Archive for the Yuri Manga Category


Yuri Manga: Galette, Issue 3 (ガレット )

September 18th, 2017

…and we have a winner!

Galette, Issue 3 is the third volume of the quarterly Galette Yuri Anthology created by a bunch of folks whose love for Yuri equals or exceeds my own. It is the first Yuri anthology you can get on US Kindle (albeit still in Japanese language) as well as on JP Kindle and in print from Amazon and in print from another system, Booth, that will ship overseas. (People in Japan also have options of buying it at Comic Zin, Animate, Shosen Book Tower, Gamers, Melon Books and more.)  And you can support it on Patreon-like crowdfunding platform Enty and get – depending on what level you support the work at – early copies of the magazine digitally and various extras. In every way, other than in content, Galette is ground-breaking. So let’s talk about the content.

Galette still has a lot of school-girl stories, from Amano Shuninta’s emotional look at a one-sided love in “Fuma-kun” to Hiyori Otsu’s interesting take on the girl wearing earphones in “Nutmeg”. When you remember how much of Japanese kids’ life is tied up in school activities (teams and clubs, which in the USA can also be community-based are largely school-based in Japan) it makes sense that this is where one might also find friendship, love and lust.

But lesbians don’t die when they graduate and many of us end up in college or careers, still trying to find ourselves. Gotou’s “Takaramono” (which I dubbed “Dude, what do I have to do to get you to notice I want to kiss you” ) was a decent example of that. Ringo Hamano’s “Cotton Candy” took a bit of a twist to show us just how important having adult role models can be to a young woman. And Yatosaki Haru’s “Futari no Arcadia” took a tired trope and turned it into a tale of human frailty.

Fantasy gets played with a lot in Galette. Hakamada Mera takes the innate love of uniforms and Rose of Versailles so many of us have (^_^;) and turned it into a nice little story about two very likable young ladies in “Fuwafuwa Futashika Yumemitai.” Takemiya Jin gets to play around in the darker desires of some humans in the creepy-sexy “Marionette.” I like that Takemiya-sensei is looking at more manipulative characters. She’s established her lesbian cred with her audience, and gets to talk about how not all love is healthy. It’s one thing to be pathologized by straight artists, and another to have one of us note that some people are just not good people.

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Morinaga Milk tells a story that will resonate with a lot of adult lesbians who fall for the straight women in their lives…who then awkwardly begin to question their sexuality in “Watashi no Kawaii Neko-chan” (a story that I feared based on the title, but has turned out to be more about human mortification than cats.)

And Kita Izumi and Momono Moto’s “Liberty” has continued to be excellent, with a silly twist, but one that keeps the story firmly rooted in adult life. I look forward to this story with every issue, as it hits the right notes of setting, character design, and tension for me.

I love the guest art – Etsuko’s color spread is very nice – and I like the photography by Takahashi Minori. The cover design is just lovely.  Issue 3 came with a copy of Petit Galette, an omake volume with a few short comics and a prose story.

Issue 3 has a pretty all-star lineup, with a few notable omissions. Luckily for us, one of those obvious names – Morishima Akiko – will be joining the lineup next issue. Now all I need is for Nishi UKO and Hojou KOZ (UKOZ) and Hayashiya Shizuru to join them and I’ll have all my faves in one place. ^_^ Still, Galette is turning out to be the Yuri magazine I’d hoped it could be. I now hope to see a bit more lesbian identity and it’ll be perfect. ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 9
Story- 9
Characters – 8
Service – 6 Nudity 
Yuri – 10

Overall – 9

Way back in 2005 or 2007 or so, I joked that odd-numbered years are always really good for Yuri. That’s switched around here and there, but here we are in 2017 and I think this is the best year we have ever had for Yuri in the almost-20 years I’ve been doing this. May our tribe increase.

Issue 4 will be out at the end of November and available at Comitia (which I am planning on being at, if all goes well.)

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Yuri Manga: Comic Yuri Hime October 2017 (コミック百合姫2017年10月号)

September 17th, 2017

The October 2017 issue of Comic Yuri Hime (コミック百合姫2017年10月号) surprised the heck out of me. Yes, it’s still got a bunch of stuff that makes my eyes roll and yes, the editorial staff is reallllllllly into characters that are manipulative and two-timing, but I probably read more of the actual stories from this issue than I have in months.

