Friday, April 16, 2010
I wasn't sure what to expect from Onozucca Kahori's Love Slave when I began reading it. It seemed like a grittier, more modern version of Moonlight Flowers (a must-read if you're a card-carrying yuri fan and you haven't read it!), but with enough tweaks to turn it into a very different- and arguably, better- story by the end.
The protagonist is Ureha, a successful make-up artist living with her boyfriend-since-college, Ichiru, who works as a teacher at an all-girl's high school. Three months after proposing to Ureha, Ichiru's still waiting for an answer from her. At a cosmetics shop, Ureha runs into Sawori, who reminds her of the female classmate she (almost) slept with in high school. After breaking up with Ichiru, Ureha and Sawori get together, but things aren't quite happily-ever-after... Meanwhile, one of Ichiru's students, Mariya, comes out to him as a lesbian and encounters Ureha and Sawori when she starts going to lesbian clubs. Ichiru also runs into Sawori one day...
I really don't want to spoil too much, since a lot of the fun in reading Love Slave is in seeing where it'll go. (Although it was still really good when I re-read it. ^^)
In the beginning, Sawori seemed like she would be the heroic, Kaoru-esque prince(ss)-on-a-white-horse who sweeps Ureha off her feet and "initiates" her into self-awareness as a queer woman, but refreshingly, Sawori is painted in many shades of grey. (And the manga shows that Ureha was interested in women, albeit much more closeted, before Sawori. Points for that.) Even though I didn't like Sawori much during most of the story (especially in chapter 5...), she ultimately came across as a good person (or at least, not a bad person) who made some very, very stupid choices. None of the characters are sainted (including Ureha), and even the most horrific character has some multi-dimensionality.
Unlike most yuri manga, Love Slave isn't about the inception or growth of a relationship- it's about the growth of its protagonist. I hoped that Ureha would find somebody who she could be happy with, and she absolutely did- just not at all who I expected. :) The ending was extremely satisfying without feeling schmatlzy or mawkish. And that's all that I really wanted.
Art: B+ (I personally really like Onozucca's art style. It's a stylish, slightly loose josei look.)
A solid pick if you want something more mature than the norm.
Edit: Added a link to my review of Moonlight Flowers.