Archive for the Kashimashi Girl Meets Girl Category


Yuri News This Week – October 11, 2008

October 11th, 2008

Not my best week ever, that’s for sure. Yesterday, on my first day not working, I decided to catch up on yard work that had gone undone for 4 months. (Getting a lawn service in around here is like pulling teeth. My backyard is teeny and unruly and not worth their time, apparently.) Just as I finished the first thing I had to do, I landed wrong on my leg and fell with a dislocated knee. Yep. So now, instead of spending this week cleaning up the yard and house and generally setting my life in order, I’m sitting here on the sofa with my leg in a brace. Sigh. But on to better things!

Yuri Anime

Eric P writes in to let you all know that Media Blasters is releasing a Kashimashi ~ Girl Meets Girl box set. I’m glad that they are. It makes sense for short-run anime. The folks at MB tell me that other box sets are not out of the question. No promises or hints, just that it’s not out of the question for other Yuri series.

The Pre-order for the 2nd season of Maria Watches Over Us (originally titled Maria-sama ga Miteru ~ Haru) is now up on the Yuricon Shop! The second season is coming out next month. (Wonder if they’ll give us a fun freebie this time, too?)

ashi reminds us that Lyrical Nanoha Season 1 boxes are slated to come out in November. Keep your eyes open for that – and for news of the new Nanoha movie, the character designs for which have already caused controversy among people with very little else to do. lol

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Other Yuri News

Interviews are flying thick and fast these days. Catch a completely different sort of interview with me at Comics Structuralist, where I was asked questions that focused more on the sociological ramifications of Yuri than on the usual “so, how did you get into Yuri?” type things I usually get.

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Yuri Events

Once more plugging MangaNEXT where Rica Takashima will be doing an Aozora Art Project that you – yes *you* – can participate in.

Feeling Much Better Through Manga Art

There are times when we are too busy or too shy to say “thank you” or “I’m sorry” to the people who deserve to hear how we really feel. Once the moment is lost, it is usually gone forever. In “Feeling Much Better Through Manga Art,” members of the public get a chance to turn those lost moments and unexpressed sentiments into works of art. Participants write their apologies or appreciations on life-sized dialogue balloons, and then posed for portraits by Aozora Art staff. These pictures are incorporated by Rica Takashima into unique, one-page manga book stories, thus transforming the participant into the protagonist in his or her own visual storyline, and their message into a therapeutic fusion of personal expression and contemporary art. People of all ages can use this opportunity to express a whole range of thoughts and feelings, from the poignant to the profound. So please visit Rica in the Artist Alley and make your own manga story!

Join Rica, Yuri artist Jess B, myself and the usual cast of Yuricon characters in the Artist Alley at MangaNEXT from 10/31 – 11/2 in Somerset, NJ. It’s going to be a blast. :-)

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Yuri Manga: Kashimashi Girl Meets Girl, Volume 5 (English)

May 25th, 2008

This is likely to be the last time I write about this series. Anime is over, been licensed, been reviewed. Manga has been reviewed – twice. Once in English, once in Japanese. This is the final volume. To my surprise, I’m a little saddened by that.

When I first began to read this series, I witheld my affection, sure that it would be a common harem drama with no resolution and that Hazumu would surely revert to being a boy. The “end,” I predicted, would be the beginning all over again for an unresolvable triangle.

How nice that I was so wrong about that, huh? :-)

So, we arrive at last at Kashimashi~ Girl Meets Girl, Volume 5, and find ourselves watching Hazumu struggle with the same exact conundrum she’s struggled with for the last two volumes. And getting nowhere with it. Thankfully, Fate got as tired of her lack of resolve as we did, and a *crisis* occurs which forces her hand. And there we are, reading the final chapters thinking, “Did I just read a Japanese manga with an actual *resolution?* Is it a sign of the end times? What’s going on here?” lol

Inexplicably, Kashimashi, this bland harem drama with a gender twist, actually has a resolution. Go figure. Not a bad one, either. Of course whether you liked Tomari or Yasuna more will depend on whether you actually *like* the ending, but I found it to be perfectly satisfactory.

As always, Seven Seas’ reproduction is top-notch. Adrienne Beck’s translation and Janet Houck’s adaptation deserve your attention. (As several translators have told me, no one ever notices the translation unless there’s a mistake. So take a moment to notice this translation and adaptation – there are no mistakes. Nod in appreciation for the seamless job done here.) Physically, the book looks and feels good, and of every series I have ever read, *still* is the closest thing I have seen in English to reading the Japanese original.

