By miman. Released in Japan by Ichijinsha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Comic Yuri Hime. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics. Translated by Diana Taylor.
Fandom has had years of trying to get vaguely yuri things into anime and manga, from the days of Battle Athletes and (apropos for this review) Maria-sama Ga Miteru to more modern times. And this title really gives me the feeling that they’ve won, as we’re now seeing the concept of Yuri not as a genre but as an industry. If you’re good at doting on a “younger sister”, and can Gokigenyou with the best of them, for God’s sake, why not monetize it? That’s the premise we see here, as Hime, a high school girl who keeps up a “perfect princess” facade at school, accidentally runs into a young woman at the train station. One feigned broken wrist later and Hime finds herself having to work at a cafe to make up for causing it… a cafe based around the idea of “pure young maidens” taking orders and flirting with each other. The clientele seems to be mostly male, which doesn’t surprise me. Fortunately, the cafe is not as interesting as Hime and her “oneesama”, who get off to a rough start working together.
I thought Hime’s character was very well handled. She’s putting on the “little miss princess” act supposedly so she can marry rich, but this is played for laughs, and you never get the sense that she’s being mean about it. Plus the act slips constantly, especially when she’s out of school and in a situation she’s not used to – like, say, working at a cafe. Her co-worker Mitsuki plays the “Sachiko” to Hime’s “Yumi” at the cafe, but seems to have it in for Hime, particularly her attempts to act cute – or, one argues, not be herself. It feels like a bit more than simply a bad first impressions, and the cliffhanger ending to the first volume confirms that there’s actually more going on in their pasts than Hime may realize – it’s the sort of ending that makes you want to go back and reread things.
The rest of the book is all right, though I will admit that it reads a bit like a slow starter at first – not uncommon with stories from this magazine. I am somewhat wary of Hime’s classmate Kanoko, a shy bespectacled girl who clearly has a massive crush on Hime and I suspect is really not going to be happy with the direction this series is clearly going. Honestly, Kanako’s character feels too serious for this light-hearted story. The other characters – manipulative manager Mai and her “Gal” assistant – work better, getting Hime to do whatever they want but not actually being too unlikable because of it. The second volume will presumably involve Hime and Mitsuki resolving their differences, and honestly I would not be surprised if the series was only two volumes long, but apparently it’s still ongoing in Japan, so we shall see how long it can drag out the yuri cafe premise. Still, a pretty good start.