Last year I read What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Yoshinaga Fumi. My chief complaint was that while the characters identified as gay, even discussing it with family members and friends, there was little affection between them shown. They were drawn in that “gay eunuch” style beloved by straight women’s media (like movies and Lifetime TV, not BL,) in which gay best friends don’t have messy affairs of their own. Volume 2 improved slightly when they actually touched one another. Gay couple and food = being out, but no kissing allowed.
In contrast there’s old school Yuri, which has physical affection between two women, but no one identifies as a lesbian. In Manpuku Yuri, by Miyabe Sachi, we cleave to the old school – the two women will sleep together and live together, but they aren’t gay. Lesbian couple and food = kissing, but no being out allowed.
Nonoka and Aya live together. Aya works at home, so she is usually in charge of meals. Nonoka works in an office, but when she is on her own or they have time to cook together, she lends a helping hand.
Unlike the complex foods of What Did You Eat Yesterday?, the meals in Manpuku Yuri are simple, few requiring even an explanation, much less an actual recipe. Pages are given over, for instance, to Nonoka’s paroxysms of ecstasy over Aya’s various pancake toppings.
Nonoka and Aya’s life is a happy and simple one. They have separate rooms, but sleep together when it suits them. They do have a physical relationship, that is made plain.
When Nonoka agrees to go to a group date (for the seafood fondue), Aya begins to question whether she is truly happy. Aya’s worries are compounded when she sees Nonoka briefly interacting with a child at the park. She asks if Nononka wants a child and Nonoka, says, someday, probably. Now Aya is in full-blown panic. When Nonoka comes home from a friend’s wedding, and it turns out she’s caught the bouquet, Aya does the most obvious thing you’d do when the person you live with and love seems to be in the mindset to think about marriage and family… she moves out of the apartment without a word, leaving Nonoka alone and confused and hurt.
I wanted to slap Aya so hard it hurt.
Nonoka who loved to eat, is barely touching food now, until she comes home and finds a hot meal and note from Aya in front of the door. Apparently, Aya heard that Nonoka wasn’t eating right and was sneaking food over to her. Not surprisingly Nonoka, uses the chance to find Aya and confront her. Aya says she wasn’t able to make Nonoka happy…Nonoka is completely confused by this as she was perfectly happy and any problem was all in Aya’s head.
They reunite with a kiss and cute hearts all around them and Aya suggesting they have some dessert together.
So, yes, it was “obvious” that they were together, and they were blissfully happy, except when Aya lost her mind, but would it kill us to get a single “I love you?”
I wanted to love this book. So very much I wanted that. My life is pretty much day after day of amazing meals and happy snuggling in our big pluffy bed; how wonderful this story might have been if it wasn’t ball and chained into an old-fashioned construct of a lesbian relationship and heteronormative expectations. Ah well.
Art – 7 Cute rather than good
Characters – 7 Aya was the better of the two until she loses her mind. Then Nonoka seemed perfectly lovely.
Story – 5 It might well have been better if there wasn’t one.
Yuri- 10 /Lesbian – 0
Service – 2 maybe if you squint. There’s implications of sex
Overall – 6
It wasn’t terrible, but I wanted it to be amazing. I blame the editor who didn’t say, “Really? That whole misunderstanding thing is so overplayed. Let’s not go there.”