Yuri Manga: Kiss & White Lily For My Dearest Girl, Volume 1 (English)

April 24th, 2017

Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo broke into the Yuri marketplace in 2014. Although it recycled well-worn Yuri tropes, it found a willing audience with the (primarily male) readership of Comic Alive. Subsequent volumes ran with the “Yuritopia” idea and used it to tell increasingly complex and interesting stories centered around relationships at a fantasy all-girl school. I find that, as the stories move away from the first volumes, they have become more interesting – even the relationship of the main couple has moved past it’s initial boundaries.

And here we are, able to enjoy those volumes in English, with Yen Press’ release of the series as Kiss & White Lily for my Dearest Girl. In Volume 1  we meet pathologically hardworking  Shiramine Ayaka and slacker genius Kurozawa Yurine. 

As I’ve said several times recently, this particular set up is somewhat teeth grinding for me. ^_^ I’m not saying it’s unrealistic or anything, au contraire, I know several of those geniuses and let me tell you how *vexing* it is to work one’s ass off only to never be as good. ^_^ So, despite her melodrama, I’m on team Ayaka, all the way. And, if it weren’t for the fact that Yurine was also on team Ayaka, I would have chucked this series away a long time ago. ^_^

But there we are, Yurine has that even more vexing quality of being sincerely lovely as a person. Ayaka is wholly unprepared for liking her rival and even less prepared to be liked in return. Nonetheless, as their like slips causally into “like” like, Ayaka becomes somewhat less unprepared for everything.

A side story starring Ayaka’s cousin Mizuki and her closest friend and track team manager Moe, adds a little typicality to the story and gives the volume another well-worn path to walk through the lilies.

On the negative side, this series inhabits that all-female fantasy world in which adults and men exist only as shadows and barriers to happiness. It’s all a little tiresome. But, ultimately, despite the fact that this series is a “pair-’em-up” it works because none of the characters are unlikable. No matter how well-trod the paths might be, when we can sympathize with the characters, we’ll want them to be happy. We want them to give hope to all the girls who might read this series and imagine that kind of happiness for themselves and hope that some of the guys reading might just get that this is a valid way to be that doesn’t actually involve them and is still okay.

Overall, this series translated well to English. again thanks to the deft touch of Jocelyne Allen (who apparently is the current queen of Yuri translation!) I wasn’t sure if the screaming and melodrama might work, but I’m well-satisfied with the results. Technicals are otherwise well done and once again, I feel that this volume offers the kind of authentic reading experience that fans crave. 

Ratings:

Art – 8 
Story – 8
Characters – 7 
Yuri – 8
Service – 1 on principle only

Overall – 8

This ran in Comic Alive, but it could have run in a girls’ magazine as art and story are firmly rooted in shoujo stereotypes. Volume 2 will be out at the end of May!

 

 

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Queers & Comics 2017 Event Report

April 23rd, 2017

Queers & Comics 2017 in San Francisco was as fascinating and delightful as the inaugural event in New York City in 2015. This time around it was organized by Jennifer Camper (Rude Girls and Dangerous Women) and Justin Hall (QU33R). Once again, the level of engagement and energy was high and the conversations on and off panels were exceptionally interesting. 

The event was held at the California College of the Arts. The keynote speakers were Mariko Tamaki (SkimThis One Summer) and Gengoroh Tagame (Otouto no Otto /My Brother’s Husband). 

For this event, my travel companion was Bruce, and our first night in town we wandered over to the Center for Sex and Culture, a fun little reading/art/ event space to see Tyler Cohen’s Primahood art show. It was great to see Tyler and appreciate the art in person.  On the way out I was able to chat briefly with Mari Naomi about her amazing book, I Thought You Hated Me, which I rave-reviewed last summer.

Bruce and I wandered over to the Asian Art Museum, which was lovely, until I felt weak from hunger and we had to go find food.

My event began with a panel of Underground Comics pioneers, including Gay Comix editor Howard Cruse, Lee Marrs, Roberta Gregory, Diana Green, Trina Robbins, Burton Clarke, Robert Triptow, Mary Wings and Vaughn Frick. It’s always fascinating to look back at the days when LGBTQ comics were not yet a thing and hear from the people who made it a thing. 

One of the questions was about where the passion is these days and, of course the answer is, “Where are you looking?” Roberta Gregory suggested one look at Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites…and I’m going to double down on that. Not in the comic shops. It never was there, really. American comics are primarily a production line job as Howard Cruse pointed out. Underground stuff wasn’t even sold in comic stores…it was sold in head shops and then queer bookstores. The energy and passion now is online. On Pixiv, Deviantart, Kickstarter, Patreon (and KS is particularly pro-LGBTQ projects, I have to say.) Look online. 

