Yuri Manga: Ebisu-san to Hotei-san

September 10th, 2010

Ebisu-san to Hotei-san is one of the several Tsubomi series that have made it to a collected volume. Unfortunately for me, I felt it was full of “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Hotei-san is a woman working in a largish company. Not as a OL, she’s a regular worker bee. Also working for the company is Ebisu-san, a woman who has lofty career goals. Because she is focused and driven – and because she leaves every day at 5 o’clock on the dot – the other women in the office are, predictably, resentful and bitchy about Ebisu-san.

At first, Hotei is convinced that she too can’t stand Ebisu, but as she gets to know more about the other woman, she finds herself admiring her. And, as Hotei is sort of accidentally drawn into Ebisu’s personal life and learns about the niece she raises when her sister doesn’t feel like being a mother (which is all the time,) she starts to have totally unprofessional feelings for her.

The end of the book is more implication than explication. We understand that Hotei and Ebisu are a couple now, but there’s a certain coyness in the way it’s handled. As an omake, we see the relationship a few years later from Ebisu’s niece’s point of view, trying to explain that she has three mothers – her mother, her aunt and her aunt’s “friend.” It was sweet, but left me just as unsatisfied as the rest of the book with the coy “I just can’t explain it” thing.

The other problem I had with this book was *utterly* absurd. (You might see the above as absurd, especially if you love this series. This next thing *I* see as absurd too.) I was entirely vexed by the pointless puns in the characters’ names.

Ebisu-san’s full name was Ebisu Mayo. The word for “shrimp” in Japanese is Ebi, so Ebi Mayo – Shrimp Mayo. That’s just dumb. I know parents give their kids horrible names all the time. Why do writers do that to their characters?!?

The other pun is just…. Ebisu and Hotei are 2 of the 7 “lucky gods,” the shichifukujin . I’d say I draw the line at slashing the gods, but I’ve done it, so forget that. I dunno, I just think you have to draw a line – you don’t write Arjuna x Krishna BL and you don’t slash the Shichifukujin. ^_^

The book itself is attractive enough and if you either like the art, or this particular spin on “Story A” the content is good. I happen to feel that it’s a lot of something over nothing and all handled extra super delicately and coyly as if the topic was really too hot to actually touch. I like me my “love between adult women” but this really just lacked substance for all the tears that were shed.

My favorite scene was when Hotei was asking herself, if this person was the opposite sex, and older by a few years, what would I be calling these feelings? I thought this a nice, concise way of summarizing the whole story.


Art – I wasn’t terribly impressed. YMMV, but I say 5
Story – 5 There’s this woman, and she likes another woman. And the other woman likes her back. The End.
Characters – 5 “Evil bitch”- i.e., woman focused on her work – has backstory that makes her lovable. How original
Yuri – 5 Breast grope /= Yuri
Service – Given the character design for Hotei, I’m going with 7

Overall – 5

Now, having sat through all that, here’s the good part! Today’s review was sponsored by the lovely and generous AudioErotica, who not only bought a copy for me to review, she donated extras! So, along with my review copy, we have *3* copies of this book to give away!

In the comment you’ll find entries for a previous contest in which contestants came up with the most horribly punny one-line Yuri story they can manage. Enjoy. ^_^

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24 Responses

  1. Kevin R. says:

    Then I’ll start with a classic:
    Two women meet in a cooking class, but they both quit when they realize they prefer to eat out.

  2. What I found interesting about the story was the disconnected between first-impressions and reality. Ebisu seems, at first, cold and mean because we sympathize with the obvious distressed Hotei-san. Hotei, by contrast, seems at first, sweet and emotionally fragile. The reality is quite the opposite: Ebisu is big-hearted and hard-working, whereas Hotei is selfish, manipulative, and cruel. I followed the story out of interest in seeing how Hotei develops into a better person, transformed by her contact and infatuation with Ebisu.

