Archive for the Yuri Webcomics Category


LGBTQ Webcomic: Always Human

September 12th, 2017

Webcomics are one of the most fascinating niches in the comics market and it’s long past time that we talk about them once again..

Webcomics became a “thing” in the late 1990s, and by the early 2000s, it was already possible to find LGBTQ content on any number of platforms. By 2003, I was keeping bookmarks of aggregate lists of lesbian and “Yuri” webcomics from half a dozen sites. Finding webcomics wasn’t hard, but finding really good ones, well that’s always been the challenge.   ^_^ As time has passed, webcomics have gone from being a junior league for upcoming artists to being a marketplace in their own right. Webcomics can successfully raise money from backers for print books, publishers are looking at Pixiv and deviantart for talent, and with Patreon and Webtoons, comic artists can get get paid for the work, as well as for the finished project. This particular niche in the comics ecosystem has only just developed those bridges to the larger comics landscape, and I don’t think we’ve more than just barely begun to see their potential. 

Which brings me to one of the best webcomics I have read. Ever. Today we’re talking about Always Human, by Ari North.  Ari sent me a message in 2016, asking me to mention her comic to you as part of a YNN report and I was glad to. I’ve been reading Always Human on Webtoons ever since. This week I finally had a chance to catch up and complete it and all I can say is that this is one of the best uses of the Internet for comics that I’ve seen. 

Ari’s art is colorful watercolor-like washes, with a vertical scroll and a lot of white space. It could, of course, be  reformatted for print, as Pulse was, but the larger, more open format of the online page, means that you can enjoy the details that fill up your screen, and not lose any of it. Often chapters comes with an original soundtrack, which you can listen to for free on Soundcloud. This really added to the atmosphere of every chapter. 

The story is sweet, honest and realistic. It’s also a lot of fun. Set in a future Earth, where virtual reality allows for body modification, gaming, communication – humans are working in deep seas and space- the people who populate Always Human are indeed quite human. Designer Sunati meets college student Austen, and they fall in love.  

While the story is primarily romance, it’s a romance that doesn’t isolate Austen or Sunati. Theirs is a world with colleagues and friends and family, which is so important to me as a reader. Unlike mainstream media, which seems to want to wallow in alternative worst scenarios, without  allowing us to work through our uncomfortable realities first, Always Human provides a more progressive world for us to spend time in. Austen has two fathers and Sunati’s parents have a boyfriend, and none of that is a “thing” that must be dealt with, beyond the stress of meeting one’s lover’s parents, which is – as we all know – stressful enough in itself.

Sunati and Austen are adults living adult lives, but they are still young adults, so they are neck deep in the process of creating the lives they hope to live. They aren’t perfect, they make mistakes and deal with the consequences, as we might expect. Even when they annoyed me – and they did – I was rooting for them As Ari says about her comic,”This is a story about nanobots, genetic engineering, and two girls falling in love. No matter how technology changes us, we’ll always be human.” And so they are.

Ratings:

Art – 10
Characters – 10
Story – 10
LGBTQ – 10
Service -1 on principle

Overall – 10

If you’re looking for a really good webcomic to read, I recommend Always Human. Luckily for us, Ari’s working on another comic for Webtoons. I’m waiting with bated breath for more from this talented artist.

Send to Kindle




Review of Yuri Webcomics on Lezhin Online, Guest Review by Nadia “Atarun” C

March 15th, 2017
We have a very exciting Guest Review today! Okazu hero and new Guest Reviewer, Nadia “Atarun” C. has a roundup and mini-review of English-language comics in the GL category on online manhwa platform Lezhin.
 
Lezhin offers free sample chapters, then readers purchase coins to read further chapters of their favorite comics.  Nadia is a big fan of the comics there, and has offered to walk us through some of the titles that might be of interest to us. Take it away Nadia!
  
 
 
The catalog of Yuri comics on Lezhin is growing and already counts 15 series, 11 of which are still ongoing and get new chapters weekly or close to weekly.
 
That count includes Lily Love by Ratana Satis, which Erica has already reviewed: 
 
Here’s a quick overview of what else Lezhin has in store for Yuri fans (the completely subjective order being from my most to least favorite):
What Does the Fox Say? by Team Gaji
(73 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Seongji just started working as a junior manager in a game dev company and she falls in love, for the first time and at first sight, with her team manager Sumin. Sumin likes Seongji back but carries a LOT of baggage, especially her love/hate relationship with her boss Seju which has been going on and off for years.
 
