Light Novel: R.O.D, Volume 12

July 7th, 2019

We left the gang back in 2014. Yomiko, Ou-En and the Five Sisters had teamed up with China, leader of Dokusensha, in an attempt to keep the Gutenberk Paper from Gentleman and Joker. Wendy and Nenene were attempting to sneak out of China through tunnels carved under the Himalayas in a vehicle driven by a guy named Shark.  Nancy had caught up with Drake and his team in their submarine and were on their way to find Yomiko.

Got it?

Good, because not much of it is relevant to R.O.D., Volume 12.

Nenene and Wendy do make it out of the mountains and, after turning down several heartfelt proposals from Shark, Nenene has a proposal of her own. Weary and car sick, she suggests to Wendy that they go home. And so they do, never to be mentioned again.

The bulk of the book is a series of extended battle scenes. China and Gentleman duke it out for dozens of pages, some of which include Yomiko saying “…!” or just “!”.  After China goes down for the last time, Ou-En takes on Gentleman and here, at last the book gets weird. Joker is watching from his airplane, the Victorious, and makes some vague threats to Drake’s group and Yomiko. Morris reappears from a previous volume to serve Joker tea. China isn’t dead again, so Gentleman calls on the animals in the wilderness around them to attack.

Yomiko is injured. She creates a ball of paper around herself so we all expect a massive evolution but, predictably, when her evolution is complete, she looks exactly the same.

Gentleman has all but killed Ou-En when Faust finally appears and absorbs Gentleman’s life force. Both Gentleman and China are now really dead. Turns out the Gutterberk Paper was powering Ou-En, and when Faust draws it out of the young man, he threatens Yomiko with a choice to “Read…or Die.” Yomiko chooses protect Ou-En, even going so far as to sacrifice the book Donny gave her to bring Ou-En back to life. In return he gives her the black book with black pages that they’ve all been looking for.

“Well?” Nancy asks as the story winds down. “What will you do now?”

Narrator voice: We never learn what Yomiko does next.

Instead we see Morris serve Joker tea and when they finally get a clear image of the battlefield all that is there is Gentleman’s body and a bunch of dead animals.  Unsurprisingly, Joker has no clue what happened.

At last Drake goes home to his daughter Maggie, who asks where he’s been. And, so, he begins to tell her…

…and that’s it folks, thanks for coming by today! Hope you grabbed a drink and had a snack before you go and see the rest of the….

What. The. Actual. Fuck. Kurata-sensei.

I sat through school girls uniform, and comprehension contests and you whining about working while at Anime Expo a decade ago and this is what I get? DUDE. Not okay. Hire a ghost writer if you have no ideas.

If the series had wrapped up in Volume 10, as it should have done, even if it were a mash of incoherent whatever, it would have been acceptable. But waiting this long for incoherent whatever is just vexxing.

Here’s what *should* have happened:

China and Gentleman should have killed one another.
Ou-En and Faust should have fought one another, then Yomiko should have taken down Faust, brought Ou-En back from the dead with the book.
Eeverything with Joker the same. Sure let Morris serve him tea 3 times for no reason.
Nancy should have taken wounded Yomiko back to Japan, where Nenene was waiting.
Wendy should have gone back to the British Library one last time to tell Joker to stuff it.
Then Drake should have gone home to Maggie.

It really would have been very simple to end this series well.

Ratings:

Art – 5 Okay, but always of the wrong things
Characters – 9
Story – 0
Yuri – 0
Service – Meh.

Overall – It is a thing that has been read. It has lost the shelf space it has been taking up for years. Bye, R.O.D., you died an ignominious death.

I’m sorry about it too, but from now on, I’m sticking with the anime.

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Yuri Network News – (百合ネットワークニュース) – July 6, 2019

July 6th, 2019

Anime Expo weekend is the weekend that a lot of the news I planned on reporting gets set aside for more urgent announcements. ^_^;

Yuri Anime

Top story already from Anime Expo, Sentai Filmworks has licensed the Morning Glories and Kase-san OVA! I’ve got requests in to them for a timeline on that release, although since the subtitles are already in existence, I hope for a 2019 premier. I’m also hoping that we can coordinate a release event, whether it be a streaming event or a contest, or…something. I’ll let you know if I hear back.

