Archive for the Canno Category


Yuri Manga: Kiss and White Lily For My Dearest Girl, Volume 3 (English)

October 12th, 2017

Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl, Volume 3,  follows the drama of the school’s garden club into which resident school genius Kurozawa Yurine is roped.

Yukina, the Gardening Club President  is determined to save the school rose garden despite the opposition of the Student Council. Only, it turns out that they aren’t the real problem at all. 

As I said in my review of this volume in Japanese, the story here is about love and betrayal and growing up. The drama of the Gardening Club  is watching characters having to deal being betrayed and betraying others and still finding some sense of hope and growth, much like the roses that are at the center of the drama. 

This seems especially true when we spend a few moments with Yurine and Ayaka. Ayaka’s protests are getting weaker as Yurine’s honesty and, for lack of a better term, purity of intent, have worn down her resistance.

Despite the big lie that drives the plot, this volume leaves one with a feeling thaat, rather despite themselves, the characters are growing and changing. One hopes, of course, for the better.

Jocelyne Allen again is doing an excellent job of translation, preserving each character’s unique voice  The Yen team’s technical reproduction, lettering, touchup are all clean. When you pick this book up, you get to slide into an authentic  manga reading experience without being thrown out of the moment by anything. I’m old enough to remember how many years this wasn’t true and to still appreciate it every single time. ^_^ I also want to shout out to the really excellent work on the cover – and especially the spine design, that perfectly captures the font and feel of the delicate text used on the original. It looks really nice. 

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 8 Less cute and sweet before, but more complicated instead.
Yuri – 8
Service – 1 on principle only

Overall – 8

Many sincere thanks to the team at Yen for an excellent work and now, having moved past the weakest volumes of Kiss and White Lily, we can buckle down for a more complex, and more compelling, story. Volume 4 will be out at the end of November, so get ready for more!

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Yuri Manga: Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo, Volume 6 (あの娘にキスと白百合を)

June 6th, 2017

If you enjoyed Volume 2 of Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo (Or Volume 2 of Kiss & White Lily For My Dearest Girl) you will probably like Volume 6 of Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo (あの娘にキスと白百合を).

Chiharu and Izumi have grown closer, but when a classmate gives Izumi a flower with a red ribbon (a newly forged class tradition, in which the color of the ribbon signals your emotional intention; friend, love, etc) Chiharu abandons her own desire for intimacy with Izumi. Izumi rejects Amane, who takes it well enough, and forces Chiharu to face up to her lingering attachment to Hoshino-sempai, before the two of them can be the couple we want them to be. 

Amane tries again, but her classmate Hiroma, while actually interested in her, is not a very extroverted…and is swayed from response by Amane’s bestie Nina, who turns out to have it bad for Amane. The ending for this threesome is clearly illustrated on the cover.

I’m glad the story has circled back on Chiharu and Izumi, as she has previously done for Yurine and Ayaka. It’s nice to know that we’re going to get a little bit more than just “I like you. The End” for some of the strongest characters. The art’s getting more detailed, too. I can’t help but wonder if Canno-sensei has picked up a bunch of extra assistants with her new fame. ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 6 A bit pat, but okay
Characters – 7 New characters feel a bit thin at the moment, even as the older ones are getting more developed
Yuri – 5
Service – 1 on principle only

Overall – 7

The thing that keeps bringing me back to this series (aside from the fact that it’s ubiquitous and I can’t escape it ^_^) is the different forms the relationships take. They are far more complicated than the ones I remember from my high school, for sure. ^_^

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Yuri Manga: Kiss & White Lily for My Dearest Girl, Volume 2 (English)

May 31st, 2017

Hoshino-sempai is graduating and Ai is in a panic. She ‘s desperate to not lose her beloved astronomy-loving sempai – even going so far as wishing for her to fail her exam, but really, she doesn’t want that at all. Ai just wants things to stay the same between Chiharu, Hoshino-sempai and herself. In the end, she’s able to send Hoshino-sempai off with a gift that will give her the stars whenever she wants.

Chiharu has another problem. She’s Hoshino-sempai’s roommate and she’s fallen in love with her. She fights with Hoshino, and while hiding out comes across a lowerclassman breaking a minor rule by riding a bike to school. Chiharu starts to watch over Izumi, ostensibly to catch her riding the bike, but as she and Izumi get to know each other, and Izumi gets involved in Chiharu’s spat with Hoshino-sempai. They make up, but Chiharu has realized that she is starting to have feelings for Izumi now. Hoshino is able to graduate without any unresolved regrets, and Chiharu and Izumi move off into their next year, able to support one another.

Kiss & White Lily for My Dearest Girl, Volume 2 is about the pressures unrequited love creates in the person for whom that love is consuming. The object of the emotion may or may not know just hw much they affect the other person, but the lesson has to be that your like is not contract – the other person has every right to continue their life without you.  Both Ai and Chiharu must let go of Hoshino…it’s not her responsibility to stay for them.

In the final chapter, our protagonist from Volume 1,  Ayaka, meets Yurine’s little sister, who casts her as a rival for Yurine’s attention. While Shiramine protests she doesn’t *want* Kurozawa’s attention, after spending a few moments looking at her self-proclaimed rival through the eyes of her admiring sister, Ayaka can really see just how amazing Yurine is.

