Archive for the English Manga Category


Top Ten Yuri Manga of 2017

December 27th, 2017

2017 brought us a veritable excess of Yuri riches. So much so, that with 2 exceptions, every item in this list is available in English and Japanese – and even one of those is available on USA Kindle. It’s been an amazing year and has set up an amazing 2018 for us. What a perfect time to look back and celebrate some of the best the year had to offer. Check out the Yuricon Store for links to all these Yuri manga series and more.

 

 

10. Hana & Hina Afterschool /Hana to Hina no Houkago (ハナとヒナは放課後)

A new story by Morinaga Milk is always good news. This story contains all her favorite themes, which means we can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.  ^_^

Hana and Hina are both likable, their struggles with “what is this feeling?” are adorable rather than awkward and we spend all our time with them hoping for a happy ending.

A solid example of “Story A” – exactly what Morinaga-sensei does best. Cute, sweet, slightly sexy, without deep emotional commitment.

 

 

9. Bloom Into You / Yagate Kimi ni Naru (やがて君になる)

Nakatani Nio seems to have hit a zeitgeist with this story of an aromantic and the girl who is in love with her. Provocative, with sleek shoujo manga-style art in a seinen series, and a lot of unanswered questions, makes this a fascinating (if occasionally maddening) series to read.

The addition of an adult lesbian couple as role models and guides for the young lesbian character puts this series up on LGBTQ points, part of a positive new trend in Yuri. 

 

 

 

8. Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl / Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo (あの娘にキスと白百合を)

I admit to being a sucker for stories that do all the Yuri tropes, all at once but don’t let that sentence fool you. Characters here are more than a single trope, and the main relationship is given plenty of time to develop past it’s own set-up, so when this series ends, we’ll have gotten a well-developed relationship rather than just a Yuri coupling.

Yes, this series by Canno lacks the emotional gravitas of her previous series, but trading one emotional triangle tangle for multiple ways to explore relationships – including poly relationships – makes this an interesting take on the all-Yuri couple school.

 

 

7. After Hours (アフターアワーズ)

Adults doing adult things. Check. Adults struggling to find meaning in life. Check. Actual relationship dynamics that make sense, by making no sense. Check.  The complexity of the character’s emotions, the conversations they have – even the way their spend their time signals that this is not a child’s story. 

Nishio Yuhta does a good job of building two unique and interesting characters without pandering, even if the art is the only not-adult thing about the series.

It’s so refreshing. I can’t wait to find out what will happen in Volume 3!

 

 

6. Sweet Blue Flowers / Aoi Hana (青い花)

Classic S tropes wrapped gently around a modern tale of a young lesbian coming to terms with herself and her place in the world. Shimura Takako never loses the touch with early 20th century, but gives her characters a 21st century sensibility.

More importantly, the main characters have family, they have friends, they have agency. Decisions have consequences and we watch them mature as a result of making them.

The art is simple and stylish, the roots deep and literary. And Viz had given us the definitive English-language edition of this new Yuri classic.

 

 

5. My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness / Sabishi-sugi Rezu Fuzoku ni Ikimashita Report(さびしすぎてレズ風俗に行きましたレポ)

A heartfelt and  honest look at a life with chronic depression and an eating disorder, Kabi Nagata’s autobiographical online comic made it’s mark on both the Japanese and English manga scenes by speaking directly about real life issues for many.

With a rough style that echoes the storyline, this manga has been on the top of the charts since it’s release. This story, of the less functional aspects of adult life, clearly resonated with many readers. 

 

 

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4. MURCIÉLAGO (ムルシエラゴ)

Yoshimurakana’s “Violence Yuri” manga is unique in being an action manga, starring a lesbian serial killer, a lesbian sociopath and a lesbian Yakuza, with a bunch of other random lesbians, all in the middle of gonzo violence and ridiculous enemies.

The art is ugly, which suits the characters and situations well. 

Blood, guts and lesbians all around. I love it.

