Archive for the Takemiya Jin Category


Yuri Manga: Galette, Issue 1 ( ガレット創刊号)

June 15th, 2017

It doesn’t take a lot of industry insider knowledge to note that collaboration and crowdfunding are driving the independent comics industry these days. The number of comics anthologies coming out in the west is staggering. These are all the books that the mainstream publisher don’t have room in the budget to back, but which clearly have a space ready and waiting for them on reader’s shelves. The crowdfunding/collaboration bug hasn’t quite caught on in Japan as much, perhaps because mainstream manga publishing has a lot more room for what we consider “indie” comics and because the comic markets have created an economy that makes it relatively simple for people to self-publish, something we haven’t had in the USA until very recently.

There are some notable changes in the Japanese manga landscape. Digital publishing has taken off through Kindle, Kobo, Renta! and other sites, and online distribution has picked up on Pixiv and Note.mu. So manga artists who were formerly required to dance to the tune of a monolithic publisher’s editorial staff can now just opt out and carve out space on their own. Or fill in the gaps between work with established magazines by keeping the content coming online.

Which brings me to today’s review.  The inaugural issue of Galette is a fascinating combination of all of these factors. Folks who work together on magazines, who sell near each other at comic markets got together to create a collaborative “mook.” They crowdfunded it online, and are publishing and selling it online and at shows. 

The names associated with Galette are (at least to readers of this blog) legendary. Amano Shuninta, Takemiya Jin, Momono Moto, Hakamada Mera, Yotsuhara Furiko, Otomo Megane, Otsu Hiyori. If these names seem familiar to you, you might remember that they were among the line-up of Tsubomi magazine. And if there is a single criticism I have of Galette it is that it reads like an issue of Tsubomi magazine. Not that Tsubomi was bad. I just hoped that, away from the constricted ideal of “Yuri,” Tsubomi presented, these authors would fly. Some of them do run pretty well, but no one gets lift-off velocity. The issue also includes a number of names I’m not familiar with, urisugata, Yatosaki Haru, Yorita Miyuki, Asube Yui, and Haman Ringo, all of whom present well-constructed and well-drawn shorts. I’m going to take a stab that some of these folks are assistants of better-known artists, just from their familiar, but not identical, styles.

Most of the stories are firmly in the well-worn, comfortable groove of schoolgirl narrative. Not all, but most. And even some of these were a bit unusual and some outright challenging, so the creators must get credit for that.

Momono Moto’s opening salvo gave me some real hope, with a charmingly unrealistic encounter and a great ending that could lead to more…either on or off screen, depending if she continues it or not. Takemiya Jin’s story hit me in my soft spot for yanki girls, and almost all of the other stories were good to very good. A number of the stories really delve into the mindsets of the characters in the way that one doesn’t see too often.

What I’m hoping to see, honestly is, what happens when these excellent artists find themselves unfettered. Will any of them hit heights they only dreamed of, or is tales of young women in love what they really wanted to tell all along? I guess we’ll find out. ^_^

Thanks to Paul on the FB group, we know know that Galette, Volume 1 is available on US Kindle as well! It’s still in Japanese, but you can get the digital version on non-JP Kindle. That’s all kind of awesome.

Ratings:

Art – 9 This is some of the best work I’ve seen from everyone in this book
Story- 8 Variable, but good.
Characters – 7 Variable, some of whom are really weird. ^_^
Service – 2 Surprisingly little, now that I think about it.
Yuri – 10

Overall – 8

Volume 2 is already available and sitting on my to-read pile. I hope this mook series is industry-changing. I really do.

Last year at MoCCA, creators who contributed to Power & Magic put together a map of where they’d all be at the event, so you could get as many signatures as possible. At TCAF, there was a secret  – I have no idea why it was secret, and how secret could it have been, really? – map of people selling Yuri on Ice! doujinshi. I think it would be really cool for the folks who contributed to Galette to post a map of their locations at Comitia or Comiket so you could stamp rally the signatures.

Today’s review is for Jin, who has been patiently waiting for me to get around to it. ^_^ 

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Yuri Manga: Fujyourina Atashi-tachi ( 不条理なあたし達)

May 24th, 2017

One of the qualities of a maturing genre is inclusion of non-trope material.For Yuri that means relationships involving adult women, especially women not in a school/college situation, and relationships that aren’t all rosy cheeks and “We’ll be together forever.”