What I like best – and what can be seen clearly here in Volume 2 of this ongoing series – is how *different* all the relationships we’ll see are. Yes, Ayaka and Yurine are the love/hate rival couple, but there won’t be another one just like that. The school setting makes this very much a “Yuritopia” series, but within that setting, we’re going to be getting a wide variety of character and relationships.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 8 More realistic than the set-up for the first volume
Yuri – 5
Service – 1 on principle only

Overall – 8

Volume 3 will be out in August, and pre-orders are available now. If you’re looking for Yuri that takes a basic schoolgirl trope and gives us some great character development, Kiss & White Lily For My Dearest Girl is an excellent bet.

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Yuri Manga: Kiss & White Lily For My Dearest Girl, Volume 1 (English)

April 24th, 2017

Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo broke into the Yuri marketplace in 2014. Although it recycled well-worn Yuri tropes, it found a willing audience with the (primarily male) readership of Comic Alive. Subsequent volumes ran with the “Yuritopia” idea and used it to tell increasingly complex and interesting stories centered around relationships at a fantasy all-girl school. I find that, as the stories move away from the first volumes, they have become more interesting – even the relationship of the main couple has moved past it’s initial boundaries.

And here we are, able to enjoy those volumes in English, with Yen Press’ release of the series as Kiss & White Lily for my Dearest Girl. In Volume 1  we meet pathologically hardworking  Shiramine Ayaka and slacker genius Kurozawa Yurine. 

As I’ve said several times recently, this particular set up is somewhat teeth grinding for me. ^_^ I’m not saying it’s unrealistic or anything, au contraire, I know several of those geniuses and let me tell you how *vexing* it is to work one’s ass off only to never be as good. ^_^ So, despite her melodrama, I’m on team Ayaka, all the way. And, if it weren’t for the fact that Yurine was also on team Ayaka, I would have chucked this series away a long time ago. ^_^

But there we are, Yurine has that even more vexing quality of being sincerely lovely as a person. Ayaka is wholly unprepared for liking her rival and even less prepared to be liked in return. Nonetheless, as their like slips causally into “like” like, Ayaka becomes somewhat less unprepared for everything.

A side story starring Ayaka’s cousin Mizuki and her closest friend and track team manager Moe, adds a little typicality to the story and gives the volume another well-worn path to walk through the lilies.

On the negative side, this series inhabits that all-female fantasy world in which adults and men exist only as shadows and barriers to happiness. It’s all a little tiresome. But, ultimately, despite the fact that this series is a “pair-’em-up” it works because none of the characters are unlikable. No matter how well-trod the paths might be, when we can sympathize with the characters, we’ll want them to be happy. We want them to give hope to all the girls who might read this series and imagine that kind of happiness for themselves and hope that some of the guys reading might just get that this is a valid way to be that doesn’t actually involve them and is still okay.

Overall, this series translated well to English. again thanks to the deft touch of Jocelyne Allen (who apparently is the current queen of Yuri translation!) I wasn’t sure if the screaming and melodrama might work, but I’m well-satisfied with the results. Technicals are otherwise well done and once again, I feel that this volume offers the kind of authentic reading experience that fans crave. 

Ratings:

Art – 8 
Story – 8
Characters – 7 
Yuri – 8
Service – 1 on principle only

Overall – 8

This ran in Comic Alive, but it could have run in a girls’ magazine as art and story are firmly rooted in shoujo stereotypes. Volume 2 will be out at the end of May!

Many thanks to Yen Press and Brgid Alverson for the review copy for this volume. ^_^

 

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Top Yuri Manga of 2016

December 29th, 2016

I started these lists because I’m very bad at recommendations, and while that has not changed, I do think it’s worth taking the time out every year to note the stories that surprised and pleased me over the course of year. If you have also enjoyed any of these in scanlation, please buy the original, even if you cannot read it. 2017 will present an extraordinary opportunity for you to get many of these in English, so there’s really no excuse! I know that Okazu readers are very likely to contribute to the Yuri ecosystem and for that, I thank you all. And, with that….Welcome to the Okazu Top Yuri Manga List for 2016! 

 

10. Mahou Josei Chimaka

There’s a number of reasons I wanted to put this graphic novel on the list. The first and most important reason was that it was good! I really enjoyed the storytelling and the characters. I love stories that take a look at after the story ends, and this story was that AND a fun magical woman story AND had a WoC lead AND was just generally cute as the proverbial button.  And it was from Sparkler Monthly, which is the one fully truly original English language women-focused comic and prose magazine. I cannot begin to tell you how important I think this magazine is.  Yes I can…I think it’s immensely important.  For all these reasons, Mahou Jose Chimaka makes my best-of list for the year. ^_^

 

9. 2DK, G Pen Mezamashitokei

I love this story. I want so badly to take Nanami out and have a good long talk with her. Sure I want her and Kaede happy together, but honestly, I don’t really care about Kaede, I want Nanami to be happy. 

