Okujou no Yurirei-san Side A; Mou Hitotsu Yuritopia (屋上の百合霊さんSIDE A もうひとつのユリトピア)

May 31st, 2015

Originally released in Japan in 2012, Visual Novel Okujou no Yuri Yurei-san is an extremely popular Yuri series.

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As you know, I do not play VNs  – and I now understand why I don’t. /blink/

 

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It’s not the “game” aspect that bores me, it’s the excruciatingly slow reading mechanics. /unblink/

 

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Having to page forward after every sentence makes me want to stab my eyes out with frustration. /blink/

 

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The two or three facial expressions that change back and forth seem as ridiculously silly to me as me posting my own face at the end of every single sentence in a review. /unblink/

 

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Not every sentence needs an illustration. Much less the same illustration repeated over and over. /blink/

 

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And, so, as much as the story in Okujou no Yurirei-san seems kinda cute. I just can’t bring myself to attempt it. I already know I’ll get 5 minutes in and want to scream.

The thing is, the series is extremely popular in Japan. In fact, it’s spawned several Yuri-only doujinshi shows of it’s own…called “Yuritopia,” for obvious reasons, as you will see.

Okujoumou1In the VN, at a elite girl’s school,  Shouka Kokonotsuboshi Joshi Gakuen, Yuna is able to see the ghosts of two girls who watch over the school. They were in love, but were not able to be together in life, so in death, they long for the school to become a Yuri Utopia, i.e., “Yuritopia.” During the course of gameplay, several couples are formed, to bring the school towards the Yuritopia they desire.

In the first part of this two-manga set, Okujou no Yurirei-san Side A; Mou Hitotsu Yuritopia (屋上の百合霊さんSIDE A もうひとつのユリトピア) we meet Shiori, a quiet, unassuming student, who is friends with one of the original game characters, Maki. The school festival is coming up and Shiori does not want to be dragged into acting in their class play so she, Maki and Hina (who also appears in the VN) all volunteer to work on the set.

But the conflict of the story lies in Shiori’s fractured relationship with her childhood friend, Mako. Mako has already confessed her love to Shiori who, in a panic, ran away. She hasn’t been able to face Mako since.

Hina, who is on track team with Mako, can see the problem immediately. She encourages Shiori to make up with her friend. Shiori tries, but when Mako again confesses, she again runs away…even though this time, she’s not at all upset.

As the festival nears, Shiori learns that Hina and Yuna are an item, and at the festival meets Maki’s lover Miki (one of the VN couple plotlines). Having heard about the two ghost girls on the roof, Shiori pulls herself together just long enough to let Mako know she likes her back. The two ghost girls appear, glowing with joy, as another couple is added to their Yuritopia.

There is nothing “wrong” with this book, per se. Itou Hachi’s art is moe, but not at all in a fetishy way, the story is comfortable and untroubling. The only thing that strikes me as weird, is that in Yuritopia there are no men of any kind. Not so much as a male teacher or parent. There is, in fact, only one adult shown in the entire volume, a female teacher in one panel. All other parents or teachers are off-stage voices and no one in the audience for the play is an adult. It’s a clear indication that, like Thomas More’s Utopia, this is a not-place. Nowhere real, not obtainable, not really even all that desirable, Yuritopia is a fantasy only.

Interestingly, these volumes are being put out by Hirari comics and I’m betting Ichijinsha’s kicking itself in the butt for not grabbing up the idea. ^_^) Go Hirari!

Ratings:

Art – 8 Cute, without being teeth-grittingly sugary or in any way creepy
Story – 7 Predictable, but still nice, as one might expect from such a series
Characters – 8 Likable, a little thin in development as one might expect from such a series
Yuri – 9
Service – 1 Pleasantly free of thigh-staring

Overall – 8

Like the ghosts watching over the school, we can be perfectly happy for these not-real girls in their not-real world. ^_^ At least Yuritopia is fill of cute, happy Yuri couples.

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16 Responses

  1. Hexler8 says:

    Speaking of reads, there’s a new “dark-themed” Yuri Light Novel series that’s called “Magical Death Battle”(マジカル デス バトル) with art done by CUTEG and story by Urema Shoji.

    Have you checked it out yet? You do love violence, death, grimness and all that darkness, yes? the 2nd volume just released recently, I think you should checkk it out

  2. Mara says:

    I did not know that Yuri Yurei-san was that popular! I read that novel ages ago and was sad when I didn’t see much fan activity about it. Good to see there are manga additions I shall have to buy them up when I can. Thank you for the info.

    Below is a very nit-picky thing on visual novels that I felt I had to bring up and I am sorry, those who don’t care to read about visual novel formatting ignore the rest of this comment.

    I feel bad bringing this up because I completely understand your frustration with your experiences with visual novels and certainly Okujou no Yuri Yurei-san does fall into the troublesome line at a time category of visual novels, but many do not have these problems you describe. Many visual novels are predominantly text and the text is the main focus taking up the entire screen and any illustrations are mostly just background for the text and a transition in expression or orientation of the sprites is an incredibly brief affair that is only noticeable for those invested in it. A good example would be this: (http://i272.photobucket.com/albums/jj186/Satsujinki/FSN%20LP/FSNScreen0011.png). And there are many settings in these novels to alter the reading experience so that is much faster than the default.

    Slowing the experience down into small bites and highlighting the visual elements of the novel is a relatively recent thing that has arrived with larger art budgets and moving visual novels onto devices other than personal computers. And if anything this serves to make them more like drama CD’s, especially when they are put on automatic play and have full voiced characters.

    I really just thought I should say something about that not to disagree with Erica or the article but so that someone else reading this is not put off visual novels for elements that are not universal to visual novels. You would not want someone put off all theatre because they dislike devices popularized by Bertolt Brecht or put off all Opera because they don’t like Mozart.

    • I understand your point completely. I have not yet seen a VN that attempted anything but the broken up slow reading of dialogue/plot with an 8th grade level and powerpoint slides of illustrations.

      Even the screencap you show is an example of what I see as a problem. It is 4 sentences on a “page” I read too fast to make that a tenable paging size. After 5 minutes of poking my finger on the forward arrow, to read “pages” of four lines, I’m tired and bored.

      • Mara says:

        Thank you very much for taking the time to consider my point.

        It does seem that if that screencap does not look adequate to you I think we will be of differing opinions on this for the foreseeable future as the Japanese versions are even more compact for obvious reasons.

        • Yes, that is likely, as it’s not the size of the information on a slide, it’s the amount (lack thereof) content that makes the process so tiring to me. Children’s picture books have low written content, but high visual content – each page gets a different picture at the very least. VNs seem to me to have low written and visual content at the same time.

  3. redfish says:

    I happened to be reading the 冴えない彼女の育てかた light novel (part 5, which picks up after the anime) when I read this, and chapters 5-6 of that book actually contain a very good discussion about the differences between novel writing and VN writing. The author has written both, and the characters in the LN are putting together a VN.

    This certainly doesn’t make your point invalid, and I too have trouble putting up with the style (and often I’m bothered by the fact that I have no idea how long until a “chapter break” in the game). But the discussions in the novel where the characters analyze the character of the genres are very interesting.

    (Disclaimer: the anime and to a lesser extent the LN contain a moderate amount of otaku-pandering, though some of it may be construed as otaku-pandering-deconstruction and/or otaku-trolling.)

    • Meta-conversations are always fascinating. When I was writing more fiction, I used to explain the difference between RPG writing and story writing all the time. I could *always* tell when a person had been writing an RPG and thought it would make a good story. It rarely did, since the RPG was meant to be understood by people inside the world, and a story needs to be understood by people outside it.

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