Archive for the Yagate Kimi ni Naru / Bloom Into You Category


Yuri Manga: Yagate Kimi ni Naru, Volume 4 (やがて君になる)

October 5th, 2017

In my previous reviews of Volume 1Volume 2 and Volume 3 of Nakatani Nio-sensei’s series I have expressed, at length, my discomfort with this series as a whole and in specific. I won’t beat that same drum today. And, as the book is available in English now, (Volume 1Volume 2, and Volume 3 are available in English and Volume 4 will be out in winter 2018 ) you can decide for yourself whether you share my perspective.

In Volume 4 of Yagate Kimi ni Naru, (やがて君になる), a new plot complication enters the ring, which is already quite crowded. And once again, I’m not sure whether it’s there as a tiresome plot complication or a really deeply complex emotional conflict that is given no words with which to be expressed. 

The Student Council is going to perform a play for the school festival. Written by one of Yuu’s classmates, it strikes much too close to the truth for the actor’s comfort, but they put everything they have into the play. They decide to spend a few days at the school in a training camp to practice. This puts Sayaka, Touko and Yuu in close proximity for several tense days as their mutually exclusive desires keep any one of them from breaking the detentes.

More critically for Touko, in the course of the training she meets a man who knew her sister in school. For the first time she’s able to see past the glamour to get a glimpse of the person she’s always been running after, who may not be what she thought.

And most critically, we meet a friend of Yuu’s from school who notes that Yuu’s current level of normal whining about her club activities being so exhausting is kind of refreshing. Natuski notes that when Yuu was on softball team she never seemed to have any opinion about anything and made no decisions.  Now, Natsuki notes, she has an an actual interest. Are we meant to understand this as an important quality in Yuu – a crippling indecisiveness that she’s just now moving past? Or is this just a standard manga handwave, like Hazumu’s inability to make even the simplest decisions in Kashimashi Girl Meets Girl?

I don’t know and you’ll get to decide for yourselves, when Volume 4 comes out in English in February.

I call this the most problematic book I’m currently reading. I just can’t like Yuu or Touko, but I quite like Sayaka  and really want her coming out the other end of this only nominally scathed.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 5 This issue has issues
Characters – 8 
Yuri – 7
Service – 4 Bathing scenes with three girls, two of whom are lesbian.

Overall – 8….

I don’t see a way out for anyone as of yet. I hope to heck Nakatani-sensei has a plan here. I very much want to believe she’s not just jerking us around, but this is a Dengeki series, so I’m really not all that sure.

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Yuri Manga: Bloom Into You, Volume 1 (English)

February 12th, 2017

Nakatani Nio’s blockbuster manga has debuted in English as Bloom Into You, Volume 1 from Seven Seas.

When I originally reviewed Volume 1 of Yagate Kimi ni Naru, I said that it was “a sweet little Yuri romance that I both enjoyed a lot and also have several real problems with.” My opinion has not changed for the better as the issues with it have not abated, but intensified. (And for those of you new here, I’ve also reviewed Volume 2 and Volume 3 in Japanese. No need to try to “explain” the series to me. Thanks. You’re welcome to disagree, but you won’t change my opinion. ^_^)

On the ANNCast Friday, Jacob Chapman delved into the stereotype of the predatory gay man as a thing that really put him off. I briefly spoke about the line where it becomes victimization that really bothers me. But I wasn’t able to address the other part of that…something that bothers me in all manga, not just LGBTQ characters – coercion. I dislike it immensely when a character uses their perceived or real power to coerce another character into a situation they don’t want to be in. This is as true for Strawberry Panic! as it is for Shitsurakuen. And it seems obvious to me that the entirety of Bloom Into You can be summed up in this single panel (read-right-to-left): “Why not just tell her no?”  “I tried, but Nanami-sempai won’t give up on the idea!”

