Kim & Kim, Volume 1: This Glamorous, High-Flying Rock Star Life

April 10th, 2017

Kim & Kim, Volume 1: This Glamorous, High-Flying Rock Star Life by Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, Claudia Aquirre, Zaak Saam and Katy Rex, is a much-needed entry in the “cool-protagonists-who-do-whatever-the-fuck-for-money” category of space gonzo comics. Primarily because the”cool-protagonists-who-do-whatever-the-fuck-for-money” in this case are Kim Q, a trans woman rocker, with a penchant for accelerating towards a problem, rather than away from it, and Kim A, a former necromancer, turned “whatever-the-fuck-for-money”-type bounty hunters. (Surely we have noticed that “bounty hunter” has become the catch-all category for ne’er-do-wells in pretty much all forms of fiction, including reality TV.)

The Kims are smart, fun, and like all their bounty hunter brethren of the future, chronically short on cash. Their “easy” jobs never work out, the good jobs always become bad jobs and Kim Q’s father is an oligarch who hates the fact that he has a daughter. In other words, it’s all chaos, all the time.

Like all good bounty hunter/private eyes/independent contractor stories from Marcus Didius Falco to V.I. Warshawski, the bad guy is badder than we expected (and has a stupid name,) the other bad guy is less bad than we expected, the REAL bad guy is really horrible and the other bad guy is related to us, as are some of the good guys and that long-dead relative who is very cool, but not really that dead, either. And because it’s a science fantasy comic, there are tentacles and sandworms and alien bars and a broken-down van ship. You know the drill.

But like all stories of it’s kind, it has one thing that is absolutely critical to whether it works – is it fun? Yes, Kim & Kim, Volume 1: This Glamorous, High-Flying Rock Star Life is fun. It’s also got a pleasantly queer outlook on life, in which Kim and Kim cheerfully slash Kim’s former partners now rivals, and Kim has that aunt who, it turns out had a female partner. Kim and Kim describe themselves as “mostly platonic soul mates.”

Ratings:

Art – 7 Cartoony, but it works
Characters – 7 Both Kim and Kim are fun, one-note characters
Story – 7 Chaos and screaming
Service – Nope*
Yuri – 2 Djuna & Mina and Kim & Kim ish

Overall – 7

*No service of the salacious kind, but as the foreword by Imogen Binnie points out, having a fun, badass trans lead still is rare enough to get a mention. (The foreword, btw, is excellent and worth reading.)

And so I welcome it to my shelves and looks forward to Volume 2. And, hopefully, a resolution to this arc so we never ever have to utter the name El Scorcho again.

 

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Kore de Wakatte Yo! Manga (これでわかってよ!)

April 9th, 2017

Mimoto’s Kore de Wakatte Yo! manga collection (これでわかってよ!) is a perfectly adequate little manga that suffers primarily from being instantly comparable to similar, but better, manga.

The stories in this collection will mostly likely remind you of those in A Kiss and White Lily For My Dearest Girl, simply because of the odd-couple set up that is the favored plot complication. But I have to be honest, I really hate the “genius who never tries” stereotype. From personal experience as the person who works constantly to try and get better only to be okay at best, there pretty much is nothing more irritating.

So while there’s nothing really bad here, it was hard to get behind these not-quite Yuri stories of not-quite- couples. Of these stories, “Aii Renai Futari,” the first, multi-chapter story, of the collection was the strongest, with a couple you could imagine being far more interesting once they left school and grew up a bit.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 6
Characters – 6
Service – 1 On principle only
Yuri – 4 Before the relationship, mostly

Overall – 6

It wasn’t bad, I found it pleasant to read and look at, just lacking in substance other than “Story A” Odd-couple style.

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Yuri Network News – (百合ネットワークニュース) – April 8, 2017

April 8th, 2017

Well, folks, April Fools’ Day played me. ^_^ I’m usually pretty good about not falling for anything, but Animate hit me right in my weak spot. It took a few days to disappear, but the Yurimate page is gone. The ShosenGamers (blecch) and Animate “Yuri club” pages are still in existence, but my dream of a dedicated Yuri section in the Ikebukuro Animate is once again a dream. And dream I shall continue asking for, until I get what I want. ^_^

And my appearance at Kean University tomorrow is also not happening, so we’ll chalk that up to April Fool’s as well. It’s no one’s fault, Kean is just bizarrely strict about paperwork (more so than any other university I have ever spoken at) and it wasn’t filed with enough time to get it done. 

