Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Anime and Manga With Monsters and Spookiness and Yuri

The title speaks for itself! I decided to review some titles that are spooky and/or feature monsters while having yuri, because I like horror and non-horror things that play off horror elements, and Halloween.

Devilman Lady (26 episodes):
Devilman Lady, released on Region 1 DVD as The Devil Lady, is very loosely adapted from a really awful manga series I never finished the first volume of by Go Nagai. I'm saying that as someone who enjoyed Nagai's Cutey Honey manga (reviewed here), which was fun-bad.

Anyway, the Devilman Lady anime is about Fudo Jun, a quiet fashion model who learns that the next step in human evolution is for some people to mutate into demon-like creatures called Devilbeasts. Jun is one of the few Devilbeasts who is able to retain human consciousness and return to a normal state. Under the eye of a government agent named Asuka, Jun transforms into a Devilbeast when needed to kill Devilbeasts that are too far gone, while trying to retain her own humanity. The biggest plus for this series is Jun, who is a great lead and grows a lot over the course of the story. The yuri comes in with Jun falling in love with another model named Kazumi, who loves her back, Asuka's not entirely benign interest in Jun, and a couple Devilbeast-of-the-week characters who are dysfunctionally interested in Jun. The romance between Jun and Kazumi is sweet, SPOILER but not immune to their being in a horror story. Jun survives, but Kazumi doesn't. END SPOILER 

Needless to say, this series fits this post. Some of its horror elements are campy, but a good amount are genuinely creepy, its ending has the bombast one would expect from a Nagai series (Jun faces off with another Devilbeast who wants to become God), and it's a really good series overall. This series fares better than most monster-of-the-week shows in terms of quality consistency, largely because it advances its plot and Jun's character development throughout. Also, I love its highly cinematic opening theme.

This series' DVDs are out of print, but the individual volumes are still easy to find at not-horrible to really cheap prices on Amazon.

Vampire Princess Miyu TV series episode 19, from R1 DVD volume 6 (26 episodes total):
Vampire Princess Miyu, in its manga and anime incarnations, is about a vampire named Miyu who vanquishes other demons, called Shinma, who stray into the human world. The Miyu OVA focuses on Miyu's relationship with a psychic who tracks her as she wanders Japan hunting Shinma. But in the Miyu TV series, as in the manga, Miyu lives in one place, attending a junior high school. Physically, she's fourteen. The story mostly follows a Shinma-of-the-week format, and there are several recurring characters besides Miyu- Miyu's school friends, a Western Shinma named Larva who acts as Miyu's right hand man, and a snow woman named Reiha who doesn't think Miyu is fit to hunt Shinma and has no compunction about killing innocent people in the process of hunting them.

In episode 19, Miyu's classmates bring her to an exhibition showcasing dolls by Kasumi, a famous dollmaker. The focus shifts to Kasumi, who hires a maid named Yuki.

Kasumi is in love with one of her dolls, and starts getting touchy about Yuki being around that doll. Yuki becomes obsessed with the doll also. Their obsession is caused by the doll being a Shinma. Needless to say Miyu vanquishes him, and Yuki and Kasumi happily wind up a couple, with Yuki now making dolls. And Miyu, being Miyu, is like, "Feh, humans and their weak emotions like love."

Yuki and Kasumi get a remarkably happy ending for this series. lol More typically, Miyu's Shinma-vanquishing results in the people she saves not being much or any better off than they would be if left to the Shinma. In several episodes, Miyu puts someone she saved into an eternal sleep while drinking their blood, causing them to dream of the life they want rather than mourn who or what they lost. (In one case, Miyu decides against the eternal sleep to let someone she saved grieve normally, though.) Some of the people she helps die or are unable to reverse the effects of their encounters with Shinma.

Like Devilman Lady, Miyu is a 90's series that looks good for its time. Not as good-looking as the Miyu OVA, but that's to be expected given their formats and when they were made. (I say when they were made because noticeable differences between TV and OVA art and animation quality aren't really a thing anymore.) Unlike the Miyu OVA, the Miyu TV series has some campiness, mostly thanks to some of the Shinma character designs. The Shinma-of-the-week episodes vary in quality, but that's to be expected also, and it's an entertaining series with a good amount of creepiness overall. If you like Hell Girl's storytelling format and old Japanese horror influences, you'll probably like Miyu as its forebear.

I am also a fan of Miyu's opening theme, which is very classic Japanese horror and recaps the gist of this series for any viewers trying it beyond episode 1.

The Miyu OVA and TV series are both out of print, but can easily be found at good prices on Amazon.

Ariyoshi Kyouko's "Bruges" one-shot in her Bruges collection:
"Bruges" is one of my favorite one-shots- technically a prequel to Ariyoshi Kyouko, the creator's of Swan's, excellent classic six volume yuri series Applause. "Bruges" shows us how Applause's leads, Shara and Shunack, started to have feelings for each other at their school's annual spring break get together, where they participated in a murder mystery game meant to solve the death of a real student named Sheryl that happened fifteen years prior.

This story manages to be effectively romantic, creepy, and sad (they do find out what happened to Sheryl, whose spirit plays a role)- in short, it juggles its very different goals well. I like the old school shoujo-ness of it, also. I originally reviewed Bruges here.

