Monday, August 3, 2009

Yuri Manga: Aoi Hana volume 3

It's always fun to reread a favorite series with a new layer of knowledge of how events will play out. After reading the end of volume 4 of Aoi Hana (and seeing the foreshadowing in the anime),

I can't help seeing Fumi and Akira's interactions in a radically different light than the first time I read this volume. Hopefully that doesn't sound too arcane... ^^; Anyway...

In this volume, Akira, Fumi, Kyouko, Yassan, Pon-chan, and Mogii go to Kyouko's summer home, with Akira's brother tagging along to Akira's annoyance driving them there. The girls go hiking in the forest where Kou (Kyouko's fiancee) saved her when she got lost as a kid. I love the moment when Fumi catches Akira right when she slips (cue the yuri fangirl squeals ^^), but when Pon-chan falls, she complains about nobody catching her. The girls spend a night making curry and telling ghost stories in a cabin, and Akira and Fumi stay up to watch the stars at night, causing them to catch matching colds. Back at Kyouko's summer home, Akira inadvertently overhears a private conversation between Kou's mother and aunt, revealing that Kyouko's mother has, uh, issues, and she gets caught. ^^; After the trip, Akira and her brother attend Yasuko's sister and Kagami-sensei's wedding, and she and Fumi go to Enoshima, with Akira's brother tagging along just because and Yasuko coming along for obvious reasons. ^^; Fumi and Akira mostly walk separately from Akira's brother (I forget his name...) and Yasuko, but when Yasuko gets a chance, she apologizes to Fumi for how they broke up. (Maybe it's just me, but Yasuko's apology seems to mirror Kou's apology to Kyouko at the end of the camping trip arc.) Back at Fujigaya, the news spreads that Yasuko and the girl who played Catherine in Wuthering Heights are going to study abroad/live together in England. I'm hoping that Yasuko and "Catherine" get together at some point, as a dark horse couple. ^^; (I'm probably the only person thinking that. lol) As Akira and Kou become closer friends, Fumi begins feeling jealous, setting the stage for volume 4.

There are also a few short stories that focus on Yasuko's sisters when they attended Fujigaya, along with some of their classmates. My favorite of these stories is easily the one that ends with a subtle romance between two adult women (score! (^.^)b).

There isn't much new to say about the execution/art here. Volume 3 is excellent as usual, although I liked seeing the story shift to a different setting during the summer vacation and wedding arcs. Of course, the end takes a bit of a darker turn, but, refreshingly, without the "woe is me" histrionics that often accompany this sort of plot complication. (Probably because- thankfully- Fumi's love for Akira isn't the first time she's fallen in love with a woman.)

A not very small digression...
Even though some yuri fans have occasionally complained about some of the longer-running yuri manga being "slow" in their build-up towards the lead couple getting together, like Aoi Hana, Girl Friends, and Sasameki Koto, I can't help wondering how many non-yuri romance manga that the people who make those complaints have read as a point of comparison. For one classic example, it takes approximately 14 volumes for Kyouko and Yusaku to get together in Maison Ikkoku, even though the reader knows that they'll eventually get together from volume 1. (Don't get me started on Rumiko Takahashi's other series.) Plus, innumerable other romance manga have spent a considerable amount of time with their leads dancing a multi-volume gavotte between friendship and love. The point is that I prefer seeing more multi-volume yuri manga being written with their leads realizing and processing their feelings at a slower, more deliberate pace than the 1 to 2 volume yuri collections that many yuri fans are used to. (Granted, I enjoy many of those 1-2 volume titles as well. ^^;)

I have no idea when Akira and Fumi will get together (which I think/hope they will do eventually), but for now, I'm simply enjoying the ride. Even assuming that they don't get together, Fumi is still clearly gay whether she's part of a couple or not. (Which, imo, provides a nonpareil satisfaction that can't be found in the numerous same-sex romances found in manga and other media in which the heroine denies being interested in "women", but only in "this particular, exceptional individual who happens to be a woman.") But ideally, I'm still rooting for Fumi x Akira! ^^

Art: A-
Story: A
Overall: A


Erin said...

I like the pace of Aoi Hana, and I'm pleased to see another multi-volume yuri manga out there, too.

Akira's brother is named Shinobu. Orie isn't a teacher (this is made clearer in chapter 27), but that was my favorite installment of Little Women as well.

Katherine said...

@ Erin- Ah, thanks for helping me out with Shinobu's name. ^^ Whoops...I somehow mistakenly got the impression that Orie was a teacher (I'll fix that in the review), but it's still a nice story. :)

yasashiisekai said...

Hi Katherine! I completely agree - I particularly enjoy the longer yuri works. They might be a tad slow at times, but in reality it's always going to be a long emotional rollercoaster ride. I enjoy being able to see the character development in the two girls.

Btw, I noticed the new profile pic!! hehehe NIce choice!! *thumbs up*

Katherine said...

@ Nakayo (yasashiisekai)- Thanks, Nakayo! ^_^ Haha. Exactly- it's nice to be able to follow how the characters change and develop over a longer series. :)