Yukarism Volumes 2-3
Now that the premise has been established — young writer Yukari flips back and forth between now and the Edo Period, when he was a high-class courtesan — we can get down to the mystery of figuring out who else among Yukari’s new acquaintances are also reincarnated with him.
There’s Mahoro, a shy classmate and fan of Yukari’s novels, and Satomi, nephew of Yukari’s housekeeper. He’s come to take his aunt’s place taking care of Yukari while she recovers from an injury. In the past, Yumurasaki is watched over by Kazuma, her bodyguard, and the witch doctor Takamura is a frequent client. In either period, the two don’t get along. Since we already know, with Yukari, that reincarnations can switch genders, we’re not sure who becomes whom.
Author Chika Shiomi does a good job of dragging out the suspense in Yukarism volume 2. Yukari wonders who killed him in his past life as an oiran, but whenever he has one of his flashbacks, he’s more interested in exploring the time period and setting, so it’s not a driving factor.
The appeal in the modern-day scenes is the emotionalism, as the two supporting characters fight over whose care of Yukari is purer. He needs someone to look after him, as he tends to frequently black out when he’s back in the past. Meanwhile, Mahoro thinks she’s falling in love with him, when she’s not being taken over by another personality.
This is pure escapism with a ridiculous premise but attractive images, particularly detailed in the dress of the courtesan. There’s a lot of spiritualism and portent, making everything seem more important, and magic spells and curses are assumed to be real. The witch doctor gives Yukari, as Yumurasaki, an important clue when he says:
Upon reincarnating, everyone forgets their past… but some sentiments remain engraved on the soul. Appearance and behavior may change… but the soul’s way of life changes little. You like the same things… and think and walk the same… to a surprising degree.
This, to me, is confusing, since I thought the point of reincarnation was to learn to be better, not the same. But then, it wouldn’t be as simple to project one set of characters onto another. The life of a courtesan in the pleasure district isn’t easy, we’re reminded, as someone tries to kill her while they talk of other women dying early from not taking care of themselves. Sometimes death is a release from pain.
Volume 3 unnecessarily complicates things with more backstory. The bodyguard Kazuma turns out to have had a younger sister who was sold to a brothel, explaining how deeply he cares for his charge now. Yukari discovers that he’s having such a hard time matching up the characters because he doesn’t know enough about them, so he starts trying to pay more attention to others.
I added it into this review because there’s not much to say about it individually. It feels like marking time until we get to the cliffhanger ending, with revelations that were already obvious. It’s enjoyable to read as part of the series, but not very remarkable as its own volume.