Archive for the Yuri Manga Category


Yuri Manga: After Hours, Volume 1 (English)

June 19th, 2017

In Yuhta Nishio’s After Hours, Volume 1, Emi is suffering an introvert’s worst nightmare – being stuck alone at a loud venue surrounded by strangers and unable to find the friend she was there to meet. After having discomfort increased by being hit on, Emi is paralyzed until she’s rescued by Kei, a woman a little older than herself, but who seems far more self-assured and mature.

Kei takes Emi home. They sleep together, and, when Emi wakes up the next day, she finds her life completely changed for the more interesting, as she’s drawn into Kei’s creative work and her love of life.

This is a manga about Japanese millennials; two women creating something out of the little enough society is prepared to give them. It’s charming and lively as a story, with decent characters. Despite the moe art (especially on the cover, where it’s almost creepily infantilizing,) both Emi and Kei are adult women with adult responses to situations. The story in Volume 1 has no room for histrionics or melodrama and the characters do not tends towards either. The translation by Abby Lehrke leans a very little to hip which will undoubtedly wear poorly, but was otherwise perfectly competent. I want to nod in appreciation to all the production side folks, lettering, touch-up, editing and design, as these have become good enough that we no longer notice them. This is as it should be, but I remember when it wasn’t, so thanks Viz and staff for giving us the authentic manga reading experience we’d like.

As one of the few Yuri manga I have read first in English, having skipped the Japanese volume altogether, I ws cautiously optimistic, but I find myself very interested in what Volume 2 will bring both women. Whether they stay together or not (and I don’t require that of them) I have enjoyed our time together.

Ratings:

Art – 5, YMMV, but I rolled my eyes hard at the cover and found the moe blob faces on the women – but not the men – really irksome.
Story – 8 Enjoyable and plausible
Characters – 9 I’d gladly buy them a drink and hear their stories of club life
Service – Not really, even in the sex scene, which was drawn for nice, rather than creepy
Yuri – 9

Overall – 8

Volume 2 does not yet have a release date in America, it’s going to be released in July in Japan. If you’ve read scans or the Japanese volume, kindly don’t spoiler us here, I’d like to just read this one on it’s own. Thank you for your consideration.

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Yuri Manga: Swap⇔Swap, Volume 2 (すわっぷ⇔すわっぷ)

June 16th, 2017

Today we open up the “really? This is still being published?” File for a look at Swap⇔Swap, Volume 2 (すわっぷ⇔すわっぷ). In Volume 1, we met Ichinose Haruko and Nikaido Natsuko who have vaguely similarish names and are in the same class. Haruko keeps to herself and is a good student. Natsuko is fashionable and garrulous. And, quite suddenly and inexplicably, when they bump into one another lip first, they…switch bodies. While thin on plot, Volume 1 managed to be decent right up until the final pages.

Here in Volume 2, Haruko and Natsuko have not only become good friends, their other good friends all know about them swapping bodies and their circle now includes two other couples who swap bodies, including a couple who is actually a couple.

This is all estblished in the intro pages and we are sent out to experience an utterly average 4-panel comic from Mangatime KR that looks like all the other 4-panel comics from Mangatime KR, with the schtick of switching bodies. The reasons for switching are never awkward or irritating – no taking each other’s exams – but they do switch for the flexibility test in PE which literally made no sense at all. ^_^;; (No, see, flexibility is not innate, it’s the actual muscles and tendons of the body that…just no, really, I can’t even.) And so they can all win at a certain game, allergic people can play with a cat, and other super brilliant reasons.

The end of Volume 2 did not descend into service, as Volume 1 did, in fact, it kind of ascended into Yuri. It has been established in a few early gags in the volume that Haruko was really starting to find other girls attractive generally and Natsuko, specifically, but towards the end, we learn that Natsuko is equally starting to be interested in Haruko. They do kiss quite a lot in this book. To switch bodies, of course. But still. And now Natsuko has a rival for Haruko’s affection which seems to have pushed her to consider Haruko’s affection.

Ratings:

Art – 6 Haruko’s weird eyes (that help you know who is in which body) seem to be a family trait.
Story – 5 They switch bodies. The rest is typical school-life gags
Characters – 8 Actually kind of decent, which is surprising
Service – 3
Yuri – 5

Overall – 7

I cannot tell you that this is good, but I also don’t think it’s bad. I am puzzled as to why it exists at all and make no promises about reading Volume 3, should there be one.

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Yuri Manga: Galette, Issue 1 ( ガレット創刊号)

June 15th, 2017

It doesn’t take a lot of industry insider knowledge to note that collaboration and crowdfunding are driving the independent comics industry these days. The number of comics anthologies coming out in the west is staggering. These are all the books that the mainstream publisher don’t have room in the budget to back, but which clearly have a space ready and waiting for them on reader’s shelves. The crowdfunding/collaboration bug hasn’t quite caught on in Japan as much, perhaps because mainstream manga publishing has a lot more room for what we consider “indie” comics and because the comic markets have created an economy that makes it relatively simple for people to self-publish, something we haven’t had in the USA until very recently.

There are some notable changes in the Japanese manga landscape. Digital publishing has taken off through Kindle, Kobo, Renta! and other sites, and online distribution has picked up on Pixiv and Note.mu. So manga artists who were formerly required to dance to the tune of a monolithic publisher’s editorial staff can now just opt out and carve out space on their own. Or fill in the gaps between work with established magazines by keeping the content coming online.