I truly appreciate that this book was adapted for us – the manga-reading American otaku audience, who does have a clue and doesn’t need to be condescended to. I was particularly pleased that the final line of the main story was left as intact as possible, in a way that (obnoxious arrogance ahoy) I would have translated it myself. LOL

In my review of the Japanese edition of this volume, I finished with “I think the end justified the memes.” It’s a bad pun, but a good summation of the story. This time I’ll just add that I also think that the English edition of Kashimashi is proof that a good translation/adaptation can make a middling story better. lol

Ratings:

Art – 8
Character – 8
Story – 7
Yuri – 10
Service – 5

Overall – 8

My sincerest thanks to Daniel P. for sponsoring today’s review!

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Yuri Anime: Kashimashi Girl Meets Girl, Volume 3 (English)

November 15th, 2007

Today’s review was brought to you by the kindness of the good folks at Media Blasters, who also inform me that the street date for the second volume of Simoun is February 26, 2008. Something to look forward to in the depths of the winter blues. ^_^

I need to warn you all before you continue reading – today’s review is going to be chock full of GIGANTIC spoilers. I want to be able to talk about the anime without having to be clever or coy or anything else. If you have somehow managed to avoid all the spoilers for this anime and don’t want to know, read the next paragraph and then skip down to the ratings so you get my overall impression, without details. Otherwise, I’m gonna blab like an intoxicated sailor on leave. (No offense to sailors, it’s just a stereotype…for pity’s sake – you *know* what I mean!)

Kashimashi~ Girl Meets Girl, Volume 3 was a challenge. I had to remind myself over and over to not take it seriously in the least, and as that simple mantra sank in, I began to enjoy it more and more. I don’t for a second think it was *good,* but you know, it was very entertaining – and that’s pretty much why I watch anime. Entertainment that is entertaining – what is this world coming to?

Here’s the super fast recap of the plot, with links to my previous reviews:

Volume 1: An alien spaceship slams into a heartbroken and rather effeminate (but not gay…yet) boy who stands alone on a mountain. The aliens are mortified by the subsequent death of the boy, so they bring him back, but they can only do so by changing his gender. Since he was so girly, no one really seems to care much. And since she still likes girls – in fact still likes the girls he liked as a boy, she is now quite gay.

Volume 2: Both the girls, who had feelings for him as a boy now realize that they have even stronger feelings for her as a girl. Yasuna, the feminine stereotype, admits to having started liking Hazumu when he was a boy, but since she suffers from Yuri-itis and cannot see men, now that Hazumu is a girl she is free to love her wholely. Tomari, the tomboy stereotype, acknowledges that she has always loved Hazumu and despite the fact that he is now a girl, she’s prepared to love her anyway since Hazumu is still Hazumu. Maybe moreso now. We also learn that Hazumu suffers from the SPCD decideritis and cannot make a decision, to the point of it being pathological. Yasuna and Tomari agree to keep it like this between the three of them – them loving Hazumu and being friends with one another, so Hazumu can remain uncommitted and they can all relax for a little bit.

Volume 3 begins with that falling to pieces almost immediately. Shocking, I know. Instead of the group date Hazumu had planned, only she and Yasuna manage to go to the new aquarium. Tomari ends up shipping out to track-and-field camp with the team, where the other girls have a little fun teasing her gently about her relationship with Hazumu so she can be all tsundere, for thems as like that sort of thing.

Yasuna and Hazumu decide to bring Tomari’s souvenir to her directly. This takes them to the station near the training camp, where the first big crisis occurs. A conductor, trying to be nice to Yasuna terrifies her instead, so Hazumu runs over to hold her until she calms down. It is of course at that moment that Tomari sees them. And her world, which was pretty comfy ’til right about then, shatters – not because of Hazumu, but because she thinks can’t trust Yasuna anymore. I found this sort of interesting – Hazumu was essentially absolved of any culpability in this. As if she, not being able to make a decision, is also therefore completely susceptible to external manipulation. (Shoganai – it can’t be helped, being Hazumu’s basic response when anyone asks her about anything.) Which is actually quite true. Hazumu comes off here as naive, a little bit feckless and ragingly selfish, as Ayuki will point out later.

