In trying to come up with a short summary of Amano Shuninta’s Watashi no Sekai o Kousei Suru Chiri no You na Nanika (私の世界を構成する塵のような何か) I find that the closest thing I can describe it as is a Yuri Manga “The ‘L’ Word.”
Watashi no Sekai o Kousei Suru Chiri no You na Nanika (translated by the author as “What is like the dust that constitutes my world?”) is a mostly realistic soap opera set among a group of women attending a women’s college. The protagonist is Ruki, a realist with an edge of naivete’, Sachi, whose boyfriend is controlling, Remia who takes the opportunities she can get to sleep with the women around her, Asuna, her girlfriend, narcoleptic Fueko, Meru and slightly older, ever so slightly-too-cool-and-worldy-Maasa.
When they are assigned to do a project (for what has to be a sociology class) together, Ruki finds her life suddenly full of these people. WE can see that Ruki is interested in Sachi, but that boyfriend is so omnipresent, Sachi won’t even discuss how controlling he is. “I’m the girlfriend, that’s why,” she tells a puzzled Ruki who can’t imagine why she puts up with it. They fight about it.
When Maasa and Remia set up a sleepover for the group to work on this project they all go, despite some obvious tensions. Asuna and Fueko have broken up – and I am absolutely positive I remember the chapter when Fueko splits due to physical intimacy issues, but that chapter is not included here. And then there’s Ruki and Sachi.
One of the biggest issues I have had in the past with “Yuri Manga” – and depictions of women in manga in general – is that they rarely are given society. There’s the love interest, and that’s it. In a largish ensemble cast like the one here, that is a non-issue. Yes, there’s still the tendency to pair the women up, but that isn’t the same thing as them being couples. Ultimately they are all acquaintances and schoolmates first, then friends and there is the occasional ‘relationship.’
But what about Ruki and Sachi you may ask? Well, the boyfriend issue will come to a head, and the two of them patch it up before then (as a side product of getting lost and having nothing else to do for hours but hash things out) but we can hardly say things are settled between them…as it is painfully obvious to us that Ruki likes Sachi. Whether it will ever be obvious to them is an issue for future volumes.
The story is ongoing – and, as much as I do not generally care for soap operas and night time TV serial dramas, I think this series may be exactly what Yuri needs right now. I’m glad it’s in the capable hands of Amano-sensei. The art is strongly character-focused, but along with society, these women have physical space, as well. Apartments, classrooms, cars, beds, scenery, all combine to flesh this series as far more 3-dimensional than just about anything else running right now in Comic Yuri Hime.
Art – 9 This is my kind of art. If you prefer moe, take off a point or two.
Characters – 9 We’ve barely scratched the surface. I want to know more about them all
Story – 8 Soapy to begin, but not painful or superficial
Yuri – None of them identify as Lesbian, although they do discuss female couples. I’m going to say 9 on Yuri, 3 on Lesbian and see if it shifts at all in future volumes
Service – A shockingly low 2 for all the naked women
Overall – 9
My wish is that this series last for longer than the meager two volumes the magazine has been allotting to popular series. If something as nothing as Manga no Tsukurikata can get 6 volumes (which is the manga crime of the century, IMHO) this series deserves at least 3, if not more.