Variety is not only the spice of life but is, IMHO, the entire reason for the existence of anthologies. When a magazine starts to develop so much of a personality that we can look at any series from it and instantly know where that series was running (Ribon is particularly guilty of this) or what publisher published it (as in say, Marvel comics, which so often look “Marvel-y,”) I think an anthology has basically lost its usefulness. What *I* want from a magazine or anthology is a wide variety of styles in art and storytelling. Naturally, I favor the slightly more indie-ish magazines like Comic Beam, Ikki, Morning 2…and Rakuen Le Paradis. (Do I say this every time I review an issue? I think so. I’ll try to stop, but no promises.)
Rakuen Le Paradis has names that are not unfamiliar to readers of other manga magazines. And several of them familiar to Yuri readers. Unita Yumi, best known in the west for Bunny Drop, must never sleep. I can think of three magazines she contributes to. And unlike any other magazine I’ve encountered, Rakuen Le Paradis has male mangaka drawing stories in what is more and more reading like an alt-women’s mag. Kurosaki Rendou’s stories always make me question my sanity.
On the whole, I *really* like this magazine. I find myself reading through it more than once before I review it, but not to remind myself of the stories – to simply enjoy (or be horribly and deeply disturbed by) them over again.
Yuri fans will particularly want to get Volume 3, as it includes stories by regulars Kowo Kozue, Takemiya Jin, Nishi UKO and a guest story by none other than Hayashiya Shizuru which is, yes, Yuri. ^_^
Of all the stories this volume, I most enjoyed Nishi UKO’s “Collectors” which I just find to be a delightfully realistic and fun (and funny!) slice-of-life look at two women well into the after-the-happily-ever-after phase. This issue touches on the rather sore point of attending straight friend’s weddings when you can’t yourselves get married. But that’s not the *point* of the story – it’s just something that’s addressed.
Takamiya Jin’s story was something I have never seen before and I loved it. A young woman is leaving a women-only bar in Shinjuku when she runs across a male schoolmate having a fight with his male lover. Mutually outed to one another, they become friends and discuss the question (or if there is even a question of) why they are gay. It was a great story.
Both of the above stories do that thing I want most to see – moments that show that there is more to gay life than love and sex. There’s, y’know, life.
Hayashiya Shizuru’s story is a sci-fi piece that combines aliens, school clubs, giant monsters and affection between two girls. It was great. :-)
Rakuen Le Paradis…exactly what I’m looking for in an anthology. Highly recommended for people who like to read good manga stories told well.