Archive for the Yuri Manga Category


Yuri Manga: Strawberry Fields wo Mou Ichido ( ストロベリー・フィールズをもう一度)

January 16th, 2018

Akira is pretty much a loner. With her gaming system and her headphones, she prefers the company of otome games to other people. So when an attractive new transfer student, Pyua (pronounced the way “pure” is in Japanese, pyoo-ah) tries to befriend her, she’s not that interested.

Pyua keeps at it, and, when she finally manages to get Akira alone, tells her that in 7 years, they will be lovers. She’s traveled back in time so they could see each other as high school students. Causing this reader to wonder if Pyua knows what the Boostrap Paradox is. Probably not.

Strawberry Fields wo Mou Ichido ( ストロベリー・フィールズをもう一度) Volume 1 is that ever-so-popular fantasy of one member of an established couple trying to get the other one to fall in love with her again, only without the established couple part and with added time paradox, because if Pyua had done this seven years in the past, then does Akira ever really fall for her in the first place? This paradoxical question is not at all addressed by anyone in the story. But that’s not the only thing left unattended in this narrative. 

When Pyua learns that Akira lives with her shut-in brother after their parents died, she’s shocked and appalled. Why? How is it that she doesn’t know this already? 24 year old Akira just, you know, never mentioned once that she effectively lived alone, while taking care of an emotionally crippled brother to her lover? That seems likely.

Nor is it ever really a concern whether meanie Akira will ever really fall for Pyua. Akira, on the other hand has some valid concerns about this stranger telling her her future as an adult. So while she’s supposed to be equally emotionally crippled, and we’re supposed to root for Pyua to break through her icy exterior, I kind of respect Akira’s choices, her caution and think Pyua damned lucky that Akira does indeed fall for her.

Ratings: 

Art – 7
Story – 7
Character – 7
Service – 3
Yuri – 6

Overall – 7

The story continues is supposed to continue in a future Volume 2, although what could possibly happen, really? ^_^;

I first encountered news of this series on Twitter, where a Japanese Yuri fan had posted the news with a confused musing as to what the connection between Yuri and strawberries were. It surprised me, because with the endless succession of Yuri series that utilizes Victorian flower language and the obvious connotations of springtime, sweet juicy fruit and purity to young women seemed rather, well obvious, to me. Is there a nickname for the paradox of every generation of new fans never having heard of old, established tropes before and being completely confuzzled by things well-established for 100 years? There ought to be. Let’s call it the “Strawberry Paradox.”

Strawberries, by the way, mean “perfect goodness” in the language of flowers. Just FYI.

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Yuri Manga: Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl, Volume 4 (English)

January 11th, 2018

Mizuki is facing a crisis. It’s her senior year and her last chance to make the nationals in track. But her longtime friend and her inspiration, Moe, can see that it’s not so simple as just ramping up training.

Moe insists that Mizuki stop using her as a muse and find it in herself to run because she wants to. In Volume 4 of Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl, Mizuki loses the battle, but wins the war when finds her love of running again, and she and Moe get to admit their true feelings for each other.

This is, to date, one of my favorite volumes of Canno’s series. The set-up feels more honest and less “plot complication”-y than most of the scenarios in the series so far. I also quite like Moe because she’s says what she’s thinking, a quality not often see in Yuri romances. Additionally, the series has sort of settled in for a longer haul now, and we can turn our eyes almost completely away from main couple Kurozawa and Shiramine without fearing that the entire series will disappear in a puff. So, while Yurine and Ayaka do make an appearance, it’s almost a walk on, until the amusingly snarky final chapter, which was all obligatory Valentine’s Day stories ever, all at once.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 7 Cute, sweet, etc
Yuri – 8
Service – 1 on principle only

Overall – 8

The English-language Volume 5 has a release date of late February, and I’m working on Volume 7 in Japanese right now. At this rate of release you’re all gonna all catch up with the Japanese series by next summer!

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Yuri Manga: Sweet Blue Flowers, Volume 2 (English)

January 8th, 2018

A good translation of a manga can be a little bit like magic. You pick up a book and without effort you are able to read this story created in a different country, in a different time or place. It’s an extraordinary feeling. The Viz Media edition of Takako Shimura’s Sweet Blue Flowers is a little bit like magic.

In Volume 1, we met Manjoume Fumi and Okudaira Akira, two childhood friends reunited as teens, and their school friends. 

In Volume 2, Fumi is coming off a relationship with Sugimoto, an older girl who hadn’t been honest with her and she’s feeling a bit bitter about it. Even worse, Sugimoto keeps trying to salvage it, but is doing a crappy job of it. Fumi’s had it with her ex, and lets her know that in no uncertain terms. 

Akira is surrounded by people who are falling in love and isn’t sure at all how she feels about it. When she asks Fumi, Fumi admits that Akira was her first love and again Akira has no idea what to do with the information. It’s almost as vexing as one of her friends going out with her annoying older brother. And when she overhears something she didn’t want to know about her friend Kyoko’s family, she has no idea what to do with that, either.

Back at school, the girls are all second-years now, with new students coming in. We meet Ryoko Ueda who kind of reminds Akira of Fumi and Haruka Ono, who is clearly (to us) bearing the burden of a (to us) fairly obvious secret of her own. Side stories indicate that there’s more complexity to relationships than just what we see here in the main story.

