Yuri Manga: Comic Yuri Hime,(コミック百合姫) March 2011

March 21st, 2011

Comic Yuri Hime (コミック百合姫),Volume 2 gets off to a smart start with cover art from “Rapunzel,” this issue’s short story written by Fukami Makoto, illustrated by Kazuaki. The story is quite literally a tale about a girl trapped in a tower while an evil “witch” does experiments using her as a guinea pig – as a form of torture in order to get information on the whereabouts of the girl’s sister. Ultimately, the fifth artificial human caretaker she’s had, Chanel (number 5, yes, yes) helps her escape. This can only be described as a “really creepy story.”

This volume’s wacky column from the editors trains you in how to be a “Yuri Sommelier” and make suggestions of series based on people’s tastes. As you may know, I have avoided doing this for many reasons, but here is the primary one: When people recommend things to me, 95% of the time I don’t find them as wonderful as they did, and therefore assume that it will be the same for you if I recommend something for you. In fact, there are only two people I know who can recommend manga to me and only one who can recommend books.

“Wakka Hane-Hane” introduces us to aggressively clueless Yuka who shows up and moves in with Saka-chan and then is aggressively clueless until they both decide they like it that way. I never did come around to that way of thinking.

Hayase’s employment is the topic of discussion in “Fu~Fu” and so is the dynamic between her and Komugi. This leads into a little furry play on Kina’s part, and then a morning after hasty explanation in the hallway. A goofy interlude, with some serious implications about relationship dynamics, but again, presented in a way that slides the important stuff under otaku radar.

A woman falls for a married woman in “Suwako-san to Uchyuu Ryokou.”

Arisu and Saki contemplate marriage and “playing house” together in “Renai Joshikka.” This chapter was stellar. There’s a bit of awkwardness and miscommunication, as there is in real-life, but these are the first steps toward *after* happily ever after and I’m beyond thrilled that Morishima-sensei is the one leading the way! Everyone – follow her!!

Skipping “Kokoro Renjou” because I’ve kind of had it with the Black Cat Mansion stories. Fans of twincest will like this chapter.

“Hime Cafe” this issue is a somewhat informal chat about…stuff…with Namori-sensei, creator of Yuru Yuri. This is followed by editor’s recommendations and picks and comments, including the same kind of “everything old is new again” phenomenon we’re experiencing here. No surprise, you gotta figure every generation needs to rediscover the classics for themselves. (And what sells well never dies, so they’ll reissue things as long as people shell out for them!)

Rokuichi’s “Kimi-Watashi” is a slightly melancholic story about two women who can’t seem to let go of one another. This is followed by a sneak peek at the artist’s collection, Kuchibiru ni Sakete Orange, which I have previously reviewed.

“Yuru Yuri” was short. But don’t worry – it’ll be back.

Otsu Hiyori plumbs the depths of the moment between confession and answer, from the perspective of the one confessed to. Of course we all know the feelings of the confessor and the many tortures we/they go through, but what does the confessee feel? I’m not sure this story really convinced me – it was a little too close to “sympathy love” for my taste.

“Utsutsu no Itoshii Hito” by Takemiya Jin continues the saga of two sisters with radically different approaches to love.

When I saw that Uso Kurata was going to be doing something called “Yuri Danshi” I was not filled with joy, but neither was I running off panicking. I trusted Kurata-sensei to not turn in something that sucked. And so, I read the first pages with reserve. We meet Hanadera Keisuke, a secret Yuri Fanboy, with a stash of Comic Yuri Hime magazines under his bed and an overactive imagination. And a grin-making name. Even my wife laughed at that. Keisuke has a little crush on the Yamato Nadesico of the class, Fujigatani Saori. But when new student Miyajima Akane transfers in and immediately glomps her childhood friend Saori, a new obsession is born. Keisuke is *absolutely positive* that they must be a Yuri couple! All excited to see a real one, Keisuke begins to follow them when he comes to the sudden, sobering conclusion that, if they are really a couple – they would not want him around. There it is folks. The THREAT. If they are lesbian couple he is unneeded, unwanted – an annoyance. What mental hoops will Keisuke create for himself and jump through next time? Tune in to find out!

The short story by Miyamoto Ayako wasn’t all that good, IMHO.

“Juliet and Juliet” by Oimoro Jiroh was exactly what it sounds like.

Kurokiri Misao’s “Kokoro no Pendant” was a misunderstanding wrapped around a pendant, but everything works out in the end.

“Reversal” by Imura Ei was unique for several reasons. The art was all scratchy and sketchy, which sort of fit the tone of the story, which followed a girl involved with, let’s face it, it was prostitution. When she is hired by another girl for a little humiliation, she ends up turning the tables on just which of them is in control of the relationship.

Skipping a couple of stories which didn’t make a mark on me, the volume wraps up with a sneak peek of Rikachi’s Ibara no Namida. The sneak peek follows three female college students and the love triangle that has them orbiting around each other. It instantly caught my attention for the clean art and realistic behaviors. I’ve got the volume sitting here and I’ve bumped it up on the too-read pile.

So, overall, still loads to like for just about anyone, and maybe even getting better, bit by bit. I love the new wacky column in the beginning of the volume. Starting off with some goofball humor coming off the stress-y Fukami stories is a good way to get us all to relax and have a little fun while we read.

