Saturday, September 26, 2009


*rabid fan switch on* Holy crap!! CANAAN episode 13 is out subbed!!! Must download!!! Can't wait to see the finale!!! > <

Friday, September 25, 2009

Yuri Manga: Sugar wa Otoshigoro volume 1

Sugar wa Otoshigoro isn't a personal favorite of mine, but it's still a solid entry into the "very,-very-close-friends-who-might-become-something-more" yuri subtext-niche. The quirky, likeable protagonists are what make this otherwise unremarkable high school dramedy worth checking out.

Hatanaka Keiko is a slightly cracked high school student with unusual ambitions. She dreams of becoming a prostitute when she grows up- in fact, when she posts about it on her cell phone blog, she gets a whopping 500+ comments from people, mostly telling her that she's nuts. Otherwise, she's a pretty typical student, with a working dad, a housewife mom, and a harmlessly snotty little sister. She's also a tomboy with a habit of singing her feelings out loud, whose classmates view her as something of an outsider. Enter Asami Tsubaki, a cool-headed, acerbic girl who works in the school library and is considered much more of an outsider than Keiko because rumors are running amok that she was a prostitute in high school. Keiko befriends her and they remain close, even after Keiko learns about the rumors from her gossip-mongering "friends." Tsubaki (my favorite character) doesn't really care what her classmates think of her (yay!), and the girls continue to grow closer, even as Honda, a kind, but rough-around-the-edges boy from Tsubaki's old school, enters the equation and expresses (unrequited) interest in her- and Tsubaki's background continues to haunt her.

Sugar wa Otoshigoro succeeds on several different levels for me. It works as...
  • a story about an amusingly unconventional friendship- Tsubaki and Keiko have great chemistry together as friends, which leads me to this story working as...
  • an incipient, slow-cooking yuri romance- or rather, a friendship with strong romantic subtext during volume 1, although it looks like the yuri will become more pronounced from the next volume on. This volume really doesn't shy away from painting its characters with the yuri subtext brush, though- one of my favorite moments is when Keiko starts singing a love song to a tsubaki (camellia) plant at home while thinking of Tsubaki, and her family is like "wtf is she doing?" But while Sugar wa Otoshigoro does contain yuri overtones, it isn't flowery and escapist. Instead it manages to be...
  • a story that addresses "gritty" topics teenagers (sometimes) cope with- like bullying, rape, etc- without making me feel like face-palming and setting the manga down. I don't like reading many titles that focus on characters dealing with issues like that, like LIFE and Hana Yori Dango, because I really don't enjoy reading umpteen volumes of some girl being physically and psychologically victimized at school. (Or anywhere else- hence, why I don't care for Last Friends.) Keiko's classmates are gossipy and annoying, but they don't overwhelm the draw of the story- Tsubaki and Keiko's deepening friendship.
Plus, Tsubaki doesn't suffer from Tohru Honda Syndrome and act like Sunshine Sue to people who give her crap. Keiko acts more conciliatory, but not to the point of me disliking her. The dialogue is well-written also, with some gems of humor scattered throughout. :) (Like Tsubaki's reaction to Keiko's aspirations and Honda's ill-fated attempts to extract information about Tsubaki from Keiko.) The story strikes a very good balance between lighthearted humor and drama.

The art looks good enough. It conveys the story well, with distinct, expressively-drawn character designs- especially when it comes to Keiko's body language. The character designs look a little rough, and aside from Keiko, Tsubaki, Honda, and Keiko's mother and sister, all of the character designs are forgettable. (The peripheral characters often aren't even drawn with eyes- although it may be a stylistic choice at times, like when one of Keiko's classmates is drawn with eyes for the first time when she begins to understand Keiko.)

In short, Sugar wa Otoshigoro is a good comedy-drama with appealing leads that I would recommend- whether Keiko and Tsubaki become an item or not. (But of course it would be nice if it happened. ^^ Sugar runs in Young King, a bi-weekly(!) seinen magazine published by Shōnen Gahosha.)

Story: B
Art: C+
Overall: B

And unrelated: Oooh, I can't wait until the finale of CANAAN comes out tomorrow!! ^___^ I'm moving all of my junk things to a new room, which will be a little bit of a hassle- but that final episode will be my reward at the end of the day. :3 And don't miss the finale of Saki this Sunday!!