In retaliation, Tomari takes Hazumu out for a walk, takes her hair down (which Hazumu had previously said made her look more feminine and mature) and kisses her. Of course Yasuna sees this and now she feels betrayed – again, not by Hazumu, but by Tomari.

Their house of cards having quickly crumpled, things fall apart completely. Yasuna’s SPCD gets worse, so that she can no longer see anyone at all. Not even in pictures. She is alone in a world full of ghosts. Hazumu, Tomari and Yasuna, having been drawn together now are as far apart as they can be. Frustrated by Hazumu’s inability to *do* anything, even the aliens start to pack up and leave.

There is no doubt that this crisis was handled with significantly less subtlety here in the anime than in the manga. But, in keeping with my determination to not take the whole thing seriously, let’s call it a handwave and move on.

It’s at this point that Ayuki steps in. With a cold, hard dose of reality, she is the only one who blames *Hazumu* for all this. And thank goodness for that. She unerringly puts her finger on the problem with Hazumu’s nature – that in her selfishness in wanting to have her cake and eat it too, she remains passive and lets other people be hurt, rather than taking any responsibility at all.

Spurred by Ayuki’s scolding, Hazumu talks to Tomari about her decision, then finds Yasuna, who is about to leave town, and says that she wants to be together with Yasuna. Magically, her faith in humanity and Hazumu restored, Yasuna recovers.

Now, up until this watching, I have always said that this choice was the right choice for the wrong reason. I hereby completely contradict that and say it was the wrong choice for the wrong reason. Hazumu’s reason boils down to a form of extortion by Yasuna. “If I don’t go to Yasuna, she’ll be sick forever. She needs me.” And boy oh boy, plenty of women really DO use that line of reasoning to stay in dead-end relationships. “Who else will take care of him/her? S/he needs me.” (This is where I reminded myself, yet again – aliens, Erica. Talking spaceship. Church in the sky. Let it go.) Incidentally, if we are paying attention, we realize by now that it wasn’t Hazumu at all that Ayuki likes, but Tomari. I still think that originally, the mangaka was planning on it being a harem thing and decided to not go there by the time the series ended.

Which brings us to the end of Episode 12 in which Yasuna pops over to Hazumu one day with an enigmatic, “You know what?” which is then passed onto Tomari.

As I mentioned the first time I reviewed this series, I know I’m not the only person who hoped that it was a request for a threesome. I still think that they could have made it work. IF I was taking this seriously, which as you know, I am not. ^_^

Episode 13, the DVD extra episode, takes place several months after episode 12. They say 6 months, but that can’t be right. Training camps are usually during summer vacation, in August and Ep. 13 takes place at Christmas, which makes it four months later. Not that I’m taking this seriously, or anything.

We learn through flashback that what Yasuna had to say to Hazumu at the end of Ep. 12 was that she was breaking up with her. For all the right reasons. Yasuna has decided to walk on her own, as she puts it. The right decision – for the right reason. Hazumu, however, fails. Instead of walking away and learning to deal with this, she hares off and asks Tomari to be her girl. Tomari does the only sensible thing possible, she ignores Hazumu and walks away, because otherwise she’d have to slap her upside the head and say, “What the hell kind of idiot thing are you thinking?” Which also would have been in character, but also would have made Episode 13 impossible.

Unwilling to confront Hazumu about this insulting and untrustworthy request, Tomari simply freezes Hazumu out. It seems inexplicable behavior until Tomari coherently explains that how on earth was she supposed to trust Hazumu, when she was still waffling back and forth like this? Unsaid, but no less obvious – that Hazumu was willing to use Tomari as a rebound to dull the pain of a breakup. I don’t think Hazumu ever quite grasped that that was what she did. I know *I* wanted to smack her upside the head and say, “What the hell kind of idiot thing are you thinking?” but since I wasn’t taking this seriously, I didn’t. Well, maybe I muttered it a bit.

