Originally released in Japan in 2012, Visual Novel Okujou no Yuri Yurei-san is an extremely popular Yuri series.
As you know, I do not play VNs – and I now understand why I don’t. /blink/
It’s not the “game” aspect that bores me, it’s the excruciatingly slow reading mechanics. /unblink/
Having to page forward after every sentence makes me want to stab my eyes out with frustration. /blink/
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/
Not every sentence needs an illustration. Much less the same illustration repeated over and over. /blink/
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.
In 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!
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.