Wahoooo! It’s Guest Review Wednesday and we have a Guest Review! Fresh from the keyboard of the always stellar Bruce P, today he looks at three manga at once (presumably because the idea of reviewing them each individually was soul crushing.) Take it away, Bruce!
“Make a remark,” said the Red Queen: “it’s ridiculous to leave all the conversation to the pudding!”
And there really is no other reason for a review of Yuritetsu ~ Shiritsu Yurigasaki Joshikou Tetsudobu Volume 2, Volume 3 and Volume 4 (ゆりてつ~私立百合ヶ咲女子高鉄道部) by Matsuyama Seiji. The review of Volume 1 should have been quite enough. But in the face of good taste Yuritetsu has thrived, even making some minor noise out in the real world. I would hate to leave the final word to a pudding. A response is called for. Here it is:
You might notice that this also effectively described Volume 1.
Which is not to say that Volumes 2-4 are just more servings of the same goo. The author has made a number of significant changes. Though calling anything in this manga significant seems kind of silly.
High school girls Elsie, Lacie, Tillie, and Peanut are still doing what members of the Yuritetsu (Yurigasaki Girl’s High School Railway Club) do best: looking like four-year-olds, acting like three-year-olds, and providing railway maps and information for train fans. Train fans who don’t much care where their maps and information come from, provided they come from girls who occasionally take their clothes off. Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie continue fighting over Peanut, while Peanut continues displaying no reason why they should actually want to. Maybe it’s a pheromone thing. It’s certainly not an intellect thing.
The big difference from the first volume is that the girls no longer do their interpersonal squirming in isolation from the rest of the world. Quite the contrary: in their travels they now encounter an astonishing assortment of other ambulatory pumpkin seeds—friends, relatives, and acquaintances, starting with their new traveling companion, the club’s faculty advisor Konomi-Sensei. She looks five, giving her the best of it, though she doesn’t act that mature. As a teacher, she’s just happy not to live in New Jersey, or in any number of places where they insist on background checks; at Yurigasaki she can squirm against Peanut all she wants. Pheromones, ick.
Artistically Yuritetsu isn’t so much a mess as a collage, which makes it sound intentional. Stylistically different (but equally embarrassing) crossover characters from the small world of train-themed manga randomly drop out of the blue for a little inbreeding. Among these artistic inconsistencies are several creepy crossovers from one of the author’s own titles, Tetsuko na Sanshimai, about three sisters who travel around on trains (well, when you specialize, you specialize). One of these sisters is definitely not drawn as a Yuritetsu –style four year old, and in fact does not even constitute a structural possibility. As Elsie (or is it Tillie? Dopey?) says when they first meet: “Oneesan! Your boobs—and your camera lens—are huge!!” The art might be questionable, but the sophistication of the dialogue makes the series sparkle.
And here’s the peculiar real world part. In the final chapter the girls visit the Yuri Kogen Railway, a tiny line in the mountains south of Akita. In a clever bit of marketing, or desperation (it’s a very tiny line), the Yuri Kogen last year decorated an operating railcar in a Yuritetsu illustration scheme. All pink and yellow and oversized bubbleheads. Looks like desperation to me. The Yuritetsu railcar has actually been out there, trundling Peanut and her pals, along with confused Yuritetsu fans wondering why all the car-side characters seem so fully clothed, back and forth through the daffodils.
If there’s a special hell for railway motormen, it probably looks like this.
Toy maker Tomytec has jumped into the act with a scale model:
The item above was obtained for research purposes. Just being thorough.
As for the Yuri: the characters in Yuritetsu remind me of nothing so much as those tiny, rather pointless insects that form hyperactive clouds over water on summer afternoons. Among the little bugs in these mating swarms there may well be some rudimentary Yuri flirtations going on (who knows?), but it wouldn’t warrant a four volume treatment and a specially decorated swamp boat.
Art: 5. Well, the train illustrations are still pretty good.
Characters: 2. Dropping in some doofus ex machina characters hasn’t helped this number at all.
Story: 2. Starts low, falls through a hole at the bit with the strawberry.
Yuri: 2. Don’t ask about the strawberry.
Service: 10. No really, don’t.
Overall: 3. Somewhere between eww and ick.
It’s been a lot of fun, chewing these four volumes up. But now of course I will have to make a trip to Akita. For research purposes.
Erica here: As long as I don’t have to be seen near that train, I’m in.
Thank you for yet another fantastic review of a book I wouldn’t touch with a 15 meter pole. This seemed like a perfect April 1 review. If you buy these books, the joke is clearly on you. ^_^