The 8-Bit panel announced that they’ll be handling the animation for Hirao Auri’s Oshi ga Budōkan Ittekuretara Shinu (If My Favorite Pop Idol Made it to the Budokan, I Would Die) anime, with a 2020 television debut. (See, Sentai, that’s how a timeline works..) I’ve reviewed Volume 1, Volume 2Volume 3, Volume 4, and  Volume 5 of the manga here on Okazu.

Funimation and Nozomi RightStuf have entered a streaming agreement, which means that  Revolutionary Girl Utena and Aoi Hana/ Sweet Blue Flowers will be available on Funimation.

Viz has released a follow-up statement about the Sailor Moon Stars (Season 5) booklet. Read it carefully and remember, the Japanese publisher gets the final say as to what we see. The relationship indicator probably came from them originally…and we could be asking for a change to something that was not there in Japanese. Could be interesting. ^_^

 

Yuri Light Novel

Also from Anime Expo, Seven Seas announced that they have licensed the Bloom Into You: Saeki Sayaka ni Tsuite light novels! Woot! I reviewed Volume 1 and Volume 2…and am awaiting Volume 3 with baited breath. ^_^

 

Yuri Manga

Big news for lovers of classic Yuri via Yuri Navi, Himitsu no Hanazono (秘密の花園) Fujii Mihona’s 1999 Cinderella fantasy is now available on JP Kindle and Bookwalker Global! I reviewed this book back in 2004 – it was one my foundational Yuri series, so I’m feeling positive about the news. ^_^

Last week, in conjunction with Tsukino Usagi’s birthday bash, Kodansha announced a world-wide digital release of the Sailor Moon Eternal Edition manga in 10 languages. I give you the details over at The Comics Beat.

Not quite Yuri, but in our wheelhouse, this May Seven Seas licensed the Penguindrum manga by Ikuhara Kunihiko, Shibata Isuzu and Hoshino Lily. tr Expo, they announced the license of Citrus+ for fans of that series. Super exciting news, they’ll also be publishing Morishima Akiko’s Rakuen no Jouken, as The Conditions of Paradise! This is a lovely little adult-life one-shot. Click the Japanese title link to read my 2008 review.

A few new items up on the Yuricon Store!

Canelé Souer Yuri Anthology (カヌレ スール百合アンソロジー)  – we haven’t had a “souer” collection in years. Fun, huh?

Watashi Igai Jinrui Zennin Yuri, Volume 1 (私以外人類全員百合) is a alternative world science-fiction Yuri manga in which a girl who loves ordinary things, finds herself in a world of women where love between women is ordinary.

Dekisokonai no Hime-tachi, Volume 2 (できそこないの姫君たち), Kaede and Nanaki find themselves being drawn together, despite not actually being friends.

Hentai publisher FAKKU has announced a “LGBTQ” imprint of manga, Kuma. I put quotes around “LGBTQ” for what I consider obvious reasons. Japanese porn is not ever intended as representation and I think they are stretching the truth quite a bit to consider what they publish “LGBTQ” in any meaningful sense. ^_^

 

Yuri Events

100 Years of Yuri Tour of Japan is happening in Sept, 2019 and there’s still room for you to join us! The dead-dog last day to sign up is July 9th, so please don’t miss this opportunity!

I’ll be making my only west coast appearance at Crunchyroll Expo. If you’re planning on being there, let me know in the comments. I’m looking for a roommate.

Our Lily is a Yuri event being held in Seoul, Korea in 2020. How cool!

 

Other News

Via YNN Correspondent Sean G. Yuri Made me Human, part 2, an interview with Iori Miyazawa and Gengen Kusano (Part 1 can be found here) has been translated and put online. This is connected to the publication of the Yuri issue of SF Magazine and the current Science Fiction Yuri boom in Japan.