Yuri no Boke Presents: The Most Annoying Anime Trailer This Season!

The trailer for faux-yuri anime Kämpfer is now streaming. I can't wait to write my first impressions of this series. ^^

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Yuri Manga: Creo the Crimson Crisis volume 1

 This is, quite possibly, the absolute stupidest manga that I enjoy reading. Playing Spot the Cliche (But With Yuri!!) alone is half the fun. :D

The story begins with Suou, your typical nondescript, plain-Jane heroine whose best friend Urara finds her irresistibly attractive. Suou becomes the center of a catfight in class over who will take her to the infirmary, since she isn't feeling well one day. The teacher sends Suou outside as punishment, and she wanders off to find the infirmary. Suddenly, she notices the school lake turning blood red as a voluptuous, pointy-eared magical woman rises out of it (who I can definitely see being voiced by Nabatame Hitomi, with Nakahara Mai as Suou and Shimizu Ai as Urara) and recognizes Suou by name. But naturally, Suou freaks out and sprints away from her. The woman introduces herself as "Creo Levigister", catches Suou, and forms a "contract" with her by placing a collar around her neck that can only be removed by Creo herself. (Cue salacious squeals from the yuri fandom.) This prompts a fit of jealous rage from Urara, who snatches Suou away from Creo. When Suou and Urara return to Suou's home, they find that (surprise!) Creo is already there, and she's gotten permission from Suou's sickly older sister Akane to live there and help take care of the house. More exposition is given on the flimsy excuse for having Creo move in with Suou (Creo's the princess of a demonic realm, she needs to form a contract with a human to use magic, and she has loved Suou ever since they met as children), and a Rival (TM) appears, another magical being named Kiki whose sights are set on Urara. zOMG.

Does this sound like anything else you've ever read? Aa! Megami-sama, MeruPuri, Lum Urusei Yatsura, perhaps? If you've never read or seen a single magical girlfriend (or boyfriend) story, this just may impress you. Otherwise, you already know exactly what you're getting into. If you don't mind reading the same old thing with a yuri-spin, then dig in. On the upside, this series doesn't overreach itself or pretend to be more than what it is. (Obviously a backhanded compliment.) And for what it is...I kind of enjoy it. It isn't ever going to approach being a favorite of mine, but it's a decent series to read if there aren't any new installments of Girl Friends, Hayate x Blade, Sasameki Koto, Aoi Hana, Octave, whatever Morishima Akiko and Fujieda Miyabi release, Otome Kikan Gretel, Sugar wa get the idea.

The characters fulfill their respective stereotypes to a tee. Creo's supposed to be the sexy vamp- but the series tries so hard to make her the Sexy Character, that it doesn't really work. Kiki provides a foil as the uncouth, "loveably" naive bumpkin at the bottom of the demon world social ladder with far more innocent designs on her respective human. Urara's the Lusty Best Friend, and...that's it. And Suou's the weakest link... a quivering little pile of tears and ineptitude who would probably get eaten alive at a real high school. (Welcome to the magical girlfriend genre.) My favorite character is Akane, actually. And Urara and Kiki are my favorite couple.

As for the art, it's a mixed bag. Sometimes the character designs look remarkably pretty- especially the way that their hair is drawn-, but oftentimes they look bug-eyed, with disproportionately bulbous foreheads. Suou's perpetually whimpering, mascot-like character design in particular almost never looks appealing.

There are so many things that I can pick apart in this series...but I still read it. -_-; Yuri fans in the Hino Matsuri and Watase Yuu age-demographic will probably get much more out of it. In fact, when I first read the first chapter of Creo in issue 8 of Yuri Hime (or rather, attempted to read it and found it easy to follow because of its adherence to cliches), I thought it was "ZOMG!*squeal*" amazing.

Story: D (Same magical girlfriend story, different magazine.)
Art: C (Mixed strengths and weaknesses.)
Overall: C-

Speaking of the polar opposite- I've recently started reading Terry Moore's Strangers In Paradise. It's starkly different from what I normally read in comics- and it's excellent. And episode 12 of CANAAN was ❤! ^___^ I probably shouldn't read or watch any titles that I really like shortly before reviewing anything like this anymore. lol Granted, Umineko no Naku Koro ni is pretty dumb also (but in a strangely riveting, "wtf"-eliciting way), and I'm finding it more entertaining than Creo.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Himegami Website Updated!

