I cannot tell you how happy I am today. We have a guest review! Not *just* a guest review, though – a guest review by one of my chief lackeys, Bruce! I won’t waste your time with too much of an intro, but I will say this – a review by Bruce is a rare and wonderful thing.
Lesbian II: Mitsu no Heya is hentai Yuri, make no mistake. But that being understood, this volume definitely has some good things going for it.
Senno Knife has been drawing manga for a long time. He has a very distinctive and peculiar artistic style – his characters are look-alike mannequins inhabiting a world of ornate architecture. The biggest influence on his style is clearly the Belgian surrealist painter Paul Delvaux. Delvaux was obsessed with mannequin-like nudes, nude ‘sapphic couples’ (as the art books put it), architecture, trains, skeletons, and hat pins, in scenes with accentuated perspective. All of these are found in Senno Knife stories (except, possibly, for the hat pins). Lesbian II leaves out the trains and skeletons as well. But Delvaux peers out from every page.
Lesbian I Shoujo Ai (2007) was Senno Knife’s first volume of nominally Yuri stories – though sadly it included a lot of unpleasant men performing ugly, abusive acts. Lesbian II Mitsu no Heya is without question a superior collection. The stories are about desire and love and contain no physical abuse, what a concept.
Michelle is a well-to-do art student who has artist’s block – she just cannot put anything on canvas while the lovely Kiki is modeling nude for the class. That night Michelle is tormented by desire for the woman, but the next day there is a new model. Michelle, complete with art pad, discovers Kiki in a church, living in straitened circumstances. With Kiki’s help, under the unblushing gaze of a statue of Maria-sama, Michelle loses her artist’s block. Kiki happily moves into the family mansion as Michelle’s maid and model-in-residence.
Sheri is attending maid school (well, they have to come from somewhere). Her fantasies involve sempai Misa, stockings, and little maid caps. To her embarrassment she is assigned to practice her servant skills on none other than her charming sempai. Washing Misa in the tub does nothing to calm Sheri’s jackhammer heart. That night she hears Misa and their instructor Mary making love, and can’t refrain from standing at the door watching. She is discovered – and cordially invited to join. Top student that she is, she realizes that maid practice will never be the same.
Maiko and Miho are at the pool, but phooey, it’s raining. On the theory you get wet anyway, and it’s fun to have the pool to themselves, they go ahead and dive in. Staring from below at the rain-speckled surface they discover a sensuous, ethereal world. The water is magical, and they have to take their bathing suits off to appreciate it fully. They come up for air and a lifetime of aqueous love, as continued in Part 2.
Part 2 – Maiko and Miho spend their summer vacation together, alone at a relative’s seaside house where they can make love in a variety of watery ways: in the surf, the bath, and outside in the middle of a typhoon. They also utilize a school piano; possibly there wasn’t a hose within reach (the story, from 1996, strikingly mirrors such series as Strawberry Panic!, and Cream Lemon Escalation, complete with a mansion on a bluff in a storm, so a school piano is almost expected). The storm goes away – so much for the drama – and the girls look forward to their future together as they make love in the back seat of auntie’s car.
Megumi longs desperately for sempai Emi, but Emi can think of nothing but the loss of her poor Pochi. All she has left to treasure is Pochi’s leash and collar. Can Megumi break through the sorrow and gain Emi’s affection? Yes! Though it involves occasionally being taken out for walkies, and we’ll leave this one right there.
The woman operating the elevator longs for the girl that rides up to the penthouse level every day to enjoy the pleasure of the rooftop garden. One evening the girl sees the woman observing her moment of enjoyment, and soon they make a habit of enjoying the garden together. The impersonal nature (they never ask each other’s name) makes this story seem a bit more hentai than the others.
Livonne is smitten with a lovely girl she sees being driven to school, and wistfully sketches her in a notebook. The lovely girl is given the desk beside her, which you just couldn’t see coming. Seeing the sketch, Marian asks Livonne to draw her nude. Quite untroubled by artist’s block, Livonne happily agrees. They find themselves drawn together in a passionate and joyful love that contrasts with the grotesque situation in Livonne’s family, where her mother takes in a succession of oafish ‘boarders.’ In the deep woods Marian introduces Livonne to the charms of witchcraft, and they bind themselves together in marriage. When their love is discovered by their parents, who get pretty exercised about it, they say screw this and bicycle off for the magic world together.
Art – 8 distinctive, sometimes awkward, often pleasant, occasionally quite lovely, and kudos for the Delvaux influence.
Story – 6 generally not so much stories as situations with simple and happy resolutions. ‘A Dog’s Life’ was pulling down mighty hard on this number.
Characters – 7 almost all good-hearted and just plain nice, though with a distressing tendency to be poleaxed by love at first sight.
Yuri – 24/7 and happy Yuri at that.
Service – 9 a point was taken away for those who might actually miss all those ugly abusive acts.
Overall – 7 without old Pochi in the mix it could have been higher.
I have to tell you, I real all the reviews I put on Okazu out loud to my wife, to check for obvious issues of coherence and typos (which I know only works in part, but it’s better than nothing.) The two of us were hysterical as I read this last night. Thanks Bruce, this was a fantastic review! Also, thanks to Bruce for obtaining a copy of this book for me, as well. You are, as always, my Hero.