Arpeggio of Blue Steel, Vol. 8 | By Ark Performance | Seven Seas – Last time I asked if Yamato would get involved, and sure enough that’s what happens here, as we get several new revelations that answer many questions we’ve had since the first volume. Some are less surprising than others (Amana Kotono’s identity has been something I’ve expected for ages). There’s also some lovely heartwarming stuff here between Haruna and Makie, both of whom are desperate to see the other happy even if it means sacrificing everything. Luckily, it all works out, at least for now. As we get further into the series, the mystery behind these “mental models”—i.e., why the battleships are cute girls—deepens and deepens. That said, I’ll betcha next time we get more sea battles. – Sean Gaffney
Complex Age, Vol. 2 | By Yui Sakuma | Kodansha Comics – Many years ago, I wrote fanfiction under my own name, because I was young and stupid. One of my worst nightmares is that my workplace finds some of the stuff I wrote, which was also young and stupid. As such, I identified a bit too much with Hayama, who Nagisa found was also a secret cosplayer, but who is discovered at work and, while not fired, is basically embarrassed to the point that she quits. It’s depressing and highly realistic. As for Nagisa, she’s having more trouble at home, where her mother is furious that she’s still doing this at her age—mostly as her mother seemed to do the same thing back in the day and has lingering regrets. This series is well-written and intensely painful at the same time. – Sean Gaffney
Everyone’s Getting Married, Vol. 2 | By Izumi Miyazono | Viz Media – After a first volume where the issue was the differing relationship goals of the lead couple, this second volume’s plot is more prosaic, although equally relatable—how to find time to do couple things when you’re in a state of constant busyness. This is something especially prevalent in the entertainment industry, as Ryu finds himself taking on more and more work and having less and less time for Asuka. Luckily, they finally manage to get together by the end of this book. As for Asuka, she’s stopped worrying so much about marrying Ryu and has started to accept their relationship as it is, though has been told to think about why he’s so adamant. A nicely mature romance, in the best sense of the word. – Sean Gaffney
Everyone’s Getting Married, Vol. 2 | By Izumi Miyazono | VIZ Media – Asuka Takanashi, a successful career woman who really wants to get married, and Ryu Nanami, a popular newscaster who’d rather die than tie the knot, have fallen in love and started a relationship. We soon learn that Asuka believes she is going to be able to persuade Nanami to see things her way. How I wish the story would not end with her succeeding, but I suspect that it will. For now, we get a bunch of interrupted sexy times, busy schedules leading to canceled dates and hurt feelings, a tiny glimpse of Asuka being competent at work and a whole chapter on Nanami doing the same, and, finally, consummation of their relationship. I might sound critical, but I really do enjoy this series. – Michelle Smith
Idol Dreams, Vol. 3 | By Arina Tanemura | VIZ Media – When Idol Dreams revolves around adult Chikage, it can be almost interesting. For the first half of this volume, we focus on her attempts to get some kind of relationship going with Haru and she finally is able to confess that she has loved him all this time. Only, Haru has noticed how Chikage lights up when she talks about Tokita, and how the latter looks at her, and concludes that Chikage actually has no idea what love really is. As he backs off, Chikage takes her pills and transforms into Akari, whereupon two different guys (these being teenagers) are competing for her affections. This mousy dingbat has four love interests?! Anyway, she decides the best way to learn about relationships is to start dating a fifteen-year-old she doesn’t love, because that couldn’t possibly screw him up or anything. Still frustrating and creepy. – Michelle Smith
Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, Vol. 25 | By Karuho Shiina | VIZ Media – Much like Skip Beat!, Kimi ni Todoke is another long-running shoujo title that is just consistently good. I love everything to do with Chizu and Ryu here, and when she finally decides to support his baseball dreams (even if it means him leaving her behind for a few years) and begins to cheer at his game and pray for victory, I got all verklempt. And then the sweet scene between them afterwards made me full on bawl. You did it again, Shiina-sensei. As if this volume weren’t good enough, it ends with a pretty powerful fight between Sawako and Kazehara. We’ve never seen her be so honest and straightforward about her feelings and complaints, and it’s pretty exhilarating to feel, even if briefly, that their relationship might really be in jeopardy. It’ll be a long wait for the next volume. – Michelle Smith