The Himegami website has some interesting new updates. The "new" protagonists are called Kouzuki Chikane and Hinomiya Himeko, and they have their own profiles, along with a series terminology guide below on the same page. This time they're both 15, and it looks like a major plot complication will happen on their 16th birthday yet again.

There's also a Link section with links to Kaishaku's website and TNK's website. TNK did the animation production for KnM and Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora, so...since they're being linked to and Kaishaku's work has a high rate of being animated, hopefully this means that we'll see a Himegami anime eventually? *fingers crossed* XD

Finally, there's a link titled "Hajime ni" ("in the beginning") that mentions that Himegami was originally discussed as a web novel series- and comments on Himegami are encouraged. :) (I think it's really cute how attached Kaishaku seem to the characters of KnM. ^^) Plus, some staff are listed:

  • Composition: Uetake Sumio (Same guy who did the series composition for KnM and KyoSora! ^^)
  • Layout: Yanagisawa Tetsuya (The director of KnM and KnTnS! ^^)
  • Illustration: Kaishaku

It's great to see more familiar faces involved. I'm looking forward more and more to the series premiere! XD

...But for now... *download finishes* my Pavlovian signal is beckoning to me. :D *blissfully runs off to watch episode 12 of CANAAN*

Next Day Edit: Whoops, I didn't mention that on the bottom-left corner corner of the main page, there's a link with an image that looks like the shaft of an arrow that people can use to send comments.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Figurine Fangirling, and A Tribute to the #1 Psychotic Lesbian of the Year (Spoilery for Ep 11 of CANAAN)

Only 2 more episodes of CANAAN! ^^ Even though the series is still moving at a nice, brisk pace (and I'm still enjoying the heck out of it), I wonder how they'll manage to wrap everything up in only (*sigh*) two more episodes.

And the ending had better be decent *tentatively sharpens pitchfork* because...I've already pre-ordered the Canaan Nendoroid and Canaan 1/8 PVC figurines. :D

The pre-order stock for the 1/8 figurine seems to be selling especially quickly, so I'm glad I snapped it up. Still no sign of the matching Alphard figurines yet- I'm lying in wait on the open savannah of the internet- or something like that (sorry about the lame metaphor)- for them to show up on the online shops. Since I shopped around the different reputable figurine vendors I know before ordering (since my wallet can only take so much abuse lol), I pre-ordered the 1/8 from ToysLogic (which I found via Rob Bricken's Astro Toy column on ANN) and the Nendo from YesAsia. I'm looking forward to them- my first figurines in 2 years (is that something to be proud of? lol)- ever since a miscalculated...choice in high school. (My biggest mistake was probably describing it to my dad as an item "of strong sentimental value" before it arrived and then when he saw it, he was like "...???" and walked away without commenting. lol)

My only question regarding the figurines will 1/8 Canaan remain upright on the single support stick keeping her foot attached to the base? It doesn't look like there's anything else holding her up- I guess that it's really well-made stick? ^^;

And in honor of Liang's ostentatious exit this past week on CANAAN (I loved episode 11! XD), here's a stupid-funny CANAAN fan-comic that I found fitting. (Probably nsfw if any of your co-workers can read Japanese BDSM-lingo.)

Panel 1
Liang- Even though I love Nee-sama so much, why won't you respond to me!

Panel 2
Alphard- You don't know, Liang? It's tough for me too.

Panel 3
Alphard- Right now I'm doing what they call "neglect play" with you!
(Neglect play= an SM play in which the masochist is left alone for long periods of time, usually tied up or restricted in some fashion. The sadist may leave them completely alone. On the other hand, the sadist could stay in the same room as the masochist, completely ignoring their existence. I can't really see the appeal...but it matches Alphard's treatment of Liang pretty well. lol)
Liang- Wh-What are you saying!?

Panel 4
Liang- Nee-sama is...Nee-sama is doing such advanced play with me!!

Panel 5
Alphard- That should keep her more behaved for about a week.
Bemused Cummings- Ah...

Panel 6
Canaan- Maria, do you like being tied up?
Maria-  Wh-What are you saying...!?
Text in bottom right- In reference to episode 7.

