Friday, July 8, 2011

Renai Idenshii XX volume 1 + Drama CD and Parody Manga

The cover for the version that comes with the drama CD.
The cover for the version that comes with a booklet containing a yaoi (i.e. the characters are all guys in it) parody of the story.
And the cover for the normal edition. (I like the second cover best.)

I love Zaou Taishi and Eiki Eiki's Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu, even though its first two chapters aren't very good. I'm not in love with Renai Idenshii XX, but it's entertaining for something different (i.e. sci-fi themed) running in Yuri Hime.

The story takes place in 2160, 38 years after an incurable pandemic has finished wiping out the male population by making the Y chromosome K.O. The population continues to replenish itself via artificial insemination, which raises the question of how the hell they can make that work over the long term. (The sperm supply has to run out eventually.)

The women who came into power following the pandemic created the Eden Project, in which the population is divided into Adams (who perform tasks traditionally given to men, like having power and jobs) and Eves (raised to be traditionally feminine, by staying home and looking pretty). Adams and Eves must pair up and form families. Relationships between Adams and between Eves are forbidden. Even though it's a really bleak set-up (as the protagonist points out), there's enough humor to keep the story from feeling bogged down, thankfully.

Koshiro Aoi is an Adam transferring to a prestigious, government-run school for Adams, where she meets Kokonoe Sakura (my favorite), an Adam who's an Etoile (a member of the highest class in society) and a Top Star (one of the top five highest academically-ranked students in the academy). Refreshingly, Sakura isn't the lofty Onee-sama or Prince type. She's an easygoing, slightly goofy foil to the hyper-serious Aoi.

Aoi decides to become a Top Star so she can get guaranteed access to to the highest stratum of society and destroy the Eden Project from within. A classmate who figures out Aoi's plan after looking into her background (Aoi's mother's life was ruined by the Eden Project because she fell in love with another Eve), tells Aoi that she can't do it alone and needs to gather allies. By the end of this volume, Aoi is a Top Star, and she and Sakura are best friends. (And Aoi is in love with Sakura, even though she doesn't realize it yet.) Sakura's snooty fiancee, who is suspicious of Aoi from the beginning, also develops a grudge against her.

Most of this volume feels like the equivalent of a runner stretching before a race, just starting to take off by the end of the volume. I'm interested in seeing how it all turns out. If you question the premise at all, it begins to unravel (and a yuri story set in a single-sex world in which the characters can't have anything other than same-sex relationships, no matter how good, will never be completely satisfying for me), but if you just take it as a speculative fiction romp by two mangaka who specialize in gender-bending (and throw out some nice shout-outs: "Top Star", the class sections at Aoi and Sakura's school being named after Takarazuka troupes, the Adams wearing old-fashioned French military-style uniforms and fencing each other, and Sakura owning a pet cat named Oscar), it's fun.

There's also a short bonus chapter that's stupid and lowbrow (hint: Zaou Taishi gets to indulge her love of drawing boobs), but still funny. (Poor Aoi. ^_^;)

The drama CD is, like the Girl Friends CD, an abridged version of the first volume of the story, with the yuri bumped up a bit. The seiyuu did a good job, but I thought Taketatsu Ayana was miscast as Aoi. (Aoi sounds completely different in my head.) The last 11 minutes feature the seiyuu answering questions like, "What would you do if there were no men left in the world?"

In the sixteen page yaoi parody booklet that comes with the other special edition, male Aoi arrives at the academy, picks a fight with a classmate (because said classmate grabbed his butt, instead of insulting Aoi's dead mother's kendo sword like in the story proper), and some creeps try to gang rape him, but male Sakura saves him and they have sex.

Story: B-
Art: A- (I love Zaou Taishi's art style.)
Overall: B-

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