 

 

3. Kase-san Series/ 加瀬さん シリーズ

This schoolgirl romance is awkward and wonderfully realistic in turn. A “story A” that reminds of all those moments when we first had those feelings. 

The art is loose, a little service-y and occasionally excruciatingly sweet.

Asagao to Kase-san, the first book, already has been made into an adorable animation clip and will soon be a OVA getting theatrical release in Japan in 2018.

Sometimes all we really want is a story where two lovely people get to be together. This is that story.

 

 

 

2. 2DK, GPen Mezamashitokei (2DK、Gペン、目覚まし時計。)

I love this Josei Yuri series by Ohsawa Yayoi for what it isn’t, as much as for what it is. A story of adult life that includes things that adult women often care about, like having more than one outfit and nice smelling face soap and, I don’t even know, normal life things like having a drink with a friend, and being competent at work. 

Kaede is a human golden retriever and Nanami is a girl magnet and I want them to get together…just not yet.

This series is a “josei” series, for adult women by an adult woman. It would make a terrible anime, which is exactly why I like it. No hijinks, just humans.

 

The Top Yuri Manga for 2017 is….

 

1. Galette (ガレット)

This is the Yuri magazine I have been waiting for for years. Talented Yuri creators banding together, supported by fans, creating the Yuri they want to create, rather than the Yuri editors want them to create.

Already the magazine has taken a few chances with narrative, but in ways that expand the genre. There’s still plenty of schoolgirl Yuri for readers, but the stories about adults are some of the best I’ve read this year. 

For this…for being the Yuri magazine I’ve wanted to be able to support for so long, Galette is my top Yuri Manga of the Year. 

 

 

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Yuri Manga: Bloom Into You, Volume 3 (English)

December 15th, 2017

As I read Nakatani Nio’s Bloom Into You, Volume 3, I get to experience a vast range of emotion, much of which I find hard to put into words. I can’t help seeing the narrative through my own lens, even when the characters tell me that my interpretation is wrong. ^_^;

In Volume 3, Yuu is at great pains to explain her feelings about Touko. She acknowledges confusion about what she and Touko want and also that their needs are only partially compatible. But what is not acknowledged is that Touko’s needs and desire from Yuu are mutually exclusive in and of themselves. On the one had, she needs Yuu to never fall in love with her, but she also wants Yuu to want her. Yuu, as always, has a different story in her head. She kind of reminds me of a person I knew who was waiting for some kind of spiritual awakening. She did all kinds of different spiritual practices, but never felt that “aha!” she was looking for. I keep wondering if Yuu is just missing what she’s actually feeling, while looking for something else.

In the meantime, I give all my attention to Sayaka and the cafe owner, their teacher’s lover. The cafe owner has good gaydar, (and again, I crow about the important place of adult role models in teen narrative.)

But, back to me and my feelings. I am exasperated with Touko, and her pushing Yuu for whom I feel sympathy but no empathy. Before I began writing this review I asked myself if I would have less frustration if I knew that Nakatani-sensei were either queer herself or was, in actual fact, attempting to portray a complexed, nuanced queer narrative. To be honest, the answer was yes. As it is, I’m taking the narrative as it’s presented, which means I’m as at a loss as Yuu. I can’t help but compare this to Shimanami Tasogare. While equally fraught, the situations in Kamatani-sensei’s story are more realistic and I believe we can trust the creator to tell us a strong LGBTQ story, neither of which is true for Bloom Into You.

Ratings:

Art – 8 Generally good, with a few lazy panels
Story – N/A I have no idea. Is it good? Is it going exactly the way the creator wants it, or not? I can’t tell!
Character – Erm, um, 3? I can’t get a bead on who/what Touko is, and as she’s the main plot driver….. +3 for adult lesbian couple
Service – 5 Yes, see below
Yuri – 8 Yes, despite narrative (and/or overthinking reader) confusion, there’s plenty of Yuri.

Overall – 7, with me waffling back and forth throughout from good and nuanced to argh.

