Yuri Manga: Octave, Volume 4

March 4th, 2010

In Volume 4 of Octave, (オクターヴ) Yukino very nearly damages her relationship with Setsuko again, but doesn’t. This reason this time? She slams up against the “coming out” wall and gives herself a concussion.

Yukino comes to the somewhat surprising conclusion that her life dreams now include being with Setsuko forever. At work, she has been given a new talent to manage on her own. There’s a lot keeping her busy, but we can see that she’s still not comfortable with her situation. Sure, she wants to be with Setsuko…but she can’t bring herself to talk about it honestly with anyone else quite yet.

First, there’s Kamo-chan, her childhood best friend, from whom she is withholding the whole truth. It’s obvious that Kamo-chan knows what the deal is, doesn’t really get it and isn’t ready to be kind about it – and Yukino isn’t ready to deal with that, so she prevaricates.

On top of that, her new talent, Shiori, confesses that she likes women, has just broken up with her girlfriend and is relieved that Yukino is ‘like her.’ Yukino lies and says she’s going out with a guy to protect herself from being obvious.

Upset with herself, and even more mortified that Setsuko – who is gaining some notoriety as a songwriter – has met the man Yukino previously slept with, Yukino goes out with Ohzawa and gets exceedingly drunk. Not knowing where she lives, he brings her back to Setsuko and Mari’s place where she sleeps it off. When Yukino sleepily awakens, not knowing how she got there and only half-remembering why, Setsuko slaps her across the face and tells her to shape the hell up already. Which, remarkably, she does. She tells Setsuko about her conversation with Shiori and why she feels so uncomfortable. Once again Setsuko is far more understanding, intelligent and non-judgmental than any real human is likely to be in that situation.

Yukino, having pretty thoroughly smashed herself against the “coming out” wall, brushes herself off, apologizes to Ohzawa for everything and, when he also confesses that he likes her, she tells him plainly and simply that she is seeing Setsuko and let’s him deal with his feelings himself. She then calls Shiori to talk. She explains that she spent the night at her girlfriend’s, to let Shiori know that a) she was right and b) is not alone in the world. (Which is truly the greatest power of coming out.)

In the end, she has a very average, uneventful and loving text chat with the woman she can now admit she loves.

It’s easy to be fed up as Yukino very nearly makes a hash of it…again…but it’s important to remember two things. One, they remind us several times that she is still fairly young, and two, as anyone who has had to come out will tell you, it’s just about the hardest thing in the world to do the first couple of times, until you are comfortable enough with yourself, your life and the people around you to blithely talk about the other person in your life who happens to be the same sex.

In this case, the process is shortened to one volume of manga, but in this one volume Yukino takes leaps forward. It’s a good thing.

In some sense, I’m really hoping we can get all the way through Yukino’s journey and then still have the series continue – a story which would then be about two adult women who are together. At that point, with so much less of her energy going into the soul-searching and self-defining, I think Yukino would probably make a really spiffy manager. Here’s hoping we get to see that Yukino.


Art – 8
Story – 9
Characters – 9
Yuri – 9
Service – 4

Overall – 9

I’m starting to feel incredibly hopeful about this series. It’s realistic, without wallowing in the more tedious details of life. Yukino’s growing up, and one day, I hope Kamo-chan can be happy for her.

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7 Responses

  1. Thanks for the summary Erica! I can’t wait to get the next volume. I found this series through Tranquil Springs, and thought it wasn’t as ridiculous as a lot of the Yuri stuff out there. I’m definitely going to grab the books to support since I can read them anyway, I just want to thank you and and the Yuri scanlators out there for diving in this overwhelming world of manga and picking out the good stuff for all of us!

  2. Cryssoberyl says:

    Indeed, thanks for this summary. It gives me some peace of mind about where things are heading. :P

  3. furei kinoko says:

    some reason… octave is romantic Yuri manga, but in my country, doesn’t sell Yuri manga *cry*

  4. emma says:

    Yukino is one of the most genuine, and therefore most irritating, heroines I’ve ever come across in shoujo. God, but she doesn’t half waffle about. I just want to slap her good! And then make her a cup of tea.

    Thank you for the summary! I will buy this series some day.

  5. Pam says:

    Thanks for this heads up!
    I also love Octave as one of the most realistic lesbian manga around.

    But, don’t you sometimes wish that Setsuko could act stupid too?!
    She’s just 24 years old and, even admitting that she could be more mature than her age, it would be refreshing to see her act her age, and not like some Master Yoda…

  6. BruceMcF says:

    I’m waiting in breathless anticipation for when Octave, Okazu Best Manga of 2009 award winner, will get its own label so all the reviews can be tweeted in one bit.ly.

    OTOH, there’s also something to be said for pausing to catch your breath once or twice in a week.

  7. wildeny says:

    Finally volumen 4! I can’t wait to get this book. Cross my fingers that our publisher can translate this as soon as possible.

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