After lunch, it was my pleasure to be part of the Queer Manga – History and Cultural Context panel where Graham Kolbien showed a short clip of the documentary he’s been working on, Queer Japan. I am a backer of that work and cannot *wait* to see it. During a short interview with a BL manga artist, I was openly grinning at the views of Otome Road and the stores along it. It was definitely a warm/fuzzy moment for me. Leyla Aker from Viz did a publisher-eye’s view presentation on BL and Yuri. (Although, when she commented that Citrus isn’t exploitative, I said, “Oh, yes it is!”) I followed this up with a discussion of the place women’s groups newsletters and doujinshi had in the history of Yuri manga, following early “Woman-Only Communications” newsletters through doujinshi into Lesbian magazines and Yuri manga. I hope to write an article about that this summer.

 

Bruce had never been to San Francisco before, so we wandered over to Japantown where the Kinokuniya had a little “Yaoi” section, that included some Yuri manga. 

It also had this bilingual guide based on Rose of Versailles, so as you can imagine the English phrases were super-relevant to modern life. ^_^

 

The second day began with a Panel on being the editor for anthologies called “Herding Cats.” It was fantastic, and I was able to fully fangirl at Taneka Stotts, who had edited Elements: Fire, which I had read on the plane ride over.  This was one of my highlights, as I am a huge fan of Taneka’s work and her energy. Review to come, but Tl;dr – it was great.

Another highlight of my event was being able to meet Joamette Gil, one  of the minds behind Power & Magic, which I enthusiastically reviewed recently. Joamette said something really profound to me, about white women supporting work by women of color. She pointed out that if women support work by WoC, they are still getting work by women, so it’s win-win. This was eye-opening to me, because I’m just honestly 100% behind diversity of all kinds, but I guess there are folks who would need it to be relevant to their experience. Frankly, I like reading about stuff I *haven’t* already lived, and am always thrilled to support works by women of color. And no I am not saying “I’m color blind,” I’m saying I consciously seek out work by women of color to support. Because this is what we must do to get the diversity we want in the world.

I caught up with an old friend, Julie Davis, former editor of Animerica magazine, and probably the first person to ever pay me for a piece of writing. She joined me, Anne Ishii and Tagame-sensei for Queer Craft: Art & Writing. Anne did a fabulous presentation on the evolution of Gay Manga and a discussion of translating sound effects, I quickly presented process discussions about two guests who hadn’t been able to join us, Nakamura Kiyo and Rica Takashima, then Tagame-sensei spoke about a trans manga he felt was very important in terms of what it was not, as much as what it was. We took questions and had a fabulous time. 

We then sat in a lovely panel about LGBTQ comics about superheroes that subvert paradigms and rewrite the old scripts with Joan Hilty, Brian Andersen, Tommy Roddy, Kat Leyh and Andy Mangels.

As Bruce was leaving early, we and Julie went out to a crazy dinner in a place where you could book a room with the pope’s head in a Lucite case on the table. It was super creepy. (Sorry, random strangers in my photo, I didn’t get the picture when the room was empty.)

After saying farewell to Bruce, I was able to catch up with Julie and her husband Mark, a brilliant artist and illustrator and a man who is to Gundam what I am to Yuri. Had a lovely time just chatting about art and writing and life. Thanks Julie and Mark! Let’s not go 13 years until we see each other again. ^_^

Of course I bought books while I was at Queers & Comics….reviews to come in days ahead. ^_^ I was able to get a Lee Marrs collection, The Further Fattening Adventures of Pudgy Pudge, Girl Blimp and  Burn Bitchy Burn by  Roberta Gregory, as well as Princess Princess Ever After and the Queer Creatures tote bag, which was just too great to not get and for which profits go to support the event itself.

One of the most amazing things about the event was this – just as the young artists were in the panels learning from the older folks, the older artists were present in panels by younger folks, learning from them. It was…GREAT. These folks are crowdfunding old collections and new works. They get it, and so should we. It might feel righteous to be old-school, but you’re hampering yourself if you don’t use the tools that exist. In fact, I’ve set myself a goal of self-publishing at least one book this summer because there is literally no reason not to. ^_^ At this point, if your work isn’t out there, it’s because you’re not trying to get it out there. There are no barriers left except the one’s you make for yourself.  And that, frankly, is my big takeaway from this event. Just…make your art. 

Panels were recorded, so when they are available, I’ll add in the links.

Overall, it was an amazing event, with friends new and old, and I cannot wait for the next one! Thanks to everyone on staff and all the presenters and guests for making it a reality. ^_^

 

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Yuri Network News – (百合ネットワークニュース) – April 22, 2017

April 22nd, 2017

Okazu patrons will be getting a special sneak peek of an upcoming article that will be published this summer. 

If you’re interested in Yuri research, please consider becoming an Okazu patron with Patreon. You’ll be supporting Yuri news, reviews, research and events. I’m planning on working on a book of essays about Yuri in the coming year, so thank you for your support!

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Yuri Manga

Comic Natalie reports on a new Yuri love-comedy with the decidedly unfunny name Shoraiteki ni Shindekuru (将来的に死んでくれ).

Also from Comic Natalie, Hirao Auri’s idol Yuri series Oshi ga Budokan ittekuretara shinu, has a promotional video with narration and Eripyo’ lines read by seiyuu Hayami Saori.