    That said, I wasn’t particularly fond of the art style, and was disappointed that the series ended rather abruptly. I had hoped they were going to do something a bit more ambitious with the story.

    So for me:

    Story – 6 There’s this woman, who is awful, but is transformed by the power of love into a half-way decent human being. Oh, and the other woman likes her back in spite of everything.

    Characters – 7 “Evil bitch”, i.e., woman who is awful to the new, hard-working, and genuinely kind member of the staff, has a forestory that makes her loveable.

  3. Susie A. says:

    Lady in Red meets Material Girl, they make sweet music together.

  4. BruceMcF says:

    I am too scared to enter the contest. The Wikipedia machine says that Ebisu is more often paired with Daikokuten, god of wealth, commerce, and trade, or in other words obviously the God of Economics …

    … and if Daikokuten gets jealous of Ebisu and Hotei pairing up, I can’t afford to get Daikokuten ticked off at me.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Maybe you’re being a bit too hard on this manga? I read it and the whole coyness thing didn’t put me off that much. The Japanese have always believed that implication is better than statement, and they have a long tradition of ‘showing not telling’. I think the author was trying to do just that, only he’s not as good at it as, say, Ashinano Hitoshi… Also, the story is told from the point of view of Hotei-san, who is a bit clueless, and more than a bit afraid to confront her own feelings. At the end, I thought we were meant to get the impression that we understand Hotei-san better than she understand herself. Could have been better done, of course. But this is the same Kizuki Akira of ‘Needles and Oranges’, so I don’t think it’s a case of the author being afraid to say the L word. I’d give it a 6 overall :)

  6. socchan says:

    Fruit wholesaler Sakura and chocolate maker Coco get together when they discover a shared love of cordial cherries.

  7. @Anonymous – Chalk it up to different opinions. I found this story to be not particularly compelling in the magazine and, in fact, was one of the reasonn I stopped buying Tsubomi. What wasn’t loli was just not very good.

    I don’t think I’m being hard on this manga at all – in fact, I was *very* gentle, because I know many people liked it.

  8. @socchan @Susia A – Those hurt. :-)

  9. @Bruce McF – Yeah, sometimes it’s just too much like playing with fire near a gasoline depot. :-)

  10. Anonymous says:

    full of “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

    …did you mean to call the author an idiot or was it a/an un/happy chance?

    I quite enjoyed the manga. It wasn’t ground breaking or anything but it was nice in its way.

  11. Cryssoberyl says:

    I guess I’m not sophisticated enough, but I enjoyed Ebisu-san and Hotei-san a lot. For me at least, it was an interestingly atypical piece, with the little girl and her deadbeat mother adding some dynamics I haven’t seen in a Yuri work before.

    (The aforementioned Needles and Oranges also has a number of elements that were refreshingly unusual – to me, anyway.)

    I also enjoyed watching Hotei struggle with her quite overwhelming attraction to Ebisu.

    I will agree that the nudge-nudge-wink-wink ending was disappointing, though.

  12. @Anonymous – I meant to say what I said – there were an awful lot of drama for so little actually happening. But please feel free to get annoyed at me for something I did not say because you disagree with me. You will not be the first or last.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Uh that was a joke. You know, based on that quote you used?

    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing

    Not even a pity laugh? Never mind then.

    Why would I be mad at you? I’m not even sure I actually disagree with you. I maybe liked it a little more than you did but oh well…

    I thought it was a mostly harmless fairly enjoyable work. It had (maybe more than) it’s share of flaws but they didn’t upset me too much.

    It’ll never be on my list of favourite anything but neither does it cause me to rage against the heavens. :/

  14. anime lady says:

    A vampress meets a zombie maiden, the vampress says she is the ghoul of her dreams, and then they go out for a bite to eat.

  15. K. Chan says:

    When two girls on Track and Field start going out, their relationship runs into a hurdle, but they get over it.

