Archive for the Yuri Manga Category


Yuri Manga: Akuma no Riddle, Volume 5 ( 悪魔のリドル)

April 14th, 2017

Ahead of the summer release of Akuma no Riddle: Riddle Story of a Devil, Volume 5  in English, I sat down with the Japanese version, Akuma no Riddle ( 悪魔のリドル). Somewhat to my surprise, I felt I enjoyed it more than I had the anime.  (I’ve just gotten the anime and will be re-watching it soon, so I’m interested to see if that holds true when face it again.  In the meantime, I have to say I approve of the cover to this volume. ^_^)

We ended Volume 4 in the middle of the final battle against Hanabusa, who intimates that Haru is the wielder of a great, although unconscious, power of leadership.

And now, Toukaku has to face the possibility that she’s been manipulated…even though she thought she’d been doing what she did from free will. 

The climax of the story is almost identical to the anime, but what makes the manga worth reading is the epilogue, which adds just enough of post-story to give us room to imagine a more satisfying ending than the anime left us with. (Something I felt was short-sighted at the time. It doesn’t take a genius to remember that life is far more than just graduating high school.) And, the epilogueit goes a little way into actually giving this series the  Yuri credentials it needed.

Ratings:

Art – 9
Story – 7
Characters –  7 
Service – 3
Yuri – 5

Overall – 7

Ultimately, as a manga adaptation of a short anime series, this was a very decent example of the breed. When the English edition hits shelves in August, definitely consider taking a look, if only for the color pages. 

 

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Kase-san Manga on LINE Comics, Guest Review by Verso S

April 5th, 2017
Welcome to Guest Review Wednesday here at Okazu! We’ve had more guest reviews than ever this year and they are all so fantastic If you’re enjoying the Guest Reviews, I hope you’ll consider subscribing to Okazu, so we can pay our Guest Reviewers!  
 
We reported on YNN that the Kase-san manga series was being continued on Japanese phone platform LINEManga (LINE マンガ – ).  Today Verso S. is writing to us from Hiroshima to let us know how it’s working! 
 
For those of you unfamiliar with LINE, it’s a phone app that began as a communication platform, based in SMS, like the popular BBSs were, but expanded out past person- or group-based communication as a publishing platform. Of course there are also companies with promotions, that almost gos without saying. There is a LINE that can be downloaded in th US, but it is not as fully featured as the JP version. However, even US LINE can be used for SMS communications in Japan, which has been useful to me in the past. 
 
Please welcome Verso who will give us a walkthrough of the Kase-san manga on LINE!
 
 
The Kase-san series started over free of charge from “chapter 1, Asagao to…” on LINEManga, while the “Shinshokan viewer” gives free access to the latest chapter.
 
LINEmanga: Weekly serialisation. The second chapter, “Jitensha to” was simultaneously hosted and became immediately available to those who share it (LINE, Facebook, Twitter). Without sharing that second chapter becomes accessible after one week, on next Tuesday, when “chapter three, Love song to” will be added on the same conditions. etc. 
 
Chapters released appear to remain free. Operation is smooth and glorious, on computer and mobile app.  No frills. Flip pages or use of clickable arrows and a zoom function.
 
The series is tagged: Love story. There is no Yuri tag on the platform. The brief description on the series’ own page does include a tiny Yuri reference since it is mentioned, and also tagged Hirari in addition to tags for the names of the mangaka and the publishing company – so it appears in the lists for those respective categories in the LINEmanga catalogue. eBooks of the first tankoubon will be available for a charge, ¥864, on LINEmanga as well.
 
“Shinshokan viewer”:  No registration required. Gives free access to the latest chapter for a limited time (Month). As standalone or as part of the web magazine Wings. In addition, however, the publisher’s page for the series also gives free access to previews from the existing three tankoubon as ebooks. With the option to purchase them as full ebooks. They also sell their print editions. Ebook operation is as smooth and glorious, on computer, as reading the chapters. No frills. Flip pages, arrows and zoom. 
 
Is there a regional block on access to LINEmanga? Have you tried login in to the messaging app via either a LINEme account or with a Facebook ID to set up a LINE account? Provided there is no geo-restriction, that ID will then work with the LINEmanga readers too. The set-up is done by registering a new account within the messaging app on a mobile device. Requiring either Email or sms code verification.Once authenticated the general LINEme ID and Password will then give access to the LINEmanga readers as well.  The same geo restrictions may apply for the Shinshokan reader as well… 

LINEmanga: Kase-san stayed on schedule. “Story 3, Love Song” was posted at midnight, Tuesday. Immediately available for those sharing it or available next week for those who don’t. 