Which brings me to today’s review.  The inaugural issue of Galette is a fascinating combination of all of these factors. Folks who work together on magazines, who sell near each other at comic markets got together to create a collaborative “mook.” They crowdfunded it online, and are publishing and selling it online and at shows. 

The names associated with Galette are (at least to readers of this blog) legendary. Amano Shuninta, Takemiya Jin, Momono Moto, Hakamada Mera, Yotsuhara Furiko, Otomo Megane, Otsu Hiyori. If these names seem familiar to you, you might remember that they were among the line-up of Tsubomi magazine. And if there is a single criticism I have of Galette it is that it reads like an issue of Tsubomi magazine. Not that Tsubomi was bad. I just hoped that, away from the constricted ideal of “Yuri,” Tsubomi presented, these authors would fly. Some of them do run pretty well, but no one gets lift-off velocity. The issue also includes a number of names I’m not familiar with, urisugata, Yatosaki Haru, Yorita Miyuki, Asube Yui, and Haman Ringo, all of whom present well-constructed and well-drawn shorts. I’m going to take a stab that some of these folks are assistants of better-known artists, just from their familiar, but not identical, styles.

Most of the stories are firmly in the well-worn, comfortable groove of schoolgirl narrative. Not all, but most. And even some of these were a bit unusual and some outright challenging, so the creators must get credit for that.

Momono Moto’s opening salvo gave me some real hope, with a charmingly unrealistic encounter and a great ending that could lead to more…either on or off screen, depending if she continues it or not. Takemiya Jin’s story hit me in my soft spot for yanki girls, and almost all of the other stories were good to very good. A number of the stories really delve into the mindsets of the characters in the way that one doesn’t see too often.

What I’m hoping to see, honestly is, what happens when these excellent artists find themselves unfettered. Will any of them hit heights they only dreamed of, or is tales of young women in love what they really wanted to tell all along? I guess we’ll find out. ^_^

Thanks to Paul on the FB group, we know know that Galette, Volume 1 is available on US Kindle as well! It’s still in Japanese, but you can get the digital version on non-JP Kindle. That’s all kind of awesome.

Ratings:

Art – 9 This is some of the best work I’ve seen from everyone in this book
Story- 8 Variable, but good.
Characters – 7 Variable, some of whom are really weird. ^_^
Service – 2 Surprisingly little, now that I think about it.
Yuri – 10

Overall – 8

Volume 2 is already available and sitting on my to-read pile. I hope this mook series is industry-changing. I really do.

Last year at MoCCA, creators who contributed to Power & Magic put together a map of where they’d all be at the event, so you could get as many signatures as possible. At TCAF, there was a secret  – I have no idea why it was secret, and how secret could it have been, really? – map of people selling Yuri on Ice! doujinshi. I think it would be really cool for the folks who contributed to Galette to post a map of their locations at Comitia or Comiket so you could stamp rally the signatures.

Today’s review is for Jin, who has been patiently waiting for me to get around to it. ^_^ 

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Yuri Manga: Wabi-Sabi Hirao Auri Collected Works (わびさび 平尾アウリ作品集)

June 8th, 2017

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This quote is widely attributed to Albert Einstein who was obviously thinking about me and Hirao Auri at the time.

I keep reading work by Hirao Auri-sensei and expecting to not want to strangle him. Why? Why do I keep doing this to myself? Augh!

Wabi-Sabi Hirao Auri Collected Works (わびさび 平尾アウリ作品集) is a collection of all of Hirao-sensei’s interests and obsessions (school girls, idols, schoolgirls who are idols) with a frisson of Yuri and a handful of “STFU, there, it’s Yuri, okay? Now go away!” leaving one with a tidy little volume of no one particularly to care about, lots of hand holding, a kiss and a sad memory or two. I say “or two” because I am sad I won’t actually get to strangle the author. ^_^

Ratings:

Overall- 5

Not as full of nihilism and despair as Manga no Tsukurikata, but not as full of anyone I give a hoot about as Oshi ga Budokan Ittekuretara Shinu.

I really have to question my decision in regards to giving him so many chances to not make me crazy.

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Yuri Manga: Onedarishitmite (おねだりしてみて)

June 7th, 2017

Tsukiko has been drawingYuri  for a while and for the last few years, she’s been drawing slightly Yuri-esque stories for Birz Comics. Her current hit is Futaribeya, (ふたりべや), which combines Yuri-ish-ness and comic-strip blandness into a pleasant, but non-compelling tale that I reviewed last year. Today we’ll look at her short story collection, Onedarishitemite (おねだりしてみて), which combines Yuri-ish-ness and comic-strip blandness into a pleasant, non-compelling, but entertaining enough read. 

Tsukiko’s characters tend towards being blandly pleasant; the emotions, when they are made overt are like or love and attraction. There’s almost no reason to worry, because in a Tsukiko story, there will be a girl who likes another girl who likes her back.

The one standout story in Onedarishitmite is the title story, in which a young woman thinks her neighbor is having loud sex all the time, but it turns out she’s just doing amateur voice-overs for adult Drama CDs. They become friends and, maybe, eventually, something more, but not yet.

The most memorable thing about the collection are the story titles, presented in both Japanese and English. These are tantalizing: “Why don’t you ask?” “I became what most witches want to become” and the winner of best recipe as a title, “Bean-starch vermicelli salad with bamboo shots and scallop with a hint of yuzu citrus pepper.” 

Ratings:

Art – 6 
Story – 5
Characters – 4
Service – 1 
Yuri – 5 

Overall – 6

This collection is not memorable, but it was also pleasant enough while reading it.  

 

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