So that's why Maria keeps getting captured so easily. And I suppose now we know how Alphard fended off Liang for so long. lol

R.I.P., Liang. We hardly knew ye.

She kind of grew on me as the series went on (read: after it became clear that she and Alphard aren't related), since she provided so many unintentionally(?) funny, cracktastic moments.

Oh, and on a related note- if you want to find some good Aoi Hana and CANAAN icons (like the Yunyun one I'm using right now), there are a lot over at Snuff's LJ. ^^

Summer seems so far behind now... (Edit: Even though, technically, it's still summer.)

 BGM- "Guilty Claims" by Disarmonia Mundi

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Still No Sasameki Koto PV, But Many More Preview Images Released- And Volume 5 of the Manga! ^^


Looks like it'll be a great, faithfully adapted first episode! ^^ The preview screencaps above were found here- props to darkchibi for pointing them out!

Plus, the much-anticipated 5th volume of the Sasameki Koto manga is going on sale on September 23!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lmao at the New Sasameki Koto iPhone App

I must say that this is a brilliant piece of marketing.

Call me crazy, but I'd much rather kiss a real woman than a plastic screen. ^^;

But that obviously isn't the case for everyone. lol

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Aoi Hana Anime: Final Impressions

My concise reaction:

*cloud nine*

The longer version:

Happiness. All of my classes this past week were . And as the fudge icing on top of a delectable chocolate cake, the finale for Aoi Hana was freaking brilliant. It maintained the series' sentimental, down-to-earth focus on the small (or not so small) joys and trials of the characters' daily lives, while wrapping up the series in the most satisfactory, romantic way that it could have while remaining faithful- but not slavishly so- to the manga. I couldn't be happier with it! ^^

The hard thing about writing this post is that it won't surprise anybody who has read anything I've ever written about Aoi Hana, particularly my reviews of volumes 1, 2, and 3 of the manga (which the anime covers). ^^; lol But that's a good thing, no? I can't even think of any artistic inconsistencies to complain about. (Blast you, J.C. Staff! *shakes fist in consternation*)

The biggest deviation from the manga came in the final episode, "Fireworks in Winter" (or as I like to think of it, "How Kyouko Saved Christmas") which changed what felt like a mere bridge between storylines in the manga into the emotional peak of the anime.

(Mental Note: On Christmas or Christmas Eve I should do a marathon of yuri anime Christmas episodes.)

Warning: There are spoiler-y images and descriptions below the cut. This is one series finale that I really don't want to spoil for anybody who hasn't seen it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Crunchyroll Strikes Again! Saki Anime Sweepstakes

Good news for Saki fans! ^^ Crunchyroll is currently offering the chance to get a free three-month Anime Membership, if you watch...well, a ton of Saki episodes. ^^;

Frankly, I don't have the time or the will to do it (as much as I like my hilariously over-the-top mahjong-yuri), but if you're thinking of having a Saki marathon or introducing somebody else to the show, now would be a good time to do it!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Koihime Musou Streaming On Crunchyroll

Fans of moe yuri rejoice! (Me: *shrugs*)

The first four episodes of Koihime Musou are now streaming on Crunchyroll. The first two episodes are available for everybody to watch, and episodes 3 and 4 are only available for Crunchyroll members- but they'll be available for everyone on September 19. Presumably, other episodes will follow.

For anybody who isn't familiar with it, Koihime Musou is the anime adaptation of an all-female ero-game loosely (and I mean loosely) based on Luo Guanzhong's classic Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Season 2 of Koihime Musou will air this fall- Crunchyroll probably acquired the first season because they're (perhaps?) interested in streaming the second season.

I found parts of Koihime Musou entertaining, but didn't care much for what I watched of the overall show. The last episode I saw was the one where the pink-haired girl and a blonde-haired girl climb a cliff to pick a plant...or something. It's just frustrating to me- how could somebody take a show filled with women with weapons and make it so...meh.... Edit: Actually, there are plenty of shows like that now that I really think about it. -_-;; (It's kind of like CANAAN- if you transferred the cast of CANAAN to ancient China, gave them lobotomies and boob jobs, dyed their hair in pastel shades, and turned a few of them into children. Scratch that, Koihime Musou isn't like CANAAN at all...)

