Archive for the Yuri Anthology Category


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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Yuri Manga Anthology: Yu-Ribon (ユリボン)

February 24th, 2015

yu-ribonBirz magazine has been rarely mentioned over the years here on Okazu. Not because I don’t like it, it just hasn’t been relevant to our topics. But with the inclusion of the Yuri Kuma Arashi manga, and this new Yuri Anthology, Yu-Ribon, it’s time to have that conversation.

Even in families full of oddballs, there are good crazies and bad crazies. ^_^ Comic Birz is one of the, if not always bad crazy, then always just plain crazy. Birz reminds me of a specific person I used to know  – every conversation with her was conducted in a bizarro world of her own making. Even when the conversations were not awful, they were just strange.

So, the idea of a Yuri anthology from this comic was a challenging concept. Would it be knives in the head, tentacles or schoolgirls?

Tl;dr – It was schoolgirls.

Except for the story with the knives in the head.

A number of the creators names will be familiar to us here, Kanojo no Camera to Kanojo no Kisetsu creator Tsukiko, Manga no Tsukurikata‘s Hirao Auri, Takahashi Mako.  Others will be less well-known, perhaps, but no less capable.

The stories are lodged firmly in the “eternal school” of Yuri relationships and a number of them are notably more about friends than lovers.

And so the volume goes. I was three stories from the end and thought, “wow, not one weird story yet!” I was wrong, as usual. ^_^”Heru” by Tsubana is not really Yuri in any sense, but there sure were a lot of knives involved. No violence, no blood, Just knives. It was classic Birz.  Upon my wife’s request, here is an example.

Birz

My favorite story of the collection came immediately afterward. “Eye Contact Visitor Game” about a famous softball player and her friend that went so far as to include the word “like” and everything! (“How progressive,” says the wife.”)

If I had to choose, I’d pick this kind of bland not-lesbians, not-love “Yuri” over breast squeezing and bodily fluids, but, just.

Ratings:

Although the ratings are variable, the art is pretty good throughout.

Overall – 7

Not bad, not great. And knives in the head, so your mileage might vary on that.

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Yuri Manga: Mebae, Volume 3 (メバエ)

January 30th, 2015

mebae3I’ve been reading tons of manga, but been so have busy with the Yuricon Shop that I haven’t reviewed much and I’ve been mostly watching Star Trek: Voyager re-runs on Amazon Prime (I know, I know, but it’s not as bad as I remember) so I find myself at the end of the day tired, with nothing to say.

And since I have nothing nice to say, I thought I’d write a  quick review of the Yuri manga anthology Mebae, Volume 3. (メバエ) ^_^

So, you know when you’re watching a martial arts movie and the obligatory love scene comes on and you just sort of cringe because….ewww? That’s pretty much how Mebae, Volume 3 strikes me.

Here we are, going along and there’s a character who seems okay and the lover and they’d be kind of cute together and then the art goes all TITS and CROTCH and what the HELL is THAT even?!? and you’ve lost the moment.

The one story I genuinely liked involved a house shooting out into Earth orbit and no sex at all. Why it’s in the volume, I have no idea, there’s nothing to indicate the characters are anything but friends, but I was glad it was. Got my mind off the really confused anatomy lessons of the rest of the book. ^_^;

Ratings:

Art – No. Just, no.
Story – If you took out the nasty sex, a few of them aren’t awful, but most of them still are.
Characters – 0 Variable, from nil to nada.
Yuri – 6 There’s darn little affection for all the nude antics.
Service – 101232530

Overall – 3 A solid meh.

I had some small dregs of hope that bits of it might be worth reading, but it really isn’t. Oh well.

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