Volume 4 will be hitting shelves in February 2018. It’s not going to resolve any of my conflicted feelings

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2017 Yuri Gift Guide, Part 1: Manga

December 5th, 2017

Holy cow, it’s already December and gift giving and getting time! It has never been easier to get good Yuri, so for once you can hand your relatives this list, smile, sit back and get yourself a pile of great Yuri.  Or pore over it looking for just the right gift for yourself, your Yuri-loving friends or relative. Some of these items are still to be released, but most will have links, so you can at least order them right now. There’s just *so* much (and this isn’t everything out in English, just some popular items) that I’m splitting the list into two. Today we’re just doing manga and comics. For all the manga available in English, check out English Yuri Manga on the Yuricon Store!

 

Title:  Bloom Into You by Nio Nakatani

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4| Volume 5 | ongoing

What It’s About: This school life drama follows Yuu, a girl who does not have romantic feelings for anyone and Touko, the President of the Student Council, who says she feels the same. But, then Touko develops an romantic interest in Yuu. Yuu admires Touko but, beyond that, is not sure of her feelings. 

Who Will Like It: People a little tired of simple girl-meets-girl romance, or who want a little (or more than a little) nuance or difficulty in their schoolgirl Yuri. 

Beware: Yuu is presented as aromantic, but the premise is a romance. Expect Yuu to cave.

 

 

Title: Hana and Hina Afterschool by Milk Morinaga 

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3

What It’s About:  Hana meets Hina while working at a part time job after school. They become friends and start working together. They start to think of each other as more than just friends. ^_^

Who Will Like It: Milk Morinaga Fans, folks who like their Yuri cute, sweet, without serious crisis and/or with a tenuous connection to reality.

Beware: Don’t expect anything deep here. Morinaga’s specialty is the space between recognizing feelings and confessing them and this is firmly in that space.

 

 

Title: Kase-san Series by Hiromi Takashima

Kase-san and Morning Glories | Kase-san and Bento |Kase-san and Shortcake

What It’s About:  A breathtakingly sweet romance series between Yamada, an average girl who loves flowers and the star of the school track club, Kase.

Who Will Like It: People looking for something a little more realistic than Morinaga’s work. Yuri fans not completely jaded from years of schoolgirl romance.

Beware: Still schoolgirls in love. Does not shy away from fanservice, may not be visually appropriate for the young readers who could use it the most.

 

 

Title: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata

1 volume

What It’s About: This manga was serialized on Pixiv, as Nagata details her struggles with depression, an eating disorder and finding friends and companionship as a lesbian.

 My Solo Exchange Diary by Kabi Nagata

1 volume

What It’s About: Kabi Nagata is back with a sequel to her blockbuster, continuing the story of her trials and travails, as she pieces her life together.

Who Will Like It: People craving representation of life with depression and/or adult life issues.

Beware: Despite flashes of self-deprecating humor, this is not a light-hearted series. It is, however, a honest look at chronic, debilitating depression.

 

 

Title: Claudine! by Riyoko Ikeda

1 volume

What It’s About: Claudine is assigned female, but desires male privilege and to be able to love women freely. Claudine struggles with sexuality and gender in this emotional classic Yuri by the creator or Rose of Versailles.

Who Will Like It:  Fans of Rose of Versailles, Dear Brother and other Ikeda masterworks. This story can read as trans or butch lesbian (the lack of specificity can be attributed to the creator having written it 40 years ago.) Classic Yuri fans will definitely want to get it.

Beware: This is not going to end well.

 

 

Title: Citrus by Saburouta

Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6 | Volume 7 | ongoing

What It’s About: Mei and Yuzu are sisters by marriage and despite the fact that both have deep, unresolved emotional issues, they are passionately attracted to one another. 

Who Will Like It: People who enjoy melodrama and soap operas, and watching train wreck stories full of damaged people.

Beware: It’s full of manipulative behavior, some violence and no one ever looks happy about anything.  Ever.

