Archive for the Canno Category


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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Yuri Manga: Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo, Volume 5 (あの娘にキスと白百合を 5)

November 29th, 2016

aksyw5-e1476563876160Canno’s popular series, Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo, has made it to 5 volumes on the all-Yuri school formula.  It’s basically a Yuri trope du jour series, in a fantasy school, where adults are a vague concept and while boys are not unheard of, they are unseen. 

In Volume 5, we first run into Itou Sawa who is positive that Nishikawa Istuki hates her. HATES. Big glare-y eyes from across the room-type hates. But, of course, that is not at all what is going on. Itsuki is struggling with a memory that Sawa doesn’t share…but should.

The middle of the book turns to look hard at the primary couple of the series. Rumors are flying that the day after exams, both Kurozawa Yurine and Shiramine Ayaka were seen together at the seashore. It’s a school scandal, but we learn the truth that Ayaka, rejected again by her family for not being number one in scores, runs off to have a good cry. Yurine helps her ground herself, and gives Ayaka a focus for her energy. Ultimately, they return to  school and face down the rumors.

Finally, we take the time for Sawa and Itsuki to confront their shared history and potential present. I’m not going to syt it’s a stupid past, but under no circumstances am I to be held to any promise I made before 30, much less 5 years old. 

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 6
Characters – 7
Yuri – 8
Service – 1 on principle

Overall – 7

No, seriously. Any promises made in in kindergarten are no longer valid.

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Yuri Manga: Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo, Volume 3 (あの娘にキスと白百合を 3)

June 27th, 2016

AknSw3-e1440286973777Back in April, I picked up Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo, Volume 4, and realized suddenly that I had never gotten Volume 3. Durh! While in Japan, this volume was one of two I made sure I picked up, goshdarnit.

When Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo, Volume 3 (あの娘にキスと白百合を) begins, we turn our attention briefly back to the initial couple we met in Volume 1, Kurozawa Yurine and Shiramine Ayaka. Finals time always stress Ayaka out, as she is eternally chasing after Yurine, the natural genius who never studies. Ayaka tortures herself studying and studying and, as grades come in, Ayaka becomes more and more depressed. Yurine, the slacker and doofus, has beat her again. Yurine’s affection for Ayaka just becomes galling, until, finally, Ayaka gets a top score. Yurine admits that she’s just really at school and won’t really be sorry about that, but she does genuinely love Ayaka. Ayaka, her ego salved, is ready to accept Yurine’s feelings once again.

From here, we move on to the story of the president and vice president of the  drama club. Yurine (and therefore Ayaka) are dragged into the Gardening Club’s ongoing issues with the Student Council, a member of which appears to be dedicated to destroying the Gardening club. The arc, which does not get a “happy” ending,  much like the main arc in Volume 2, is about love and betrayal and growing up. It was, by far and away, the most adult so far of the arcs and also the most depressing, while still remaining sort of hopeful.

I keep saying this about this series – it appears at first glimpse to be another Marimite clone, but it is definitely it’s own thing. If there is one real criticism of the series, it’s that it’s one of those all-lesbian schools, where there don’t seem to be any straight girls and where nearly every character we meet has to be paired off.  Other than this quibble, we’ve met characters far richer than they first appeared to be.

Ratings:

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

Overall – 8

I’m actually finding myself looking forward to the next volume to see what happens (and hoping Ayaka can get past her  – totally valid – resentment of Yurine.)

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Yuri Manga: Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo, Volume 4 (あの娘にキスと白百合を 4)

April 25th, 2016

AkKnSYw4There is both good and bad about the “Yuri school” approach. It’s nice to see multiple couples set in the same world, but it’s also really very tiresome when nearly every character is introduced merely to be paired up.

In Volume 1 of Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo, (あの娘にキスと白百合を 4) we met Kurozawa and Shiramine, to opposite personalities who attract. And it was cute. In Volume 2, we watch a sempai-kohai couple with a protagonist who is a bit more fleshed out than the first volume. I thought I had read Volume 3, but appears I never reviewed it (and can’t remember it) so I may not have. Woops. ^_^

Here in Volume 4, we *mostly* spend time with childhood friends, track team manager Moe and her star runner Mizuki. Mizuki has an important meet to win, so Moe puts a curfew on their time together. Instead of helping Mizuki concentrate, it has the opposite effect. When Mizuki fails to qualify for the finals, the two take a good look at their feelings for one another and decide that they want to be together.

Their story is broken up with a sideline about a girl, Kaoru, who idolizes Kurozawa from the first volume. It’s a comedy of errors, but ends up with a shocking turn – the girls making new friends. It was a dorkily cute story and the extra added dimensions to the characters’ society made me smile.

While there’s  a little eye-trolling to be had in any series where it seems that half the girls are in love with the other half, at least this series isn’t in the habit of pairing everyone up. In the case of Kaoru’s arc, Yuri is a red herring.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 7 Cute, sweet, etc
Yuri – 8
Service – 1 on principle only

Overall – 8

It’s Yuri candy and not much more, but it’s cute Yuri candy. ^_^

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