Yuri Manga: Hoshikawa Ginza 4-chome (星川銀座四丁目)

December 6th, 2010

In Hoshikawa Ginza 4-chome, (星川銀座四丁目) Hoshikawa Minato cares about her students. So, when she learns that problems between her mother and father were keeping Matsuda Otome out of school, she went over to have it out with the parents. The result of her taking the piss out of Otome’s parents? Hoshikawa-sensei takes Otome out of the house altogether, becoming her guardian.

Otome still won’t go to school, so Sensei homeschools her. Time passes. 6 years in fact. And Otome has gotten into the habit of cooking and cleaning around the house to pass the time (often when she should be studying.) A number of people comment that Otome is like a wife to Sensei….

A crisis rears its head when *Sensei* starts to skip school. In an emotional moment, Hoshikawa-sensei says that she’s lonely since Otome isn’t going to school, and finally, after so many years of not attending, Otome returns to school. Where she shows herself to be a responsible and reliable student.Other teachers comment that Sensei’s company has been good for Otome.

But another crisis, one that threatens their relationship in a far more concrete way, is looming. Both Hoshikawa-sensei and Otome are starting to have decidedly not-teacher/student feelings for one another. Sensei is also keenly aware of the age difference between them and the multiple problems that can cause for both of them.

This situation threatens to become drama when an old college friend of Sensei’s arrives and puts two and two together. She’s not cool at all with it, but she does tell Otome more about how Sensei used to be – and why, exactly, she’s not cool with it. Neither Otome nor Minato seek to reassure her, but basically say, look, this is they way it is between us. It’s our issue and in every other way, we’re totally functional in our lives. The friend’s presence makes them both think about their feelings more, talk about them, and explore the boundaries of what they are and aren’t willing to address.

While they acknowledge their feelings, by the end of the book they have not done more than kiss  – and that only in totally not-adult, nothing-you-couldn’t-do-with-a-relative way. And so, while the situation remains problematic in nature, it’s handled sweetly and honestly and with an agreement that they will wait until Otome is older, the end.

Ratings:

Art – It’s Kurogane Kenn, so for me 4, but for many others 8
Story – 8
Characters- 8
Yuri – 8
Service – 10

Overall – 8

The one thought I had over and over while reading this was that, although this book may not itself come directly under the rubrick of the Non-Existent Youth Bill, that if that thing should pass (for the sake of the children!) Kurogane Kenn will be without a job, permanently. And for those of you who think that just because a book you own does not, in fact show a non-existent youth, or a non-existent adult drawn youthfully in a sexual situation, let me assure you that the Mayor of Tokyo and designer of the Bill has also recently stated that he believes that homosexuals being seen on TV being gay openly is a symptom of the collapse of Japan’s society. And the bill includes books that incite children to violence or anti-social behavior, which he has made clear includes homosexuality in any form.

In other words – don’t think this doesn’t mean *you* and the books in *your* collection.

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13 Responses

  1. Thanks for linking to my bill regarding the nonexistent youth nonsense going on in Japan. Actually, I really liked Kurogane’s Hoshikawa as well and I submitted that book to be entered into one of the best manga of 2010 when an magazine in Japan asked me for a list.

  2. @Dan Kanemitsu – Thanks for your comment!

    I have a very uncomfortable relationship with Kurogane’s work. I don’t actually like his art and I definitely don’t consider this to be one of my top 10 books of the year, but I didn’t hate it, either. As far as his work goes, it’s probably the best I’ve read, but, I still prefer my love relationships to be between two adult women who are drawn to look that way.

    I appreciate your article on the bill and I’m sure a lot of people will find it to be an important read.

    I’m curious as to your take on Ishihara’s comment over the weekend. There was some furor about it on Twitter.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh good lord. “Non-Existent Youth Bill”? Even someone who’s not going to read (or read about) the contents couldn’t read that title with a straight face. If they pass a law with a name like that… I still wouldn’t be surprised.

    … he believes that homosexuals being seen on TV being gay openly is a symptom of the collapse of Japan’s society.