Besides the interesting love triangle between 3 adult independent women and the numerous sex scenes, this series also features plenty of drama around the three characters, most notably with Seju’s extensive and dysfonctional wealthy family.
 
Overall Rating – 9 I want Seongji to get what she wants, I want Sumin to make up her mind and I want Seju to have someone to support her… and it’s hard to picture all three things happening simultaneously. Love triangles are rarely that interesting for me.
 
Pulse by Ratana Satis (which has also been reviewed here on Okazu)
(41 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Heart surgeon Mel had given up on love years ago. She has casual sex with nurses (among which she is quite popular) and strangers met in bars, but she doesn’t want to try anything deeper… until she meets Lynn, whose life is basically on standby until she can get a heart transplant.
 
The story is not laser focused on the relationship between Mel and Lynn, instead spending a lot of time on secondary characters that bring a lot of drama around the couple.
 
Overall Rating – 9 Some parts of the story make little sense (like how Lynn’s parents let her move in with a complete stranger without question), but I can’t help rooting for Mel and Lynn.
 
My Girlfriend’s Ex-Boyfriend by Shinb
(31 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Lesbian Eunbyul and bisexual Sena are college students in a closeted relationship. They get along really well, but pretty much everyone they knew or get to know somehow tests the strength of their relationship, from ex-boyfriends (hence the title) to female friends and social media.
 
Drama, drama, drama. This series mixes drama that only exists because people don’t communicate with problems that would not be fixed even if discussed openly.
 
Overall Rating – 8 All the drama feels believable to me, none of it overblown for the sake of aaaaangst.
 
The Love Doctor by Chamsae / Bansook
(45 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Jung Erae is so aloof and clueless, she hires the love doctor Cha Yoon to teach her about love. As one would expect, Yoon quickly realizes that she has fallen in love with Erae, but it takes a lot longer for Erae to come to the same conclusion. The story goes on well beyond that point, though, as friends of both protagonists interfere with the newly formed couple in various ways, for various reasons.
 
This series talks a LOT about ballet and the cast runs the gamut from psychopathy, narcissism and sadism to extreme empathy, selflessness and masochism.
 
Overall Rating – 8 Erae starts as the klutz-whose-survival-is-a-miracle but grows much bolder through the story and just about every character has more depth that meets the eye.
 
Everyday Lily by Gom Mali
(35 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Seung Jua is a closeted lesbian college student with a few notches on her belt and is a bit cynical about love. Yang Nayoung is another lesbian in the same class, but, much to her dismay, she is only popular with boys and everything she knows about lesbian love comes from shoujo-ai comics. When Jua has a crush on Nayoung, she hides it masterfully, but when, later, Nayoung has a crush on Jua, she is completely powerless to hide it.
 
The story of their relationship is told through 4-panel slices of life (that are not always gags).
 
Overall Rating – 7 Sometimes funny, sometimes realistic, sometimes silly, always sweet.
 
Her Pet by Pito
(72 episodes)
 
High schooler Gayoon has had a crush on upperclasswoman Soha ever since she saved her from bullies in middle school. Soha has forgotten all about Gayoon, but when they meet again, she is reminded of her dead dog Happy. Gayoon decides to roleplay as Happy to help Soha work through some past trauma (but really, it’s a pretext to be with her).
 
The story revolves essentially around Soha and Gayoon’s weird relationship, but it also takes the time to flesh out many secondary characters.
 
Overall Rating – 7 The story starts in a very weird place, goes through a lot of dark places, but ends up in a happy warm place and I don’t regret the trip.
 
Serenade by Keum Kyesoo
(43 episodes, still ongoing)
 
A very dark thriller full of betrayal, lies and coercion that features an Evil Psycho Lesbian as crazy and creepy as they can get. I can’t really tell you anything about the plot without spoiling it…
Let me just warn you that it should come with huge trigger warnings for lesbian rape and murder and that everyone and everything revolves around piano music.
 
Overall Rating – 6 If the EPL was slightly less creepy, the professor slightly less manipulative and the protagonist slightly less clueless, I’d give it 8.
The Chain of Youth by Dead Sea
(19 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Average high school girl Jia is head over heels for borderline psychopath school idol Yoona. She writes her a love letter and Yoona asks her to throw it away as a proof of love. That scene is starting point of their unbalanced weird relationship, but also of a series of events rattling relationships all around them.
 
More than angst, there is a sense of dread permeating this story. It could go either way, but it seems clear that, as foretold in the prologue, things are not going to go and end well for all parties involved.
 
