Yuri Manga: Sweet Blue Flowers, Volume 2 (English)

January 8th, 2018

A good translation of a manga can be a little bit like magic. You pick up a book and without effort you are able to read this story created in a different country, in a different time or place. It’s an extraordinary feeling. The Viz Media edition of Takako Shimura’s Sweet Blue Flowers is a little bit like magic.

In Volume 1, we met Manjoume Fumi and Okudaira Akira, two childhood friends reunited as teens, and their school friends. 

In Volume 2, Fumi is coming off a relationship with Sugimoto, an older girl who hadn’t been honest with her and she’s feeling a bit bitter about it. Even worse, Sugimoto keeps trying to salvage it, but is doing a crappy job of it. Fumi’s had it with her ex, and lets her know that in no uncertain terms. 

Akira is surrounded by people who are falling in love and isn’t sure at all how she feels about it. When she asks Fumi, Fumi admits that Akira was her first love and again Akira has no idea what to do with the information. It’s almost as vexing as one of her friends going out with her annoying older brother. And when she overhears something she didn’t want to know about her friend Kyoko’s family, she has no idea what to do with that, either.

Back at school, the girls are all second-years now, with new students coming in. We meet Ryoko Ueda who kind of reminds Akira of Fumi and Haruka Ono, who is clearly (to us) bearing the burden of a (to us) fairly obvious secret of her own. Side stories indicate that there’s more complexity to relationships than just what we see here in the main story.

This volume moves quickly and slowly at the same time. Scenes are slow and leisurely – drama club practice, sleeping over a friend’s house – but time is whizzing by. One second Mogi sort of likes Akira’s brother, then next they are dating and we never actually saw them together much at all. Good translation can be magic, but it can’t fill holes left by a serialized manga schedule. ^_^;  Shimura’s super strong on developing characters, but putting in all the details of the story has never been her best skill.

This volume comprises Volume 3 and Volume 4 of the original Japanese edition. This is an excellent English release and I think we can expect it to maintain this high quality.

Art – 8
Characters – 8
Story – 7
Lesbian – 4
Service – 1

Overall – 8

Volume 3 of the English edition will be available in March, so you have plenty of time to pre-order. ^_^ If you haven’t already picked up this “new classic” of Yuri, I definitely recommend it, for having a depth of early 20th century  literary history and still being grounded in the present.

 

 

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Yuri Manga: Kamitsuki Gakuen, Volume 1 (かみつき学園)

January 7th, 2018

Well, Kamitsuki Gakuen, Volume 1 (かみつき学園) was a thing I read. And while I read it, I had feelings. Primarily confusion and bewilderment, but hey, those are feelings, too. ^_^;

You might reasonably wonder, looking at the cover of Kamitsuki Gakuen, Volume 1 why I would have picked it up in the first place. I can see you looking at the cover, then turning to me and gently saying, “Erica, this is *clearly* a vampire story. You don’t like vampire stories. I remember you saying you don’t like vampire stories many times over the years.” And you’d be right.

I will, equally as gently insist that I knew perfectly well that it was a vampire story when I picked it up and no, I didn’t expect to like it, but there were extenuating circumstances. Because I didn’t just pick it up any old where, I picked this (and another quite-probably-vampire-Yuri story, along with at least two other that look horrible and a thing I have never heard of before) at the Yurimate display on the ground floor of the Ikebukuro Animate. It was my last morning in Tokyo and I decided to buy all the stuff I hadn’t yet bought, regardless if looked good or not. And that is how I ended up with Kamitsuki Gakuen, Volume 1 .

Shizuka is a “Epicurean” which is to say she is a vampire. (The kanji for vampire is clearly written, 吸血鬼, with furigana that read “Epicurean.” In case, inexplicably from just looking at the cover, you might not understand that this is a vampire story.) Shizuka is the little girl on the right of the cover. As she comes to Kamitsuki Gakuen for her first day in high school, we are told by almost everyone she encounters that she looks much younger. The tall girl on the left is Shizuka’s roommate and meal plan. She doesn’t have a name, just “Number 1,” Ichi-gou.

The story is Shizuka’s awakening to life as a vampire, while she befriends classmates and fellow Epicureans, and tries to befriend Ichi-gou. Shizuka, on account of never feeding directly from a person is runty, and her bat wings are little, but with help she learns to find the idea of sucking Ichi-gou’s blood alluring. And, after she enjoys the taste of Ichi-gou after she had eaten a strawberry parfait, Shizuka renames Ichi-gou….

Go ahead, guess what name she gives her. Think really hard. Strawberry. Ichi-gou. Why, yes, Shizuka does name her meal plan Ichigo. Amazingly clever, what?

Anyway, about then, I stopped reading and just stared at the last few pages. I’m sure a cliffhangery thing happened and who knows, maybe there will be a next volume.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 4 Shizuka’s awakening failed to be compelling
Characters – 4
Yuri – Vampires
Service – Vampires

Overall – 4

Hunger/lust/friendship is magic!

If this is a thing that you too would like to have read, you can take a look at the sample chapter (in Japanese) on the Shonen Sirius‘s website.