This volume moves quickly and slowly at the same time. Scenes are slow and leisurely – drama club practice, sleeping over a friend’s house – but time is whizzing by. One second Mogi sort of likes Akira’s brother, then next they are dating and we never actually saw them together much at all. Good translation can be magic, but it can’t fill holes left by a serialized manga schedule. ^_^;  Shimura’s super strong on developing characters, but putting in all the details of the story has never been her best skill.

This volume comprises Volume 3 and Volume 4 of the original Japanese edition. This is an excellent English release and I think we can expect it to maintain this high quality.

Art – 8
Characters – 8
Story – 7
Lesbian – 4
Service – 1

Overall – 8

Volume 3 of the English edition will be available in March, so you have plenty of time to pre-order. ^_^ If you haven’t already picked up this “new classic” of Yuri, I definitely recommend it, for having a depth of early 20th century  literary history and still being grounded in the present.

 

 

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Yuri Manga: Kamitsuki Gakuen, Volume 1 (かみつき学園)

January 7th, 2018

Well, Kamitsuki Gakuen, Volume 1 (かみつき学園) was a thing I read. And while I read it, I had feelings. Primarily confusion and bewilderment, but hey, those are feelings, too. ^_^;

You might reasonably wonder, looking at the cover of Kamitsuki Gakuen, Volume 1 why I would have picked it up in the first place. I can see you looking at the cover, then turning to me and gently saying, “Erica, this is *clearly* a vampire story. You don’t like vampire stories. I remember you saying you don’t like vampire stories many times over the years.” And you’d be right.

I will, equally as gently insist that I knew perfectly well that it was a vampire story when I picked it up and no, I didn’t expect to like it, but there were extenuating circumstances. Because I didn’t just pick it up any old where, I picked this (and another quite-probably-vampire-Yuri story, along with at least two other that look horrible and a thing I have never heard of before) at the Yurimate display on the ground floor of the Ikebukuro Animate. It was my last morning in Tokyo and I decided to buy all the stuff I hadn’t yet bought, regardless if looked good or not. And that is how I ended up with Kamitsuki Gakuen, Volume 1 .

Shizuka is a “Epicurean” which is to say she is a vampire. (The kanji for vampire is clearly written, 吸血鬼, with furigana that read “Epicurean.” In case, inexplicably from just looking at the cover, you might not understand that this is a vampire story.) Shizuka is the little girl on the right of the cover. As she comes to Kamitsuki Gakuen for her first day in high school, we are told by almost everyone she encounters that she looks much younger. The tall girl on the left is Shizuka’s roommate and meal plan. She doesn’t have a name, just “Number 1,” Ichi-gou.

The story is Shizuka’s awakening to life as a vampire, while she befriends classmates and fellow Epicureans, and tries to befriend Ichi-gou. Shizuka, on account of never feeding directly from a person is runty, and her bat wings are little, but with help she learns to find the idea of sucking Ichi-gou’s blood alluring. And, after she enjoys the taste of Ichi-gou after she had eaten a strawberry parfait, Shizuka renames Ichi-gou….

Go ahead, guess what name she gives her. Think really hard. Strawberry. Ichi-gou. Why, yes, Shizuka does name her meal plan Ichigo. Amazingly clever, what?

Anyway, about then, I stopped reading and just stared at the last few pages. I’m sure a cliffhangery thing happened and who knows, maybe there will be a next volume.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 4 Shizuka’s awakening failed to be compelling
Characters – 4
Yuri – Vampires
Service – Vampires

Overall – 4

Hunger/lust/friendship is magic!

If this is a thing that you too would like to have read, you can take a look at the sample chapter (in Japanese) on the Shonen Sirius‘s website.

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Yuri Manga: Comic Yuri Hime January 2018 (コミック百合姫2018年1月号)

January 5th, 2018

Comic Yuri Hime, January 2018 (コミック百合姫2018年1月号) is off to a strong start with series new and continuing, from folks we know we like, folks we know we don’t like and folks we don’t know at all.

We have Miman’s “Watashi no Shigoto ha Yuri Desu” in which our eyes are in fact turned toward Nanako and Tachibana and I find the idea that they will have a storyline unto themselves far, far more interesting than anything involving Hime.

And Ohsawa Yayoi’s “2DK, GPen Mezamshitokei” turns towards a new and exciting digression…one that makes me all kinds of uncomfortable, as Nanami heads to Kyoto to attend Aoi’s wedding, while Kaede remains home to hit a tight deadline. This is a recipe for all kinds of disaster. I can’t wait. ^_^

Taneko’s “Model-san and Ichimi Mane-san” isn’t “Liberty, but I like it anyway.  Katakura Ako’s art and storytelling remain messy in ”Hirusagari ni, mata”.

And of course, all the series I don’t follow that the editors love. ^_^;

Ratings: 

Overall – 8

Exactly where I like this magazine to be – a nice bell curve of Yuri. Comic Yuri Hime is also available digitally on Japanese-region Kindle and globally on Bookwalker. The February issue is also on shelves now.

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