LGBTQ Manga: Shimanami Tasogare, Volume 2 (しまなみ誰そ彼 2)

September 11th, 2017

Last month, I reported on a fascinating series called Shimanami Tasogare. In Volume 1, we met Tasuku, a young man who hadn’t, as of yet, come to terms with his homosexuality. When he meets a bunch of older gay folks working on a cat shelter, he finds a cause to volunteer his time for, and a place to open his heart.

In Shimanami Tasogare, Volume 2, (しまなみ誰そ彼) Tasuku gets to see what self-loathing looks like from the outside. One of the people who visits the consulting room is a young kid still in elementary school. Misora visits to change into female clothes and life. But Misora never seems particularly happy and is clearly struggling with what puberty is doing to her.  And, she has an ugly tendency to lash out whenever she feels that Tasuku gets too close.

Tasuku is starting think about his own feelings more honestly, and has now realized that he has a crush on an attractive classmate, Kiku-kun. Misora is not at all kind about the bits of information Tasuku shares. And every time Tasuku feels as if he’s gotten a little closer to Misora, she attacks him with a vitriol with which  – we can see  – she means to scar herself. The volume ends on a particularly harsh note, with Misora attacking Tasuku in public in front of the guy he likes at a festival. 

Tasuku retreats to to the unfinished shelter, to lay the shards of his emotions next to the broken beams of the building. The strong visual imaging this series gives to Tasuku’s emotions are just stellar.

Meanwhile, we are led to believe that Tasuku’s secret is out to a classmate we don’t know whether we can trust or not.

It’s an uncomfortable ending to an uncomfortable volume filled with the damage self-loathing does to one’s self and others, without a moral of the story to pretty it up. I’m compelled to read it nonetheless and am very interested to see where it leads.

Ratings: 

Art – 8
Story – 9
Characters- 8 
LGBTQ – 10
Service – 0

Overall – 9

The mysterious Dareka-san functions as a kind of guardian angel but, as a result, I really don’t want to know anything about her. I feel as if we’re going to learn it anyway. ^_^

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Summer Reading: The Causal Angel (English)

September 10th, 2017

In May, I reviewed Hannu Rajienmi’s novel The Quantum Thief as a prelude to the rest of my summer reading. We meet and become involved with gentleman thief Jean Le Flambeur, whose escape from prison was a set-up by the woman who sent him there in the first place, his former lover and goddess, Founder Josephine Pellegrini. Set in a Solar System after the Earth has been destroyed, in which virtual and “real” existence are equivalent, wealth is measured in time, and the political forces arrayed against one another are complicated and multi-layered, this book was an absolutely fantastic read.

The second book of the series, The Fractal Prince, shifted the background to the foreground, as Jean becomes less of a focus and his partner-in-need, Mieli’s story starts to step up. Mieli, it turns out was working for The Pelligrini, and has been a double agent in Jeans’ camp since the moment she broke him out of jail. 

Now, as the summer comes to an end, I take a look at the the third book of the series, The Causal Angel. In this volume, all the various Zoku (temporary and permanent groups bonded by need or desire in the virtual realms) find themselves embroiled by Jean and Mieli (working together, but separately,) in a war amongst the technology-based Sobornost and the Founders, for the ability to shape reality itself. The book primarily follows Mieli, as she works her half of the plot developed by Jean to bring down the Founders themselves using the power of the Kaminari Jewel. Mieli navigates multiple virtual realms to gain the jewel but, in the end, won’t turn it over to Jean. When reality is remade, the wish that makes it is pure and unassailable and…most importantly…uncorruptable. Reality will always be corruptable, but that doesn’t mean it has to start that way.

This series was extremely well-written, if what you like is a barrage of new information cannoned at you faster than you can grok it. As it happens, that is exactly what I like. ^_^ Catching up with the story only meant that the story was about to wrap up, not that I was particularly fast on the uptake.