For UK fans who love Japanese pop culture, summer 2019 is fairly awesome. The British Museum’s Manga Exhibit is wowing crowds and HYPER JAPAN event is coming your way, as well!

 

Do you have questions about Yuri? Write in and ask and I’ll do my best to address them on the Okazu YNN Podcast, Become a YNN Correspondent by reporting any Yuri-related news 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: SHIBUYA Gal Yuri Anthology (SHIBUYA ギャル百合アンソロジー)

July 4th, 2019

The “gal” is, in her own way, as stock a character in anime and manga, as the ninja. With her hair artfully asymmetrically arranged, her cell phones and nails intricately decorated, and her school uniform sweater tied around her the waist of her shortened skirt, we are accustomed to seeing the “gal” in a dismissive light, shone on teen girl culture by disapproving adults who nevertheless sexualize those same young women, even as they scold them for being young and carefree. The gal is Generation X’s “those kids are/do/too much…..”  You know, like…adolescent girls in every age. Creepy old dudes who creep, creepy old ladies who complain, when all the girls want to do is shop and eat, do karaoke and be left in peace.

So it was with some actual hesitation that I picked up SHIBUYA Gal Yuri Anthology (SHIBUYA ギャル百合アンソロジー), from Yuri Hime Comics. Named after the part of Tokyo which gals are mythically said to inhabit, was it gonna be filled with creepy hypersexualization or moldy morality plays about leaving that life? Thankfully, it was neither. With few exceptions, the stories in this collection are commitment free and fun and wholly lacking any kind of creepiness. I say with exception, because yes, there are a couple that are, by my standards, a bit creepy. YMMV.

I find I kind of like the one’s best where a gal has a normie alter ego, and then transforms into a hyper-fashionable gal at the behest of another girl. Which puts the first story of the collection right in my wheelhouse. Yoromo’s “Reverse Line” follows a gal’s encounter with a former Youtube Gal star at a makeup counter, which motivates the retired gal to resurrect her persona. It was very cute.

No surprise at all I liked the two older gals who live together and the story in which a gal changes a young woman’s life by visiting the izakaya she works at. I’m always going to be a sucker for food and romance between people who click. The final story, which follows a nice girl who falls for the gal at her school was surprisingly touching, as well.

Ratings:

Everything is variable as it is an anthology

Overall – 7

SHIBUYA is a pleasant, not-particularly-significant anthology exploring love between girls that includes gals.

 

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Kakegurui Season 2 Anime (English) Guest Review by Mariko S.

July 3rd, 2019

It’s Guest Review Wednesday here on Okazu and today I a very pleased to once again welcome back Mariko S with another terrific review. I hope you’ll all setting for a treat and let Mariko wisk us away to a world of unhealthy obsession. Take it away Mariko!

You may recall that I previously gave a qualified enthusiastic review of this little “high stakes high school gambling addict” sports anime’s first season. Well, it seems its bombastic debut was popular enough to bankroll a second season, so what do Yumeko and the gang have in store for us this year?

To recap, in an elite private school where the children of Japan’s upper crust seemingly don’t study at all, but do spend all day gambling the GDP of small countries on increasingly elaborate contests, wildcard transfer student Jabami Yumeko arrived to shake up the status quo. She took down (and subsequently befriended) an escalating series of insurmountable opponents from the all-powerful Student Council in search of the pure essence of gambling and the chance to compete against the Yin to her Yang, President Momobami Kirari. Having miraculously won the right to stay in her gambling paradise, the season closed with a tease showing a hospitalized woman who looked like Yumeko folding paper cranes…

Kakegurui, Season 2 opens in media res on Yumeko gambling for some painful stakes with old frenemy Midari and a new goth loli girl. The next episode rewinds to tell us why: for some reason, Kirari has decided to step down from her position at the head of the school and offer it up to a school-wide election to be determined by – what else? Gambling. Since the position of Hyakkaou Gakuen student council president is apparently something akin to both Don of a mafia family and maybe head of a shadow government, the election has drawn the interest of a motley crew of teens from the other branches of the Momobami group, determined to take power for themselves. Every student in school is granted 1 chip, and whoever has the most chips at the end of the election period is the new president. May the games begin.