Then the stupidest thing in the world happened – the aliens came back and on Christmas Eve (which you know in Japan is for lovers, right?) they make a giant Cathedral appear in the sky where Hazumu and Tomari “get married.” This was well beyond idiotic, just like a boy being killed by a spaceship and being turned into a girl is. In other words, if we’re watching this and taking it seriously, we’re the idiot here, right? I realized at some point I was grinning like a dope. Why? I think because it was *entertaining* and I felt *entertained.* That and because I’m a big dope. :-)

People HATED Episode 13. Yasuna fans, for the obvious reasons – even though she came off as the best character in the series because of it. Tomari fans because…well, beats me, Tomari fans all seem sort of pointless angry all the time. And anyone with a lick of sense because it was *stupid.* Giant floating cathedral, sleigh ride across the sky, etc, etc. ^_^

But seriously – aliens, remember? This was NEVER supposed to be taken seriously. It was a silly plot, with a silly set-up and a silly love triangle with a silly ending.

The extras with the volume are some interviews with the seiyuu, in which they have nothing really to say, but I enjoy listening to them say it anyway. In the final interview with the three lead voice actresses, I found it very amusing that they all decided that it would have been better if Hazumu turned back into a boy, because as it ended, things might become difficult when they got older. They were all pretty concerned by this. Both Tomari’s seiyuu and I originally though that Hazumu would be returned to boy form and the story would just keep going as the love triangle. Surprise on us, huh? I can’t say I’m sad to be have been totally wrong about that.

Last thing of note – in this volume the translator has everyone in the series refers to Hazumu as “she” – except Tomari, who still is tranlated as using “he.” Since in Japanese they tended to use the genderless “aitsu,” I have to assume that was done on purpose.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 6
Characters – 7
Yuri – 9
Service – 6 It had calmed down from the beginning, but suddenly towards the end, someone developed an obsession with Tomari’s ass.

Overall – 7

It was stupid. I liked it. That’s entertainment.

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Yuri Anime: Kashimashi Girl Meets Girl, Volume 2 (English)

September 24th, 2007

The subtitle of Kashimashi Girl Meets Girl, Volume 2 is “Triangles Hurt” but what it really ought to be is “Tomari lies to herself, then stops.”

Because that’s what this volume is about, mostly. Tomari, having seen Hazumu and Yasuna kissing, jumps to the obvious conclusion that that kiss was sealing a deal between them. Hazumu liked Yasuna and now, for whatever reason, Yasuna returns the emotion. Except….

Tomari berates herself for dragging up old memories of lil’ Hazumu and she talking about getting married, and berates herself more for being jealous of Yasuna. She pretends to be happy for Hazumu, but is obviously being eaten up inside.

After a day at the beach, in which Yasuna does everything she can to include Tomari as a friend, Tomari has to finally be honest. As much for herself, she tells Yasuna that she likes Hazumu, too. And in a moment of gracious acceptance, Yasuna acknowledges her as a rival. I liked that quite a bit – so different from the usual snarky girl “you’re not worth me being worried” kind of thing. Also, completely unrealistic, but hey – aliens, spaceship in humanoid form, duh. If we’re going to look for realism in our Yuri, *this* is not the place to start. ^_^

Having admitted her feelings to herself, it’s a short step across a wide chasm for Tomari to admit her feelings to Hazumu. Surprisingly, it’s Hazumu herself who creates the opening, by bringing up the same memory that Tomari had been mulling over in the beginning.

We step aside from the main story a little to learn that Ayuki has no intention of ever telling the person she likes about how she feels. This will be the third time I have watched this episode and I’ve read it twice (once in each language) and I still think it looks like she likes Hazumu. I wonder if the mangaka started off with the harem idea, then changed courses for some reason.

This digression leads into our final episode of the volume in which we learn that Hazumu has a terminal case of the SPCD decideritis. She can not and has never been able to make up her mind. And there is still some small part of my soul that thinks that the fact that this is a plot complication is sad. (Aliens, Erica. Spaceship. Right, right….)

So at the end of the volume we’ve all moved forward into square one. Or should that be “triangle” one? Now, at least, all are clear on the landscape – Yasuna and Tomari both like Hazumu and Hazumu likes both of them and cannot decide between them. An admittedly difficult choice. Almost epic – the musician versus the athlete, the arts versus sport. Culture vs Activity. The result of this decision could change the world!

Or not.

The point is, the stage is set.

Technically this DVD was a mixed bag. It starts off really strong, with everyone referring to Hazumu as “she” then suddenly, for no reason, they all revert back to “he”. I watched the bits a few times when it first happened, because when they are referring back to Hazumu the child, it seems natural to use “he” but everyone somehow forgets to switch back when speaking of the current Hazumu. I wasn’t sure if that was an editing oversight, a translation decision, or no one noticed. But I did.