Overall Rating – 6 So far, I do not care for either Jia or Yoona, but I do care about two secondary characters and I keep reading with the ominous feeling that I’ll witness a lot more bad things happen to them…
 
Maison de Maid by Moonyang / Tarang
(17 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Klutz-whose-survival-is-a-miracle June is the newest maid in the manor. Even though she fails at everything (save for baking egg tarts), Madam forgives her, gives her a dress, takes her to see a play and generally treats her like a favorite. June starts by admiring her mistress, but her feelings quickly grow well further.
 
Overall Rating – 6 This series goes beyond subtext, since June clearly identifies the true nature of her feelings, but it is completely one-sided so far.
 
(27 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Catholic all-girls high school student Ayeon is bullied by a group of classmates including her former friend Dahye. Some day she is saved by albino “angel” Yeonhwa, whose agenda is anything but well-intentioned.
 
The series revolves around clueless, goody two-shoes Ayeon for a while, but then switches to Yeonhwa and her perverted sadistic schemes. Trigger warning for lesbian rape.
 
Overall Rating – 5 If Ayeon gets a clue and stands up to mother-of-all-bullies Yeonhwa, I’ll add a few points to the rating, but for now it’s more a story of how an Evil Psycho Lesbian gets her way while everyone thinks she is a fragile wallflower and that’s not my thing.
 
Vengeance by Aji
(22 episodes)
 
Closeted lesbian police officer Seolah is in charge of the investigation into her secret lover’s murder. Crushed by regret and guilt, she sacrifices everything to find the murderer and get revenge for her dead lover.
 
Aaaaaaaaaangst. There is no silver lining to that cloud.
 
Overall Rating – 5 I tend to really like murder mysteries and vengeance stories, but this one never clicked. Somehow, I never really cared about who killed Seolah’s girlfriend or how she would get away with avenging her death…
 
The Third Party by Enjelicious
(14 episodes, still ongoing)
 
I can’t say that I have understood the plot of this one just yet… A rich heiress is working in her father’s company, but no one knows she is the owner’s daughter. She is married to the company’s top news broadcaster, but no one is aware of that fact either. She instantly falls in love with her ladykiller boss and is almost open about that. Said boss is screwing around with a looooot of married women, inside and outside the company, but won’t touch the protagonist whom she believes to be single and many hints are dropped that she has a secret dark agenda probably involving the protagonist’s father and/or husband.
 
Overall Rating – 4 I might change my mind on that series later on, if they get on with the plot and its twists and turns amaze me… but so far, it feels to me more like What Does the Fox Say? done wrong.
 
My Joy by Pito
(26 episodes)
 
Track-and-field ace Namsu realizes she is in love with her friend Joy when the latter’s childhood friend Hye-Yeon moves back into her life after 4 years abroad and greets her by french-kissing her in public. Namsu and Hye-Yeon proceed to fight over Joy, who does not really understand why she can’t have them both.
 
Overall Rating – 3 It was impossible for me to care for this love triangle, because I can’t help despising Hye-Yeon and Joy. The ending made me dislike the story (and those two characters) even more.
 
Daily Witch by Sungwon
(65 episodes)
 
Sorry but I am powerless to tell you anything about this series. I could not get past episode 3. And at least until that point it completely defies description (like Yuri Kuma Arashi, except that one worked for me and Daily Witch did not).
 
Overall Rating – WTF
 
Erica here: This is absolutely fantastic Nadia, thank you! I know a number of Okazu readers are already Lezhin subscribers and I hope that this encourages more folks to try some of the GL manhwa on the site! 
Send to Kindle




LGBTQ Webcomic: The Hues

August 9th, 2015

TheHuesV1A few months ago, I had the pleasure of backing a Kickstarter for Alex Heberling’s webcomic The Hues. A post-apocalyptic magical girl series isn’t a new idea, but “new” and “original” are overused and overrated. What I am actually looking for is a good story.

By good story I mean characters that are not a checklist of components, have complexity and personality and a plot that actually uses these characteristics, not just tortures the characters for our amusement. I realize that by saying this I have castigated about 97% of modern media entertainment.  In one of my reviews of Sound of the Sky (which I tried hard to like, but ended up loathing), I said this:

“…so many anime studios have [fear] of *telling us an actual story.* It’s as if they cannot, will not and obviously do not feel comfortable with a female cast in a serious drama, and must relentlessly infantilize them so we can never, not for one second, take them seriously.”

I had a similar problem with Sound!Euphonium, when I tried to watch it last night. When I watch or read a story, once the cast has been presented to me, I have a weird expectation of them actually doing something.