Ratings:

Overall – 8

Before I wrap up, I want to answer one more question that was asked at the UBC lecture the other day that I didn’t have time to answer. The questions was, in short – whether men who like Yuri identify more with the seme or the uke (which only applies in *some* stories, but we’ll use it for the moment, because neither is the answer anyway) in a Yuri couple. Of course I cannot answer for every man who is a Yuri fan (or every woman who is, for that matter) but here’s what I’ve seen in the majority of the Yuri fans – we identify with the couple. In my many, many discussions with Yuri fans over the years the issue is not that we want to be Haruka, or date Haruka…we want Haruka to be with Michiru. Remember my interview with Fujieda Miyabi-sensei when he said that when he creates a couple together, that’s when he’s happiest. I have had so many people tell me that this goes for them, too. I also feel this way. When the couple is happy, so am I. Therefore, I will generalize and say that Yuri fans do not identify with either pursuer or pursued, but with an established, hopefully functional, couple. ^_^

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9 Responses

  1. Speaking as a male Yuri fan, I find your answer perfectly spot-on. I don’t really “identify” in the “audience surrogate” sense with lesbian characters, I’m invested in the characters themselves getting, being, or staying together despite adversity. It’s love conquering all that gets my heart racing, not just the act of the two characters getting together.

  2. DezoPenguin says:

    Also speaking as a male Yuri fan, ditto. It’s the character dynamic between the two that’s interesting rather than one character or the other (one reason why the dynamic I’m least interested in, whether in Yuri or otherwise, is the love triangle, which is all about plot events that prevent there from being a couple).

  3. @Kriegsaffe No. 9 and DezoPenguin – Thank you sincerely for the positive feedback. I’ve talked to a lot of Yuri fans of all genders and sex and that seems to be the feeling that we share more than anything else. ^_^

  4. Serge says:

    I’ll concur that I’m invested in the couple, but there are some characters I wouldn’t mind being like or emulating. Haruka and Sei come to mind.

  5. Arkadi says:

    My feelings exactly! It’s not this or that character, but the couple relationships that make a Yuri story work for me as well -so count me in! ^^

  6. Ichigo69 says:

    “…here’s what I’ve seen in the majority of the Yuri fans – we identify with the couple.”

    YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! THIS! THIS! 10000 TIMES THIS!

    I really don’t get the somewhat stereotypical otaku mindset that has to have the otaku himself in the picture. You’re reading a story about 2 people interacting with each other. Why do /YOU/ have to be in the picture? If I think of Nanoha, the first thing I think of is Fate; when I think of Honoka from Precure, the first thing I think of is Nagisa; when I think of Mari, I think of Akko, etc. The list goes on. The characters are intertwined with each other and I wish them to stay that way. I sincerely hope Yuri Danshi will explore this theme a bit since it seems to be written from an outsider’s point of view as a Yuri fan observing a Yuri couple.

  7. George says:

    I’ve always found that ‘seme’ and ‘uke’ don’t translate well into Yuri couples, if we take ‘seme’ to mean ‘masculine and dominant’ while ‘uke’ is ‘feminine and submissive’. Relationships in Yuri often don’t have the same clear power dynamic, and when they do I think it’s reversed more often than not (take Haruka/Michiru, where it seems to me that Michiru is the one in control).

    Not that this matters, because I agree with your conclusion. If we’re talking specific couples, then I can sometimes name a character I identify more with… for Fu~Fu, I’m much more Kina than Sumi. And I do go gaga over the butch girls, so there’s that. But for the most part, it’s just nice to see Yuri couples, and there’s no vicariousness going on. Perhaps in twenty years time, when Yuri is super-popular and we have a wide variety of canon, believable couples with happy endings, we’ll have the luxury to pick sides…

    On a related topic, I’ve been thinking about Fu~Fu recently. Much as I love it, there is one flaw within it that nags at me. For all that it’s a portrayal of a realistic lesbian couple doing everyday things, the fact that every character is a lesbian seems to undermine the ‘real world’ness of it. Kina’s sister is a lesbian, the neighbours are lesbians… there really aren’t straight people at all. Kina and Sumi don’t quite live in our world, and that makes me sad, because this series is so close to portraying the life of a real lesbian couple. Am I the only one who thinks it would be awesome to see Kina and Sumi hanging out with the straight couple next door, exploring the things they have in common and the things that are different? To begin with, that seemed to be the central thesis of the series: “We’re like husband and wife in some ways but not others”.

    I’ve never been one to refuse more lesbians, but it’s saddening to see that Fu~Fu, much though I love it, isn’t quite the series I thought it was.

    (And I appreciate the irony of someone who writes an all-lesbian comic complaining about a story that doesn’t have any straight people, but I never had any pretensions of being realistic!)

  8. @George – Seme is not masculine and uke is not feminine. Seme is “the pursuer” and uke is “the pursued” and the dynamic is fluid, closer to “top” and “bottom” than any other equivalent term we have in English.

    I’ve discussed this a number of times – in lesbian couples(and Yuri or femmeslash ones as well,) the seme is quite often the femme. So the masculine/seme dynamic is completely flipped.

    As for Fu~Fu, I’m going to disagree. I think a natural step towards the maturity of the genre is a “gay dorm” kind of situation. It’s not a failure, it’s a fantasy of a different kind. Setting that aside, the manga is not that old, so perhaps you can give it the benefit of the doubt and see where it goes.

  9. BruceMcF says:

    I think that last is right, as a matter of general principle.

    For instance, the principle failing of Ikkitousen is that Kanu could do so much bett…

    … oh, wait, as I write that, five more principle failings come to mind, and if I stop to write them, likely another ten will follow in their wake.

    Uhm, in the “Yuri-lite” side, a principle reason I was cheering for Drill-chan in Marimite to grow into the little sister for Yumi-san is that Yumi-san deserved to have a little sister that she could do as much good for as she can do for Touko-chan.

    So yes, as a matter of general principle.

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