Yuri Manga: Iono The Fanatics, Special Edition Volume 2 (新装版 いおの様ファナティクス 特装版 2)

September 21st, 2015

specialiono2-e1435708747225In Volume 1, we met Iono Mito Arceline, the charming Queen of a small western country, and her close attendants as she spends time in Japan looking for women with black hair to recruit as ladies-in-waiting. Iono-sama meets and woos a nice young woman by the name of Hachibe Eto to join her clan. Adventures, romance and comedy ensue.

In Iono The Fanatics, Special Edition Volume 2 (新装版 いおの様ファナティクス 特装版 2), the take begins with a quick visit to an old gag. Oue Ruiko (affectionately known as OL-chan) is once again made late by Iono-sama, but learns just who this weirdo is and, in a moment of honesty, explains why she cannot join Iono-sama – she wants a quiet, peaceful, average life. The Queen gives her her blessing and they part.

We return to the gathered staff and find that Argent is suffering a crisis after having lost to Klausoraus, forcing Iono-sama to fight the assassin herself. Iono-sama takes Arge out on a date and buys her some new clothes, allowing us a quick visit with characters from Fujieda-sensei’s independent Alice Quartet series.

Eto gets some insight on the workings of the Queendom, when she meets Aida’s lover Shinon and, in an extremely awkward moment, Shinon’s mother, the chief of all the sobame, Weisen Bellecoeur. It seems that the sobame back home, missing their Queen, have taken to forming factions and fighting. Iono-sama decides to go home. But, will Eto come with her? She asks this while seducing Eto, whose response is to give in, rather than to join in.

Then crisis erupts with the re-appearance of Klausoraus the assassin! Eto is kidnapped, forcing Iono-sama and the gang to rescue her, and the appearance of yet another besotted youngster, a Princess of the country next door to Iono-sama’s. Eto makes her decision as Iono-sama sweeps her off her feet, literally.

The epilogue of the book picks up 5 years later, when the gang returns to Japan. Old gags reappear and are just as silly, Flèche and Arata have a baby now, Argent and Princess Yama seem to be an item, and, as the book comes to an end, Iono-sama heads off to find more women. ^_^

It was both delightful and maddening to read this book. I find myself obsessed with the concept of the harem Queen. Is Iono-sama having 1000 ladies-in-waiting who are in love with her cute or irksome? Is her love worth fighting over? If this were a King would I be rolling my eyes?

I’m also (and I repeatedly state) obsessed with the names of the characters. Names are sort of Frenchish-ish, with some hint of German. So is Aida “Aida Bloomer,” or “Aida Bleumare”? I’m sort of leaning to the latter now, given the breakthrough I had with Weisen’s name.

And last, but in no way least, I’m surprisingly uncomfortable with Eto as uke. I mean, not as such, because it’s obvious the Queen is the aggressor, but because she’s so passive. Creepy, maguro-passive. A dead fish in bed. With a book so filled with competent, powerful woman, it seems weird that Iono-sama would be so charmed by a nothing like Eto. But, then maybe it’s because everyone else close to her is so strong, the Queen was looking for someone less forceful. But I can’t help but think that it’s not cool to see the “Japanese women are passive in bed” trope in a romance, not even (maybe not especially?) from a Japanese man. Overthinking things again, I know, but that’s what you pay me for. ^_^

Ultimately, this series aged a little better than Strawberry Shake, and was just as much fun to revisit. And I’m looking forward to new adventures and another new Drama CD (which at a glance appears to be at least a bit about Argent and Princess Yama. A good match, as Arge has no patience for Yama’s passive-aggressive ways. I will, of course, report back.)

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 10

Overall – 9

As I said in my original review of the series in 2005I recommend “Iono-sama Fanatics” highly for Yuri that makes you smile. For Yuri that is sexy without explicit sex, and funny and cute – this is an excellent example of the breed.

And so it is. ^_^

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2 Responses

  1. Mara says:

    I also felt a bit uncomfortable with Eto having such a passive part in the story. That is until the 5 years later epilogue where it seemed to me that Eto was actually one of the few sobame who can keep up with Iono 24/7 unlike anyone else. So if I were to read Eto’s character very generously I would say what we might see as over passiveness is her eventually working out her own ‘gentle way’ of dealing with Iono. A kind of middle ground between Kass and Aida.

    Actually Eto’s character archetype comes up in fiction aimed at women all the time in media from all over the world. I know it best from Otome games where the idea is to ‘be perused’ by your chosen character instead of ‘captureing’ them as in other games. I also see this in pup romance novels where the heroine is pulled into the story by simply existing and catching the eye of the love interest (of any gender) who then pulls them into their supposedly ‘different’ and ‘exciting’ world.

    It is certainly not a device I personally like but it is used a lot. Perhaps that is why Eto is so passive? She give us a way into the very inactive fantasy of being swept away from our boring life into Iono’s exciting one.

    When it comes to the idea of Iono as a harem queen I think what puts Iono way over the top compared to other harem series is that Iono herself is not the hub though which all the other characters are connected. We hear straight from Aida in this volume that plenty of the other sobame are involved with each other. So this harem is not truly focused on a single person Iono is just the most popular person in a vast web of relationships.

    This is the opposite of most supposed ‘harem’ stories; what I always disliked about harem stories was how dishonest the setting was with itself. The framing of what most people would describe as a ‘harem series’ is not really a harem at all but rather a load of characters all competing for the exclusive affection of another central character who is often incompetently written to be inactive and indecisive in an ineffective attempt to keep the tension of their ‘decision’ going for as long as possible.

    Iono on the other hand is incredibly up front about wanting to have as big a harem as she can get. This is what should really be thought of when we think of a harem story because the whole motivation of the main character at the beginning is increasing and maintaining their many polyamorous relationships.

    Wow… that got way too long, sorry. (#^^#)ゞ

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