In 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.)
Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 10
Overall – 9
As I said in my original review of the series in 2005: I 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. ^_^