Friday, August 19, 2011

Iono-sama Fanatics volumes 1 & 2

Fujieda himself notes that Iono-sama Fanatics isn't a love story between two women as much as a yuri-flavored comedy- and it works, even if I do like his straight-up love stories more.

Hachibe Eto is a normal office worker who whiles away her days at her normal office job. Iono is the eccentric queen of a small, obscure country, who has come to Japan to pick up women for her country-sized harem of sobame. ("Sobame" can mean "ladies-in-waiting" or "concubines.") I say "country-sized" because the only people from Iono's country shown or referenced are her hordes of fangirling sobame.

Iono fixates on Eto as soon as she sees her, and a reluctant Eto eventually becomes thoroughly charmed and joins. Accompanying Iono in Japan are: her lovestruck childhood friend Cass, who tries to thwart Iono's attempts to woo more sobame; her beautician Aida, who acts as a mellow foil to Cass and has a girlfriend of her own; Frechet (I'm sticking with that spelling over Infinity Studios' "Fletch", which sounds like a disease), Iono's cool gun-totting bodyguard; and Frechet's sword-wielding daughter Ar, who also protects Iono. Eto's biggest worry is that she doesn't have any noteworthy skills (at least, compared to the other sobame), but Iono's just happy spending time with her.

Towards the end of the first volume, Iono holds a competition to pick one more sobame. The winner is Tagoto, who competed under the assumption that "sobame" means "soba chef." Tagoto and Frechet become an adorable, drama-free couple for the rest of the series.

In volume 2, Iono asks Eto if she'll come back with her to her home country and before Eto can give a definite answer, she gets kidnapped by an assassin (seen in volume 1 as a sobame contestant) who was sent by another country's princess who thought she was jilted by Iono. Of course, Iono and her group save Eto, the bad guys aren't really bad, and everything resolves with a fun, slightly "wtf"-inducing epilogue.

Again, this isn't Fujieda's best...but it's consistently funny and well-written, has a lot of slick action scenes, doesn't have any cringe-making service, has a cast of characters who are completely matter-of-fact and comfortable with their sexual orientation, and isn't girls' school series #38489890. I would have liked the ending more if Iono had given up looking for sobame after marrying Eto, but this series is too goofy and tongue-in-cheek to really be taken seriously. Iono's a fun, funny choice for something different from the norm within the yuri genre.

Story: B
Art: B+
Overall: B+

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