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Yuri Network News – (百合ネットワークニュース) – January 6, 2018

January 6th, 2018

Yuri Manga

In celebration of the 20th anniversary, Viz put out a gorgeous 2-volume set of the (to-date) complete Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga . And Shogakukan, not about to be outdone has responded with a 4-volume set of Shoujo Kakumei Utena (新装版 少女革命ウテナ ) for the Japanese audience. (Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4.) I will be very honest, I think the English set is better looking, but it’ll be easier to add a 5th volume to the Japanese set to include the new chapters. ^_^

The Advocate posted their Best LGBT Graphic Novels of 2017 and no surprise, My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness is on the list.  Congratulations to Seven Seas and thanks to them for being part of the swift and positive sea change of seeing actual queer manga on the shelves and seeing it at #1 in it’s category for the last 7 months!

ANN reports that the Rose of Versailles manga is getting 2 new chapters

The third volume of Nisho Yuhta’s After Hours (アフターアワーズ) has hit shelves in Japan. No date yet for the US release.

Aoki Toshinao’s girl-meets-girl manga, ripple. has been collected up in a volume that hit shelves in Japan last month.

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Join the Okazu Family!

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LGBTQ Live-Action

Lesbian classicmovie Desert Hearts is available on the Criterion Collection label and if you haven’t ever watched it, I do recommend it. As Nathan Hood writes in his review of the movie, “Deitch creates a fantasy world where homosexuality is tacitly accepted as a fact of life, even among Stetson hat-wearing cowpokes. There are no raving bigots, no ranting preachers threating Cay and Vivian with damnation, no explicit antagonists. ” If you’re more of a book person, I also highly recommend Desert of the Heart, the novel by Jane Rule from which the movie was adapted. Jane Rule’s work was overtly lesbian long before there were categories to sell those in. This book and others by her were some of my foundational lesbian literature.

The Korean girl group LOONA is releasing single videos before releasing an album, each one featuring a different singer. In “Heart Attack,” the storyline follows one of the singers, CHUU with an apparent longing for another of the group members. Take a look at the video on Youtube

 

Become a YNN Correspondent by reporting any Yuri-related news to anilesbocon01 at hotmail dot com with your name and an email I can reply to!

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

 

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Yuri Manga: Comic Yuri Hime January 2018 (コミック百合姫2018年1月号)

January 5th, 2018

Comic Yuri Hime, January 2018 (コミック百合姫2018年1月号) is off to a strong start with series new and continuing, from folks we know we like, folks we know we don’t like and folks we don’t know at all.

We have Miman’s “Watashi no Shigoto ha Yuri Desu” in which our eyes are in fact turned toward Nanako and Tachibana and I find the idea that they will have a storyline unto themselves far, far more interesting than anything involving Hime.

And Ohsawa Yayoi’s “2DK, GPen Mezamshitokei” turns towards a new and exciting digression…one that makes me all kinds of uncomfortable, as Nanami heads to Kyoto to attend Aoi’s wedding, while Kaede remains home to hit a tight deadline. This is a recipe for all kinds of disaster. I can’t wait. ^_^

Taneko’s “Model-san and Ichimi Mane-san” isn’t “Liberty, but I like it anyway.  Katakura Ako’s art and storytelling remain messy in ”Hirusagari ni, mata”.

And of course, all the series I don’t follow that the editors love. ^_^;

Ratings: 

Overall – 8

Exactly where I like this magazine to be – a nice bell curve of Yuri. Comic Yuri Hime is also available digitally on Japanese-region Kindle and globally on Bookwalker. The February issue is also on shelves now.

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Yuri Manga: Hana & Hina After School, Volume 3 (English)

January 4th, 2018

In Volume 3 of Hana & Hina After School, Hana and Hina face a growing distance between them manufactured out of their mutual desire to avoid their feelings for one another. Nonetheless, we’re probably not all that concerned about it, and the story just sort of coasts along from small crisis to confrontation to confession and finally conclusion.

Because we’re not really concerned at whether the principals will get together – it’s pretty much assumed that they will – it’s more or less how they’ll get there that is what we’re reading.

In my review of the Japanese volume, I noted that it’s extraordinary for a Morinaga Milk Yuri manga story to address any real-life issues. I wrote:

“In Kisses, Sighs and Cherry Blossoms Pink, Hitomi merely fantasizes about a future in which she and Nana are adults and can be together. In GIRL FRIENDS (Volume 1 and Volume 2) Morinaga-sensei took a step outside the isolation of a “couple in love” and gave Akiko and Mari friends…friends who accepted them and their relationship. In the very end, Mari even gave some thought to the issues of coming out to parents and what school and work might think…in the future.”

And that’s about all we get. In this volume we touch briefly on the concept of same-sex marriage at the very end and, in a roundabout way we see the possible awakening of same-sex interest in classmate Takagi, although it’s somewhat disappeared by the translation. My memory of the original has her saying something like, “I think I’m like that, too…” rather than “I want to do that, too.” Of course I could be wrong – and I could have been wrong originally, as well. I’m not motivated to go find Volume 3 to find out. ^_^ The rest of the technicals are top notch, as always. I just remember this particular scene as bing a “whoa!”moment for Hina’s classmate.

So brief touches on the realities of a life after getting together is all we’ve gotten and all we’re likely to get, but I still hope that one day, Morinaga-sensei writes something that goes beyond Story A. (Wouldn’t it be nice if in a future girl-meets-girl manga, we see a grown up Nana and Hitomi (or Hina and Hana they are mostly interchangable, so it hardly matters) who are there to help the main characters through their first-love-crisis-du-jour? I kinda think it might. 

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Service – 6 
Yuri – 8 

Overall – 8 

3 volumes was just the right length for this series. I think Morinaga-sensei is at her best when she has time to work through the “zOMG we’re in love” crisis, without having to rush it or drag it out. 

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