Yuri Manga: Gakuen Polizi, Volume 2 (English)

February 5th, 2017

Time is a funny thing. I first reviewed Gakuen Polizi, Volume 2 when it came out in Japanese. And, since then, I’ve found myself increasingly dissatisfied with the narrative. So much so, that I reviewed Gakuen Polizi, Volume 1 in English in 2014(!) and have been stalling on Volume 2 since.  Today, at last, I’m sitting down to talk with you about Gakuen Polizi, Volume 2 in English from Seven Seas.

Why? You don’t have to ask, because obviously I am going to tell you. ^_^

You know the phrase Women in Refrigerators? It was coined by comic writer and amazing human, Gail Simone. I’m going to be lazy and quote Wiki here:

It refers to an incident in Green Lantern #54 (1994), written by Ron Marz, in which Kyle Rayner, the title hero, comes home to his apartment to find that his girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, had been killed by the villain Major Force and stuffed into a refrigerator. Simone and her colleagues then developed a list of fictional female characters who had been “killed, maimed or depowered”, in particular in ways that treated the female character as merely a device to move a male character’s story arc forward, rather than as a fully developed character in her own right.

In subsequent years, we’ve had many discussions in comics and other popular media about “fridging” and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s “sexy lamp test” about which she said

“If you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.”

In a nutshell, these issues are part of the disenfranchising of female characters. And, to some extent, they are also part of the de-nuancing of the villains. In the weekend after watching Steven Universe “That Will Be All” in which we were gifted with fabulously nuanced and evocative performances from the villains of the story, it’s kind of brute-force narrative to have to turn to a manga in which a female character is almost gang raped on film just to show you how bad the nameless baddies are. UGH.

So, yeah, that’s why. ^_^

There are some other problematic things about the story. The relationship between a student and a teacher might be sincere, but will always be fraught. It was presented with some, but not enough context, just enough to make both characters sympathetic and the story less ham-handed, but the situation was still creepy.

Sometimes, when I write a story, I find it taking off into a dark place. I’ve cut out tens of thousands of words in stories when the idea needed to be treated with a light hand and kept crawling into a dark corner. This story needed that. It worked best when it was dealing with moments of human frailty and not big crime rings. 

The ending makes sense best if you recognize the characters from a doujinshi Morinaga-sensei drew decades ago. To be honest, I assumed from the beginning that that story was the kernel for this manga. 

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 6
Service – 8 Way more service than the first volume

Overall – 7

I would not rate this series among Morinaga-sensei’s best. I’m glad it’s in the past and that she’s moved on to Hana to Hina ha Houkago, which will be coming out in English as Hana and Hina Aterschool this spring. 

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6 Responses

  1. Mariko says:

    You kinda nailed all the reasons I had trouble articulating about why I didn’t care much for this series. I have reread Girlfriends a few times but would never go back to this one. I still wish she’d do something that goes on past the “I love you” moment you mentioned in your lecture. It was easily the most frustrating thing about Girlfriends. I was all, “that’s it?!”

    You talked about the “moment of indecision” being the key part of many Japanese narratives, but is there really no cultural appetite for a story where that is just one peak on the rollercoaster? That explores what comes next?

    • This is exactly why I like Collectors. There is appetite, among women who are looking for representation, rather than an audience looking for fantasy. Morinaga’s work runs in a comic magazine for adult men. There’s definitely an ally on the editorial side, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t also trying to sell a story.

  2. Will says:

    I know what you mean. I just recently read a story not too long ago with a student-teacher romance and you could really tell the writer was trying REALLY hard to make it clear these are very specific circumstances and that it isn’t a blanket endorsement of grown women dating teenage girls, but it still comes off as weird.

    Like, the fact that the author realizes it’s skeevy enough that it needs to be justified/explained away is itself slightly disconcerting, if that makes sense.

  3. Michelle says:

    Picked up the first volume after reading Girlfriends and Kisses, Sighs and Cheery Blossom Pink and was disappointed. Was never really in a rush to read the next volume; that feeling continues.

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