I read Concerto under advisement from Yuricon Chief Lackey Bruce. I had no expectations and found myself pleasantly surprised.
Each chapter is a “Plot, what plot?” type story; i.e.. a very thin frame of a story wrapped around a sex scene. And while each and every story had the opportunity to become gross, exploitative or annoying…none of them did. I found myself slow to relax at first, all ready to be grossed out by bodily fluids and no real emotional commitment, but eventually it dawned on me that that wasn’t going to happen. By the final story, I was more or less in a “well, this was kinda nice” headspace.
In each chapter two girls are brought together by pretty typical tropes – mutual love of music/art, a sempai/kouhai story, a student/teacher thing, and the final story, which was worth a synopsis.
Two girls are staying together while the one’s parents are away. The are in love and are lovers, and playing at living together. When the parents come home and find them kissing, Mom is quick to see what was going on. The two girls run away. They take the train to nowhere, and spend what may well be their final night together. When they return the next day, they find Mom perfectly willing to be complicit in their secret relationship, because she also had a same-sex relationship in school, so just don’t tell Dad, ‘kay? It was a meaningless – and if I thought about it for too long, potentially enraging ending. So I decided not to think about it and take it for what it was, a meaningless handwave that gave the final story a happily-for-now ending.
Bruce noted that the artist, Hattori Mitsuru, is someone he’s been following for some time and who has long been just on the edge of a Yuri story. So, he’s really happy to see Hattori-sensei go full bore on the Yuri. I found the art pleasant enough and, indeed, it reminded me of a few doujinshi artists I’ve liked. But what made the book really readable was that all of the characters have or develop genuine affection for one another. It’s “Plot, what plot?” with love and kindness and caring. Not just sympathy sex or some other tortured setup. That makes a huge difference for my enjoyment level. Because what I like to read is stories of girls in love, not in heat. ^_^; I was rather happy that this collection was published by Hakusensha under the Jets Comics imprint. I haven’t seen anything Yuri from Jets in a really long time. Hakusensha is clearly investing in more Yuri these days, which makes me very happy.
In any case, thank you Bruce for this suggestion, it was a surprisingly pleasant read. ^_^
Art – 7
Story – Averaged out at 7
Characters – Same
Service – 6
Overall – 7
If you’re looking for a decent Yuri short story collection, Concerto is definitely worth taking a look at.