    This whole issue is most distressing.

  4. BruceMcF says:

    IIRC, it was corruption of the youth that they got Socrates for ~

    ~ Of course, some of the youth he educated went on to destroy Athen’s slaveholder democracy, so there’s a lot of qualifiers that can be tossed around on both sides of that ~

    ~ but still, is there a hemlock alternative in the sentencing, or is it mostly jail time?

  5. Pocky says:

    This whole bill nonsense disgusts me.

    Not only is it ridiculous, and offensive, but it’s grounded in the same old “ban what we can’t understand” logic that’s got people all in a rush to ban porn and hentai all over.

    now, let’s stop for a second to ask ourselves, why? They say they want to protect the rights of children and women, however, any research into the rates of sexual crimes shows that they are higher in countries that ban pornographic materials. Then we can look at the claim further, and now assume that fictional characters are being given rights, over your own. You could possibly go to jail for seeing a cartoon of consenting (or non-consenting) age in a situation deemed ‘unsafe’ for them. Essentially, all they are doing is criminalizing the porn, rather than actually looking into what causes sexual abuse and crimes in the first place.

    and the worst thing about this scapegoating tactic is this; it distracts from the real children and women being abused. These activists get so indignent over the rights of a fictional character, and yet I’ve never seen half as much outcry out of them to push for more laws to protect actual children. Oh that’s right, in Japan, the rate of sexual crimes are very low, go figure.

    Really, these bill is the result of some old bigot being old and senile, and other countries blaming the rape, abuse and sexual crimes in their country on hentai.

  6. michiru42 says:

    Isn’t Ishihara the schmuck who thinks Japan is is trouble because it’s been at peace for too long? A lack of war has made Japanese morals unstable? And talks a lot about how women and foreigners should know their place?

    That man is a walking poison. He’s Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh rolled into a ball and given political power.

  7. Anonymous says:

    “… he believes that homosexuals being seen on TV being gay openly is a symptom of the collapse of Japan’s society.”

    He sounds like a Fundamentalist creationist christian Neo-conservative like you would find in the US… I didn’t expect this in Japan. Traditional Japanese society was very open compared to western ‘Christendom’ it was only in the last 150 years during the period of ‘westernization’ when Japan strangely adopted Jesuit christian male chauvinistic moral puritanism but without the Christ part.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sexual repression, censorship, and ‘messed up puritan Abrahamic sexuality (I mean, look, it is still legal to cut a baby boy’s genitals)’ is the root cause of many sex crimes.

  9. turtle says:

    Hi I have been a long time reader of your blog and enjoy your thoughts on Yuri really much. Please keep up the awesome work. That being said i want to ask if this manga is 1 vol or ongoing and how meny chapters are in this story?

  10. @turtle – Thanks, glad you enjoy the blog! Yes, the story is ongoing, it’s still running in the Tsubomi anthology. I’ve got the book in secondary storage, so can’t look it up quickly, but 5-6 chapters is typical in a volume.

  11. just me says:

    “In other words – don’t think this doesn’t mean *you* and the books in *your* collection.”

    Nice try, but you’re *still* not going to scare me into joining the fan club of jerks reassuring the creeps who’d like to exploit the ones they have the power to flunk/fire/etc. that it’s all good and natural instead of creepy and coercive.

    “Oh that’s right, in Japan, the rate of sexual crimes are very low, go figure.”

    The rate of *reported* sex crimes are very low. How often does a 12-year-old Japanese schoolgirl date-raped by a 40-year-old, or a 12-year-old Thai brothel slave in Japan raped for the money a 40-year-old paid her pimp, get taken seriously by the police?

    “Isn’t Ishihara the schmuck who thinks Japan is is trouble because it’s been at peace for too long? A lack of war has made Japanese morals unstable? And talks a lot about how women and foreigners should know their place?”

    I wonder how many mangaka would like him for his conservatism if he wasn’t also pro-censorship. Think of all the manga about how women and girls should know their place…

    “That man is a walking poison. He’s Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh rolled into a ball and given political power.”

    Totally!

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