Let’s just get this out of the way – this season was a massive disappointment to me. We can start with its fatal case of “sequelitis.” Basically, the creators decided to repeat everything from the first season, but MORE. The absurd gambling games are even more far-fetched and less-related to anything resembling actual gambling. The grotesque faces that accented the escalating stakes last season, that were so unique and added such strong emotional visualization, are now omnipresent and ratcheted up to 10. Instead of the contests being a battle of wits and wills between Yumeko and a clearly defined opponent, the games this time are gimmicky and involve bloated groups of 3 or more gamblers. In fact, Yumeko regresses completely as a character this time out – you can barely call her the protagonist, as she functions almost entirely as a pure gambling id to catalyze the people around her. We learn nothing new about her, she does nothing to deepen her personality, and in fact in some of the episodes she is literally sidelined as the other characters work out their issues. She does and says things that directly counteract her previously demonstrated core values, and even the things she directly said moments ago. The first season supported Yumeko as both a force of nature and a complex person, and one who would show her gradually escalating excitement at the art and science of each gambling moment in lunatic ways. This time, she’s basically a service delivery device where the slightest hint of any opportunity to gamble making her come is her entire character.

Speaking of the visuals, they take a step back across the board. Gone is the surreal artistic masterpiece opening that Yamamoto Sayo put together for the first season, replaced by a workmanlike sequence that just displays the characters as cards, with lots of shots of Yumeko’s bouncing chest. The ending is basically the animators deciding to “yes, and” Yumeko’s rain walk from last season, as this time she turns into some kind of naked busty blue fairy surrounded by rainbows doing the same walk, just more cheaply animated. I lost count of the number of times someone’s chest was groped or faceplanted into. I already mentioned the overuse of the funhouse faces, but, at the same time, overall things felt more static and less inventive. The Momobami clan gives us a ton of unnecessary new characters, each with a distinctive visual design but little run-time to allow them anything but the shortest backstory and motivation. In fact, you could basically say this season was about healing the defeated opponents from last season more than anything else, as one-by-one the contest they take part in allows Yumeko to play Manic Pixie Dream Gambler and show them the heart, the courage, or the brain they always had inside them. And finally, the season ends on a complete “Huh?” Setting aside the resolution to the final gamble, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to tell you that the election isn’t even decided. Things just… end.

Can I say anything positive about this season? I guess one of the things that was interesting was how clear the show tried to make it that Kirari and Yumeko are two sides of the same coin. Kirari is a crazy sadist who sees the school as her personal aquarium and the students as the fish to be used, observed, experimented on, or discarded at whim. Yumeko also kind of sees people as a commodity, in her case, gambling fodder. She is kinder, yes, and almost accidentally more helpful, but is more of a masochist who likes the helpless feeling of chance. Her philosophy seems to boil down to, “if we have a good gamble, whatever happens was meant to be, so everyone should enjoy the outcome,” even if it’s utter devastation. Similarly, Kirari, though powerful, isn’t power-hungry – she just wants to be entertained as well. In her case that doesn’t always mean gambling, as long as she gets to watch someone squirm under her microscope.

On the Yuri front, this season is a step up, at least in quantity. Student Council secretary Sayaka, who is infatuated with Kirari, is given her own episode replete with lily imagery and, I suppose, as happy an ending as could be possible for someone in love with a misanthropic sadist. Midari is around for several episodes, displaying her usual over-the-top lust for stimulation by an alpha dog like Yumeko or Kirari. And one of the new characters, Batsubami Rei, though a kind of butler to the rest of the -bami tribe, is given a tall, handsome, princely aesthetic that charms the many girls around the school that she interacts with. However, the resolution to her story is, in my opinion, problematic. (Can’t say more without spoilers.)

Bottom line, if you liked the first season mainly for the kooky gambling antics, you’ll find more of that here to enjoy. If you were hoping to learn more about Yumeko’s past and see a character drama of ratcheting intensity, or even a magnetic attraction between two the-same-yet-opposite supernovas, you’ll be disappointed. Here’s hoping that if they gamble on season 3, Kakegurui can roll a 7 next time.

