I know some of you are planning a pre-Xmas order from Amazon JP, in order to score your copy of Collectors, and I thought you might want Hirari Special Girls’ School Life Anthology Houkago (ひらり、別冊 部活女子アンソロジー ほうかご! ), too. ^_^
Let me be plain, where Collectors is the greatest Yuri manga ever published, Houkago is absolutely not. ^_^ But it definitely scratches a specific itch. From the folks who bring you Pure Yuri Anthology Hirari magazine, Houkago is a collection of one-shots by the same artists who contribute to Hirari. This means you’ll get stories by names you recognize like Morinaga Milk, Mikuni Hachime, and Hakamada Mera, and some you might recognize, like kashmir, Hirao Auri and others.
The premise of the book is simple – school clubs. Not all the stories are Yuri, some are just really nice stories about friendships and rivalries in school clubs. But a few are very Yuri indeed.
The story I liked best was one of the not-Yuri ones, about two goofball girls who befriend an injured, bitter and angry ex-athlete. The story was in no way Yuri, but the cheerful goofballs were refreshingly open and their happy doofusness completely changes the way Kawasaki views life. I was not previously familiar with the name Oshima Tamaki, but I’ll be looking for it now. kashmir’s story had a character who turned every scenario into a Yuri murder story. Hakamada Mera once again got to mention witches, even though her story was actually about Mah Jong. Morinaga Milk’s story about science club looked a lot like her manga about cooking club. ^_^
So, not *quite* a Yuri anthology, but I did like the focus on clubs, which allowed the artists to trot out their own personal interests in the guise of storytelling. ^_^
So, yes, this anthology is no Collectors, (nor was it the Yuri sports anthology I eagerly await some genius editor in Japan to come up with one day, and be surprised that no one ever had come up with that idea before, because they do not use the internet) but for a solid showing by veteran Yuri and schoolgirl story artists, Houkago is a fair showing.
Overall – 8
Only one or two stories made me actively stabby, a pretty good percentage for an anthology.