Aside from that the translation was pretty smooth, with the exception of the usual honorific thing that makes me unhappy. And the DVD comes with nifty interviews with the Japanese voice actors, which I always enjoy. They have nothing to say, but that’s okay – I like hearing them say it. ^_^

Ratings:
Art – 7
Story – 7
Music – 6
Characters – 8
Yuri – 8
Service – 6

Overall – 8

Thanks once again to the generosity and kindness of Media Blasters for giving me this DVD to review – and for allowing us to show Kashimashi and Strawberry Panic!, and most of all to premiere Simoun at Yuricon’s Yurisai event!

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Yuri Manga: Kashimashi Girl Meets Girl, Volume 5

August 22nd, 2007

Feeling crappy today, so decided to review something “feel-good.” Looked at my pile of things to review and realized that with only two exceptions it was all feel-good. Kinda creepy, huh? ^_^

Today’s post will contain *massive* spoilers. I frequently have spoilers, but because there is a scene after the climax of this series that I want to discuss, I have to give away the ending. If you do not want to know how this series ends, do not read past the bit that ends “Massive Spoilers Follow”. If you read past that bit, you will be spoiled for the end.

Kashimashi Girl Meets Girl, Volume 5 begins after Hazumu’s fateful rainy-day kiss with Yasuna. Soaked and cold, they bathe together. This fills Hazumu with guilt so she runs over to Tomari’s house to rinse and repeat, because she’s so torn between her two lovers that she feels obliged to balance the service.

Having said her good-byes, Hazumu pretty much spends the book wandering aimlessly between places and people, constantly aware that her life force is running out. To make matters worse, both Yasuna and Tomari tell her that they love her outright.

The school festival approaches and with it, Hazumu’s final hour. The day is spent in near misses and lost last chances to see Tomari and Yasuna. Night falls and they both find Hazumu on the roof, ready to say good bye.

***Massive Spoilers Follow***

Before Hazumu can say anything, the fence behind her breaks and she falls off the school roof to her death. Only…as she falls, a hand grabs hers and we see two sets of legs falling.

Hazumu becomes aware that she is dead. Only…she’s not. She wakes up in the infirmary. She leaps out of bed to pull the curtain back on the next bed to see that it was Tomari who threw herself off the roof to save her. It was Tomari she had called out for and Tomari who she had wanted to see. And now it is Tomari that she tells, “I love you.”

Outside the room, Yasuna has overheard it all. She’s happy that Hazumu is alive, and happy for them, but cries against the wall while Ayuki holds her.

Here’s the bit that makes all this work for me – the Christmas Concert has arrived and Yasuna is the featured soloist. Hazumu and Tomari sit in the front row, hand in hand. And through her music, Yasuna wishes them well and commands them to never ever let each other go. Her blessing and her emotion carries over – Tomari and Hazumu get the message loud and clear.

On the way to a Christmas party after the concert, under the starry sky and a row of light-filled trees, Hazumu and Tomari kiss. At the party, everyone is happily rambunctious – “Kashimashiku”.

The End

Following the end of the main story are three omake stories – two creepy Ayuki stories (or, really, stories that explore how creepy Ayuki is) and one with the usual Tsukiko Namiko-sensei gags of self-pity and clumsiness.

The End, again.

So…I liked it. None of the over-the-top absurdities of the anime OAV ending. True, Hazumu did not entirely make the decision herself, but a decision was made, the girl does get the girl and it’s not a bad thing at all. Unless you really wanted Hazumu to get together with Yasuna. And you know, originally I did.

***End Massive Spoilers***

Unlike the anime, the manga handles the final decision with a class that, in general, the series lacked overall. lol Yasuna gets extra class points, as befits her character. Ayuki gets extra creepy as the story goes on which has incited me to create an equally creepy girlfriend for her. (If I was into media-crossovers, I’d surely pair her up with goth Abby from NCIS. But I don’t have that kind of time, energy or interest, thank heavens.)

Despite the service, the aliens, the gender switching, the harem plot, at the end of the series, we’re looking at two woman in love with one another. And that’s what I call Yuri.

I think the end justified the memes.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Character – 8
Story – 7
Yuri – 10
Service – 5

Overall – 8

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