Naturize, a collection of shorts by Aoto Hibiki, is some of the best and worst I’ve seen out of Comic Yuri Hime at the same time.
The first story “Yuri no onee-san” is drawn from the perspective of a elementary school age boy about his next door neighbors who are clearly a couple. It’s written sympathetically, if simplistically. The focus is on the kid’s recognition that these two women make each other happy and that they belong together.
I’m going to take a moment here to address a question I received today – do I feel that Comic Yuri Hime is becoming less Yuri with the inclusion of more male characters? No, I don’t. With some reservations. I’ve repeatedly expressed my disinterest in Yuri Danshi and it’s spin-off for being about unreal and not terribly compelling stereotypes of what appear to me to be online fanboy personalities. Even the female characters’ obsession with onee-samaing and gokigenyouing seems much more common among male fans than the female fans I encounter regularly. In my opinion, it’s a pastiche of stereotypes, not a realistic expression of fandom. The other series that has male characters running right now is NTR” and that I whole-heartedly agree isn’t Yuri in any but the slimiest and grossest way. It’s Yuri like lesbian porn is Yuri.
But this story, “Yuri no onee-san” isn’t about the boy at all. It’s about the women, and their lives together. As much as some fans (quite often the same ones who enjoy all that gokigenyouing) prefer Yuri stories in which there are no male persons of any kind, such as Sakura Trick, and others in which the guy is the point, such as Yuri Danshi, I quite like stories in which men exist, with names and faces (creepy faceless guys are creepy) but aren’t the point, Aoi Hana, for instance. or “Yuri no Onee-san”.
The rest of the stories in this collection never quite live up to the strength of the opener, and, about halfway through the volume I became obsessed with the characters’ eyelashes, which are drawn so oddly, that I found them visually disturbing. Let me see if I can find you a picture.
Every character has these petal eyelashes and they made me crazy. (-_-)
The final story, from which this panel is taken, follows a girl, Alice, who believes she is Alice from Alice in Wonderland. Her friends are Akazukin-chan, that is to say Little Red Riding Hood, on account of her red hoodie, and Yuki-hime, Snow White. When a middle schooler confesses to Yuki-hime, Alice is thrown into a tizzy. She was convinced for so long that she was the wonderland Alice, but promised to stop telling people that, because even her parents got angry about it. It was Yuki-hime who saved her and she’s loved her ever since. But now a prince is poised to steal her princess away! Alice collapses trying to tell Yuki-hime her feelings and is able to finally do so when Yuki-hime admits that she is the real Snow White, after all. The prince doesn’t have a chance though, since this Snow White loves Alice.
It was a little non-linear, generally cute, but those eyelashes. (-_-)
Art – Erm, starts 8ish, then sort of drifts downwards
Story – Variable, 6 average
Characters – 6 No one loathesome, but outside “Yuri no onee-san” no one I’d care to have lunch with
Service – 4
Yuri – The first story – 7, the rest – 4
Overall – 5
My opinions of both the art and content in this book are strongly colored by my reaction to Aoto-sensei’s next work, Prince Princess, which started off as a vaguely stridently comedy (Volume 1 is available on the Yuricon Shop,) but has recently morphed into blatant end vile service. Despite there being no male characters in the story, it still manages to focus on sexual characteristics and faux-sexual situations in a way which is clearly focused on the male readership. I’m deeply disappointed and actively repulsed by the recent chapters.