Bruges and Applause are both unlicensed and will probably get licensed when hell freezes over. You can buy them in the form of their Japanese releases, though. To search for Applause's volumes, which are easiest to find in their four volume re-print- say on Amazon JP, Honto, or YesAsia- you'll want to search for アプローズ―喝采. For the Bruges collection, you should search for ブルージュ―アプローズ

Franken Fran chapter 22, tankoubon 3, by Katsuhisa Kigitsu (8 volumes total):
Franken Fran is the only not-horrible thing to have run in Champion Red, the magazine best known for Seikon no Qwaser. Its covers make it look like hentai, but it is a horror series. Franken Fran is what would happen if Dr. Frankenstein's monster were a teenaged girl named Fran- a doctor herself who earnestly tries to help people with their medical problems in present day Japan. Emphasis on "tries" because she competently does what people ask her to do, but the results embody the phrase "be careful what you wish for." I never finished this series. Franken Fran's author's effective use of black comedy and creative uses of this series' formula kept it entertaining for a few volumes, but the repetition of that formula eventually wore on me and I dropped it.

I think Franken Fran is worth trying if you're a manga fan who likes horror and doesn't mind gore. For the purposes of this list, chapter 22 of this series features a yuri twist on one of Fran's medical cases. It isn't really happy- or worth reading for the yuri- but its outcome is more earnest and less bleakly ironic than usual for this series.

This series is unlicensed. You can buy its Japanese release by searching フランケン・ふらん

Natsuneko's "Nightmare Syndrome" one-shot, which was published in the March 2008 issue of Comic Yuri Hime:
Less horror than action, about a young woman named Elysia who has spent months in the castle of a vampire named Vega, trying to avenge her father's death. Elysia is mad at herself for being attracted to Vega, who never makes any move to harm her and provides her with meals and access to whatever she needs in the castle. Vega loves Elysia herself. Elysia learns from a vampire hunter that her father wasn't the innocent victim she thought he was and saves Vega, allowing them to be together.

Natsuneko, the author of one of my favorite Yuri Hime collections, Butterfly 69 (reviewed here), sadly stopped drawing manga (no idea why) before producing a second full tankoubon's worth of stories, so the only way to own this is to track down the issue of Yuri Hime that published it, pictured above. It's fun, though, and worth reading for a light, stylishly drawn vampire story.

If you decide to track down this issue of Yuri Hime, search コミック百合姫 2008年 03月号 on Amazon JP, where you can find it used on the Marketplace. You might also find this issue as part of a bundle of Yuri Hime issues by searching コミック百合姫 on Yahoo Japan Auctions. Either way, if you live outside Japan, you'll need a proxy. Rinkya is one I have used satisfactorily.

Tokimeki Mononoke Jogakuen by Nangoku Banana (2 volumes):
A weird and sweet comedy that ran in Yuri Hime, about a high school girl named Arare who accidentally winds up in the youkai world and passes as a youkai at an all-girls' school there. Naturally she falls in love with a youkai, Kiri- one of the two students who learns she's a human almost immediately. Because of a dumb plot point, Arare and Kiri don't think they can be together, but things turn out happily. This series is packed with all manner of Japanese monsters and gags based on their characteristics, so it definitely belongs on this list. My reviews of this series' individual volumes can be found here and here.

This series is unlicensed, so the only way to buy it is by getting the original Japanese release. To find this series, you should search for ときめき☆もののけ女学園

Tanaka Minoru's "Vampire Girl" one-shot, which was published in the May 2011 issue of Comic Yuri Hime:
"Vampire Girl" is unusual nowadays because it portrays vampires more as monsters than love interests or sex objects, which I like. They still get some humanity, but don't lose their edge of real danger and animalism. "Vampire Girl" is about Manami, a high school girl who loves reading about spooky things like vampires. A beautiful woman named Shishido-sensei becomes a substitute teacher for Manami's class. Manami becomes enthralled with Shishido-sensei, who teases her about her fascination with vampires, joking about being one herself. I don't want to spoil the ending for this story, but it remains more horror than romance, while still being bittersweet. Recommended if you want a vampire yuri story that is unsettling.

Tanaka Minoru is currently serializing Rock It Girl!!, which I've bought the first tankoubon of, and has released another Yuri Hime collection, Mette Sarete Kya, which I don't have. This one-shot wasn't published in Mette Sarete Kya, but I expect it to appear in a tankoubon at some point since Tanaka is still with Yuri Hime. If you want to track down this issue of Yuri Hime, search コミック百合姫 2011年 05月号 on Amazon JP, where you can find it used and "collectible" on the Marketplace. And of course, you can find it as part of a Yuri Hime bundle on Yahoo Japan Auctions.

And, that's it!


SparkNorkx said...

Nice reviews! I'll probably go check out the two anime.

Katherine Hanson said...

@SparkNorx- Thanks! =) I hope you enjoy them!

Jolly Jumper said...

Thanks! Today I feel like watching some anime. :D

Katherine Hanson said...

@Jolly Jumper- You're welcome!

Overlord-G said...

Devil Lady is a classic. I still have to pick up Miyu sometime.

Mononoke Academy is a personal fav. I'll check out the one with the mummy girl sometime as well.

Foxy Lady Ayame said...

I've watched Devilman Lady mainly to please my partner who loves Go Nagai, but yes, I got so very sad that Kasumi and Jun had that kind of fate.

Mononoke Academy is one of my very fav yuri with what I find to be good humor and fanservice.

I'm watching Miyu this period and I'm glad that there's at least one yuri couple with happy ending. I got spoilered about Chisato and I'm so disappointed that her and Miyu won't happen :( I like them lots!