That’s just a deal killer for me. “No means no” whether someone says it about being a campaign manager or a girlfriend and whether the person asking is male or female. It wouldn’t be cute if it was a guy insisting and it’s not cute that it’s a girl.

Moreover, it’s even more obvious to me this time that Sayaka was just dissed right to her face. It’s really hard for me to like Touko ever again.

Part of the problem here is that this is a manga, although rated Teen by Seven Seas, was written for a magazine for adult men, and it adheres to the standard male romantic lead plot – stalk her, bug her, insist your feelings are sincere and magically she’ll realize she loves you. This is horrible in Hollywood movies and it’s no less toxic here. No, this is not how one convinces a girl to like one. Nor is Akari’s plan to wait until the reason the guy she likes uses to not go out with her runs out, a sensible one. These are stupid lessons and stuff that sets my teeth on edge about any “romance.” If feelings aren’t returned, it’s okay to feel shitty about being rejected, but not okay to just keep insisting they’ll come around.

The delusion so many of the characters live under make me sympathetic only to Sayaka who seems to see the whole thing most clearly, right down to her own unfulfilled desire. She’s basically the only reason I’m still reading this series.

Very unusually for Seven Seas, this volume also contains several name translation mistakes. Nanami Touko is  at least once referred to as “Nanako” (a mistake I noticed on the Amazon description, and had meant to, but completely forget to, email Seven Seas about, woops, sorry) and Saeki Sayaka is sometimes referred to referred to as Sanae Sayaka. The page reproduction is the usual high quality we’ve come to expect, however.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 5
Service – 1

Overall – 6 My reservations remain and have increased over time. The transition into English has not helped and the translation inconsistency (while quite probably because they had two proofreaders but no managing editor,) just sort of felt like an extra stone in my shoe.

“Sometimes love just takes time for the other person to get in to, right?”

Argh.

I really wish I liked this series, but I still have a lot of trouble with the premise. So, if you really like it a lot, I invite you to write in a short review for this volume in the comments and if you’d like to write about Volume 2 when it comes out in English, do let me know!

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Yuri Manga: Yagate Kimi ni Naru, Volume 3 (やがて君になる )

January 26th, 2017

In Volume 3 of Nakatani Nio’s Yagate Kimi ni Naru, (やがて君になる) some very good things happen and some very not good things happen. 

I will begin with the not-good things, which is to say, the main plot continues to throw up some serious warning signs. In my reviews of Volume 1 and Volume 2, I have expressed very real concerns about this narrative. And generally, I’ve received a lot of flack for this opinion. To make my point I am going to review Volume 3, but I will pretend Touko is a guy. I will call him Tou-kun. It is very important that you play along with me, so you understand my point. Thank you. 

Yuu is very happy with her relationship with Tou-kun. She is pleased to accompany him as a friend, to support him in Student Council endeavors and to cheer him on in the club relay. But, Tou-kun clearly wants more from Yuu than she is comfortable giving. He coerces her into kissing him from time to time, without her express consent. And, on the eve of the sports festival he insists that, if he wins his race, she will kiss him for real, taking the lead. She does not dislike kissing him, but she does not like it, either and really is made deeply uncomfortable by this request.

When the time comes, Tou-kun drags her to a quiet place and demands his ‘reward.’ Yuu just cannot bring herself to do it….

Hopefully, my point becomes plain in this scenario. If Touko was a guy, the lack of consent and coercion she is using on Yuu would be disturbing to most of you. It should be no less disturbing because she is a girl. Coercion is coercion and lack of consent is lack of consent.

***

That having been said, as it must, a side plot has become very interesting. The book begins with an extended look at Sayaka, Touko’s Vice President on the Student Council. It has been very obvious to me from the beginning that her feelings for Touko are much more than merely friendship and that while she understands those feelings will not be returned, she resents Yuu for being the target of Touko’s attention, when she herself longs for it.

