After Minamoto Hisanari-sensei’s stunning debut, Fu~Fu, (and the sea change at Comic Yuri Hime, which has moved away from “stories about lesbians” and shifted back over to “stories about unthreateningly cute girls who are in no way lesbian, but who sometimes like each other”) it was going to be really hard for him to hit that same level of storytelling and relevance. In his short story collection, Yuridori Midori (ゆりどりみどり), he doesn’t really try.
Which, in many ways was pretty smart of him. Had he gone the same route with a series, he’d be pinholed. Instead he shuffles out a pile of ootsey-cutesy stuff for the moe fans and dresses it up with the occasional meaningful concept. “Look,” he says, while drawing impossibly adorable animal-eared girls, who are, in reality, animals, thus making the cat-owning animal-eared moe fans extra happy, “Look, I am one of you.” And then he throws out a story that just happens to touch briefly on an actual issue.
As a result, no matter what you’re interested in, Yuridori Midori is a mixed bag.
In the first story, we revisit the fairytale of Snow White and her new evil stepmother – who isn’t really evil, and would really like to become closer with Snow. Really close.
The second story is a plot that I will never like no matter how many times mangaka use it. The “cute girl who rolls around your house is a cat” story has been done well past to death, but apparently, every generation recreates it in their own image.
The third story is an after-hours expose’ of the lives of the seven mysteries of the school, and the age-long love affair of “Toilet Hanako” and the “Girl in the Painting.” Also done a million times, but I adore the idea the spirits have a life beyond just scaring the plebes. ^_^
In the next story, we edge so close to being relevant, that it’s almost painful when it doesn’t go there. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, “Yuri” marriages become legal. And in trend-conscious Japan, “Yuri-kon” become the trendy thing to do. So, when the protagonist asks her lover to marry her, she refuses, because she doesn’t want to be seen as following a fad. I get the story, but feel awfully like he could have done something more important and real with it, if he had really wanted to.
This was followed by another animal-eared girl story I couldn’t bring myself to read in the magazine and wasn’t able to manage this time, either.
The next story was my favorite of the collection, about a woman and her lover who is a “suit actor” for a Tokusatsu TV show. In other words, she does the action scenes in a Power-Ranger-like show. Not only is Shio a ranger character, she’s the Red Ranger…and anyone who has ever watched a Tokusatu show (or The Shinesman) knows that means she’s the leader. Rina loves Shio, but Shio isn’t sure if it’s her, or the fact that she’s Red, that’s the real draw. When Shio gets hurt, she learns that it was her, all along.
The final story follows a woman whose girlfriend breaks up with her via Line (a Japanese SMS-based social platform) and, while contemplating suicide, is met and befriended by a young (straight) woman who gets her to smile again.
Now, here’s the interesting thing about doing these reviews – when I read the stories originally in the magazine, I felt the same way as I felt at the beginning of this review – close, but no cigar. But, having rendered down each story to its essence, I find that I was wrong. MInamoto-sensei is doing something important. And because he’s hiding behind humorous one-shots, it’s not obvious until I’ve looked backwards at where this volume took us.
Art – 8 As expected, absurdly cute and moe
Story – Variable, but we’ll call it 8, for more better than not for me
Characters – Variable, and one-shots are hard. Let’s say 7
Service – 4 Animal ears
Overall – I’m feeling generous, let’s go 8
The animal-eared and fairy tale stories aside, this volume looks at same-sex marriage, staying together through better and worse and recovering from an ugly break up. Hrm. It’s almost subliminally lesbian. ^_^ You know… I think I like it!