I want to skip to the end of the volume to start, to note that “Missing Rink”, a two-part story by Gotou Yuuki, was pretty good, for all that it was also really tiresome and a gigantic waste of an opportunity. Set on a high school swim team, a rumor is being spread that two of the girls are a couple. Upperclassman Rina, who is, in fact, one of those girls, tries to calm the waters, only to have the team members insist on a witchhunt. The girls who are indicted by the team will be asked to resign – without proof, mind you. Rina’s appalled that her girlfriend, Ayumi, is named and the member who shared the rumor in the first place, Saki. But when we take a look at the story from a different member, Syuuri’s, perspective, we see that Saki and Ayumi are indeed a couple. Syuuri isn’t above manipulating Rina to get what she wants.  The reaction of homophobia might have been (and, legitimately might still be) a teaching moment, and it’s probably not unrealistic, but the story is not about that, but about the creepy Syuuri’s manipulation and Ayumi’s two-timing which is sort of ugh for me. But swim team story that isn’t overtly gross with fanservice, so I think it balances out. I’ll keep reading.

This was one of a bunch of new stories of which I read all, so I’m actually looking forward to next month. A couple of things wrapped up arcs – and Pikachis “Demi-Life” ended – with expected bland coupling so no extra points for those.

On the continuing side, Aoto Hibiki’s odd time-travel story “Kimi ni Aetara” took a turn for the extra-odd when it added the supernatural to the time-travel.

“Watashi no Yuri ha Oshigoto Desu!” by Miman also took a turn and I’m really glad it did. Hime’s self-awareness has gone from “Am I kind of  jerk?” to “Wow, I’m a total jerk.” to “How can I be not a jerk?” in rapid succession with another bold move towards a kind of resolution to her story. When this story arc does wrap up, I hope we’ll turn towards some of the other characters and see their lives and love, as well.  But the really big positive change here is that the customers coming to the Yuri cafe are, in some panels, recognizably female. Yay. The customers seem to be split evenly, which I really appreciate.

And this month’s chapter of “2DK, G Pen, Mezamashitokei” by Ohsawa Yayoi gets my vote for the manga that gets closest to everything I want in a manga about adults for 2017, as Koyuki and Nanami have a fantastic heart-to-heart talk, not about Kaede, but about themselves and each other. This one was a winner. I really need to resurrect my Stargazer Awards for outstanding moments in Yuri. This deserves one. (Note to self: Do that for the end of the year lists.) This series would make a fantastic live-action web series.

Ratings:

Overall – 9

Good issue, some very strong stories. November Comic Yuri Hime hit shelves in Japan this week.

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Yuri Manga: Apron to Kase-san Special Edition with Animation Clip Blu-Ray “Kimi no Hikari” (「エプロンと加瀬さん。」特装版 アニメーションクリップ「キミノヒカリ」Blu-rayつき)

September 4th, 2017

The 4th volume of the Kase-san manga from Hirari Comics, Apron to Kase-san,  is available in two editions. The Regular Edition contains the manga alone, while the Special Edition includes a Blu-Ray of the 6-minute animation Clip, “Kimi no Hikari” (which is still up on Youtube for you to enjoy.) (「エプロンと加瀬さん。」特装版 アニメーションクリップ「キミノヒカリ」Blu-rayつき). I’ve watched the animation clip a dozen or more times this summer working on presentations and at panels, but watching it on Blu-Ray was, for the first time ever for me, a “wow!” moment. This was animated to be seen in high-resolution on a large screen on Blu-Ray. It looks and sounds amazing.

The Special Edition comes in a fetching box with the cover art from the 4th volume. It includes the Blu-Ray and a color pamphlet of the production notes and character designs for the animation clip. It also includes a short doujinshi “An toki no Kase-san” with a few adorable Kase and Yamada moments seen from Kase-san’s side.

Apron to Kase-san, the fourth book in the series, marks a subtle shift in the story. Up until now, Yamada has, to some extent been watching her relationship with Kase-san as if she wasn’t herself involved. In part, because it all seems so…fantastic…and in part, because of her own self-esteem issues. In Volume 4, this has changed and we’re allowed to see to what extent, specifically that has happened. 

Yamada’s still pretty humble and enthusiastic, but she’s started to find her own ground. She’s taking credit for her own hard work…and when she feels that she’s being teased too much by Kase-san’s former track sempai, she finally stands up for herself….and forces the sempai to back down.

For her own part, Kase-san is still trying too much to protect Yamada, leaving her vulnerable in other ways. But what has made this relationship work from the very beginning is the honesty with which Yamada and Kase speak to one another. So, when they speak of living together in Tokyo after graduation, we don’t cringe that they will be bringing a mess of communication baggage with them. Instead, we’re pretty convinced this is going to work. 

I’m thrilled to see the series be so successful even after the magazine it ran in ceased publication. Shinshokan has always been open to trying new things, even back when JManga launched. I think the success of Kase-san post-magazine life, is a significant change in the way manga is going to be read and sold. Online distribution for the chapters, with both physical and digital distribution for the collected volumes should satisfy most readers.