In Volume 2, Sayaka learned, quite unexpectedly, that her homeroom teacher is going out with the owner of the cafe they had visited.   In Volume 3, we see that the two women live together and are lovers. Sayaka’s nascent gaydar is activated and she goes back to the cafe to speak with the owner, who turns out to be a very decent person. Miyako admits that she figured Sayaka was gay, and confirms that, yes, she and the teacher (as we had ourselves seen in a lovely homelife scene) are lovers. Sayaka is thrilled to have an example of an adult woman in a stable relationship and I was likewise thrilled for her to have one as a person to get advice from and, as a role model. Miyako is very helpful and Sayaka feels much unburdened.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 3 or 8, depending on whose story we’re talking about
Characters – 9
Yuri – 8
Service – 1

Overall – 8….

…the beginning of the volume gave me hope, but the end of the volume was very frustrating. At *least* Nakatani-sensei has given readers a not-dysfunctional relationship with Riko and Miyako  and a smart, self aware young lesbian in Sayaka. Because what’s going on with Yuu and Touko is really not okay.

You can decide for yourself whether you consider this a problematic narrative or not, as Bloom Into You, Volume 1 is now available in English from Seven Seas.

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Yuri Manga: Yagate Kimi ni Naru, Volume 2 (やがて君になる)

June 13th, 2016

YKnN2When I stepped into the new flagship Animate store in Ikebukuro in Tokyo last month, I did not expect to find much Yuri. Positioned near “Otome Road,” this particular store tends to cater more to the fujoshi than the otaku. However, the very first thing I passed on the shelves was a special display for the second volume of Nakatani Nio’s Yuri series. When I bought it, it came with a sweet little postcard and a special book cover. If only the romance inside was a clear and simple as the cover made it seem. ^_^;

I summed Volume 1 of  Yagate Kimi ni Naru as a “sweet little Yuri romance that I both enjoyed a lot and also have several real problems with.”

And now that I’ve read Yagate Kimi ni Naru, Volume 2, I feel exactly the same way…with perhaps even more reservations than previously.

In Volume 1, Yuu found herself in the precarious and uncomfortable position of being the object of a crush by a person she admires, but just does not have romantic feelings for. In order to support Touko, she agrees to become a member of the student council.

But now Touko has begun to press harder. Having decided that she loves Yuu, she crosses the line into coercing kisses from Yuu, who is naturally distressed by this. She still admires Touko and really wants to be with her, but just does not feel that way.

Compounding the issue are the other members of the Council. Touko’s childhood friend and Vice President, Sayaka,  is both protective and possessive of Touko. The other first-year appear to think of their personal drama as a form of entertainment.

When Touko and Yuu study at Yuu’s home, Touko gets very embarrassed from overstimulation and Yuu is forced, again, to wonder if there is something wrong with her.

But when it turns out that Touko has been competing with a deceased older sister, it is Yuu that steps up and demands she be herself, rather than someone else. Yuu and Touko (again) agree that the way it is between them right now is good enough and they’ll keep it this way.

Loving someone very hard is not enough in the real world. But in this awkward presumed-romance, we’re supposed to be rooting for Touko, assured that Yuu will see her lack of feelings as just doubting herself. That is all the same as it as in Volume 1, but in Volume 2, we’re supposed to be happy that Touko coerces a kiss from Yuu.  I’m not happy about it all. It makes me view Touko with suspicion.

On the other hand, Yuu is really digging into her lack of response to Touko in an interesting way. At this point she wishes she did feel something. Yuu still has not put a name to her lack of feelings – and her situation is positioned awkwardly. She does have some emotion around Touko – admiration and just a hint of something else, but Yuu doesn’t think it’s romantic love or desire and we have to take her word for that.

