Volume 2 of Marine Corps Yumi, (まりんこゆみ) written by our dear friend Ana Moreno, with art by Nogami Takeshi, picks up where Volume 1 left off, with Nipponian high school grad Yumi deep in the middle of boot camp to become a Marine in her quest to become President of the United States of Amerigo.
Boot camp is a series of painful, exhausting, mind-fucking, embarrassing and demeaning tasks. Sounds like loads of fun, doesn’t it? ^_^
The first half of the volume details the hundred different ways recruits have their minds and bodies beaten and bruised, but it’s in the second part of the volume that we see who stands tall at the end.
The final part of the manga details the three-day “crucible”, the world’s toughest final exam that no “tough mudder” race can ever truly approach in intensity. Everything the recruits have learned in the last three months is tested, while they themselves are pushed to breaking.
Rita Fernandez is, of course, born to be a Marine. Donna King turns out to pretty smart, despite all her best effort at hiding it, Linda Crawford is a solid team player. Yumi isn’t the brightest bulb in the box, but she’s got “gambare” and persists though everything. And, in the end, as the sun rises on our team and they pass the final trial, there must have been something in the ink, or maybe my allergies were acting up, because my eyes just kept on being kind of teary.
Ana has been all over media recently. Nico Nico Douga did a broadcast with her and Nogami-sensei and it was awesome to hear her talking about her experiences as a comic artist, Marine and author on the Deconstructing Comics podcast. I really recommend listening to this, to get an idea of her process and what to expect in Volume 3. And, of course, you can read this comic for free online in Japanese or English. (Catch up now in English and get those hankies ready for the end of the crucible!)
For those of us here, who love stories of women teaming up, getting stronger and succeeding against great odds, this is probably the most realistic story we’re going to read that actually has those qualities that we love so much in our fiction. I want to take one last moment to note again that Marine Corp Yumi is the most racially diverse manga (without scrunchy-making stereotypes) I’ve ever read. And there’s plenty of stupid physical gags to keep us laughing. (And, if you ask her nicely, maybe Ana’ll add in a lesbian Yuri-lover to counter Donna’s scrunchy-making stereotypical BL fujoshi-ness. ^_^)
Art – 8
Story – 8 How about the dust in here, my eyes just won’t stop weeping
Characters – 8
Yuri – 0 (so far)
Service – 4 There’s definitely some service in those hills
Overall – 8
I’m reading the Japanese comic online, so I know what’s coming, but I can’t wait for Volume 3! I’m definitely one of the military otaku this comic targets and that makes me a little uncomfortable. ^_^; Next life, I’m going to be a Marine, dammit.
Many, many, many thanks to Ana for this review copies and extras that went out to some lucky folks with the last contest!