published by ALC Publishing; $15.95 US
Review by Ed Sizemore
Yuri Monogatari is a collection of lesbian (yuri in Japanese) themed short stories and book samples from artists across the globe. This means the book has a wide diversity of both art and storytelling styles.
Because of the variety found in the book, not all the stories appealed to me. I found the characters and situations in Jessie B’s story, Vagrants, too weird for me to connect with on any level. (Plus, I think eating copier toner would do more damage to a person than just hard to flush bowel movements.)
Love Won, by Sirk Tani, was too preachy and starry-eyed optimistic for my taste.
I liked the story Your Hair by Niki Smith. It’s a very poignant tale of someone realizing the person they love is slipping away. However, I didn’t like the art. Smith draws all these lines to indicate shadows and then either doesn’t shade the designated area or only tones 80% of the shadow area. I suggest dropping the shadow lines altogether since they only serve to clutter up the art.
I really enjoyed the opening story, Last Day, by Sakuraike Taki. It’s about two high school girls, Yuki and Hina. Yuki’s parents disapprove of their relationship and are forcing her to change schools in hopes she’ll cease to be a lesbian. The girls decide to commit suicide together, rather than be separated. They don’t have the nerve on their first try and instead spend one last lavish day together before their second, and hopefully successful, attempt. I won’t spoil the ending, but it has a nice surprise and gives a wonderful conclusion. The artwork is in the shojo style and is very well done.
My favorite story is On the Road Where the White Flowers Bloom by Sakuraike Kana. It’s a collection of four-panel comic strips told in first person by Kotomi Hei. Kotomi is a high school student that writes a self-published (doujinshi in Japanese) yuri manga. She is heterosexual and somewhat straight-laced. The artist for the doujinshi is a fellow high school student, Ritsuko Aizu. Ritsuko is a lesbian and a very easygoing person with a great sense of humor. The jokes center around the personality conflicts of the two manga authors and the incongruity of Kotomi writing a yuri manga. It’s a very funny comic strip, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The artwork is done is the style of a typical comedy manga and is also my favorite art of the collection. I hope there are more strips available and a full length book of the series can be published.
Overall, Yuri Monogatari does what any good anthology should. It gives a wide sample of the available works on a chosen theme. I enjoyed seeing the vast variety, even if I didn’t enjoy every story. This is an excellent starting point for experiencing yuri manga and lesbian comics.
ALC Publishing is on the web at www.yuricon.org/alc.html.