When I reviewed The Fractal Prince, I commented casually that Mieli needed a new girlfriend. Thumbs up, Hannu. Thumbs up.

Ratings:

Story – 10
Characters – 9 all the way around
Lesbian – 10

Overall – 10

If you’re looking for sci-fi that is not at all the usual stuff, with fully-developed characters – both male and female – vast and deep world-building that moves quickly and is compelling, I got your series right here. 

This was a great read and a stellar summer reading series. It would be hard to beat, so my next book is going to have to be something completely different. ^_^

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Yuri Network News – (百合ネットワークニュース) – September 9, 2017

September 9th, 2017

Yuri Anime

YNN Correspondent, Beatriz M. wants you to know that she recently hosted a Revolutionary Girl Utena podcast about which she says, “We get deep, we get gay, and we continue to ask, “What does this mean, Ikuhara?”

 ANN Reports that the Aria dub kickstarter has reached it’s all-series dub stretch goal.
 
Kimono-wearing fox-eared girls populate Amano Sakuya’s Konohana Kitan manga, running in Comic Yuri Hime which will soon have an anime of it’s own. (Continuing Ichijinsha’s trend of picking the stories I like least to make into anime. At least this one is genuinely Yuri, I just don’t much like animal-eared characters.)  ANN has the report.
 
Rose of Versailles is getting a game and an animation based in a high-school setting from Otomate, a romance game company. We totally needed that.  (Now I think about it, I may have a Berubara Gakuen doujinshi somewhere. ^_^.)
 
ANN also has a report for an anthology dealing with Gender Identity Disorder being published in Japan called My Husband is Too Attractive! I Entered the Family Register of a Hot Guy that Used to be a Woman.
 

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Yuri Manga

We’ve added  Hitoto’s Shuumatsu Nani Shi ni Ikou? (週末なにしにいこう?) to the Yuricon Store.
Also added is Momono Moto’s collection Yuunagi Mabrette Perfect Volume (夕凪マーブレット完全版), which is especially interesting as it is the first collected volume from Galette Works, the publishing team that is putting together the Galette Anthology of which Volume 3 is also up on the Store.
 
 
Other News
 
Brigid Alverson has a great article on how LGBTQ comics are becoming de rigeur for school and public libraries in Just Another Day in an LGBTQ Comics for School Library Journal.
 
From Smithsonian Magazine, the National Museum of African American History and Culture explores the long legacy of women who shaped the feminist theory in #APeoplesJourney: African American Women and the Struggle for Equality.
 
The James Tiptree Foundation has opened submission for their 2017 Fellowships for folks researching or creating  work exploring gender and sexuality.
 
The folks at Anime Feminist are putting together a list of feminist resources in regards to anime and manga. Bookmark their page and let them know if you have any suggestions!
 
Toyoake City in Aichi prefecture has declared support for LGBT people. Not so far a step as marriage, but a step nonetheless.
 
 

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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LGBTQ: Steven Universe, Season 6

September 8th, 2017

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In Season 1 of Steven Universe we met and learned about the Crystal Gems, friendly alien invaders from space. In Season 2 we began to really understand their history. Season 3 deepened our understanding of all the series’ characters and Season 4 brought the first major plots to fruition…and expanded our cast. In Season 5, Steven and we begin to understand that Rose Quartz was not necessarily the beacon of Good that she had been held up to be. As we learn about her flaws, Rose becomes exponentially more interesting.

In Season 6, we begin, at last to put all the pieces we’ve been given into some kind of picture. And the picture we’re getting is nothing like the one we expected.

We’re introduced to Blue Diamond in person. With the chance to directly compare her and Yellow Diamond, we start to get a little bit of a picture of an imperious royal class that understands little and cares not at all about the beings it rules. We spend a lot of time in space this season since, realistically, having neutralized The Cluster, any further contact with the Diamonds would have to be in space or on Homeworld, or Earth would be at risk. Space it is, then.

