After Hours Volume 1
Viz jumps into the yuri genre with this atmospheric but lightweight (so far) story of two women bonding over DJing. (Yuri is girl-girl romance, usually, in the titles we’ve seen over here, without the explicit sex scenes common to yaoi.)
After Hours by Yuhta Nishio begins with Emi trying to meet a friend at a club who’s more interested in finding a guy. She’s not enjoying the noise or the people, and when she gets creeped on, she’s rescued by Kei.
The two women go back to Kei’s place to drink and talk, where Emi is mesmerized by Kei’s wall of records. Kei is very into experience and instinct, suggesting Emi pick a record by “Intuition! Feel it! The spirit of the music!” Emi ends up spending the night, kissing Kei, and … fade to white.
I wanted to know more about Kei and Emi, but this isn’t a manga for substantial characterization. They’re not people, but more symbols of types of personalities and desires. Although supposed to be in their 20s (with Kei six years older), the women look like teenagers, which didn’t help. (The artist apparently doesn’t believe in noses, which makes everyone look young.) All the decisions happen quickly, falling into place without much thought. It seems that Emi practically moves in immediately, and Kei has her VJing almost as quickly.
I can guess that Emi is attracted to Kei’s spontaneity and creative lifestyle, but I was never sure what Kei saw in Emi, unless it’s the appeal of seducing someone who may have just had her first lesbian encounter. (It’s unclear what her history is, although her wide-eyed naivete makes me think of her as unexperienced, but there’s some foreshadowing later on that she has some ties.) The author is male, and I found myself wondering if he was writing the kinds of girls he wanted to meet. This series might have been something very different with a female author.
After Hours is not the manga for someone who wants a clear storyline or crisp incidents. Instead, its appeal is in the mood it creates. It’s a book that demands you experience it instead of thinking about it. (The publisher provided a review copy.)