It only took me 6 years to finish GIRLS UPRISING, the collaboration between science fiction writer Fukami Makoto and illustrator Kazuaki. The story ran inside the cover of the 2010 reboot issues of Comic Yuri Hime, and the illustrations captured my attention. Unfortunately, I found the small type and weird color choices of the original an actual barrier to reading.
When the story was printed as a collection in 2014, I snapped it up…only to find the type just as small on pages about the same size as the magazine. That meant four 2″ tall horizontal rows of vertical text per page. My intentions were good, but it was just a hard book to read, physically. And the story (which is rather messy) didn’t make it compelling. It kept falling to the bottom of the pile.
And now I’m here to tell you, for once the reviews on Amazon JP and I agree. This book is not Fukami’s best work.
In a post-apocalyptic world, at a school for girls where the discipline/security committee assures the students’ safety by carrying around lovingly described guns, we end up following a character so unlikable I actually waved goodbye as she headed off to certain death.
Chisato and Kotono are gun-bearing members of the disciplinary and student council. They are best friends and lovers. Kotono is a bit moody. Chisato is a jerk. She leaves Kotono for Sayaka, then proceeds to be a jerk to her, too. Kotono finds solace in the loyalty of her vice president, Megumi. And while we spend oodles of time following these young ladies arguing and buying bathing suits, a completely different story is happening across town.
In the tower across town, lives an evil scientist, Musaki Origa and her lover/guinea pig Hyouko. Hyouko is cared by for by the android Chanel who predictably, is the 5th of her kind. What, exactly, the experiments are for, are vague. Something about an elixir of youth, but really, it’s just torture porn. Hyouko is determined to escape from the tower. Chanel, who seems to have fallen in love with her, is willing to help.
Somewhere else in this war-torn town in which shopping malls that sell bikinis and bottled water still exist, another girl, Tatsuki, meets and saves a girl in a wheelchair, Kiriko. Tatsuki, we learn, was Kotono’s former lover.
As an aside, I always find it a little silly when high school aged characters speak of “long ago” or “former lovers” as if they are 47 instead of 17. ^_^
Tatsuki relays to Chisato that her sister is the girl in the tower and Chisato tells Sayaka that her only true love is her twin sister, Hyouko. She runs off to save her sister/certain death. Bye, Chisato! You’re a jerk! I said, waving. But, no, Sayaka, Megumi and Kotono head after her.
In a crappy no-malls or bikinis part of town Chisato saves a little girl from rapists, but they are both captured by the bad guy pedophile who had never been mentioned until now, who wants to rape the girl. Chisato and the girl, Midori, are tortured a bit, then the guy’s hands are blown off. The cavalry has arrived. We kill all the bad guys and… the book ends.
Um, but what about Hyouko? Dunno. She escaped but…
This story, which was originally presented as a series of standalone chapters just didn’t work all that well with the new, final, messy chapter. In retrospect, the only two chapters that worked on their own at all were Hyouko’s story “Rapunzel” and Tatsuki and Kiriko’s brief flash of happiness.
Kazuaki’s illustrations still hold up well enough, but the novel just felt forced and fetishy without any of Fukami’s typical skill in weaving a good story.
Art – 8
Story – 5
Characters – mostly 6, but Chisato was a jerk – 3
Yuri – 9
Service – 9 Practically nothing but
Overall – 6
Making the unlikable Chisato the protagonist was a terrible idea. But there were still decent moments. So not unreadable, just not great.