The cool thing to me about this acquisition is that, now that Crunchyroll is adding another yuri title to its roster, the chances of it streaming Sasameki Koto are (probably) that much higher. ^_^ (Exactly how much is up for debate.)

Plus, Koihime Musou will be available subbed and dubbed everywhere in the world except in Japan, France, Belgium, China, Luxembourg, Andorra, Monaco, Taiwan and Hong Kong, according to this article on ANN. Hopefully Koihime Musou will set a precedent for more Crunchyroll titles being made available to a wider audience. ^^

Next Day Edit: Never mind the "dubbed" part. Crunchyroll issued another statement (found in the article above) saying that there won't be a dubbed version.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A New Glimpse of the Upcoming Sasameki Koto Anime (Updated)

Haha- I'm not (entirely) delusional!! :) According to a 09/02 post on the Production Notes blog on the Sasameki Koto website, they did show a trailer of the series at the Media Factory booth at Comiket.

Hopefully this means they'll release the trailer to the general public soon...? The same blog post also includes two screencaps of the upcoming series.
Me-thinks Ushio is admiring her library-sempai, whatsherface, in the image above. 

It isn't much, but at least we know that AIC can adapt Ikeda's trademark super-cute SD facial expressions well. :)

Now only one more month until the series premieres on September 7!!

And speaking of the latest in yuri anime, the finale for Aoi Hana that aired today was...breathtaking. I'll post a more detailed write up on it later on this week.

09/10 Update @ 7:45 a.m.:

Sweet! More screencaps are up on the Production Notes blog, showing Sumi and Ushio's first "meeting" with Tomoe and Miyako. The overall Sasameki Koto website seems to have been re-vamped a little also, with more character images found throughout it.

 Sumi finds a new goal to strive towards.

09/10 Update @ 8:13 p.m.:

It looks like the front page of the Sasameki Koto website has now been re-done also.

There still isn't any trailer, but it looks really cute anyway. ^^

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Squeal-worthy Shitsurakuen Cover, And Canaan Fan Art

*squeals* The cover of Naomura Tooru's Shitsurakuen volume 1 looks great!! ^_^ It's coming out on September 18, and what I've read of the series so far has been surprisingly enjoyable. :) Call me a sucker for the Utena-like plot. I'll defintely be reviewing this title after it comes out. (The protagonist, Himoto Sora, btw, isn't as effortlessly cool as she appears on the cover, but that's part of the charm- she's a scrappy underdog who has to work at being a hero, without being annoying. Although I am intrigued by the uber-cool masked woman who saved her in chapter 1, as well.)

Oh... and I'm not really into posting fan art, but I think that this is too cute!! XD

As others have noted, it pretty much sums up the entire CANAAN series, at this point. Especially after episode 9. lol Plus, here are a couple more fan art pics (there are more in the thread that I've linked to).

What, exactly, is Maria trying to do? ^^;

I love this pic, since it's based on one of my favorite scenes in the series! (Although Alphard's dress is a little off- not that I'm paying too much attention. *cough*) Assassin love~

And only 1 more day until the finale of Aoi Hana!! Less than 24 hours, in fact. I can't wait to see how it will be!

Oh, and the classes today were great! We only got syllabi and light homework (and a serious workout in West African dance... @_@;), but the meat of the class material looks like it's going to be really fun! Tomorrow's going to be modern Japanese lit, more Japanese language, and international politics! ^^ Hopefully the "new" classes will be enjoyable also.

Himegami no Miko Website Updated

There is a confirmation, of sorts, in the most recent post on Kaishaku's blog (possibly nsfw) about their new KnM-inspired Himegami no Miko series- yes, it will begin this October. :)

Even though this entry on Kaishaku's blog contains the (still kind of irritatingly vague/teasing) confirmation, this entry contains a pic of Chikane by Kaishaku in which she's wearing the dark blue uniform seen in that promo photo that's been floating around. (I love how Kaishaku's "avatar" pic is of Chikane, btw. ^^)

The website for Himegami no Miko (which seems to be the new series' name) has been up for a few weeks, but it hasn't been very "official"-looking until recently- the picture that it featured previously looked like Kaishaku's blog sketches, but nothing that couldn't be imitated by somebody else fairly easily. Now it features much prettier, more professional-looking art! ^_^ It also contains a link to a cryptic description of the series- but no worries, it will have swords and yuri in abundance.