In Fujyourina Atashi-tachi ( 不条理なあたし達) by Takemiya Jin, we get both these things at the same time. In the first short story, a woman has terrible taste in men and complains to her kouhai constantly until they kind of realize they might want to be together. In the second stoy, a woman is necessarily cruel to a coworker who likes her, because she likes her, which gives her a measure of power over the other woman.

The bulk of the book is a convoluted and, in many ways, dysfunctional relationship between Yamanaka and Taneda, colleagues in an office. Yamanaka is a selfish person, uninterested in other people. When she starts feeling a little attracted to Taneda, on the assumption that Taneda’s straight, she basically is barely civil. When Taneda invites her out to a local lesbian bar, their relationship becomes more  a lot more mean-spirited and fascinatingly (rather than destructively) manipulative. Yamanak starts of thinking she’s manipulating Tanedabut she’s not right. Where Taneda appears at first to be the baby seal waiting to be clubbed, in the end she’s the one who manges to train Yamanaka into being a human.

It’s a story about two crappy people who end up with a happy ending that they actually deserve. It was such a decent story, I read it twice through.

Ratings:

Art – 8 Her ability to capture complex expressions is still her strong point
Characters – 8 Not one of these people who be invited over for lunch. They are all kind of assholes. ^_^
Story – 8 Complex, adult, bitter and deep
Lesbian – 10

Overall – 8

This is Takemiya-sensei at her best, drawing short, pithy stories of lesbian life. Even when you don’t like the characters, she pulls a good story out of them. And this, while no “happily-ever-after,” is a good story.

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Yuri Manga: My First Lady (マイ・ファーストレディ)

March 9th, 2017

My First Lady (マイ・ファーストレディ) is a short story collection by Takemiya Jin of stories that ran in Comic Yuri Hime magazine. The single unifying factor is that, in each story, under unique circumstances, a girl realizes that she has feelings for another girl.

The stories themselves differ mostly by outcome. In the cover story, the girl gets the girl. In another, the girls gets the girls, but we can see that the relationship will be manipulative and creepy. In another, the girl does not get the girl. In the last, she may have been pining away for the wrong girl.

The collection is a bit like a “roll the dice” game version of Yuri story-telling, but while nothing is spectacular, it’s still enjoyable.

The one thing that remains tight throughout is Takemiya-sensei’s ability to capture enignmtaic and complex emotions in character’s expressions. Sometimes, I’ll spend more time on wondering what a character is thinking than worrying about the overt text, especially in shorts like these. 

So, while this isn’t a standout collection, it’s a good solid look at first love with a variety of outcomes.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 7
Character – 7
Yuri – 7
Service – 0

Overall – 7

I’m always happy to have another collection from Takemiya-sensei. ^_^

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Yuri Manga: Renai Log (恋愛ログ)

February 16th, 2017

Are you the kind of person who saves the best for last or who goes for the good stuff first? ^_^ When there’s a new shipment of manga in from Japan, I waffle back and forth. Half of me wants to binge read all the best manga right away and half wants to hold it to the very end. The first half usually wins. ^_^ Especially, as the second half of Hana Monogatari has had a surprising number of deaths and I keep finding myself really weepy and needing something happy to read before bed. (T_T)

Of course, one of the books on the “good pile” is Takemiya Jin-sensei’s newest collection, Renai Log (恋愛ログ). This collection, although a Yuri Hime Comics publication, wholly consists of doujinshi by Takemiya-sensei. 

Of the storie,s the opening two-parter was my favorite. In “Otonari-san” a young woman becomes aware that her neighbor is a lesbian and, after the neighbor has been left by her lover, starts to have feelings of her own for her. I really enjoyed this story, as it took a fairly long time to develop. The ending was deeply satisfying, as well.

The middle stories were a selection of bittersweet “wth is happening” and “goodbye” stories that hit me in already tender emotional spots. 

But the final story, “Chocolat Orange 2” was absolutely lovely. Just the treat I needed, along with “Otonari-san,” to wipe away the melancholia left by people dying in my evening literature. 

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – Variable, average 8
Characters – 8 A lot of sympathetic characters
Yuri – 8
Service – 0 Really. There just wasn’t any

Overall – 8

I had waited as long as I could before reading this and, as usual, was really glad I got to it. ^_^

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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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