Ichijou Yukari is probably one of the most famous Japanese mangaka that westerners have never heard of. Around these parts, she’s best known for Maya no Souretsu but, outside the Yuri Network, her two most popular series are Yukan Club, (有閑倶楽部) which has been turned into a live action movie – and Pride, an on-going opera series. Yukan Club ran 19 volumes, ending in 2002, but the website for the series remains live and kinda fun.
Yukan Club‘s premise seems well-suited for a live-action series. A bunch of high school misfits create a club to solve mysteries. The trailer on the website says the series is full of thrills and suspense, action, emotion, laughter…and even from this one glimpse, I’d say that’s pretty much spot on. It looks like a delightful series that, due to the fact that the art is dated, will probably never be seen in English. But it’s worth a look in Japanese.
In Volume 14, Ichijou-sensei veers slightly away from goofball fun of the Yukan Club proper, into a slightly Yuri story. No real surprise to anyone who is familiar with Maya no Souretsu or Pride, Ichijou-sensei has that early shoujo look to her art, and an accompanying fondness for gender- and sexuality-bending stories.
In the final chapter, we follow Kyou, a high school student who has an older woman as a lover. He’s had many lovers, but has never been in love. His friend is crushing on a girl he sees on the train, but when he points them out to Kyou, she’s with a very boyish woman and they seem very close. The friend is certain that they are lovers.When his lover takes him to an okama club, Kyou sees Mako-chan, the boyish woman from the train.
Kyou learns that Mako-chan hates men and, while she and Reina are not lovers, Mako-chan definitely has feelings for Reina. Kyou speaks sympathetically to Mako-chan about it, saying, look, it doesn’t matter who you love. Mako-chan reacts with tearful appreciation, thanking Kyou for his understanding and acceptance. Kyou, moved to distraction by Mako-chan’s thanks, comes to realize that he’s fallen for her. She won’t let him touch her, but she begins to open up to him. In a final crisis, it turns out that Reina has become pregnant by her Ballet teacher. Mako-chan tries to keep them apart, but they both swear they love each other and eventually, Mako-chan has to let them be together. They promise her that they are happy together and she lets Reina go. Mako-chan runs to Kyou for emotional comfort.
But, Kyou points out at the end of the story, as a nicely put-together woman walks by them and Mako-chan watches her pass, just because Mako-chan no longer hates men, doesn’t means she’s stopped liking women.
This story has a lot of elements that are similar to stories you’ve already read and/or seen. So many so, that at some point it feels like you must surely have read this story before. It almost got to the point that I was reciting stories that had those same elements. On the downside – hatred of men because of sexual abuse. On the positive side, disliking men is not actually related to liking women. The end – and the moral of the story therein – were better than I would have expected from a early 90’s manga.
Art – 8 I like the old school look, except for Mako-chan’s hair, which was criminal throughout.
Story – 8 – Has some issues, but works overall
Characters – 8
Yuri – 4 yes, Mako-chan likes Reina, and yes she continues to be attracted to women, but she ends up mostly with Kyou
Service – 1
Overall – 8
Today’s review is due to the kindness and generosity of YNN Correspondent and Okazu Superhero Katherine H. Thanks for this classic find, Katherine and thank you for allowing me to review it. ^_^