Archive for the Yuri Anthology 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: Eclair blanche – Anata ni Hibiku Yuri Anthology (エクレア blanche あなたに響く百合アンソロジー)

July 31st, 2017

In April 2017, I reviewed a new Yuri anthology,  Eclair  – Anata ni Hibiku Yuri Anthology. It was, apparently, successful enough that a sequel was almost immediately planned, and so, today, I’m taking a look at Eclair blanche – Anata ni Hibiku Yuri Anthology (エクレア blanche あなたに響く百合アンソロジー).

There are many names in this anthology that will be familiar to Okazu readers, Amano Shuninta, Nakatani Nio, Kitao Taki, Canno and Hirao Auri among them.

Like all anthologies, your mileage may vary, as the authors play to their interests  and strengths, with still fairly heavy reliance on schoolgirl stories. This isn’t just a fetish, you understand, it’s a comfortable place to play, as no commitment, no social commentary and above all, no political position need be taken to present a heartfelt, sincere Yuri story. 

Of this anthology, the standout piece for me was Canno-sensei’s story which follows a fairly jaded lesbian, who finds a real connection with the girl next door. I also liked Kitao Taki-sensei’s story that takes the tired trope of a childhood promise and examines it in an adult light.

All in all, a collection of strong voices and variable art styles makes for a great place to pick and choose from a buffet of Yuri. You’re likely to find a piece or three that suit your tastes. ^_^

Ratings:

Overall – 7

While this collection is not available on the US Kindle, you can get it digitally on Bookwalker Global, which has the advantage of being both region and device agnostic. Both Eclair and Eclair blanche are available.

 

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Yuri Manga: Galette, Issue 2 (ガレット 2)

July 10th, 2017

In the comments of my review of Galette, Issue 1, Jim assured us that the next issue was even better. Jim was right. Galette, Issue 2 (ガレット) is very close to the kind of manga anthology I hoped Galette would be. 

The cover illustration by pen is lovely, the construction of the cover, with reflective metallic ink is exceeding pleasant. The inaide cover art is likewise appealing. Interior color pages open up Morinaga Milk’s contribution and include a photo set, something we haven’t seen in many Yuri anthology. and further illustrations.

The opening story by Otsu Hiyori was satisfying (as was seeing her back in a Yuri collection!) There were any number of good to excellent stories. I found way more of them – even those set in school – more complex, less “girl meets girl” thn we’ve come to expect. This issue had a number of stories that looked at regret for what never was or might have been, as well as stories where facing down one’s feelings and putting a name to them is the story. 

It was a strong enough book that, having finished it, I went back and re-read it. I only do that when I want to make sure I caught everything. Of course I loved Takemiya Jin’s ex-Yanki, now-adult comedy, and Morinaga Milk’s story was very solid and not at all childish or school-life. But the standout story for me continues to  be Monomo Moto and Kitta Izumi’s “Liberty” which took off in such a different direction than expected, but was just so good, that I’m really hoping it’ll continue in Volume 3!

As with the first volume, you can get it in print from Amazon JP (until is sells out, which apparently Volume 1 has) and (in Japanese) on digital for the US Kindle from Amazon.com. I’m still so damn excited about that for you. No shipping, and there you go, you have it in your pocket.   Volume 3 will be out in Japan in print at the end of August, so keep an eye out for the Kindle version later this sumer. For a sample of the next volume, visit the Galette Lineup page

And, if you want to support this creator-owned work, take a look at the subscription page for a variety of plans to pay for  the level of support you want to give. There are limitations, so please read the page carefully before you  apply! You’ll get rewards from 100¥/month and up and you’ll get your name on the thanks page! I imagine that shipping to overseas locations has some limitations, so, again, please read carefully. But, look, it’s the writers we want to read, making the manga they want to write. As far as I’m concerned, that’s worth my support (I’ve chosen the “Normal” level of support. Can I just say how amusing I find that?) So whether you’re supporting the work with a subscription, buying the print or the digital, let’s show these creators that the Yuri fandom outside Japan has their back.

Ratings:

Art – 9 
Story- 9 
Characters – 8
Service – 4 A little in “Liberty”
Yuri – 10

Overall – 9

Cannot wait for Volume 3!

 

 

 

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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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Eclair – Anata ni Hibiku Yuri Anthology (エクレア あなたに響く百合アンソロジー)

April 17th, 2017

I still remember the old days of Okazu when the primary way to find Yuri was through anthologies. Not just any anthologies, but mostly through series parody anthologies that collected doujnshi art from the comic markets and packed them together in a tidy “what if?” collection. I’m still fond of the Souer Sengen series.

Today, Yuri anthologies are much more likely to be original, in the sense that they are not parodies of established series. Whether one can truly be considered “original” when  one is creating the 17, 764th version of “two girls like each other,” is something that we can certainly have a conversation about! ^_^ My position is that yes, you should tell your story, but without the delusion of thinking you’re the only one to have ever told it. Go ahead, write that Yuri manga all about coming out. Don’t imagine for a second that there isn’t one out there already but, your voice is still unique.

And, in this way, we can say all the stories in  Yuri anthology Eclair – Anata ni Hibiku Yuri Anthology (エクレア) are original. What I most liked about Eclair, was the way it dealt with the small things – the set of a back, the way hair moves, that draws one attention to someone. There’s few histrionics here, no major crises, just quiet moments in which things change.

Of all the stories in the collection, my absolute favorite was “Kamiyui” by Isaki Uta, in which a young woman, clearly destined for beauty school, bonds with the cool Nadesico beauty while playing with her hair. It felt…nice.

The selling point of this collection was the breadth of well-known artists who have contributed, including Yagate Kimi ni Naru’s Nakatani Nio, Amano Suninta, Canno, Mekimeki, Kitao Taki and Hirao Auri among others.

Ratings:

Overall – 7

It was a nice anthology, rather than an amazing one, with most of the stories set in school or with school age girls. Not, probably my go-to read, but for a glimpse of people doing their own work in the confines of a major publisher’s rules, an “original” work.

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