Archive for the Yuri Anthology Category


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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Yuri Manga: Mebae, Volume 4 (メバエ 4)

November 16th, 2015

download6-e1430358570192 The newest Yuri anthology on the block, Mebae, continues on with a Volume 4, and so I guess I’m going to have to start taking it seriously now. ^_^

The stories vary widely, but there are still clear indications in both contributing artists and content that indicates that, despite the protagonists mostly being schoolgirls, the audience is presumed to be adult men who like reading stories about schoolgirls. Nonetheless, there were a few stories I found appealing. Among these, it was a surprise and delight to read the Kurogane Kenn story which combined the end of the world and girl’s love in a rather romantic way.

The most wonderful story was, IMHO, Matsuzaki Miyuki’s “Duet”, which followed two young ladies doing ballet as friends and rivals, until their relationship is strained by the rivalry. The end, in which they do a pas de deux together as professional dancers made me extremely happy. ^_^ Most importantly, the pas de deux is done both in women’s roles/costumes. That was especially nice.

So, yeah, I’m going to have to stop treating this magazine like a fly-by-night and acknowledge it as the successor to Pure Yuri Anthology Hirari that it is.

Ratings:

Overall – 7, but I’m following a couple of the series now, so maybe 8 since I’m in a good mood. ^_^

Volume 5 hits shelves the end of November 2015.

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LGBTQ: Beyond, Queer Science Fiction Anthology

October 28th, 2015

tumblr_nvv9q2vRmy1sihh1fo1_r1_500As long-time readers know, I consider it both a pleasure and a responsibility to support crowdfunding efforts. It’s always a pleasure to receive a hard-copy or PDF of a book that I very much wanted to see come to fruition that might, in the past, have never had a chance to be born. When I saw the Kickstarter for Beyond, a queer sci-fi/fantasy comics anthology, well obviously, I knew I was going to support it.

Right off the bat, the strength of Beyond is that being gay, coming out or falling in love with a being of the same sex is not the plot of many of the stories. Same-sex relationships are dealt with as matter of course, or a matter of interest, but not a matter of crisis for a number of the stories. So the anthology follows the old adage “assume the technology, then write the story,” for both technology and sexuality. That that remains refreshing just indicates that we have not quite yet gotten past queer-ness as a narrative…and to be honest, I don’t know if we ever will. “Other” always has appeal and causes discomfort. So far, at least, we have not yet managed a generation that doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel in that regard.

Another positive was the diversity of character, story, place and time, sexuality, gender and even human/non-human relationships. For a queer sci-fi comic, I had pretty high expectations of diversity, but I’ve been disappointed before, so it was critical to me that Beyond went, well, beyond the minimum.

I am very pleased to say that Beyond is available though Gumroad as a hardcopy preorder and a digital PDF. Kudos to the creators for having a post-crowdfunding effort distribution stream.

Ratings:

Overall – 8

Beyond is a thoughtful look at graphical story-telling in sci-fi settings, with conscious awareness of the need for representation, and a good wallow in tropes of the genre. A fun read and a worthy one. Exactly what crowdfunding is best for.

 

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Lesbian Comic Anthology: Freya – Sequential Love Stories

September 6th, 2015

Freya_2015This past year I mentioned a crowdfunding effort for a series of European LGBTQ manga anthologies, Frey and Freya (both named after Norse Gods.*) I jumped at the idea of getting it off the ground and have now had a chance to read it. And, it was fun and good. But while I read it, I realized that we really need to talk about something.

Young lesbian artists, may I ask you politely to stop saying you drew this “because there’s nothing like it out there”? Yes, there is. You may not know where to find it, or have seen it, but yes, yes it is “out there” and we’re long past this being a valid sentence. Just because you’ve never searched “Lesbian comics” or  you don’t know about “Yuri manga,” does not mean something does not exist in the universe – just as series’ don’t end just because you stop following them. ^_^ We are at a point in human existence when it is both self-indulgent and foolish to insist that something doesn’t exist before you do it. It’s way more likely that you aren’t forging a brand-new never-been-done-path in LGBTQ storytelling, but are merely walking a well-trodden one. Other people are gay. Other people draw comics. Lesbian comics exist – and have existed for many years.

Also, crowdfunders, please make sure to print a few extra copies of your books, so when I review it, people can buy it. It’s depressing to say “Well, this was great, but you had to fund it to get one. Sorry.”

So Freya Anthology arrived and, like all anthologies, it has variable art and stories. A number of things really stand out to my American eye – the artists in this anthology, who are mostly from Sweden, like those from the Finnish anthology, Lepakkoluola, are way better at diversity than Americans and Japanese are. Also, I found the collection to be a really pleasant mix of fantasy, slice-of-real-life, history and sci-fi.

There were any number of stories about competent and strong women, although the girl-as-reward trope was too prevalent for my comfort. Balancing this out, there were few coming out stories, and even those were “go tell her you like her” rather than, “Do I like girls?”

 

The art styles are decidedly western – the one manga-inspired story, “Bubble” by Elise Rosberg, really stood out as an exception to the rule. Natalia Batista‘s wordless, and heavily black-and-grey work, “La Perte” was my personal favorite. The dark pages too my aback at first, but the story was solid, had emotional depth and the art really grew on me.

Ratings:

Art and Stories variable. It’s an anthology.

Overall – 7

An excellent anthology and one that I will gladly add to my growing “international” lesbian comic collection. I know that the Frey and Freya circle is making the round of European events, and they do have a Facebook page, and it looks like you you can order a copy directly from them, so definitely contact them!

*The Frey anthology will focus on gay relationships.

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