There have been relatively few mature, adult-oriented yuri manga licensed in English. One of the best, or at least one of my favorites, is Torajiro Kishi’s Maka-Maka: Sex, Life, and Communication. It’s a short series consisting of only two slim volumes, both of which are unfortunately very out of print. The first volume of Maka-Maka was released in English in 2008 by Kitty Media, the adult and mature content imprint of Media Blasters. Maka-Maka was also released in French as well as in German. The first volume of Maka-Maka was originally published in Japan in 2003. The English edition of Maka-Maka closely emulates the Japanese release. The cover of Kitty Media’s English-language release declares Maka-Maka to be a groundbreaking, critically acclaimed work. I can’t really comment on that, but I do know that the series was generally well-received when first released in English. One of the things that makes Maka-Maka particularly stand out is that Kishi’s artwork is completely in color. In fact, if I recall correctly, Maka-Maka was the first full-color manga that I ever came across.
Jun and Nene are exceptionally close. The two young women attend the same art college–Jun studies graphic arts while Nene pursues fashion design–and they share similar interests as well. When the two of them aren’t working on assignments for class they enjoy spending time together. They both have boyfriends (Jun actually has three), but their most satisfying relationship sexually and romantically is the one that they share with each other. Nene and Jun are friends with benefits, but they are also best friends. They care immensely about each other, support each other, and simply enjoy being together. They relax and have fun, complain about schoolwork and their boyfriends, and are generally just there for each other. Which isn’t to say that they don’t have their disagreements and arguments. Occasionally teasing goes a little too far and feelings get hurt, but in the end both Nene and Jun love each other. Their relationship is one of the most important things in their lives and it is something that neither of them wants to give up.
As previously mentioned, one of the things that sets Maka-Maka apart from many other manga is Kishi’s color artwork, which is excellent. The highlighting does sometimes make it appear as though Jun and Nene have a shiny, plastic-like sheen to their bodies, but otherwise the artwork is quite nice. The shading, textures, and skin tones are particularly lovely and realistic. They also change depending on a chapter’s setting or the lighting of the environment. Whether it’s harsh fluorescent indoor lights, the brilliant noonday sun, cool moonlight, or a warm sunset, Kishi adapts the color palette in Maka-Maka to fit the various moods and scenes. Kishi’s figure work is also very strong. Though somewhat idealized and flawless, Jun and Nene’s appearances aren’t especially exaggerated or unnatural. They are obviously adult women and they have curves. The two of them are almost constantly smiling, too. Their likeable personalities shine through their facial expressions and body language as they enjoy each other’s company.
Maka-Maka is unquestionably an erotic manga and Sex, Life, and Communication is an extremely apt subtitle. Sex, kissing, cuddling, groping, and fondling make up a large portion of the manga. Physical intimacy is one of the ways that Jun and Nene communicate with each other and show their love and affection. The sex between Nene and Jun in Maka-Maka is joyful and includes plenty of laughter. Their close, intimate relationship, of which sex is only one part, simply makes me happy. In comparison, their sexual encounters with men in the manga, at least those that are shown, are much more awkward and can even be unpleasant. Jun and Nene are happiest when they are together. Maka-Maka doesn’t have much of an ongoing story. Instead, the short chapters, each only seven pages long, allow readers brief glimpses into the everyday lives of the two young women and their close, personal relationship. Some of the content in Maka-Maka may be explicit and mature, but the manga is just as much about these wonderful, believable characters as it is about the sex.