There will be no YNN Report next week, as I’ll be busy with Queers & Comics, jut FYI.

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Yuri Manga

On the positive side, we have some excellent news this week. The creator-driven Yuri mook project known as Galette is putting out a 2nd issue. This is very good news. I sincerely hope this project continues.  Self-publishing is so much easier these days, and the printing and distribution which make it hard here in North America, have long been smooth in Japan from refinements for the comic markets. That said, it’s keeping groups of creators to deadline that can still be challenging. ^_^

After Hours by Yuhta Nishio in English from Viz is slated for a June release and pre-order is up on the Yuricon Store! Despite the cutesy art on the cover, this ought to be a story about and for adults.

A Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl, Volume 2 from Yen Press will be hitting shelves at the end of May. And so will MURCIÉLAGO, Volume 2. 

Ratana Satis’ Lily Love, Part 2 in English is available for pre-order on the Three Musqueerteers Tumblr page. Just as with last volume, one fills out the form and when the book is ready to ship, they’ll invoice you through Paypal. Pre-orders come with some physical extras and the first 100 orders will get a free keychain. ^_^ Part 1 was a very nice Story A, and I’m looking forward to seeing the characters develop in Part 2, as their relationship, and the story, becomes more complicated.

 

Events

Next weekend, there are queer academic events on both US coasts. Queers & Comics in San Francisco and  in New York City, CLAGS is holding the LGBTQ Scholars of Color Conference, both on April 14-15. 

ANN reports that the Sailor Moon series is going to have it’s first-ever classical concert in Japan  August. Fan club members will have first dibs on tickets. Hrm…I’m a fan club member….hrm….

 

Other News

Gender-bending in Asian pop culture is hardly new, and neither are boi bands, but the buzz behind China’s newest boys-who-are-girls group is both amusing and alarming in a “Really? They look like boys to you? Really?” kind of way. ^_^ Here’s the scoop about Acrush

From YNN correspondent soulsassasin, here is an interesting interview with writer and director Sam Lee on Filipino lesbian film Baka Bukas, which will be getting a North American release this summer.

Autostraddle is celebrating the accomplishments of 16 Lesbian Power Couples Who Got Shit Done, Together.

Via Takenouchi Daisuke on Twitter, here are a  few pictures of the live-action Silent Mobius stage play cast in costume. ^_^

 

Resistance

We’re in week 12 of a presidency of a man who can’t read, can’t count, can’t speak in cogent sentences, is prone to temper tantrums and has the codes to nuclear weapons. It’s time for some fight songs.

Joan Baez, the world-renowned folk singer and activist, has come out of retirement to create a new song for all our feels. Here is Joan singing Nasty Man. 

Music is often cathartic, and the winner of the cathartic award is Jussie Smollett’s video to F.U.W (Fucked Up World), a video so woke that Fusion magazine actually breaks down all the references in the video. And it’s a damn fine song.

 

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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Yoshiya Nobuko’s Hana Monogatari, Part 2 (花物語 下)

April 6th, 2017

Today I award myself a Yuri History Achievement Badge. I have finished Yoshiya Nobuko’s Hana Monogatari, Part 2 (花物語 下).

So many dead girls.

Girls died from starvation, illness, train accident, ship sinking, and at least one threw herself off a tower. It would be creative if it were, say MURCIÉLAGO, but as it it wasn’t, it was actually a little distressing.

The second half of the series continues the trend we saw in the first half of the collection, as stories became longer and longer as the series went on. In some cases, it worked and others not so much. I will say this about Yoshiya-sensei’s writing – as she has more time/page count to spend on story, she never fell back into lazy writing. Characters get more developed and fleshed out and while large, overarching themes repeat, none of the stories are themselves repetitious.

This second half is notable for containing the fascinating, yet ultimately depressing, Yellow Rose (which has been wonderfully translated by Dr. Sarah Frederick and is available digitally. I recommend it highly and hope you’ll all consider picking it up  For a mere $2.99, you can read one of Nobuko’s best-known, and genuinely interesting stories.

Of the two stories that stick with me, most I have completely failed to remember which flowers they were attached to. ^_^; One, exceedingly long story, spoke of two sisters, one plain and of average intelligence and accomplishment who sacrifices everything to help her musically talented and attractive younger sister to thrive after they are orphaned. It was such a massive ball of misery that just kept dragging on. It never became hopeless, it just didn’t end, and then she died. Well, then. But her sister, at least, did thrive, and I suppose that made it all worth it. Somehow. 

