Yuri Manga: Sweet Guilty Love Bites

July 30th, 2010

Sweet Guilty Love Bites, by Amano Shuninta, is currently a candidate for my top ten manga of the year list. It is so very, very close to the kind of thing I want out of Yuri. All it would need is *one* little thing to make it perfect.

The book follows the trials and tribulations of 4 hostesses at Club Lilac. In “Sweet Guilty,” Kirie has had a bad night and in a fit of pique kicks a pile of garbage only to learn that it was wrapped around a person. Myata settles into Kirie’s life so quickly she barely has time to get used to the feelings she’s having for her, when Myata suddenly leaves. But Myata isn’t really homeless, she’s actually the bassist for a popular band who was hiding from her manager. She and Kirie live…shall we all say it together? Happily Ever After.

“Guilty Love” starts with a one-night stand. Niina is a single mother and she leaves before the dawn. because she has a child who needs her at home. When she takes Runa to school the next day, Niina is mortified to learn that her erstwhile lover is her daughter’s kindergarten teacher. Mayu-sensei has to jump a number of hurdles to prove that she’s serious about Niina, and in the end, the three of them live together as a happy two-parent family.

Kokoro, another hostess at Club Liliac, is in love with the club headliner and cover model, Kurea. But as Kurea’s career takes off, Kokoro feels as if she’ll be left behind. She won’t, of course. “Love Bites” ends as happily ever after as the rest of the collection. ^_^

The afterword is disturbingly populated by a number of animals who were apparently instrumental in the making of this manga. Amano-sensei is an exceptionally well-trained seal, who knew?

So, what was the one teeny thing missing that would have made this book perfect? The word “lesbian.” Not one of the characters was a lesbian, none were women who loved women. In fact, when Niina asks Mayu-sensei if she’s in the habit of picking up women, Mayu says that a friend owns the bar and she just happened to be there. If there was one moment in which I would have liked to see a single character own up to being gay, that was it. “Yes,” Mayu could have said. “I’m a lesbian.” And the rest of the story would have been identical and this book would have gotten a 10, instead of a 9.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 9
Characters – 9
Yuri – 9
Service – 3

Overall – 9

A book about women over the legal drinking age, all of whom find someone shiny and perfect and successful…if only one of them had been a lesbian. Still, this is good Yuri.

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5 Responses

  1. Sachiko says:

    That sounds like a almost must read, Erica. Yes?

  2. @Sachiko – If you’re looking for the sames things I am in Yuri, then yes. :-)

  3. Anonymous says:

    …if they aren’t lesbians then what are they? (Well it’s conceivable that Niina is bisexual since she ah… conceived a child somehow)

  4. Does that happen in Yuri, in Japan? The ‘I’m a lesbian’. I know we tried, though it took some doing, outside of Tokyo as lesbian got no reaction, however when they understood we were legally married, the owner screamed and ran into the back room. So I took that as, “maybe this doesn’t happen a lot.”

    Even those who sold Yuri, who read Yuri would say, “Just friends.”

    Is the concept of lesbian pride a western imposed one? While they love each other and live together, and have a genre, it isn’t enough? Far better than the suggestion we got: marry two men and have a joint household, let them sleep with whomever and sleep together (oddly the exact type of theme of so many ‘realistic’ Japanese relationships).

  5. @Elizabeth McClung – You’re conflating desires with expectations.

    I have no delusions about Yuri and it’s relationship to lesbian identity. In fact, I typically define Yuri as “lesbian content without lesbian identity.”

    I simply would have liked the book more if it had included lesbian identity.

    I can tell you this – there are plenty of Japanese lesbians who are pushing that boundary, it’s just that publishing companies want to sell books, so prefer the ambiguous to the overt, to net a larger audience.

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