(Nonetheless, I still want to see a clear, comprehensive press release on this series from a source like ANN or Moonphase- or even Kaishaku's blog-, instead of the slow, torturous information tease we've been getting. T_T)

Bonus Trivia:
There's a special significance for this series beginning in October also- something that I'm sure Kaishaku intends. The 10th month of the Japanese lunar calendar was traditionally known as 神無月, which can be read as "Kannazuki", as in Kannazuki no Miko (神無月の巫女). It means "godless month", which makes perfect sense to people who are familiar with the plot of KnM.

And An Extra Note: When Kaishaku added their "confirmation" post on 08/05, I still thought that it was too vaguely worded to get terribly excited about, but after noticing how other people left comments on Kaishaku's blog mentioning the new series coming up in YA (without Kaishaku correcting them) and the updated Himegami website...I thought "@#%$, this is good enough," and decided to write this post.

Edit on 10/09/2009: Himegami no Miko appears to be a web-based project (web novel?) that's separate from Kaishaku's new Young Ace manga still starring Chikane and Himeko. The series running in YA is titled Zettai Shoujo Seiiki Amnesian.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chikane and Himeko's Latest Incarnation?

Plenty of yuri fans already know about this, but I wanted to write about it here anyway.

The KnM thread on the forum has been abuzz with excitement over what appears to be a new, upcoming Kaishaku series featuring new Chikane and Himeko look-alikes beginning in the next issue (volume 4) of Young Ace! ^^ (The most recent volume came out on September 4.)

Young Ace
is Kadokawa Shoten's newest seinen manga magazine, the other one being Comp Ace (the same magazine that ran Alice Quartet and Lucky Star, and currently serializes the CANAAN mang- *gets muffled by anime fan friends who are sick of my fangirling*). *escapes* Anyway, Young Ace is a really new magazine that began publication on July 4, 2009, and it's already serializing the latest chapters of Sadamoto Yoshiyuki's Neon Genesis Evangelion (which originally ran in Kadokawa's Shonen Ace), Puyo's The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, and Otsuka Eiji and Tajima Shou's MPD Psycho (which also previously ran in Shonen Ace), among others. Its tagline is, "Magazine for people who never give up reading Comic!" But isn't that the case for all seinen and josei magazines...? (Or those aimed at a general adult audience, like Manga Erotics F?)

Regardless, I'm massively excited about the second coming of Chimeko that this publication seems to be inaugurating. I don't have any copies of YA myself, but others who claim to have read it (who I'm taking at their word- otherwise, they can expect to be mobbed by pitchfork-wielding yuri fans) say that the current issue says it's a-coming. Plus, Moonphase speculated about it on August 23- I'm having a hard time locating the 08/23 news post at this point, but I'm sure that it's somewhere on the site. There has also been a photo of a promo flier floating around the internet.

It looks legit, but I'm still maintaining a little cynicism- just in case. Writing about this topic based on the sources that I'm using wouldn't work for a college paper or newspaper article (I'm a staff writer for my college newspaper), but I'm too excited not to mention it here. ^^;

And only two more days until the last episode of Aoi Hana!! ^^ Episode 10 was (insert glowing, positive adjective), although the ending was sad.

Even though she doesn't know it yet, Fumi has already moved on to greener pastures- pastures that gazed at the starry night sky with her in the previous episode.

Speaking of tragic love, episode 10 of CANAAN was, well...Liang needs to die a painful death by the end of this series. How dare she make Noto Mamiko Hakko cry! *brandishes pitchfork* This episode was low on the yuri-ish moments (aside from Liang's onee-sama complex), but Natsume helped compensate for it.

Hell yes.

On that note, tomorrow's my first day of class! Whoohoo, Japanese language, traditional Chinese lit, and West African dance! ^o^

Friday, September 4, 2009

Yuri Manga: Aoi Hana volume 4

Volume 4 of Aoi Hana is easily the loveliest, most romantic volume so far in the series. (And the last one out right now!! *cries in a corner*)

The volume kicks off with a new school year beginning and the Fujigaya drama club starting to prepare for their next drama festival performance- this time it’s Mishima Yukio’s “ The Deer-Cry Pavilion.” (Another sign that Shimura Takako is awesome. ^^ I love Mishima’s novels!! But I haven’t read “The Deer Cry Pavilion”…yet.) Ah-chan begins to (correctly) guess that Fumi is in love with her, but she doesn’t have the courage to speak to anyone about it. She and Kyouko get split up into different classes, and part without much ceremony. Kyouko really comes into her own in this volume, now that she isn’t as much in the shadow of her unrequited love for Sugimoto. Fumi stays in the same class as Yacchan and Pon-chan, but Mogii gets moved to a different class—and Fumi’s the only one with enough mettle to comfort her.