Volume 1 and Volume 2 have been reviewed here on Okazu.

Takemiya Jin’s newest adult life Yuri story collection, Fujyourina Atashi-tachi (不条理なあたし達 ) was released at the end of the last month. \o/

And Kurogane Kenn’s Yuri manga for Hirari magazine has been resurrected in a 2-volume collection. Volume 1 of Hoshikawa Ginza Yon-choume (星川銀座四丁目 上) is available now. 

 

Yuri Anime

The Asagao to Kase-san anime site added a lovely Art Gallery last week. Take a look for some “awww”-inspiring art.

ANN’s Jacob Chapman is off and running in rewatch-retrospective of the entire Revolutionary Girl Utena series!

 

Yuri Visual Novel

A link for another American-road trip based Yuri Visual Novel from Sekai Project, Love, Guitars and the Nashville Skyline is up on the Yuricon Store.

 

LGBTQ Comics Interviews

Marguerite Bennett Talks Batwoman, Representation and the Importance of Fallible Queer Heroes on Autostraddle.

And CBLDF talks with early lesbian comic artist in She Changed Comics: Roberta Gregory Interview. (One of my highlights from Queers & Comics, was getting her to sign a Bitchy Butch collection with “Thanks for Last Night.” ^_^)

 

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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Yuri Manga: Kase-san and Morning Glories (English)

April 21st, 2017

In 2012, I was pleased to say about Asagao to Kase-san “the emotions ring true and the story left me smiling” and that “I wish we got to see them after this volume ends, when their relationship begins taking off.”

Three, soon-to-be-four* volumes later, I’m now triply pleased. Not only did this series leave me smiling – again – and we will get to see this couple’s relationship develop, we also have the almost-unreal thrill of being able to read the series in English!

Kase-san and Morning Glories is the English-language edition of the first volume of Takashima Hiromi’s adorable, uncomfortable and delightful Yuri series.

Yamada is an average girl, with some self-esteem issues. Issues that were not holding her back, but become more pronounced the closer she becomes with school track star, Kase. In a story that makes me twitch with discomfort because it feels so realistic, we watch Kase and Yamada become friendly, then friends, then something more. Nothing here is rushed, nothing is forced. It’s all so normal that I can’t help feel we’re being creepy voyeurs into someone’s actual life.

It remains true that this is a very “Story A” -like story, but it also remains true that we will continue to watch (too closely?) as their relationship grows and becomes more intimate, both emotionally and physically. This is a series that feels like life. And for that reason, it made my end-of-year lists for all three volumes, even making my best of the year manga for the third. 

I like Yamada, although not her best friend, and I like Kase-san, who seems very kind and decent. As I read, I want them to find one another and be happy together – a sentiment that I know I share with Yuri fandom. These two are not for us, they are for each other.

Takashima-sensei’s story is well-told and Jocelyne Allen handles the language with a deft touch. Ever characters sounds like themselves; the translation and adaptation never throws one out of the story. This volume is the “authentic reading experience” I believe manga fans are looking for. I’m so pleased that you all can join me in reading this volume, officially licensed in English and enjoy the story as I have!

Ratings:

Art – 7 A little messy, but I liked it
Story – 8
Character – 8
Yuri – 8
Service – 2

Overall – 8

*Thanks to YNN Correspondent Verso S for letting us know that a fourth volume of the Kase-san series will be out in June in Japan! Stay tuned for a title and link for pre-order. ^_^

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Yuri Manga: Comic Yuri Hime May 2017 (コミック百合姫2017年5月号)

April 20th, 2017

Are you at all fond of two-timing as a plot driver in a romance? I have to assume that someone high up on the Comic Yuri Hime staff is, because even aside from the couple of stories in the body of the magazine, the cover story is, as well.

(And let me just note, in a somewhat petty fashion that, if I consider incest to be lazy writing, I consider it exceptionally lazy editing when I can tell what the editorial staff’s fetishes are. There are people other than you reading, folks. Try picking a new plot once in a while.)

Aside from that, the stories in Comic Yuri Hime, May 2017 (コミック百合姫2017年5月号) that are already strong, are still good. I was actually kind of pleased to note that the newest plot complication in Ohsawa Yayoi’s “2DK, G Pen, Mezamashitaokei” is kind of…typical for a romance manga. It’s like, having spent so much time on building up really firm foundations of a potential relationship, it can finally just be a little soapy. And I enjoyed it.

“Now Loading…” is taking the opposite tack, by starting off superficially and sort of backing into a real relationship. I’d like to see it become a real story when it grows up.

And “Watashi no Yuri ha Oshigoto desu!” is slipping sideways into a story, away from the tropes it’s inhabiting, which really kind of makes me happy. Hime is suddenly forced to confront the idea that her natural charm my not be enough…and that, maybe, she’s focusing her attention in the wrong direction. 

Ratings:

Overall – 7

As always, there are both good and bad and other stories I’m reading but not mentioning. I quite like the variety, even if it’s weirdly skewed to two-timing and affairs and cuckolding right now. (I mean really, Editor-san, grow the fuck up.)

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