Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid Anime (English)

March 21st, 2017

Most of you are probably too young  to remember the television series Bewitched.  It was about a guy, Darrin, who lived a normal, boring salaryman life in the affluent American suburbs. Darrin was so dull and uninteresting that after a few years, they switched the actor who played him and mostly no one noticed. 

The “comedy” in Bewitched was centered around Darrin’s wife – a vivacious, beautiful woman…who was a witch. Samantha could wiggle her nose and make objects appear and disappear and change forms and turn people into toads and that kind of thing. That might have been marginally amusing on it’s own, but it wasn’t the point. The point of the series is that this beautiful, vivacious, magically powered woman (and all her bohemian relatives) were constantly being forced by Darrin in his utter dullness to conform to American middle class affluent white life. It was supposed to be hi-larious watching Darrin (or his boss, or neighbor) get all confuzzled by a magic spell. Watching Bewitched as a child, I constantly felt so angry. I wanted Samantha to take her cool powers, her fun and colorful family and burn down whereeverthefuck she was supposed to be living. 

To me, Bewitched was not a comedy, it was a tragedy. Instead of making Samantha the protagonist, it insisted on centering Darrin with his soul-killing boringness, sexist and racist boss and attitudes and general embodiment of Greyface to Samantha and her Erisian clan. 

I finally sat down to watch Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (streaming free and legally on Crunchyroll) and by the second episode, I realized that I was watching Bewitched all over again.  It’s absolutely possible that Darrin, I mean Kobayashi, might become a warm loving person, but about halfway through the second episode, when she was being kind to Kanna, after basically being an asshole to Tohru and demanding Tohru never use her powers after Tohru worked so hard to make her happy, I gave up.

Darrin is not interesting.  Forcing Samantha to be boring is not funny.

Any series that takes a character with cool powers and then spends all it’s time telling that character to never use those powers? Nope. ^_^;

Yes, Tohru is in love with Kobayashi. And that’s the entirely of that plot complication. It’s got nowhere to go, because Kobayashi being an absolute gut-searing bore is the plot. And it’s all the comedy too.

Nope.

Ratings:

Art – 6 Moe blobs and bouncing breasts
Story – 3 I fantasized about rewriting it wholly into Tohru and her human’s fun adventures!
Characters – 6 Speaking of 70s TV shows. It was all Odd Couple hijinks
Service – yeppers
Yuri – 1

Overall – 5

Obviously, lots of people enjoy the series – and I’m glad. I’m just not one of them.

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Yuri Network News – (百合ネットワークニュース) – March 18, 2017

March 18th, 2017

Yuri Anime?

This week was the “Yuriten” event was held in Tokyo. The event began life as a Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo homage event and has become a kind of Yuri manga festival. This year, fans in took notice of a Kase-san series poster which notably listed a director and an art director. The YuriNavi blog suggests that a Kase-san anime might be in the making.

As we have nothing but this poster at this time, we are free to conjecture all we want. ^_^  

Seven Seas has already released the first of three Kase-san manga, Kase-san and Morning Glory.

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LGBTQ Comics News 

Two very exciting Kickstarters this week, via YNN Correspondent Ashley S.

First up Bingo Love: A Black Queer romance graphic novella. Sample pages are up. Writer Tee Franklin,  Artist Jenn St-Onge and Colorist Joy San have put together an absolutely delightful comic. You bet I’ve already thrown money at it! The kickstarter just started and is already more than halfway there. Let beat the hell out of those goals shall we?

And Dates! An Anthology of Queer Historical Fiction (Volume 2) kickstarter has about a week to go and has already exceeded initial goal. If you enjoyed the first volume, and want more historical queer fiction, you know what to do!

We all cope with stress in different ways. Alison Bechdel draws comics about the different ways we cope. A new Dykes to Watch Out For is about all of us right now.

 

Live-Action News

Comic Natalie reports on a live action stage play, Embryo, put on by creative arts company fragment edge, that will run from May 17-21 in Tokyo that, is supposed to show the “World of Yuri.” It takes place in Shinjuku where the girls are shielded from the world by “Hazard Flower” which pretty much makes me think this show will be poisonous. But hey, if you’re there and it’s there, let us know!

YNN Correspodent Brendan B writes in with this positive news: “CW is currently making a TV adaptation of Black Lightning, one of the oldest black superheroes in comics. They just cast an actress named Nafessa Williams to play his oldest daughter, Anissa, who in the comics was one of DC’s first out lesbian superheroes, Thunder. I’m hoping that aspect is retained for the show (I’m optimistic since the CW does have some LGBT characters on their shows).“Awesome, thanks Brendan!

 

Know some cool Yuri News you want people to know about? Become a Yuri Network Correspondent by sending me any Yuri-related news you find.Emails go to anilesbocon01 at hotmail dot com. Not to the comments here, please, or they might be forgotten or missed. There’s a reason for this madness. This way I know you are a real human, not Anonymous (which I do not encourage – stand by your words with your name!) and I can send you a YNN correspondent’s badge.

Thanks to all of you – you make this a great Yuri Network!

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Western Comic: Satellite Falling, Issues 1-3

March 17th, 2017

Satellite Falling, written by Steve Horton and illustrated by Stephen Thompson felt very much like The Fifth Element, starring a lesbian character, without the kind of satisfying ending that that film provided.

We begin by being introduced to Lilly (hah), the only human on a satellite full of aliens, whose job is bounty hunter, or whatever she needs to do. Lilly comes already burdened with a tragic love affair when we meet her. 

