And thus, the fourth era of Yuri has begun.
Ichijinsha has re-launched Comic Yuri Hime (コミック百合姫), with an entirely new look, a slightly new feel and a new bimonthly publishing schedule.
Gone is the sweet snuggliness of Fujieda Miyabi or Hibiki Reine, gone is the stoic Eiki/Taishi look, gone is the moe-moe of Tsubaki Asu. Comic Yuri Hime Rebirth is heralded with violence and darkness…
…there is something so very, very wrong about this that I immediately loved it. ^_^
The whole experience begins immediately on the cover where, buried in the art, begins a short story by Fukami Makoto (writer of Vertigo, which I reviewed a few months ago), illustrated with slightly more blood than, maybe, strictly necessary, by Kazuaki – a tale of girls shooting each other with guns in sexy and pointless ways. It was great, but then, you know I love stories about homicidally violent women.
I laughed like a loon at the first page after the color art page, in which we are trained in the proper application of “Yuri Brain,” similar to our “Yuri Goggles.” Here we are taught how Yuri Brain shifts things to being Yuri, even when they are not, really. The example given is hilariously funny: In the real world, Junsui Adolescence *is* Yuri, and K-ON! and Grappler Baki are *not* Yuri. With Yuri brain, only Grappler Baki remains on the “not Yuri” side of the equation. With that kind of sense of humor upfront on this magazine – and the girls with gun fetishes wtf-ness in the cover story – I was primed and ready to read the new Comic Yuri Hime and hopeful that we can leave some, if not all, of the moe blob blandness behind us.
The volume gets off to a good start with Takemiya Jin’s story of two sisters who have a radically different approach to love. Takemiya does great short series, and has really leveled up in the past year or two of working professionally.
Techno Samata’s story of cool girl/uncool girl left me feeling lukewarm, but only because I’ve seen it done a lot recently and I clearly need a few chapters to warm up to any story.
Way back in the 90s, Mist magazine used to label all their stories – “Coming Out,” “Second Love,” etc, so you kind of knew what categories a story might fall into. Sakamoto Mano’s “Pie wo Agemasho, anata ni pie o ne” is handily labeled “90% Bitter and about the same Sweet, Love.” Even more interestingly, this label is in a creole of Japanese and English that totally works in either language. For the label alone I would have liked this story, but in addition, the story fascinated me right away as it took two typical characters, subverted the way they were handled, then threw them into the Yuri blender to see what happens. What happens is a very unlikely love.
Also new for the Rebirth, btw, there is contact info for all the creators – snail mail only, which I thought was kind of cute and old-school. Of course so many of them are on Twitter, it’s easy enough to reach them. (Start by following my Yuri Artists and Writers list to get a head start on it.)
“Fu~Fu” takes Kina-chan and Su-chan on a whirlwind tour of their own feelings about their relationship when another female couple moves in next door. When Komugi and Hayase are so upfront about their relationship, it inspires Kina to level up the love-love talk as well. This series is a like a refreshing drink of water, even as it wallows in its own silliness. We need about a dozen more series like this.
Tanaka Minoru takes a few well-covered tropes – two women meeting at a group date, cell phone madness and emotional awkwardness and sews them together for “Mettesarete Kya-”
Uso Kurata takes a look at a different story in the RPG world of “Sore demo Yappari Koi o Suru.” A young girl befriends a good looking guy in virtual reality, but is able to see right past superficial appearances to the jaded woman behind the character.
Takahashi Mako returns with a less drippy, and slightly less dark story in “Kobako no Tegami.” This is followed by only about 30 pages of “Yuru Yuri” which contained one amusing gag relating to the use of color in some of the pages. At 30 pages, it was totally tolerable. Perhaps the cancer is at last in remission.
I have not had a chance to read the short story by Morita Kisetsu that follows, but the illustrations do not give me much hope. This is followed up with a chapter of “Para Yuri Hime,” and an essay by Miura Shion on the volleyball manga Shoujo Fight, which I also have not had time to do more than just scan. I hope to have some time in the near future to actually read these….
“Yuki no Yosei” was another cool girl/uncool girl story. I feel like I’ve read too many of this in the recent past to really like them, but this one was sweet enough.
I’m sorry, I can’t even remember “Lost Girl,” the story that follows. Looking at it now, I don’t remember a single thing about it.
Yeah, I’m still skipping “Mugen no Minami” and I don’t expect that to change, ever.
Love on the school rooftop in “Twinkle Little Secret” was cute, but also kind of retread. “Onna no Karada” by Konno Kita was almost Mist-like in content, but much gentler in art style. This was a nice exploration of the mental hurdles of getting to “couplehood” for two women.
I would like to apologize sincerely to Zaou Taishi and Eiki Eiki for my presumption. They are doing *exactly* what I thought they were going to do, but they are totally not doing it the way I expected and, as a result, “Love DNA Double XX” is not nearly as excruciating as I had feared. Carry on ladies. I’ll trust you to know what you’re doing.
Morishima Akiko-sensei and her editor Poin have a chance to meander through a number of topics – some sillier than others – in a short column called “himecafe.” This is followed by messages from the contributors to the magazine and some suggestions for good reads and watches from the editors of the magazine.
Another thrilling chapter of “Black Cat Mansion” brings two girls together and gives us a hint that the mistress of the mansion has a story of her own.
You know what? Hiyori Otsu could draw a story about absolutely nothing and I’d love it. Thank god she draws Yuri.
“Musou Honey” basically is much like everything Mikuni Hachime writes, with lots of flailing and hurty faces. This chapter has slightly less depantsing than usual, so I guess that’s a win.
“Renai Joshika” turns back to the very first couple, Arisu and Saki, as they take their first steps together as a couple. Immediately an ex pops up to plague them, but it’s not really a crisis at all. Ow, ow, my cheeks hurt from smiling. Ow.
Are we ready? I know I am. I know I am VERY, VERY ready for this chapter of “Ame-iro Kouchakan Kandan,” in which Seriho makes it VERY, VERY plain what the ring she gave to Sarasa means and what it means for Sarasa to accept it. Squeee! Ow, ow, my heart. Ow!
Which just about wraps up this exceedingly chock-filled to the brim with a bunch of different kinds of Yuri issue…but, wait, there’s more! Just before we close the final pages, there’s “Kimono Nadesico,” a little 4-panel strip full of lovely classic cosplay, in the sense of kimono and archery uniforms and the like.
So – overall, there is something here for just about everybody. Action, romance, guns, girls, women, realism and fantasy. If you can’t find something you like in the new Comic Yuri Hime – seriously, it’s you.
Overall – 9
Great start to the new era. Let’s go Yuri!