published by ALC Publishing; $15.95 US
Review by Ed Sizemore
I’ve reviewed the previous volume of this anthology series that focuses on stories involving lesbians. Perhaps the greatest strength of this volume is how normal it portrays lesbian relationships. These same stories could have easily been about heterosexual couples. It’s this normalcy that makes it easy for terminally straight people like myself to connect with the characters here.
“Make a Style” by Grass and Nishi Uko is the typical story of co-workers, who happen to be teachers, trying to have a relationship without anyone in the office catching on. It’s a decent story. The line work in the art is good, but the tone work is flat. There needs to be more use of fading in the tones.
“40 Minutes” by Maria Bieganska is a poetic story that’s a twist on the Orpheus myth. It was a little too esoteric for me, and it took me a couple of reads to figure out what was going on. The art is good, but not memorable.
“Sakura Gun (London)” by J.D. Glass was horrible. The art was atrocious. The story was confusing. You’re dropped into the middle of events that require a lot of background to figure out. Of the who, what, why, and where, I only knew the where, and that’s only because it’s in the title. If you haven’t read Glass’ novel American Goth, then avoid this story. It was my least favorite in the book.
“How to Tell the Difference” written by Erica Friedman, with art by Mike Hayes, is a four-panel comic strip illustrating the difference between lesbians in fiction and real life. The art is acceptable. The writing is funny and insightful. I think you could do a whole book of these yuri vs. reality strips. The companion book would be yaoi vs. reality.
“Cause x Play” by Hope Donovan is about two cosplayers who fall for each other. The story starts out well, but there is too much loaded into the last pages. The story needed to be a bit longer so there was room for all the final revelations. The art is decent. The figures were a little stiff. The tone work was flat.
“Miho-chan’s Memories (Part 1)” by Rica Takashima is the tale of being a tomboy in a culture with very rigid gender roles. Miho-chan’s parents and friends are very supportive of her nonconformist ways, which I imagine would be unusual for most girls in the same situation. The art is in a simplified style, but well done. The art really highlights the youth of the characters.
“Jaded” by Cheryl Ingro & SirKozz is about a gangster and her girlfriend. I’m not really a fan of gangster stories, so this didn’t move me. The art is little rough. The line work could be a bit smoother.
“For the Girl Who Has Everything” by Althea Keaton is a story showing how a couple meet, fall in love, and get engaged. I don’t like punk/hardcore fashions, so I was prejudiced against the story going in. However, it’s a strong story that overcame my aesthetic reservations. The art is rough, but that fits perfectly with the lifestyle and look of the characters. It’s a tie for my favorite story of the book.
“Sinful” by Houjou Koz is the story of a songwriter whose music is part of a teen’s own awakening sexual awareness. It’s well told and has good solid art.
“(Un)Invited Guests” by Jessie B is the story of a raucous birthday party and a reluctant birthday girl. It’s a fun story with lots of manic energy. The art is unpolished, but it’s perfect for the story. This is tied with Althea Keaton’s story for being my favorite.
“Simple” by Sophia Kudo is the story of two teen friends. One teen discovers a hidden ability. It’s a good opening chapter for a longer work. I would like to see Kudo develop this story and these characters further. The art is well done.
“Speak Love” by Greyscaled is about a couple going through a dry patch in their relationship. This should have been my favorite story. The art is gorgeous. The story is excellent. However, there is a HUGE conflict of interest problem in the third act that the ending can’t justify. This ruined the story for me.
“The 30th Christmas” by Eriko Tadeno is a new take on O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi”. It’s a good story with good art, perhaps a little too short.
Yuri Monogatari is the perfect anthology. It provides a diverse sample of writers and artists, and that’s what I look for in an anthology. I might not have enjoyed every story, but I got the opportunity to be exposed to works I normally wouldn’t come across on my own. I continue to recommend this book, and this series, to anyone looking to get a feel for the lesbian comics from across the globe.
You can find out more about the Yuri Monogatari series and ALC Publishing at the publisher’s website. (A promotional copy was provided by the publisher for this review.)