She is hired by the police…more specifically, by the police chief for whom she does contract work, to help uncover a organization that…blah blah blah. The details are as unimportant in this story as in any other “watch the cool bounty hunter beat up people” sci-fi story ever. I mean really, the point of this book is watching the cool bounty hunter, no one really cares about the details of the evil organization.

We are told – and shown – the species-ism that is supposed to stand-in for racism, without any context. In fact, I found it pretty tasteless that we are forced to watch a lynching of an alien, without any narrative around the scene other than “oh look, they are so xenophobic.”  Lilly, we are repeatedly told, is the only human left on the satellite. Why? What happened? We don’t know, except that humans left because of that species-ism.

Lilly uses holographic masking to appear as various species but is wholly human. Her police chief boss, not averse to coercion, uses their ability to shift forms to have sex with Lilly as a female. Again, as no ideological or sociological context is applied to the scene, I could not help but read it as a bunch of guys thinking lesbians are Man LiteTM, and therefore wrote Lilly the same way they would a male protagonist. On the one hand, it’s freeing, knowing that neither the Chief nor Lilly have any emotional baggage about this, on the other hand, it’s also calls Lilly’s obsession about her former lover into some kind of icky question. Like, weren’t you not moving on a second ago? Or is that only for internal expository monologue and actually you have sex all the time? It’s hard to understand Lilly, and the narrative is too busy having her be one-liner funny and kick ass to ever really bother trying. This mess is also why I would not call this comic a LGBTQ comic. It has a lesbian protagonist, but is not particularly about her.

The end of Volume 3 is a big ole’ cliffhanger and, really, I should totally be the audience for this comic (badass lesbian bounty hunter),  but as the big reveal is so horribly boringly obvious and then is presented as a low-key reveal, I find myself not all that interested. Also, I’m tad annoyed by Amazon Kindle/Comixlogy’s bundle of the first three issues of the series, without any sign of issues 4 and 5, which are currently TBD for 8 months.

The high point of the series is definitely Thompson’s art which was both artistic and easy to follow and Lisa Jackson’s coloring which wasn’t the super-saturated colors I find so difficult to cope with. Looking at Satellite Falling was the best part. If only the story had built the world with the same fervor it had Lilly talking to her dead lover.

Ratings:

Art – 9
Story – 6 Couldawouldashoulda
Characters – 7 The alien bartender was my favorite character. He was all the stereotypes and I liked him anyway
Service – 7 It was actually a nice sex scene, except for the fact that it was coercive
Lesbian – 10 You know what was actually lesbian? Lilly’s obsession with Eva. THAT was lesbian.

Overall – 7

If the other two issues show up in the universe, I’m not opposed to reading them, but I’m not losing sleep if I don’t.

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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! 
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Card Captor Sakura, Clear Card Arc Manga, Volume 1 (カードキャプターさくら クリアカード編)

March 14th, 2017

In the middle of series getting reboots and homages,and re-mastering, Card Captor Sakura is back with a honest-to-goodness sequel.

Card Captor Sakura, Clear Card Arc, Volume 1 (カードキャプターさくら クリアカード編) begins a year or so after the original series ends, as Sakura is about to begin middle school. 

The arc begins with a dream, as the other arcs have. A cloaked and masked figure appears. Sakura’s cards are all lost to a storm and a new key appears.  She wakes to find the new key in her hand and all her cards gone. Clearly, she will be tasked with gathering cards once again. 

Almost immediately, she encounters her first card. She and Kero-chan are old hands at this now, there’s no confusion about what to do and she nabs “Gale.” The card has a front and back design, but the background is transparent, and the other side is invisible. Cool. I know there’s a set for sale, I wonder if it works!

Not much has changed in this year that has passed. One major difference is that Yukito and Yue seem comfortable now sharing a body. When she needs to speak with Yue, Sakura asks Yukito if it’s all right. And it is always all right. 

Another is the lack of confusion about how to handle the Clow Cards. It’s all very business-like. Tomoyo, of course (!) is thrilled beyond belief that she can design new costumes for the Card Captor.

And finally, Li Syaoran has returned. The year has been good to him. He’s taller and calmer and clearly more mature. When he and Sakura reunite, they embrace like they really mean it. He’s still carrying the bear Sakura made for him and, although Sakura does not know this, is in touch with Eriol.

The backup cast is the same as well, although class assignments have shuffled them around. Yamazaki and Naoko are in Syaoran’s class, so the stories are even weirder and less pleasant than ever before, to Chiharu’s chagrin. Yukito and Touya are still inseparable.

As the final chapter wraps up with Sakura capturing the Siege card, we and she have no idea at all who the cloaked figure is or what the story is this time. More importantly, neither Yue no Kero-chan know either. (I’ve read the magazine chapters, so I have a little better idea what’s going on, but I’m not telling. ^_^)

If you like the original series for exactly what it was, (as I did), you’ll enjoy this new series. If you’re hoping for something more “adult” you’re not getting it. One year went by, not a decade. But if you did like it, you can also look forward to the new anime, which will premiere in 2018!

Ratings:

Art – 9
Characters – 9
Yuri – 1 Tomoyo is the same as ever
Story – 7
Service – 2 Inevitable slashing of Touya and Yukito.

Overall – 9

Oh, wait…there was one other difference. When Sakura said good-bye to her mother as she does every morning, Fujitaka did not see Nadesico, as he usually does. Hrmmm….

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