Yuri Manga: Hoshikawa Ginza 4-chome, Volume 3 (星川銀座四丁目)

April 29th, 2013

In Volume 1 we were introduced to Minato, a teacher, and her student Otome, whom she removes forcefully from a household where – on good days – she was being neglected. In  Volume 2, Otome and Minato wrestle with feelings for one another as they live together. Here we are, at the final volume of  Hoshikawa Ginza 4-chome (星川銀座四丁目).

Otome and Minato move into a new apartment. Slightly larger, but less money, it’s a loft apartment over an old used book store. In the early chapters, the girl who works at the bookstore develops a creepy obsession with Otome, and when she discovers Otome’s feelings for Minato, blackmails her into posing nude for her. Ultimately, Otome gives in, apparently out of pity. Hina doesn’t hang around much longer after that. The bookstore closes, leaving Minato and Otome alone in their loft.

But they aren’t meant to be at peace. In response to her request to adopt Otome, Minato receives a communication from Otome’s mother, which prompts her to suddenly and ridiculously ask a former classmate to marry her; in hopes that, if she was part of a legitimate family unit, Otome’s mother might be more favorably inclined to letting her go. When the truth comes out, Otome learns her parents have divorced – neither of them thought to tell her – and that her mother has remarried. She wants her daughter to live with her again. Otome lays the law down…she is still a minor, she will return home, until she is accepted into college. When she is, she’ll come back. And so she does, returning once again, at last, as an adult.

The final chapter of the story proper shows Otome returning home once more after an absence to a very wifely Minato. Clearly we no longer need to worry about them…they are both adults and together, officially.

As I read this volume I was overcome by some emotion, but I was until the very end unable to identify it. This story makes me sad. I couldn’t tell you why, but it makes me inexpressibly sad. Perhaps because of all the nasty service-y bits with which Kurgane Kenn laces the narrative, I feel it is almost impossible to be plain old happy for the two of them. And I should be able to be. They are in love, they are together, the end. So why do I want to cry?

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 8 See below
Yuri – 10
Service – 10

Overall – 8

Ultimately the big fail here was that Otome deserved to be treated better than Kenn was willing to treat her. His gaze throughout this series disgusted me, right to the final volume and the repulsive chapters with Hina. How I wish someone who wasn’t a creepy lolicon had drawn this story. Oh well.

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7 Responses

  1. just me says:

    I’m not surprised – having the same character be Otome’s teacher, romantic interest, and would-be parent is *inherently* creepy. Poor Otome’s stuck between *two* bad situations. (it’s like the way I saw a once-sex-positive blog jump off the deep end by praising a brothel owner for pimping out a 15-year-old since her previous home was abusive, accusing everyone who thinks the poor kid didn’t deserve sex slavery either, everyone who remembered that foster care is a 3rd way, of supporting abusive parents o_O )

    It’s hard to imagine a way the author’s gaze *wouldn’t* be disgusting, given the plot he made up for the story and the way he didn’t have the teacher/romantic interest/would-be parent be one of the villains. Someone who wasn’t a creepy lolicon wouldn’t draw the story in the first place.

  2. @just me – In Japan, since same-sex relationships have no legal standing, it is not uncommon to find same-sex couples join their names together on one family register through adoption. So that, at least, is not nearly as creepy as you might presume.

    In Japan, “adoption” is just a way to get a person on a family register when marriage is not possible. Families “adopt” heirs to the business or craft still, as well.

    • just me says:

      You’re right, consenting adults joining their names on a family register through adult adoption and families adopting adult heirs to the business or craft aren’t creepy at all! :)

      Speaking of family register technicalities, I’ve also heard of male-female scientist-scientist couples divorcing on paper even though they still live and love together as husband and wife…simply so both can keep the same surnames they had before marriage. Another example: http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/0102/p1s4.html/(page)/2

      Meanwhile, the blog post’s “…In response to her request to adopt Otome, Minato receives a communication from Otome’s mother…” and “…Otome lays the law down…she is still a minor…” made it seem that Minato’s adopting Otome would have more to do with Minato having parental authority over Otome. *That* is creepier than the IRL situations you describe…

      • Otome is a minor, but I didn’t see it having anything to do with parental authority at all. But, it’s a comic and we can all see what we want to see in it. ^_^

        • just me says:

          Meanwhile, in all fairness many (including many gays and lesbians!) *do* think trying to become the legal parent of a minor *does* have something to do with parental authority over that minor.

          As for my own upbringing, every permission slip I ever brought home from school as a minor myself labeled the blank for my Mom or Dad to sign “parent/guardian” instead of just “parent.” After 12 years of this it was unforgettably obvious that guardian and parent are legally equivalent. I suppose I could pretend to be amnesiac when it comes to that, but why pretend to have brain damage that I don’t have? ;)

          Meanwhile, thought experiment: what if a *male* teacher tried to adopt, and therefore get custody of, a female minor whom he already could flunk and whom he had the hots for…?

          • Re thought experiment:

            “Adoption” here is not meant to represent “parental authority”. I used the word adoption, merely because it’s the closest English term to “having another person added to the family register” that I had. Set the word aside, since it has blinded you to the motive. Let us say “Minato seeks to add Otome to her family register.”

            Minato is not asserting authority over Otome, she is asking her to marry her.

            Since same sex marriage has no legal standing, it is not unheard of for the older partner in a same-sex relationship to “adopt” the younger, thereby making them relatives legally. It has nothing at all to do with age, or parental authority, it’s a legal fiddle to get two people to be recognized legally as a family where there is no more sensible option.

            A random teacher of either sex randomly seeking to add a person to his or her family register because of physical attraction is hardly equivalent to two people in love who wish to be seen as a family.

            Otome, when she says, “I’m still a minor” has reached the age of consent in most countries, and is basically saying she’d rather just play by the rules, so her mother cannot cause a fuss. For the next X months, she lives with her mother, graduates high school, hits her age of legal majority, gets into college, and leaves her mother without having involved Minato in any legal kerfuffle.

    • I’m saying “It’s a comic book” and I’m done thinking about it. ^_^ Moving on to the next thing in my pile. Which, coincidentally, are Ichigo Mashimaro and Yotsuba and so now I feel a little creepy and must go read something about adults.

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