 

 

Title:  After Hours by Yuhta Nishio

Volume 1 | Volume 2 

What It’s About:  Emi and Kei meet at a nightclub, and spend the night together. Kei is a DJ and draws Emi into her production team, as she sets up as rave. An adult relationship story (although the art is a bit infantilizing.)

Who Will Like It: Adults looking for adult characters whose emotional lives are not stuck in high school…and audiophiles. People looking for a story where the physical relationship isn’t service-y or immature.

Beware: If you don’t like moe art, the character designs could be off-putting. It’s not really a romance, but you will learn a lot about sound equipment.

 

 

Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga Box SetTitle:  Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga Box Set by Chiho Saito and Be-papas

2 volume set

What It’s About:  Every year Utena receives a mysterious postcard. This year, the postcard leads her to Ohtori Academy to look for the prince who saved her as a child. Instead she’s put in the position becoming a prince to the Rose Bride. This is the high-quality treatment that this fantasy series deserves.

Who Will Like It: Fans of the surreal, fantasy fans and people who like mind fuckery.

Beware: There is serious sexual manipulation, incest, and sexual abuse.

 

 

Title: Sweet Blue Flowers by Takako Shimura

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4

What It’s About:  Fumi hasn’t seen Akiko in years, but her friend is back in town and once again they are thick as thieves. When Fumi starts dating an upperclassman at her all-girl’s school, she tells her best friend and gains strength. Shimura  drew on classic Yuri tropes for this “S”-style school romance, but with a deft touch and compelling characters, drags the whole genre into the 21st century. 

Beware: The ending and beginning are trope-y, with loads of tiresome creepiness at the beginning. The middle is amazing and worth it.

 

 

Title: Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl by Canno

Volume 1 | Volume 2| Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | ongoing

What It’s About:  This ongoing school serial begins with two girls, Yurine Kurozawa and Ayaka Shiramine, who could not be more opposite if they tried, and the relationship that one of them wants desperately to deny.  Later volumes follow other couples at the same school as well as circling back to Ayaka and Yurine.

Who Will Like It: People who’ve been reading Yuri for a while and will enjoy new takes on the old tropes. People who are new to Yuri and aren’t burned out on the old tropes.

Beware: Every girl in this school is paired, seemingly. Makes you want to see the story of the one straight girl in school.

 

 

Title:  Murciélago by Yoshimura Kana

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4| Volume 5| ongoing

What It’s About:  This extremely adult, extremely gruesome, madcap “violence Yuri” story follows psychopathic killer Koumori Kuroko and her partner Hinako, as they track down and kill other killers for the police. There are no good guys here. Everyone is broken, the stories are gross, sometimes with side of extra creepy and the lesbian sex is weird. ^_^ 

Who Will Like It: People looking for something not cute or sweet. This series is violent, amoral and has ugly, unrealistic lesbian sex.

Beware: This series is violent, amoral and has ugly unrealistic lesbian sex.

 

 

Éclair: Ananta ni Hibiku Yuri Anthology

1 volume

What It’s About: An anthology of school-life Yuri, headlined by Bloom Into You creator Nio Nakatani and Kiss and White Lily For My Dearest Girl creator Canno.

Who Will Like It:  People who like the aforementioned series or those who really like stories about love experienced in school.

Beware: It’s a whole lotta schoolgirl stories and “Story A.”

 

 

 

Legend of Korra: Turf Wars

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 by  Michael Dante DiMartino (Author),‎ Irene Koh (Illustrator),‎ Vivian Ng (Illustrator)

What It’s About: The Avatar, Korra, and her new love Asami enter the spirit world together. Upon their return to Republic City, they find their world in turmoil – a conflict that will involve the Spirit World, as well.

Who Will Like It: Kids, adults, fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, action anime fans. Fans of color looking for representation that isn’t focused on suffering or overcoming obstacles.

Beware: Fast-paced and fragmented, this is definitely a western comic.