My second-favorite tale was about a young woman who lived alone with her mother and younger sister who quits school to begin working. The description of the office workplace, with the female secretarial and typist pools working with the male staff was fabulous. It was if suddenly we were catapulted from the turn of the century into a 20th century background that we would instantly find recognizable. Men and women smoking in the office(!) and the young typist forming a strong affinity for the woman who ran the typist pool. It was all so 1930s urban. I could picture the clothes very clearly. ^_^ This stood out because, along with Yellow Rose, it portrayed a young woman becoming a professional typist as a kind of freedom and also as a kind of bondage.

Also very interestingly, the second half includes bullying at school – of the sniping behind one’s back kind – and a few stories which were built around betrayal.

If there was one theme, though, that kept repeating, it was the way in which young women interacted with the technologies of the day. From a steam train ride through a horrible frightening storm, to war-time telegraphs, to typing, this books is set firmly in the 20th century in a way that the first half just wasn’t. City vs country was another motif. A number of the stories contrasted urban vs rural. It was pretty obvious that Yoshiya-sensei herself favored the city, but that meant that she often had her characters defend the rural areas with vehemence.

Hana Monogatari was less inside it’s own head than the dense and self-absorbed Yaneura ni Nishojo. The short-story format gave Yoshiya-sensei a chance to really delve into creating different scenarios and the characters who would inhabit them. We spend enough to time with characters, to (in many cases, ) predict the character’s reactions. There’s less frivolity and phantasm in this half, but instead it is filled with a loving look at modern Japanese life in the 1930s through the eyes of young women who lived or died during that time.

Ratings:

Overall – 9

I’m pretty sure that, despite the privation and deaths, I enjoyed the collection as a whole. ^_^ But “Moyuruhana” from the first half still wins and I hope one day to read that in translation. 

 

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Kase-san Manga on LINE Comics, Guest Review by Verso S

April 5th, 2017
Welcome to Guest Review Wednesday here at Okazu! We’ve had more guest reviews than ever this year and they are all so fantastic If you’re enjoying the Guest Reviews, I hope you’ll consider subscribing to Okazu, so we can pay our Guest Reviewers!  
 
We reported on YNN that the Kase-san manga series was being continued on Japanese phone platform LINEManga (LINE マンガ – ).  Today Verso S. is writing to us from Hiroshima to let us know how it’s working! 
 
For those of you unfamiliar with LINE, it’s a phone app that began as a communication platform, based in SMS, like the popular BBSs were, but expanded out past person- or group-based communication as a publishing platform. Of course there are also companies with promotions, that almost gos without saying. There is a LINE that can be downloaded in th US, but it is not as fully featured as the JP version. However, even US LINE can be used for SMS communications in Japan, which has been useful to me in the past. 
 
Please welcome Verso who will give us a walkthrough of the Kase-san manga on LINE!
 
 
The Kase-san series started over free of charge from “chapter 1, Asagao to…” on LINEManga, while the “Shinshokan viewer” gives free access to the latest chapter.
 
LINEmanga: Weekly serialisation. The second chapter, “Jitensha to” was simultaneously hosted and became immediately available to those who share it (LINE, Facebook, Twitter). Without sharing that second chapter becomes accessible after one week, on next Tuesday, when “chapter three, Love song to” will be added on the same conditions. etc. 
 
Chapters released appear to remain free. Operation is smooth and glorious, on computer and mobile app.  No frills. Flip pages or use of clickable arrows and a zoom function.
 
The series is tagged: Love story. There is no Yuri tag on the platform. The brief description on the series’ own page does include a tiny Yuri reference since it is mentioned, and also tagged Hirari in addition to tags for the names of the mangaka and the publishing company – so it appears in the lists for those respective categories in the LINEmanga catalogue. eBooks of the first tankoubon will be available for a charge, ¥864, on LINEmanga as well.
 
“Shinshokan viewer”:  No registration required. Gives free access to the latest chapter for a limited time (Month). As standalone or as part of the web magazine Wings. In addition, however, the publisher’s page for the series also gives free access to previews from the existing three tankoubon as ebooks. With the option to purchase them as full ebooks. They also sell their print editions. Ebook operation is as smooth and glorious, on computer, as reading the chapters. No frills. Flip pages, arrows and zoom. 
 
