It’s been a long time since I last reviewed a volume of Marine Corps Yumi and I appear to have skipped Volume 3. This is entirely because I simply could not yet bring myself to deal with it. And, I’m going to be honest, reading this volume was hard. Ana and I had a lot of conversations about this in 2014-5.
Author Anastasia Moreno died in July 2015 of a very aggressive form of cancer and pretty much I think of her nearly every day. She was a great person and we had a lot of fun together. I catch myself saying “Dammit, Ana” about 4 times a week when she comes up in conversation. But I know that Marine Corps Yumi was her magnum opus and she’d be pissed that I wasn’t reviewing it. So today, I’m taking a much-delayed look at Volume 4 of Marine Corps Yumi (まりんこゆみ) by Anastasia Moreno and Nogami Takeshi. Nogami-sensei is still drawing the comic, which is still available in Japanese online for free.
Volume 4 is notable to me for several reasons. One, it contains the chapter for which Ana and Nogami-sensei, Tachibana Remi-san and Bruce and I went to a Takarazuka show together. All that punching just to give Japanese Self-Defense Force translator Sawa-san a personality. ^_^ Turns out she joined the JSDF when she didn’t make it into Takarazuka. I applaud that level of uniform fetishtry.
Sawa-san’s greatest moment, though, is when she encourages Donna King to try her hand at translating and Donna turns out to be pretty good at it…although her strategic exercises manuals come off sounding way more like BL novels than anything else. The look on Sawa’s face is brilliant as she reads Donna’s translation of coming in from behind and outflanking the enemy. Ana laughed for about an hour while telling me about that chapter. ^_^
We learn about the different kinds of promotions, as Yumi and her teammates all make Lance Corporal one way or another. Linda’s route is the hardest as she has to go through the exam process, but we all knew she’d get there. We learn about the different assignments the ladies get (except Rita, who was snapped up by intelligence and everything she does is classified.) And of course we get insight on Yumi’s long, exhausting days as an interpreter.
The bulk of the book is about the military’s interactions, both positive and negative, with Okinawans. Rita Fernandez, although she comes from a marine family, was born on Okinawa and considers it home. Her love for the place, and her desire to educate her friends and us about the real and allegorical ghosts of the war is deeply touching. I shed real tears as an old soldier and an exorcist help a wandering soul find his final “at ease.”
And, at last, we meet Yumi’s new roommate, the foul-mouthed, perpetually angry blue-eyed blonde haired predatory lesbian and Yuri fan, Erica Bush. Named after me and a former US President, Erica is a terrible human. ^_^
When Ana first floated the idea of a lesbian character with me, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was still enforced. We talked about how to indicate she was gay without her being so obvious that she’d be booted. But by the time she arrived in the narrative, everything had changed and she could just be openly gay. So, yeah. Marine Corps Yumi finally has a lesbian and she’s an absolute asshole. I think she’s hilarious and awful.
Erica macks hamhandedly on Linda, she and Donna can see they are in sympatico yet, on opposite sides of the doujinshi aisles, and she terrifies Yumi. I adore her, as you can imagine. She’s my very first character in homage and I will treasure her forever.
Art – 8
Story – 9 Man, it’s always a bad allergy day when I read Yumi, my eyes get all teary
Characters – 8
Yuri – 6 Yuri, thy name is Erica!
Service – 5 Equal opportunity for those who like boys and girls this time!
Overall – 9
Thanks, Ana. Thinking of you again today.