Two new Fujigaya first-year students also join the cast- Oono Haruka and Ueda Ryouko. Haruka is amusingly similar to Ah-chan (which Kyouko mercilessly teases Ah-chan about) and tall, quirky biliophile Ryouko reminds Ah-chan of Fumi—and seeing them stand next to each other makes Ah-chan’s heart skip a beat in one scene. :) Kyouko, Ryouko, and Ah-chan (because of her acquaintance with Ryouko) get leading roles in “The Deer-Cry Pavilion”, and Fumi promises Ah-chan that she’ll sit in the front row to watch her perform. (Haha! She didn’t sit in the front row for Sugimoto. :) ) Because Yasuko spoke so highly of Fumi to the Fujigaya drama club the year before (this was a pretty bittersweet revelation) they want Fumi to audition, and Fumi does it for the chance to show off in front of Ah-chan. (I know the feeling, Fumi. ^^ ) She fails since her acting abilities are nil, and withdraws from the play. On the periphery of Fumi and Ah-chan’s story, we also learn a little more about Kyouko’s home troubles with her mother. After befriending Fumi and inviting her to her house, Haruka confides that she (correctly) thinks her sister likes women. This prompts Fumi to go to Ah-chan’s house and finally, finally confess that she’s in love with Ah-chan!! ^^ GO, FUMI!!!!! Best of all, when Ah-chan platonically responds with “I love you too, Fumi”, Fumi doesn’t chicken out and say something like “Uh, right…yeah, that's right. You're my closest friend, Ah-chan.” She makes it undeniably clear exactly what she means- sparing herself and the audience a long, torturous arc of misunderstood feelings. After taking her spot as one of the best manga protagonists I have ever had the pleasure of following, Fumi reflects that she’s put Ah-chan in an awkward position, and they have yet to meet again by the end of the volume. Ah-chan hasn’t accepted Fumi’s love, but she hasn’t rejected it either.

Do I need to say that this volume was brilliant? The new first-year characters are delightful, the older cast continues to grow and impress me (especially Fumi), and the Fumi/Ah-chan arc kicks into full-throttle gear while (currently) avoiding certain irritating plot devices that have already been done to death in numerous manga romances. Plus, I love Shimura’s (and her characters’) penchant for literary references. :) The “Little Women” short this time is really nice also—apparently, Yasuko isn’t the only Sugimoto sister who had a playgirl reputation in high school. Shimura also conducts an amusing “interview” with several of her characters—she seems like she’d be a fun person to meet. :) (The funniest parts were Haruka and Ryouko's brief segments and Fumi's reaction to reading her own manga.) Even the art seems to be a little prettier and more refined in these chapters. This is definitely an amazing volume, and anybody who doesn’t like Aoi Hana at this point needs to relinquish their “Yuri Fan” membership card. (Or their plain old “Good Taste” card.)

Story: A!!
Art: A-
Overall: A!!

It's saddening that there's only one more episode of the Aoi Hana anime left to air, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how it ends.

(And yes, beginning with this review, I'm switching from writing Japanese names on this blog from given name first-surname second, to surname first-given name second, partly for the sake of authenticity, and partly because some names really sound more awkward when written with the given name first instead of the other way around.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Blue Drop Yuri Sci-Fi Anime Licensed!

Oh my GOD, YES!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Sentaiiii!!!!! YAYYYY!!!! ^__^ Blue Drop got licensed!!!

First the KnM rescue, and now this- I'm coming to like you more and more, Sentai!! d(^_^)b Any yuri anime license is nice to see, but Blue Drop is a very good series on multiple counts- sci-fi, slice-of-life, family drama, romantic drama, etc. But, being a yuri fan, I'm definitely looking forward to seeing this

on my flat screen. :D

And it's being released pretty quickly, to boot. Blue Drop will be released in a Complete Collection this November.