The next installment will be interesting. If the pattern from other series is followed, these first three chapters will remain free, as preview chapters. The fourth chapter and subsequent releases will eventually slip behind an individual chapter paywall, usually after one month. For that one month period the later chapters can be read free of charge, but after that first month a small fee, ¥30~50 will be charged per chapter to gain access.

This is turning into running LINEmanga software commentary rather than a readers first impression of the Kase-san series on that platform. Which has been positive for us in every regard.

The series are all well behind the actual release schedules in the official magazines, print or web, for ongoing series but for titles re-serialised on LINEmanga the last four installments will thus be free at any given time throughout the re-release period on that platform.

Each tankoubon will be made available on that platform’s schedule as well. Usually the first chapter of each volume will be offered free within that tankoboun, as a preview. For other titles the entire first volume may remain free, as a preview. Kodansha’s Chihayafuru is such a title. Currently the first three volumes are listed ¥0 and they can be downloaded or added to a cloud-like bookshelf in their entirety. Though ongoing that series is not serialised on LINEmanga, however. Just the books are offered.

A lot of different publishers are present on LINEmanga and their titles are all offered on the same software without the necessity to hunt down each publisher’s own site. Without the necessity to switch apps when you want to continue reading the “next” chapter of a different series from a different magazine or publishing company, though it won’t be the “very latest” chapter. Each company comes with their own pricing arrangement and slight variations in their conditions for access. Minor variations like any other one-stop book store before eTexts.

Kase-san and all the other series do look very good, picture wise, on our systems, crisp images, nice and easily readable text, and they all function to our satisfaction but there are slightly different experiences with the operation that I should be careful not to conflate. Some titles which are accessible on our iPad but can’t be opened on our Mac, for example, though they’re accessed from the same LINE account. As noted before, someone with a Phone Number based LINE account seems to have the smoothest experience with its operation. Which seems to have more to do with the Phone Number based set up than with the OS, based on the “error” messages … though that’s out of my league to assess more broadly.

The same is true for Kuzu no Honkai, a currently ongoing manga series with a currently airing anime and Live Action drama adaptations.

All six volumes of Octave are also available as tankoubon on LINEManga for  ¥540 per volume. One other Akiyama title is also offered.

Fx’s Aoi Hana is here too, while Shimura’s Koiiji is being re-serialzied from Kiss magazine.

A lot of Hirari titles are here as well. So are some of the Tsubomi titles, though not tagged as such. Mizutani Fuuka’s series for example. Tagged with the mangaka’s name, with Hakusensha and with TL. And so is  Takemiya Jin, represented with 12 titles, with the same tagging system, but with different pricing. Some of her tankoubon are tagged Comic Yuri Hime, publisher and TL.Steps is priced ¥648 p/volume, Omoi no Kakera ¥802, Seasons ¥864.

There is a TL tag and a BL tag but there are no Yuri or GL tags on LINEmanga, for the moment.

It seems petty to complain when confronted with such luxury but there are also the Geo-location barriers. Which place me on the other side of the wall compared to you. I can get access to previews of Kodansha USA’s recent Chihayafuru eBook release in English, for example, but I can’t buy that book nor their other English titles because of my location. I can stroll into a bookstore, brick and virtual, minutes after the latest Japanese edition in that series becomes available.

Erica here: Well, wow. That was an amazingly comprehensive review. Based on all of this, I still think Kadokawa’s Bookwlaker might have an advantage, since there appear to be no geographic restrictions, but LINEManga has made pretty fast progress in that area!

Thank you again Verso for this  detailed review of the LINEManga system!

 
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Yuri Manga: Kindred Spirits on the Roof -The Complete Collection (English)

March 30th, 2017

If you had been paying attention to Yuri manga in Japan between 2012-14 or so, you’d have been hard pressed to not hear of Okujou no Yurirei-san, a wildly popular Visual Novel that spawned Drama CDs, any number of doujinshi and even a two-part manga series.  Okujou no Yurirei-san Side A: Mou Hitotsu Yuritopia (屋上の百合霊さんSIDE A もうひとつのユリトピア) (reviewed here on Okazu) and Okujou no Yurirei-san Side B: Nakayoshi Quiz (reviewed here on Okazu) both released in Japan by Ichijinsha in 2015.

In 2016, MangaGamers put out the Kindred Spirits on the Roof  Visual Novel with English subtitles and, if you recall, I enjoyed it quite a bit (to my surprise. It almost goes without saying that I enjoyed the heck out of the Drama CDs, as well!)

And now in 2017, Seven Seas has collected both those 2015 manga volumes into one omnibus, Kindred Spirits on the Roof – The Complete Collection. Which was, for the same reasons they were very pleasant to read in Japanese, were still very pleasant to read in English.

