Welcome to a Special Report brought to you by all the folks at YNN who want you to be able to buy all the Yuri manga. ^_^
Today, we’re going to be looking forward to 2017, which looks to be a watershed year for Yuri in English.
First, and almost unbelievably, Rose of Versailles, from Udon Press. Announced in 2015, we should be be seeing this around the new year.
Interestingly, this is *not* the first time this series has been translated into English. In 1983, the first two volumes were published here, translated by groundbreaking localizer Frederik L Schodt. Unfortunately, the series had no traction (or English audience) at the time. That failure may have contributed to the difficulties companies had in licensing this manga for English-language release for years after.
When Nozomi/RightStuf was able to successfully license and distribute the anime (which is now also streaming on Crunchyroll,) it signaled that a change was in the making…and now, in a much better environment, we at last will get this classic story of love and loss set in the French Revolution.
The book was written in the early 1970s and it shows. The uniforms will have bell-bottoms. The manga is more Yuri than the anime, Oscar and Rosalie have a somewhat more intimate relationship, with a lot of “what might have been”s. Everyone cries a lot. ^_^
For fans of schoolgirl romance or “pure” Yuri (which seems to mostly mean schoolgirls) MURCIELAGO, by Yoshimura Kana, is as far from what you like as possible. I really want to make this plain – this series is incredibly vile, full of guro, a fair amount of creepiness, some lolicon and extreme violence.
As I pointed out several times recently, in one issue when a woman is meat-hooked through the chest, it’s not even close to being the worst thing that happens in the volume.
I really want to make this point, because Yuri fans aren’t used to this kind of thing at all. They are used to schoolgirls in love, not predatory lesbians who are psychotic murderer protagonists. I quite like this series, but I will not defend it. It’s reprehensible. I still like it. ^_^ This series has 8 volumes so far in Japanese.
Lucky for the more delicate, Yen is also laying down a much kinder, gentler series, the breakout hit A Kiss and White Lily for Her.
This is a much more conventional school-life drama at a school where most of the characters we encounter will be in or want to be in a relationship with another girl. The main couple is a typical sort of opposites attract, but succeeding volumes have had better depth and subtlety. Not all the relationships have happy endings, which I appreciated.
It’s an ongoing series, with 5 volumes currently and a Drama CD.
Seven Seas is in the market bringing us the Kindred Spirits on the Roof tie-in manga volumes, which are called Side A and Side B. They are largely about non-game characters, although some of the game characters (and the ghosts) make cameo appearances.
These two volumes were better than I expected in a lot of ways – primarily, the lack of service. Coming from a game in which the couples are somewhat expected to have sex, it was pretty refreshing that these were basically character stories, with some romance.
Seven Seas also has a breakout hit license to it’s credit, Bloom Into You.
This story appears to be another schoolgirl romance, but it’s also a look at asexuality or, possibly, aromanticism, (although, not spoken of as such) and has therefore been a unique story. I’m still not sure where it’s going, yet.
This is two volumes so far, the series is on-going as of right now, but I could easily see it wrapped up in 3.
Seven Seas also has two Morinaga Milk announcements.
Secret of the Princess, a single-volume series that follows a couple involved in a sham relationship that becomes something more than it was. It was a series that started from a pretty lame place that improved as it went on.
The strength of this story was in the characters, who broke out of the molds they were written in to and turned out to be somewhat less 2-dimensional by the end of the volume.
Morinaga’s newest series, Hana and Hina Afterschool is not a surprising title for Seven Seas, as they’ve licensed all of her other Yuri work, but it’s a welcome addition.
The so-far 2 volumes follow two classmates who also have an after-school job together. It’s not a huge departure from her normal “Story A” girl-meets-girl type of narrative, but it’s been very enjoyable, so far. I’m hoping for Morinaga’s sake that it goes to a third volume. Gakuen Polizi just sort of died on the line, and she deserves another series that goes more than 2 books.
Last of the Seven Seas licenses, but not at all least, in my opinion, is a series that made my Top Ten Lists several times and Best of the year in 2014. Takashima Hiromi’s Kase-san series, starting with Kase-san and Morning Glories, follow two schoolgirls (you see why I like MURCIELAGO so much, yes?) who meet and fall in love.
Yamada and Kase are given time to develop a happy, healthy and very real relationship. It’s a schoolgirl romance that is pretty trope-y, but feels fresh and real anyway. I very much like that the romance is not rushed through. Them getting to know each other is the plot. I’m really excited for this 3-volume series!
Phew. That’s 8 series so far and I’m not done.
Viz Media has entered the Yuri playing field for the first time and they are going big with Shimura Takako’s Sweet Blue Flowers. This 8-volume series is, in many way, a distillation of every “Yuri” story ever, with an added genuine connection between a somewhat typical Yuri plot and being lesbian.
Fumi’s coming out as part of the narrative is one of the things that sets this series apart from so many others of it’s kind.
This will be the third time Sweet Blue Flowers manga has been licensed for English, but the first in print. Because the licensor is Viz, there’s a pretty high likelihood of it being printed to completion, but ultimately, that up to us. If we don’t buy it, it’ll be no one else’s fault if it’s canceled again. And for those folks who say they only buy print, not digital, this is the moment when they have to walk the talk.
Here’s hoping this is a huge success for Viz.
And as of just a few hours ago, we have some really exciting news today! Something I have been looking forward to for months, since the first volume. Tagame Gengoroh’s My Brother’s Husband is being published by Pantheon Books and Gay Manga. This will be released in summer 2017 as a single omnibus volume containing all 3 volumes of the manga.
This completely realistic, heartbreakingly honest look at the passive homophobia of Japanese tradition, and the change in one man’s life when he meets his late brother’s husband is going to blow people away. It’s an amazing manga and should be on everyone’s to-read list for 2017.
So there you have it. 2017 will bring us 10 great Yuri/LGBTQ series in manga. Bookmark this space, as soon as pre-order links are available, you’ll have ’em. One last note – what impresses me most here is the variety of publishers. It’s never a good thing to have one western publisher’s relationship with one Japanese publisher be our only source. There’s work here from several Japanese publishers and multiple American localizers. That’s the sign of a healthy market.
Get ready and save your money up. 2017 is going to be the Year of Yuri!