Is there a regional block on access to LINEmanga? Have you tried login in to the messaging app via either a LINEme account or with a Facebook ID to set up a LINE account? Provided there is no geo-restriction, that ID will then work with the LINEmanga readers too. The set-up is done by registering a new account within the messaging app on a mobile device. Requiring either Email or sms code verification.Once authenticated the general LINEme ID and Password will then give access to the LINEmanga readers as well.  The same geo restrictions may apply for the Shinshokan reader as well… 

LINEmanga: Kase-san stayed on schedule. “Story 3, Love Song” was posted at midnight, Tuesday. Immediately available for those sharing it or available next week for those who don’t. 

The next installment will be interesting. If the pattern from other series is followed, these first three chapters will remain free, as preview chapters. The fourth chapter and subsequent releases will eventually slip behind an individual chapter paywall, usually after one month. For that one month period the later chapters can be read free of charge, but after that first month a small fee, ¥30~50 will be charged per chapter to gain access.

This is turning into running LINEmanga software commentary rather than a readers first impression of the Kase-san series on that platform. Which has been positive for us in every regard.

The series are all well behind the actual release schedules in the official magazines, print or web, for ongoing series but for titles re-serialised on LINEmanga the last four installments will thus be free at any given time throughout the re-release period on that platform.

Each tankoubon will be made available on that platform’s schedule as well. Usually the first chapter of each volume will be offered free within that tankoboun, as a preview. For other titles the entire first volume may remain free, as a preview. Kodansha’s Chihayafuru is such a title. Currently the first three volumes are listed ¥0 and they can be downloaded or added to a cloud-like bookshelf in their entirety. Though ongoing that series is not serialised on LINEmanga, however. Just the books are offered.

A lot of different publishers are present on LINEmanga and their titles are all offered on the same software without the necessity to hunt down each publisher’s own site. Without the necessity to switch apps when you want to continue reading the “next” chapter of a different series from a different magazine or publishing company, though it won’t be the “very latest” chapter. Each company comes with their own pricing arrangement and slight variations in their conditions for access. Minor variations like any other one-stop book store before eTexts.

Kase-san and all the other series do look very good, picture wise, on our systems, crisp images, nice and easily readable text, and they all function to our satisfaction but there are slightly different experiences with the operation that I should be careful not to conflate. Some titles which are accessible on our iPad but can’t be opened on our Mac, for example, though they’re accessed from the same LINE account. As noted before, someone with a Phone Number based LINE account seems to have the smoothest experience with its operation. Which seems to have more to do with the Phone Number based set up than with the OS, based on the “error” messages … though that’s out of my league to assess more broadly.

The same is true for Kuzu no Honkai, a currently ongoing manga series with a currently airing anime and Live Action drama adaptations.

All six volumes of Octave are also available as tankoubon on LINEManga for  ¥540 per volume. One other Akiyama title is also offered.

Fx’s Aoi Hana is here too, while Shimura’s Koiiji is being re-serialzied from Kiss magazine.

A lot of Hirari titles are here as well. So are some of the Tsubomi titles, though not tagged as such. Mizutani Fuuka’s series for example. Tagged with the mangaka’s name, with Hakusensha and with TL. And so is  Takemiya Jin, represented with 12 titles, with the same tagging system, but with different pricing. Some of her tankoubon are tagged Comic Yuri Hime, publisher and TL.Steps is priced ¥648 p/volume, Omoi no Kakera ¥802, Seasons ¥864.

There is a TL tag and a BL tag but there are no Yuri or GL tags on LINEmanga, for the moment.

It seems petty to complain when confronted with such luxury but there are also the Geo-location barriers. Which place me on the other side of the wall compared to you. I can get access to previews of Kodansha USA’s recent Chihayafuru eBook release in English, for example, but I can’t buy that book nor their other English titles because of my location. I can stroll into a bookstore, brick and virtual, minutes after the latest Japanese edition in that series becomes available.

Erica here: Well, wow. That was an amazingly comprehensive review. Based on all of this, I still think Kadokawa’s Bookwlaker might have an advantage, since there appear to be no geographic restrictions, but LINEManga has made pretty fast progress in that area!

Thank you again Verso for this  detailed review of the LINEManga system!

 
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