In “Another Yuritopia” we meet Shiori and Mako, a couple who is only not a couple because Shiori is, frankly, scared of her feelings. Mako has confessed to her, but she just can’t bring herself to give a reply. VN character Hina is able to help her classmate out with good advice (as she does in the game, as well. And, of course the story contains cameos from other VN characters.

In the second story, “Friendly Quiz”, Chiharu is a Yuri enthusiast and loves the “friendliness” amongst the student body, but when she see hows in sympatico Trivia Club President and Vice President Natsuki and Rika, Chiharu knows just what to do. While training to win at the Trivia finals, Chiharu is able to use her skills to bridge a gap between her sempai and become friendlier with Tokino, her fellow new club member. What this story lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in pure joy of being happy about lesbian couples being happy. Ain’t nothing wrong with a little happy couples. ^_^

What makes these stories a little unusual and a lot pleasant, is the complete absence of the kind of male gaze we’re forced to endure usually with these tales. No obsessive, skirt hem, chest or ass-staring at all. The girls are allowed to appear as more than just body parts throughout the whole thing.

After the small gaffes with the translation in Bloom Into You, I was very pleased to see that Seven Seas had once again attained it’s usual standard of quality in translation and technicals.

These were very nice stories to read in Japanese, even if one hadn’t gone through the VN, as I hadn’t and now that I have, they were still just as pleasant – which is really quite an achievement, when you think about it.

Ratings:

Art – 8 Nice
Story – 7 Cute 
Characters – 8 Likeable
Yuri – 8 Teen Romance
Service – 1 Really not. A kiss or two. 

Overall – 8

Kindred Spirits on the Roof – The Complete Collection is a readable and very likable off-shoot of the popular Kindred Spirits Visual Novel that can be enjoyed by anyone whether they are familiar with the VN or not.

I was also very pleased to see an ad for the VN in the back of the book. This kind of cross-promotion is very important. Saturation is what makes a franchise successful.

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Yuri Manga: Comic Yuri Hime April 2017 (コミック百合姫2017年4月号)

March 27th, 2017

Yep…monthly is really pushing my limits. ^_^  But let me tell you, what a problem to have! Ten years ago, I trawled the shelves of used manga stores obsessively, looking for hints of Yuri in this series or that, or an homage anthology that paired up characters in a not-gross way. (Still am appalled at all the Sakaki-san and the creepy cat from Azumanga Daioh doujinshi back in 2003.) Just to find something to blog about. And here I am, with an excess of Yuri. I am not complaining, I assure you. ^_^

So here we are looking a Comic Yuri Hime, April 2017 (コミック百合姫2017年4月号) and I find we have another problem, slight though it might be. We’re 4 issues in and a number of the newer series are starting to fall apart already. No surprise, as they weren’t stories, they were story ideas. Gag concepts only carry you so far. Of these “Holmes-san ga Suiri dekinai” by Nemachi Dorumaru has suffered the largest collapse. It hasn’t really been Yuri, and now that it is, it’s actually become less interesting.

However, there were still a goodly number of fair-to middling series. Of the ones that work best, “Now Loading”, “Watashi no Yuri ha Oshigoto desu!” and 2DK, G Pen, Mezamashitokei” are still my standout three. That they all seem to be about women working is just coincidence, I am absolutely sure.  ^_^ “Watashi no Yuri ha Oshigoto desu!” deserves a special mention, for having added female customers to the Yuri cafe, which I had previously noticed were absent. 

I also liked the go-nowhere “Hakushi no Kanata” by Hamuro Kei. This is pure one-shot stuff, but it was a nice bittersweet “what might have been, if only” tale that could change a life which was quite nice. And “Demi-Lfe” and “Roku + Ichi Sodarashi” are still forced and a little fun, even though they don’t have much substance. 

Ratings:

Overall – 7

So, points off for the complete dissolution of “Holmes-san” but holding steady else wise.  Let’s see how long this can be sustained. I pick up the May issue tonight. ^_^

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Yuri Manga Interview on Barnes and Noble Blog

March 24th, 2017

Thanks to the kindness (and good timing) of Brigid Alverson, the Barnes and Noble blog has an interview with me all about Yuri Manga. The good timing part is really important, because I get to talk at length about some of the great Yuri manga that has recently hit shelves. As you all know, the main thing that will convince publishers to license more Yuri manga is good sales of the Yuri manga they are currently putting out. So the more folks who learn of and buy the very decent Yuri manga in the store right now, the better. ^_^

Drop by the interview and make your suggestions for more great Yuri manga to buy in the comments!

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