  16. Emma says:

    @ erica, I think anonymous was making a joke based on the full quote

    “It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”

    In which case, the author is the idiot, is he not? So I wouldn’t get offended.

    Anyway, i liked Ebisu & Hotei. I think that from the start we’re supposed to see Hotei’s reaction to ebisu for what it really is: deep resentment at how inadequate Ebisu makes her feel, to be the same age and so much more competent and driven than she is. I actually liked the story for this dynamic more than the understated romance- I’ve not read a tale about a mean slacker who learns it is better to confront your own failings than to blame anyone who points them out to you (inadvertantly or otherwise). Because it is something you see in any office- there will be some people who will slack off and bitch about the people who actually care about their job- especially if the people in question are woman, in which case there’s a heavy dose of “how dare she/who does she think she is” thrown in as well. Slowly, Hotei comes to realise just how admirable Ebisu actually is, and how shallow her own life has been by comparison, scabbing off her parents while shuffling through a basic temp job.

    So the story isn’t really “story A”, I don’t think. They meet and fall in love, yes, but that’s not the point. It’s girl A meets girl B, and hates her for how incompetent she makes her feel. Girl A attempts to sabotage and undermine Girl B, who fails to notice. Eventually, having reached a plateu, girl A realises her hatred stems from her own feelings of inadequacy being thrown into sharp relief by contrast with girl B’s own dedication. Girl A re-examines her life and decides that, though she has no goals or ambitions of her own, taking responsibility for her life and supporting the remarkable girl b’s ambitions might be the making of her.

    THEN they fall in love, the end.

    So, I don’t know, if the romance was what you were reading for I can understand your disappointment. For me, it was all about the character growth.

    Here’s my go:

    An OL, Tsuyomi Nameru, falls in love with a Lollipop woman named ichigo, who underestimates her at first. Their relationship is all go until the signs, massive increase in road accidents and Tsuyomi’s dentist tell all tell them to stop.

  17. Angela...=] says:

    Yuriko likes apples but discovers she likes Ringo, the fruit saleswoman, best.

  18. @Anonymous – @Emma – Yes, I recognized the quote, thanks very much.

    Humor has to be funny for it to work. ^_^

  19. Candy says:

    Sakura meets Yuri during a flower arranging class only to have their love blossom over the class test on how to arrange lilies best.

  20. Ayana Mudou says:

    Lily Flores is a lesbian botanist obsessed with the Genus Lilium and travels to Japan to find a legendary flower, where she mets Yurine Hanafuda, a Yuri manga fangirl.

  21. Frea says:

    Oh yay, another contest, and one with puns. I am all over this.

    Two women, Fukujin Zuki and Ume Boshi, meet at an office party over a bowl of rice, and at first everything is great as they hungrily explore each other, but all too soon things sour as Fukujin leaves Ume for some guy (Kare) who she claims is a spicier lover although ultimately he treats Fukujin as just a dishy side.

  22. Senbei says:

    Orihime, a costume-maker burns for Otokoyaku Top Star Hikoboshi, but Orihime’s father has promised her to childhood friend Deneb. Their love triangle continues until Hikoboshi falls off a bridge of magpies over the Galactic Railroad and dies tragically.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Ok hope I’m still on time:

    The story begins with “cosplayer Rai Tray”, going to a college after being dumped by her fifth boyfriend (for a much, much cutter girl). Blinded by revenge, the minute she arrives at college, she starts looking for cute boys. She tries to go out with every boy in the soccer team, but they all turn her down since she always does something to scare them away. Then she notices her roommate Lin (member of the feminine soccer team), when she’s wearing her uniform for soccer practice and… she sees potential because Lin looks just like a male idol. She then convinces the innocent Lin to pose as her new boyfriend using the art of cosplay to dress and disguise the other girl as a boy and impress her ex. She will fall for Lin and teach her what dating means. Fin!

  24. @Anonymous – Sorry, the contest is long over, but thanks for playing.

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