In The Hues, we first meet Sami, a young woman whose own fate she has been well aware of, but never understood, When everything hits the fan, Sami is shocked, but not surprised. She is joined by several other young women, Andrea, Hannah and Lauren, all of whom understand they have some part to play, but don’t yet know what that part is. And then the plot happens. That, my friends, is how you write a good story. The set-up is set up for the story, then the story happens. If the set-up *is* the story, it’s much less likely to be good.

The Kickstarter gave me Volume 1 of The Hues as a print edition. The color pages work very well in print and the print quality is exceptional, so everything has more depth and fullness to it than the webcomic. It’s a nice book and I’m glad to have it.

Volume 1 is primarily focused on setting the board and the pieces upon it, so we have little time to devote to character development. In Volume 2, we spend a bit more time with building the world, which admittedly is in flux, the characters and giving us more insight into the overarching plot.

In Volume 3, having carved out a refuge in this post-alien invasion world, the protagonists now have a bit of time to get to know each other. I pegged the lesbian character right away – not because she’s stereotypical. None of the characters embody stereotypes, in fact. Even the minor characters are diverse and developed. And while there is a fair amount of queerness among our protagonists, there is also a refreshing body type and ethnic diversity.

The Hues is an original, diverse and realistic take on magical girls in a sci-fi setting. It’s got solid, complex characters and a plot that still has a lot to be developed. Definitely worth reading. And since you can read it online for free, there’s no excuse, is there? ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 8
LGBTQ – 7
Service – 0 so far

Overall – 8

See, Japanese anime studios? It can be done. Try using the characters you create to do something once in a while. You might like it. I know I would.

Send to Kindle




Western Comix: Paris in the 20th Century

November 11th, 2014

paris20Ana DuPre is both the heroine we want and the heroine we need. And luckily for us, Brian Gardes and Keri Grassl of Kilted Comics have created her especially for us.

In the alternative Paris of the alternative 1920s, along with airships and goggles, Ana DuPre, thief extraordinaire steals rare items, fights with laser guns and does other expected acts of derring-do. And she wears a leather pilot’s outfit and has a famous girlfriend…what more could we ask of her? Well…early 20th century literary references, of course! And luckily, Brian and Keri know what we want and give it to us. Which brings us to this lovely little comic, Paris in the 20th Century, starring charming adventuress Ana DuPre.

Ana has been hired by Michael Verne, the not-famous son of the famous French science fiction writer to retrieve a book from his father’s publisher. Of course, nothing goes easy for Ana…if it did, we wouldn’t have a cool story now, would we? ^_^

Gardes and Grassl have done a fair bit of homework and the people, places and situations among which Ana treads are real, including her bombshell girlfriend, Tamara de Lempicka, who was “notorious”ly bisexual during her life.

You may have guessed that I’m a sucker for this kind of comic, and I am. But what really got me, were Grassl and Gardes’ interest in and love of pinup art, combined with their love of throwing things to the wind and letting them be carried off in a zeppelin. Who doesn’t love a smart, sexy, bisexual, whimsical, gentlelady thief?

Ratings:

Art – YMMV, but I liked it – 7
Story – 8
Character – 7
Yuri – 2 Implication only
Service – 2 Pinup-y art

Overall – 7 and I definitely want more. ^_^

You can read sample pages of Paris in the 20th Century on the Kilted Comics website, along with the ongoing adventure, Ana DuPre and the Eye of the Kraken. You can buy Paris for $7 plus shipping. Totes worth it, but you won’t get it inscribed “Thanks for last night” like I did, unless you pick it up at a show. ^_^ (I always get people to inscribe it that way. I want my heirs to have something to think about as they clean my crap up after I’m gone. We even got some of the doujinshi artists at GLF to inscribe books to me that way. ^_^)

If you like Kerri’s art, do check out her page, Hooligan Lili (great name…!), where she has some lovely pinups and chicks on motorcycles and other things that make me happy. ^_^

Send to Kindle




“Tokyo Love ~ Rica ‘tte Kanji!?” named a “Best Manga for Grownups” at Comic-Con

July 23rd, 2013

We like to think that it wasn’t just because we’re friends with most of the panelists at San Diego Comic-Con’s 2013 “Best and Worst Manga” Panel, that our own Tokyo Love ~ Rica ‘tte Kanji!? was included on the list of “Best Manga for Grownups.” ^_^

Many thanks to Brigid, Deb, Christopher, David and Shaenon.

Experience Rica Takashima’s look at lesbian life and love in Tokyo in the 1990s for yourself. Read Tokyo Love ~ Rica ‘tte Kanji!? for free, legally online! Enjoy!

Send to Kindle