 

 

Title: Bingo Love by Tee Franklin (Author),‎ Jenn St. Onge (Artist),‎ Joy San (Artist),‎ Genevieve FT (Artist)

1 volume

What It’s About: When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both marry young men and have families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage.

Beware: LGBTQ comics about black women are rare – you may find yourselves weeping with joy at finding such a good one. 

 

 This manga is not Yuri, but is gay and you definitely want to add it to your orders!

Title:  My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame

Volume 1| Volume 2 

What It’s About:  This adult life drama follows Mike Flanagan, a gay man from Canada who visits his late brother’s home in Japan, in order to learn about his childhood. He meets he husband’s estranged brother, Yaichi, who now has to deal with things he never thought he’d have to deal with, like his brother Ryoji’s sexuality. 

Who Will Like It:  People looking for wholesome, non-sexual gay representation, or a good comic to recommend to a family member with passive homophobia or ignorance about being gay.

Beware: Like Bingo Love, you may be prone to weeping with relief.

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There’s a lot on the list and more on the Store, but we’re going to wrap it up here. Next time I’ll drop some anime titles and some of other fun stuff!

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Yuri Manga: Hana & Hina Afterschool, Volume 2 (English)

November 16th, 2017

In Volume 1, Hana and her kouhai (at school and at their illicit afterschool job in a characters goods shop), Hina, have become friendly and. Hana is also starting to feel things she’s never felt before, although she doesn’t yet have a name for them.

In Volume 2 of Hana & Hina Afterschool, Hina, however feels more than just “friendly.” Hina does have a name for those feelings, but it isn’t a good name. She’s concerned about getting too close, too intense.

When they spend a little time alone together, Hina’s fears are realized, and Hana’s interest is piqued. Both have no idea what to do ot say, but it looks like they won’t be able to work together a while anyway….so why is Hana’s heart pounding so hard? And why is Hina avoiding her?

Volume 2 has all the hallmarks of Morinaga Milk-sensei’s typical “tension before recognition/confession”, the space she works so well. Will they break past the barriers and figure out what we can all see? Well..yes, we know they will, so tune into Volume 3 when it hits shelves at the end of the month!

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Service – 4
Yuri – 5 for Maiko

Overall – 7 +1 for the existence of a former girlfriend.

I’m always hopeful that there’ll be some LGBTQ content in Morinaga’s work someday.

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Yuri Manga: MURCIÉLAGO, Volume 4 (English)

November 15th, 2017

In Volume 4 of MURCIÉLAGO, by Yoshimurkana, terrible, awful violent things are going on a private girls-only school, Virginal Rose. So who better to send in than Koumori Kuroko, self-indulgent lesbian and part-time serial killer?

I love this volume. Yes, it’s full of horrible, terrible things happening to young women, most of whom don’t deserve it, but it also contains consensual adult lesbian sex drawn unappealingly, and one of the best sword vs naginata fights I’ve ever read, between Chiyo and Teresa. No joke – this is a really good fight.

This also is the first glimpse we’ve had behind Chiyo’s facade of pretending to not care about Kuroko, too. So that’s two confirmed lesbian characters.

We also get to see a couple of different ways for Hinako to fly her freak flag. I honestly believe that the video game she designed using only herself as a character is the more disturbing way. (And it’s a joke that will not go away for some time, as well.)

Ratings:

Art – 6 Even when it’s supposed to be “pretty” it’s really ugly
Story – 7 Several kinds of violence and lesbian sex
Characters – 8 More Evil Psycho Lesbians per page than anything else I read
Service – 10 Nothin’ but
Yuri – 9 Not cute, not sweet, not pleasant, but still very Yuri

Overall – 9

As I said about the Japanese volume, “I’m not going to lie, this manga is ugly and gross in many ways, but I really like it. I’m not recommending it. I just like it.”

Volume 5. which will put us into my second-least favorite arc so far (because there’s so many degrees of horrible between one arc where girls are killed horribly than another), comes out in January 2018.

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