I love Ohsawa Yayoi’s art, which has really leveled up. I love that it’s a story about adult women that has adult things like face soap and nice clothing and marketing promotions at work. 

Volume 2 made me think that I couldn’t wait to read Volume 3. And that’s why it’s on the list. ^_^

 

8. Hana to Hina ha Houkago

Morinaga Milk has had a rough couple of series. Trying so desperately to apply a “Yuri” formula to characters she should have felt free to just tell the right story for, is no fun. But it feels like she’s hit her stride again in Hana to Hina ha Houkago, with a cute, cherub-faced innocent and ever-so-slightly-more-worldly girl who loves girly things. It’s a formula she’s used before, but it’s working here. I’m enjoying this series and hope she’ll be allowed to, and want to do, something beyond another coming out drama.

Coming in 2017, we’ll all be able to enjoy this story in English with Hana and Hina After School. Volume 1 and Volume 2 are already up for pre-order!

 

7. Last Waltz

Katakura Ako’s art is a trainwreck and so was the story, but this highschool Jane Bond just really appealed to me.  Shinobu took everything annoying about the “nonverbal anti-hero” wrapped it up in a school uniform, her ‘M’ was everything annoying about every ‘M’ ever….and slathered in Yuri for no reason. I loved it.  

This is not even the only title on this year’s list that had no redeeming qualities. ^_^

 

6. Seesaw Game/Renai Log/ My First Lady

Takemiya Jin continues to be an absolute machine at putting out good-to-excellent Yuri. And I continue to enjoy the heck out of it. 

Her art has come a long way, her touch in storytelling is so deft that I’m probably holding her to higher standards than I have ever held anyone else. It’s not fair, but she’s just that good. It’s always a good year for Yuri when her work has to be this far down the list. ^_^

 

5. Yagate Kimi ni Naru

This is a manga that is on the list as much for the splash it made, both here and in Japan, as it is for my reaction to it. The formula was typical…and not typical at the same time. The story is playing with the audience, making us dance to it’s tune, rather than rushing forward into the most obvious ending.

The art is clean, the characters have depth and you’ll be able to start the new year off with the first volume of this series in English, from Seven Seas as Bloom Into You, Volume 1.

 

4. Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo 

Another series on the list that is here as much for General Effect as it is for anything else.  While the world may not have needed another all-Yuri couple school, Canno has included some slightly-less typical stories and created characters that exceeded their initial boundaries. I’m also just really glad that Canno’s got a breakout hit. Every artist ought to have at least one series that catches the Zetigest.  

And, again, you can celebrate 2017 with the first volume of the English–language release of Cannos’ series, Kiss and White Lily for my Dearest Girl.

 

Which brings us to my Top 3 manga for the year. The shuffling around on this list has been shell-game worthy, but these are the three that landed on the top. ^_^

 
3. Murcielago

I warned you that Last Waltz wasn’t the only manga on the list that had no redeeming qualities, so you should have, honestly, expected this one. ^_^

Murcielago is ugly, it’s violent, the sex is nasty, the characters are cracked. The plots are absurd strings of ways to kill and dismember people and the dialogue is absurd. When it hits low points, it gets really low. Lower than Weather Woman low.

High points include creative ways for horrible people to die, consensual lesbian sex and perfectly matched psychopaths fighting.

And! You too can read this “violence Yuri manga” in English in 2017 from Yen Press (I like to pretend I don’t know why) as Murciélago, Vol. 1. Isn’t that amazing and cool? I certainly think so!

With so many of these titles coming out in English next year, it’s a fair bet you’ll see some back on the list next year. ^_^

2. Comic Yuri Hime Renewal

I’m not going to lie here. I was on absolute pins and needles about the January 2017 issue of Comic Yuri Hime, especially after Ichijinsha was bought by Kodansha. I was worried for a lot of reasons. Comic Yuri Hime had just gone through a cover series of extreme moe-blob faced covers, and a cover “story” which had me stabbing my eyes out with boredom and disgust.

There were, still, artists I liked, but how long would they be allowed to remain…and most of all, would we get anything ever again that was even remotely original? I don’t hate school girls, I just wanted a frikkin’ story that isn’t the same exact thing over and over. 

While Comic Yuri Hime is not (and never can be, if it is to survive,) perfect, I was super pleased to see some genuinely original stories and new artists who didn’t need to retread the same old stories. Kind of out of relief, but also because I was so genuinely pleased at the direction the magazine is taking, the Comic Yuri Hime renewal is number 2 on the list!

No drumrolls, no cutesy leadups. This year my top Yuri Manga is….

 

1. Collectors, Volume 2

This manga has everything I’ve ever wanted in a manga. Adult women in a commited relationship, with lives and friends and family and snark and romance….

Shinobu collects books and Takako collects clothes and they love each other very much, even if they’ll never understand the other’s obsession. 

Nishi UKO’s art is slick and adult and beautiful and I physically relax everytime I look at it. Collectors is everything a Yuri manga could be if it was ever allowed to grow up.

 

My Top Yuri Manga for 2016 is, once again, Nishi UKO’s Collectors.

One more list to go…!

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