Several really significant things happened this season – Greg was introduced to just how vast the story in which his son is embroiled actually is. Steven is now very visibly showing signs of super strength, and becoming more confident with his powers. We visit Homeworld and learn that in a strictly defined hierarchy, there’s still an outcast underclass. Amethyst meets her family and finds that she’s just one of the gems after all.  I learned about Holly Blue Agate , a stone I had never heard of before. (Fairly remarkable, as I’ve been collecting semi-precious stones for decades…) and Lars…well…no,that’s a spoiler, I will not spoil.

We get to see that both Yellow and Blue Diamond have genuine affection for Pink Diamond (and I can’t help but wonder what White Diamond, who has never once been mentioned, but whose symbol we’ve repeatedly seen, is like.) In fact, during “What’s the Use of Feeling Blue,” we get the distinct feeling that Yellow Diamond surprises herself when she speaks of missing Pink Diamond.

But once again, the climax of the series is unexpected in ways that we couldn’t even have predicted. Once again we learn that the truth isn’t what we we were told it is, and it isn’t what others think it is, either. So…what is it? The fan theories are flying, thick and fast. ^_^

The last significant thing that happened is that my wife is hooked. Hah. ^_^ Now I can obsess and she’s totally into it. Gotcha. Hee Hee. Hee.

Art – 8
Story- 10
Characters – 10
Service – 1 on principle
Queerness – 7 Fluorite is a lovely nod to polyamory.

Overall – 10

Can’t wait for Season 7. Seriously.

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MURCIÉLAGO Manga, Volume 3 (English)

September 7th, 2017

In Yoshimura Kana’s MURCIÉLAGO, Volume 3, we take a good, long, detailed look into the darkness of obsessive psychopathic murderers…and don’t really do much of anything with the information. ^_^

First, Kuroko deals with the Skin Collector, a man who skins his female victims and we learn, both in real time and from his exposition, that his daughter Ringo shares both his skills and his predilections for killing. In her case, her Daddy issues go rather deeper than usual. The author takes pains to show us how happy the families Ringo destroys are so, long after we’ve put the book down, we can feel crappy about enjoying it.

While Kuroko is finishing off Ringo’s father, the police are sharing a bit of exposition, to indicate to us what we must have surely recognized…Kuroko and Hinako are both not functioning within what society considers normal parameters. The specifics are, as yet, left hidden.

Which segues us nicely into the hidden realms of the Elder Gods, and the amusement park based on H.P Lovecraft’s Chthulu mythos. It’s sort of a given that among my friends, that everyone goes through a Lovecraft phase, at least in a sort of secondhand osmosis kind of way. Not all my friends have read the original or derivative works, but enough of them have that we just don’t really notice any inclusion of Lovecraft’s work as something notable. It’s more like…duh…of course it’s there. Which is part of why I forget to mention the inclusion of it in this series. It’s like…duh, of course the mascot at the amusement park would be Shoggoth. (Well, arguably, I would have chosen, Nyarlathotep, and no, not because of the Nyarko-san anime, but because of a bumper sticker on a car of a friend of mine from like 25 years ago.)

So, after we visit the hidden depths of the Elder Gods and the inside of Kuroko’s mind, we turn our attention to other, somewhat lower, places. One of Hinako’s old college friends shows up, worried about her sister, who has joined a religious cult. Faced with the idea that “Virginal Rose Academy” is an all-female cult, full of cute girls, run by a buxom young woman, Kuroko is all in.

Ratings:

Art – 6 Not likely to get better
Story – 7 Still horrible violence with some silly violence, but there sort of was a story, so that’s good
Characters – 8 Hinako fascinates me….
Service – 10 Creative, awful and pervasive
Yuri – …wait for it…. 

Overall – 8

This is an excellent volume of a really strange manga, with violence, amusingly deranged Edwardian fictitious mythologies, action, more violence and some other bits of violence for color. Next volume, there will be consensual lesbian sex, as well. Let’s look forward to Volume 4!

 

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