And, as we reported on YNN this weekend, we’ll be getting a new animation clip in 2018! The folks at the Official Asagao to Kase-san website are bilingual so do send them a message on Twitter or Youtube to let them know how happy you are for this news! (YNN Correspodent Verso points out, correctly that the announcement states that there will be new “animation,” the word “clip” is not used. They also do not say an “anime,” (or ONA)  so I presume that we will be getting another extended music video with highlights from Book 2, as this one had highlights from Book 1. It’s very likely I am wrong, but I will hold on to my assumption until more details are announced. ^_^)

Ratings:

Art – 8 Takashima-sensei’s art has really grown in confidence
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 8
Service – 5
Physical Extras – 10

Overall – 9

I don’t think I’ve ever rooted so hard for to characters (and a manga series) to succeed as I have for these two.

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Yuri Manga: Mabushisa no Mukou Soku (まぶしさの向こう側)

August 31st, 2017

Living on a lighted stage
Approaches the unreal
For those who think and feel
In touch with some reality
Beyond the gilded cage

– Rush, Limelight from Moving Pictures, 1981. Lyrics by Neil Peart, Music by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson.

Takemiya Jin-sensei has really gotten into pop idols recently. Or, at least her work has.  In Mabushisa no Mukou Soku (まぶしさの向こう側), “To The Other Side of the Glare,”  she takes a look at life from the lighted side of the stage, following the girls of pop idol group “AKH49” with a decidedly Yuri focus. 

In “First Kiss no Tsukaikata” an idol is about to take on a role in which she will have to kiss an actor. Her manager has been watching over her for a long time and is very in love with her…not surprisingly, she’s feeling conflicted. The conflict does not dissipate when her idol asks her to be her first kiss.

The stories are nice and no one is the mean girl, which is very refreshing. A new girl joins the idol group to which her beloved friend (who is adored by many) belongs and they get to spend time together. Two of the idols are asked to partner in a “Yuri coupling” and find that they actually quite like one another. A fan and an idol both are hiding something important from one another…well, several things, because each is secretly in love with the other. An idol fan and an anime fan reach past the differences of their interests to find interest in each other.

The final chapter follows all of the characters on their day off with many embraces, kisses and smiles.

Ratings: 

Art – 8
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri – 7
Service – 3 Some service in the Yuri coupling story

Overall – 8

This was perfect bedtime reading. Nothing negative, conflicts were small and ephemeral. No one’s unlikable, nothing terrible happens to anyone. The artist is clearly having fun and all the girls get the girls. ^_^

Limelight is a great song. You should listen to it.

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Yuri Manga: Azuma-san to Itakura-san ha Koi wo Suru. (吾妻さんと板倉先輩は恋をする。)

August 23rd, 2017

Being the manager of the Chorus club is a lot of work. Itakura-san is in charge of new members, keeping the chorus together during practice and keeping the energy high as they get close to competition time. In Azuma-san to Itakura-san ha Koi wo Suru. (吾妻さんと板倉先輩は恋をする。), what Itakura-sa has no time for is Azuma-san, who wants to join the club late in the game, with really mediocre singing. She just doesn’t have time for this! So, then, why can’t she get the underclassman out of her mind?

Itakura-san reluctantly allows Azuma-san to join the chorus and, after a little tutoring, gets the young woman to fit in seamlessly. And only then is Itakura-san able to see just why Azuma-san is on her mind all the time. Luckily for her, Azuma-san feels the same way. It’s  a nice little Yuri story.

Unlike the previous story, “Yuujyou Shiraben” is not a nice story. When Aizawa Yuuka’s class gets a transfer student with the same exact name, Yuuka thinks it’s pretty funny. Aizawa Yuuka and Aizawa Yuuka become friends, naturally. But Yuuka sees the other Yuuka beating her academically, and in sports and even taking her friends, and starts to fantasize about killing the girl with the same name. In fact, she’s pretty sure she actually did kill her, but there she is, day after day. And day after day, there’s the other Aizawa Yuuka, still thinking they are friends. It all comes to a crisis when Yuuka realizes her jealousy about Yuuka is because she’s in love with her. Oh, okay, that makes perfect sense. Not. We’ve all had serial fantasies about killing the people we love. Not.

So as cute as the first story is, the second story is pretty much the opposite. ^_^ Whether this collection is worth reading will be entirely a personal decision on your part. I think Itakura and Azuma, whose story is more than half the book, were worth spending at least a little time on.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 7 for “Itakura,” 5 for “Yuujyou”
Characters – 8 for “Itakura,” 5 for “Yuujyou”
Service – 1 on principle for “Itakura,” 3 for the violence in “Yuujyou”
Yuri – 5 “Itakura,” 2 for “Yuujyou”

Overall – 6

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