I’m still not sure if Yuu is supposed to be confused because she just hasn’t had an “a-ha!” moment or because she’s genuinely asexual. I don’t think the mangaka knows, either and I’m positive Yuu herself has no idea.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 6
Service – 1

Overall – 8, still with reservations

I’m going to keep hanging on to this series because I want both Yuu and Touko to grow past this thing they have laying between them, but I’m not sure I want them to be together at the end of this series, despite the cover art. It might be better for them both if they aren’t.

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Yuri Manga: Yagate Kimi ni Naru (やがて君になる )

January 6th, 2016

YKNN-275x390Nakatani Nio’s Yagate Kimi ni Naru (やがて君になる ) is a sweet little Yuri romance that I both enjoyed a lot and also have several real problems with.

Yuu begins high school with a major burden. A guy she went to middle school with has confessed his feelings and has been waiting patiently for her answer. Yuu really has just no idea at all whether she “likes” this guy. He’s nice, but her feelings for him are…nothing. She doesn’t find herself getting the kind of heart-pounding that the girls around her talk about.

Touko is a popular honor student and member of the Student Council who is well-known for rejecting all suitors. Thinking that she’s found someone like her, Yuu offers to help Touko in her duties for the Council.

But not too long after, Touko leans over and kisses Yuu, admitting that she’s fallen in like. Yuu feels conflicted – she likes Touko, and admires her, but she feels betrayed, as well. But after this, Yuu finds it in herself to give the guy who confessed an answer – she says a gentle sorry, and his response is a gentle thanks.

Yuu’s like and admiration win out over her confusion and she is by Touko’s side as the older girl runs for Student Council President in the coming year.

Touko and Yuu have a talk, in which Yuu explains her position and Touko hers, and they agree to continue as they are and see what happens. Which brings us to the end of the first volume.

Before I offer criticism, let me begin with praise. All the characters feel real. The school has boys in it and they are not disappeared and only one has been drawn faceless, a shortcut I find rather grotesque. This is a world with males and females and they aren’t all the same. There are admirable and decent guys, as well as admirable and decent girls. This, above all things, is a refreshing change in what has increasingly become a cloistered Yuri world.

The art is clean and typical for a shoujo manga – which this not. It is from Dengeki Comics and I think that’s notable. Yuri is not uncommon from Dengeki, but more often than not is of the highly service-y kind. So it is super encouraging to see them putting out a nice, rather than vaguely icky, Yuri series.

All this having been said, I need to bring up two important issues I have with this manga. The first is that it is presented as a romance. The story is apparently that we’ll side with Touko as her sincere feelings for Yuu are eventually returned. This is a problem. I’ve very active on Quora, a Q&A site on which one of the most common questions asked goes something like this: “How come this girl said no to me, when my like is so sincere?” I’m not making this up. The presumption many young men have is that their sincere feelings are a kind of contract, which must be returned by the object of their affection. If not, she is of course a bitch (or worse).

The thing that is obvious to many not-young women is that no guy is owed anything just because he has an idea in his head of what he’d like.  This is a very serious problem globally, apparently. These guys feel that their sincerity means they deserve the girl. And, to some extent, that is how this scenario is presented. Touko’s feeling are honest and sincere, so of course Yuu will come around to falling for her. But why? If Yuu doesn’t feel it, why do we assume she must eventually do so? This bugs me a lot. In real life, on Quora and in media.

Which leads me to the, I think, obvious conclusion abut Yuu. What if she’s asexual? If so, she’s never going to have those feelings for Touko or anyone. She might come to love Touko and continue to admire and like her, but never have sexual interest in her. So, then I can’t help but see Touko’s coming on (to be crude) to Yuu as another burden, rather than a blessing.

Both these things nag at me while I read this manga. And I worry that Yuu’s agency will be stripped from her as the narrative continues.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 6
Service – 1

Overall – 8, with the above reservations

The upshot is, that while this manga has some good qualities and it definitely is making a splash in Yuri circles, I think the story also has some problems, which I hope Volume 2 address satisfactorily, rather than just throwing Yuu into the Yuri factory.

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