We’ve gotten very efficient about shopping in Tokyo these days. We arrive with a “to-buy list” and hit the stores closest to our hotel and most likely to have the things we’re looking for. Once we’ve acquired all the items on our list, we’re free to start browsing.
One of the best browsing places in Tokyo is in Shibuya. In the basement of the Shibuya BEAM store, Mandarake is like digging through someone’s attic, or a never-ending flea market of…stuff. (There are a number of Mandarake stores in Japan, and several in Tokyo. The Mandarake stores in the Nakano Sun Mall are probably the best known by most otaku. I suggest you hit up at least the stores in Shibuya and Nakano. Give yourself plenty of time to just wander and stare. It’s quite overwhelming at first.) The negatives of browsing shelves this way is that you will think “Oooh!” and start to reach for something about 1752 times. They have used manga, soundtrack CDs, Drama CDs, figurines, doujinshi, books and random goods you would really like to have but…. You may think I’m kidding, but I was >this< close to buying a Patlabor anniversary iPad cover, despite the fact that I will never own an iPad. But it was Patlabor! I never see Patlabor goods!)
The postive side of shopping in Mandarake is just slowly wandering down the aisle and reaching out to look at something old/obscure, something you heard about but never actually saw before, something random and wonderful. I have found all of the above at the Shibuya Mandarake.
The last time we were there, I couldn’t help but notice that there was an honest-to-god Yuri section at the end of one of the used manga aisles. I had already purchased or already owned pretty much everything there, except for a few titles I had committed to not getting. This book and its companion were two of those. I had no intention of buying them, because I’m very uninterested in the particular mix they represent. But yeah, whatever, I got them. Of the two books, this was by far the superior.
In Daisuki – Hikaru to Sakura (だいすきっ-ひかるとさくら), Hikaru is a shrimpy little girl who has decided she wants to make Sakura her wife. Sakura isn’t resisting, really, and when we come into the story, they are already a couple. Each chapter follows them during a month of the school year, in which “typical cosplay trope of the month” is blended with sex. It’s not exactly rocket science. The girls wear gym clothes, bathing suit, cat ears (for the cat ear maid cafe of course. Good god don’t Fanboys ever get *tired* of that one? Heaven knows I’m am) yukata, and the props are love umbrella, Valentine’s chocolates, etc, ad nauseum. Nothing new, everything typical as can be.
On the positive side Hikaru and Sakura really, really love one another. That is never in doubt and no coercion or non-con need apply. On the negative side, I was not able to like either Hikaru, with her pouty face or Sakura with her somewhat clueless passivity. It is abundantly clear that I am not the target audience for this series. This is for fans that like everything predictable, in a fantasy bubble of a school setting of a year with no growth, just change, protected from the real world or adult concerns; a timeless, endless, eternal school year with a Yuri relationship. If this appeals to you, this is a book you’ll want to read. This book is exactly for the crowd that wants no lesbians in their Yuri.
Art – 6 Tending towards moe, with the usual dissonance about female anatomy that seems to accompany it
Story – There really isn’t one. The relationship never changes, there’s no crisis that lasts more than a page. – 4
Characters – 4
Yuri – 9
Service – 10
Overall – 5
Nothing happens, nothing changes, Hikaru and Sakura have sex and love each other very, very much, but the happily is permanently “now,” never “ever after.”