Sunday, September 4, 2011

Best vacation ever: Yukemuri Sanctuary

The hot spring. A time-honored setting known for facilitating high-minded literary storytelling and rich, subtle character development in manga, as in Love Hina and Tenchi Muyo. See, the naked women draped over each other on Yukemuri Sanctuary's cover denote how Amano Shuninta bares the essence of human nature and interpersonal relationships over the course of her gradually unfolding narrative. *fails to keep a straight face* It's a collection of one-shots about a bunch of women hooking up in a hot spring town. And it's fun.

While sneaking away from her unwanted job as a nakai at the Oniyuri ryoukan, Icchan runs into a regular customer named Yamamoto. Yamamoto, a journalist who reviews hot springs, fell in love with Oniyuri because of the nice onsen, delicious food, and gorgeous Okami-san. But now, she's even more interested in the new nakai.

Aoi runs the Higairi Open Air Hot Spring Tamaki with her grandma, but lately, the only visitors have been some local old people and a cat that likes to soak there. A beautiful new customer named Kiwa arrives in the hopes of working at the town's now-defunct strip club. Kiwa starts living and working with Aoi, and the hot spring's popularity shoots up for an unexpected reason.

Back at Oniyuri, Kumi unknowingly has sex with her favorite idol Marina-chan when she soaks in the bath to wind down from the Marina Fan Club Tour she's attending. (Really.) Marina assumes that Kumi knew who she was when they had sex and tells Kumi that she wants to see her again the next night in the open air bath. (Kumi's in for a bit of a shock.)

Yuho is a university student who's home on vacation. She's stuck taking care of the sex museum her family runs when she'd rather be at school with the girl she likes, Rikako. Yuho balks at seeing classy Rikako browsing the museum...with another woman. She dons a tengu mask to hide who she is at first, but works up the nerve to take it off and confess her feelings.

Wakaba and Tami's relationship of three years has lost its spark lately. Luckily, their company vacation is taking place at Oniyuri. (There must be something in that town's water.)

In the last two chapters, a sneering hotel owner threatens to buy up the hot spring town's property, DUN DUN DUN. Luckily, she and Oniyuri's Okami-san are exes, and she forgets the entire thing after they get back together. The town has a successful Oniyuri Festival and is left filled with happy lesbian couples. La la la ♪

I like Amano Shuninta's work. The first thing by her I read was her "Sweet Exercise" one-shot. She doesn't write (or aim for) terribly nuanced characterization, but her work is fun and goofy and favors adult characters who don't angst about their feelings for women. She seems to just enjoy drawing silly stories with cute endings about yuri couples, and that's what she serves up here. My biggest criticism is that her art in this collection is rough compared to her later work. (Although it's still weirdly kind of charming. I like how Shuninta draws SD faces.) Nevertheless, it's a solid pick for a mindless, yuri-packed read.

Story: Fun smut.
Art: C+
Overall: B

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