festival and an old relationship drops by to cause a scene in front of Chieri. I find the title ironic, because it’s honestly quite difficult for me to remember who is who and what their relationships are from chapter to chapter. I expect a collected volume will help with that. I don’t blame the story – in fact, that single fact makes me believe that there’s an actual *story* in here, something more complex than “Story A.” One day I will read all of it in a row and find out what’s actually going on. :-)
I’m sorry, I’m just not as resilient as I used to be, so I skipped “Hime-chan ha yappari tereya-san” purely on account of the art.
Uso Kurata’s “Apocalypse” went somewhere I didn’t expect. When Matsuhara accidentally breaks Natsu’s game system, she asks Natsu and their friends to go on without her and lends Natsu her system. They do, and meet up with a guy wandering alone. He’s a nice guy, so they team up for that adventure. He sees Natsu’s marriage ring – that oh-so-rare item – and is kind of flipped out when he hears that she’s exchanged it with another woman. He writes it off as being just a game thing, and her friends don’t help by calling Matsuhara her “friend.” Although it’s just a game, Natsu wants to make sure she doesn’t leave Matsuhara behind, and asks Shibachi to lend her system this time, to let Matsuhara catch up. Clearly, Natsu has some reconciling her real feelings and their game relationship to do. I’m totally interested to see where this goes. Plus I really like Kurata’s art.
And finally, there’s a two-page short of drippy art that once again I skipped.
I’m sorry I skipped so much, but I’ve gotten to the point that I’m not wasting my time reading stuff that doesn’t interest me anymore. If you mostly disagree with me and my opinions, if you just read the stuff I skipped, you should probably be satisfied. ;-)
Overall – 7
Overall, the magazine was just as variable as ever, but the entire thing was made worth it by “Fufu.” That was such a significant, amazing story that I’d recommend the magazine just for it alone.