Ratings:

Art – 5 A dramatic decrease in quality from last season.
Story – 4 The election framing device was decent enough, but there was not much beyond it except at a superficial individual level.
Characters – 4 The gutting of Yumeko, the glut of little-more-than-sketches new characters, and the near omnipresence of the animal-hoodied loli and her minions as the “election monitors” send this one plummeting.
Yuri – 5 As described above.
Service – 10 Still a 10, but a different sort of 10 this time around. I didn’t care for it.

Overall – 4

Technical Note: Netflix continues to struggle with translations, but one of its mistakes is pretty funny on a meta level. Irrelevant-self-insert-male-narrator Suzui Ryouta’s name is sometimes miswritten as “Suzuki,” which is perfect for his interchangeable blandness.

Erica here: “as happy an ending as could be possible for someone in love with a misanthropic sadist.” is such a great line, I wanted to cut and paste it just to enjoy it all over again. I watched all of Season 1 and wished I had liked it more than I did. I’m sorry for you this wasn’t as solid but am regardless very happy you stopped by to let us know! Since I watched that first season, Netflix suggests this to me constantly – and you know how their ads autostart.. Watching a popular baking show?  Try Kakegurui.

Oh, you like My Little Pony? HAVE YOU LOOKED AT KAKEGURUI

Hey, we see you watched these murder mystery shows…. MAYBE SOME KAKEGURUI NOW?

Look, you watched Into the Spiderverse

 

It’s actually pretty funny, unless I have guests over. ^_^;

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Yuri Manga: Comic Yuri Hime July 2019 (コミック百合姫2019年7月号)

July 2nd, 2019

Comic Yuri Hime July 2019 (コミック百合姫2019年7月号) was a little bittersweet for me. It marked the end of a series I hoped would never end, hisona’s “Goodbye Dystopia.” But aside from that there was so much that was else going on, that I didn’t have all that much time to be sad. ^_^

Kodama Naoko’s “Umineko Besso” took a different direction as we get to understand the story of Ayashima, and why she’s taking Mayumi’s intrusion on their happy household so personally.

“Tonari no Rakuen” by Kiriyama Haruka is a cute little adult life story about a working woman who needs a break and the partner who makes sure she gets it.

At last, we’re starting to get the backstory on Yano in “Watashi no Yuri ha Oshigoto Desu!” by Miman. She is not sure that she can trust Hime…and not sure its worth it, but she’s sympathetic to Sumika’s request to fake it beautifully for the sake of the cafe.

It’s school festival time in “Hayama-sensei to Terano-sensei ha Tsukiatte iru” and Terano and Hayama could not be cuter if they tried. Until next month, when they will be even cuter. ^_^ Speaking of cute, Takashima Eku’s “Sasayakuyouni Koi no Utau” remains an adorable young love scenario. I’d add Yuama’s “Ikemensugi Sugi-sempai” to this list, as well. And “Itoshi Koishi” by Takemiya Jin.  All of these series have something that Yuri occasionally lacks – characters who really enjoy each other’s company. And now that I have said that out loud, as it were, I realize that that one thing is totally my boom in a romance. I really like it when characters like each other’s company. ^_^

“Kaketa Tsuki to Donuts” is turning out to be a surprisingly touching, as an office worker begins to question the assumptions she’s made about adult life.

“Scarlet” and “Kimi ga Shine Made Koi Shitai” scratch the horror itch, in completely different ways.

The end of the magazine includes a new JP publisher’s initiative to avoid piracy and the advert for Ohsawa Yayoi’s upcoming new series, about which I will have thoughts shortly. ^_^

Once again, this was a solid issue full of things I read and did not read and liked and did not like. The Yuri gods are in their heaven and all is right with the world.

Ratings:

Overall – 9 if I remember to not read – or even look at – several of the creepy moe series, 6 if I don’t

The August issue is already available and I’m already halfway through it. I love that there’s so much Yuri, but ahhh! I can’t keep up!

 

 

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