Sugawa Tokushi’s Zenryaku, Yuri no Sono Yori (前略、百合の園より) is one of those manga I struggle to describe. It is very well named, as this collection of two mini-series from Tsubomi, is most definitely from the “Garden of Yuri.”
In the first series, Yuri is anti-social in school, but afterschool she draws Yuri manga that has been scripted by her one real friend, Shinobu. The sadistic protagonist is patterned after popular, accomplished student council member – and to Yuri’s mortification and annoyance, next seat over in class – Fujiwara.
Circumstances conspire to give Fujiwara the chance to read the story and she instantly realizes that she’s been appropriated She slightly misunderstands, and assumes Yuri is the writer…and naturally assumes that she’s writing her own fantasy. Beneath the teasing, it’s pretty obvious to us that Fujiwara actually likes Yuri In turn Yuri, who plays the perfect tsundere to Fujiwara’s tease, just as clearly starts to like her back. The story ends – on a joke – with them closer than before, but not “close,” per se.
This is followed by a quick side story about Yuri’s partner, Shinobu, who is blindsided by a female classmate’s feelings.
The final story starts off quite seriously, as Yuki believes she is the target of bullying, when she receives a love letter. When Hino-san, the writer, joins her in calligraphy club, she remains unconvinced that Hino-san is serious either about calligraphy or her. There’s a couple of rough patches, but in the end, it’s all happily-ever-after. ^_^
Art – 7
Story – 8
Characters – 7
Yuri – 7
Service – 1
Overall – 7
The collection gives a nice sampling of character types, so there’s probably someone for anyone to like, unless what you like best is 3-dimensional characters. There are none of those here, as “the Garden of Yuri” has never been particularly real. ^_^
BTW, the first word in the title, “zenryaku” is a great word – it’s shorthand for omitting the preliminaries in a letter instead of writing “Dear So-and-so – How are you? I am fine? etc, etc, ” one just writes 前略 and moves on to the meat of the letter. I wish we had an analogous term in English. (Social Media has all but eliminated the need for those formalities, but I still like the idea of a single term that acknowledges the formalities with a nod.)