Thursday, September 8, 2011
I'll admit that I have a soft spot for stories that put a fresh (particularly feminist or lesbian) spin on old fairytale tropes. (One of my favorite books as a kid was Ella Enchanted- hate the movie, though- and I've enjoyed Wicked- the novel and musical versions-, The Mists of Avalon, Ash, etc. Of course, I can't not mention Utena. And the much more obscure, but excellent, yuri romance Himitsu no Hanazono. I've also recently started reading Kaguyahime, a deliciously weird, violent take on The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter that ran in Hana to Yume, and it's pretty interesting. *cough* Anyway....) MikoMajyo isn't modeled on any one particular story, but it is a wonderful, yuri-riffic take on the old "princess locked away in solitude, waiting for a prince to save her"-type story. (This isn't fully apparent until chapter 5, however.)
Letty is a German witch traveling through Japan to visit old temples and shrines. One shrine has a spiritual barrier blocking entry, but she easily whisks it aside and...runs into the shrine's only miko, Tsumugi. Rather than shoo Letty out, Tsumugi jumps with delight at meeting another person. Her family left her at the shrine sixteen years ago, ostensibly because she had to stay there as a sort of spiritual guardian for the country. The shrine's barrier not only keeps people who aren't related to Tsumugi out, it keeps her in. Letty breaks the barrier, and Tsumugi happily goes with her to explore the outside world. (To make sure they can find each other if they're separated, Letty ties a red thread that only she and Tsumugi can see to their little fingers. Tsumugi is all too happy to explain what the red thread symbolizes in Japan.)
Tsumugi and Letty visit the AQ boutique and the Ameiro Kouchakan (series by series, cross over by cross over, Fujieda seems to be slowly constructing an all-lesbian town), and eventually realize that their sightseeing has turned into a date. When Tsumugi falls seriously ill, Isuzu, the bodyguard Tsumugi's family had assigned to watch over her at the shrine, shows up. She explains that Tsumugi was really kept at the shrine because, even for a member of her family, she is exceptionally spiritually pure and needs to live in the sacred atmosphere of the shrine to survive.
Of course, Letty flies to the shrine and summons the shrine's god to ask how Tsumugi can manage to live in the outside world. Confusingly for Letty, the god has taken Tsumugi's form to communicate. Since the god has come to love Tsumugi like a daughter, she's willing to let her go free and be with Letty. The god's solution is to put a portion of her spirit in Letty, so Tsumugi will be fine as long as she's near Letty. This causes the red thread to break, making Tsumugi think Letty's dead- but no, Letty soon shows up and fixes the thread, and it's Happily-Ever After. ^___^ (Even though it seems that poor Isuzu was herself in love with Tsumugi, the michievous, utterly un-Tsumugi-like shrine god, who has decided to remain in her Tsumugi-like human form, has taken a shine to her. ^_^)
Super cute, tooth-achingly sweet, and full of canon yuri goodness, with a plot that doesn't sound like a dozen other titles. A must-read if you like Happily-Ever-Afters and cute yuri couples as much as I do.
Another point in MikoMajyo's favor for anyone familiar with the cross over-heavy drama CDs: Noto Mamiko as Tsumugi and Nabatame Hitomi as Letty. I especially love Noto Mamiko's voice, and it's doubly nice to hear her and Nabatame whispering sweet nothings to each other as a yuri couple.