Here we are at Tsubomi, Volume 7, (つぼみ) an anthology with 20 stories, many of which are continuing series. I purchased this volume at the same time I bought Volume 8 and, as a result found it much easier to remember/follow several of the stories. And, while the previous volumes of Tsubomi have filled me less than full of glee, I overall was surprised at the quality of what I read.
Of note was the silly, but charming “Lonely Wolf, Lonely Sheep” about two women with the same name, born a day apart from one another, visit the same phone fortune site and, with, in a masterful overuse of handwaves, have the same injury for which they need to same therapy. One version of Kakimoto Imari is a butchy landscaper’s assistant (complete with motorcycle) and the other is a very feminine and cute woman. The two are drawn together, first as friends and by the end, maybe more. I’m just charmed by Mizutani Fuuka’s work, although I can’t put my finger on why. The characters are likable, in a “so cute, we want them to succeed!” kind of way.
Kazuto Izumi’s “Metoraba” is the story of a prize-winning romance novelist who finds that she really needs a wife to cook and clean for her, so she rents one from a service. As Fuji-sensei becomes more used to Komomo’s presence, they become closer and Komomo picks up more personal tasks like beta-reading and even a little writing. But in a massive blow-up, Fuji-sensei sends Komomo away. Will they get back together? Who will cook and clean for Fuji-sensei? Tune in next time to find out what happens in this soap-y, but enjoyable short drama.
In “Renai Manga” Kuroi-sensei’s manager tries to draw the shut-in manga artist out, by taking her to a hugely popular, busy and crowded area for some research. When Kuroi-sensei goes missing, Haruka panics, but it’s okay. Phew.
“Nickname Apaato” was quite possibly the silliest thing I’ve read in ages, but gosh it was cute. ANOTHER writer (are we seeing a pattern…?), well writer-wannabe, has given nicknames to all the other denizens of the house she shares. The Witch is always carrying herbs into the house, the Chef cooks up wonderful smelling meals, The Vampire goes out at night and returns by dawn, Eda-san confides to the young woman she sees out in the garden. Kurogawa-san is enraptured by these tales and enjoys Eda-san’s company…and only admits that she is the Witch, the Chef *and* the Vampire herself, when it has become obvious. What do you do for a living? Eda-san asks, but although we can see that Kurogawa is a published author, she doesn’t answer the question.
“Lonesome Echo” is a creepy story about an abusive relationship and a young woman who won’t stand for it.
“Endless Room” is the tale of a suite in a hotel room and the people that stay in it.
“Girl’s Ride” is a cute short about two girls on a vacation and how a foot injury brings them closer.
“Darling Darling” tells a little tale of communication and why it’s so important even between a couple that has been together for a while.
It’s good to see Nawoko again. In “Private Lesson” a girl learns how love was the motivation for her beloved teacher to lose weight and excel in her music.
And in “Caterpillar & Butterfly” Kurogane Kenn tries his hand at a story about two adult women, and the intimacy created between them over something as simple (or not) as a hair cut.
While these are not all the stories in the anthology, they are the ones I enjoyed most. Amazingly, I note how many are stories about adult women. Some are more Yuri than others, some barely find the itch, much less scratch it, but overall, things are looking much improved from my perspective.
Ratings are Variable:
Overall – 8
If someone would draw a cover that actually reflected any of the above, and we lost Shimai-ism, I’d be far more enthusiastic about the magazine as a whole. Nonetheless, compared to the first year, Tsubomi is a completely different (and significantly better) animal.