NTR: Netsuzou Trap, Vol. 1 | By Kodama Naoko | Seven Seas – Let’s face it, most yuri titles out there are not meant to appeal to lesbians, or even to women at all. They are there for young men (or, if we’re being honest, older boys) who think that girl-on-girl is hot. Netsuzou Trap is definitely for the latter—the prefix, NTR, is the Japanese abbreviation for “cheating,” and tends to be used to humiliate or shame the woman. And that is, to a degree, what happens here, as a girl is trying to go further with her boyfriend but keeps getting interrupted by her best friend, who is apparently trying to both help and seduce her. The melodrama is obvious, the yuri is non-consensual for the most part, and I can’t recommend this to anyone but 18-21 year old guys. – Sean Gaffney
Nichijou: My Ordinary Life, Vol. 4 | By Keiichi Arawi | Vertical Comics – First of all, it has to be said: my favorite character is barely in this, as Mai gets only one panel in the entire volume. (It does show her trolling, if that helps.) Instead, we have three types of storylines here: Yukko and Mio being silly and hyperactive, Nano and the Professor being cute and immature, and the rest of the cast, which expands to include a young teacher who has an obsession with finding out how Nano ticks, but also has the worst luck in the world. (She’s female, by the way—the artist has drawn her very androgynously). Even without Mai, though, Nichijou has it where it counts—the humor is still excellent, and the plots are still weird, as the author starts to use repeated gags to great effect. Tremendous fun. – Sean Gaffney
Nichijou: My Ordinary Life, Vol. 4 | By Keiichi Arawi | Vertical Comics – Last time I wrote that I was having doubts about Nichijou, and would give it one more try. I’m glad I did, because there was a lot to like this time around. My favorite parts involved Sakamoto, the talking cat who lives with Nano and the professor, especially his adorable proficiency at karuta. There were a few other amusing visual gags, flights of fancy, and funny punchlines, along with not-so-amusing gags, punchlines, etc. Still, it all balanced out into something enjoyable. I still loathe the professor, which I feel weird saying since she’s a little kid, but since all of her scenes this time involved Sakamoto, it was okay. More Sakamoto! – Michelle Smith
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Vol. 10 | By Miki Yoshikawa | Kodansha Comics – This is the longest arc we’ve had to date, and as a result we’re allowed to do things like not resolve the cliffhanger ending at all, mostly as Shiraishi is promptly removed from the board, causing Yamada and company to have to try to think of something else. That something involves Leona, still refusing to go to school but apparently far more connected to the Student Council President than was once thought—in fact, it’s a sweet and depressing story. There’s also some sweet and depressing in Odagiri’s subplot, as she’s offered Yamada on a silver platter but won’t sell him out as she knows he loves someone else. An excellent combination of romantic comedy and fantasy thriller. – Sean Gaffney
Michelle saysDecember 20, 2016 at 2:41 am
Don’t really think you understand the yuri industry at all, honestly. Yuri Hime’s readership is 60% female. Yuri itself has a long history of being created by lesbians for lesbians.
Netsuzou Trap (and other just as popular titles such as Citrus) has thrust yuri into the spotlight lately and while it has definitely revitalized the genre, it isn’t indicative at all of the common tropes, plots, etc. of more standard yuri manga.
It is extraordinarily unfair to say yuri is for “young men who think lesbians are hot” considering that the vast majority of most popular yuri manga authors are (often queer) women. In fact, I would go as far as to call it short-sighted and indicative of no research or interest in the genre itself (which would disqualify you from being able to make an educated opinion on it).
Donk saysSeptember 27, 2022 at 9:58 pm
Apparently about 50% of the female readers even call themselves heterosexual. The thing with stories such as NTR Trap and Citrus is that they sell some kind of forbidden excitement in all the sexual assault and dangerous love interests that people wouldn’t want in real life already which is also common with male love interests. People obviously don’t actually want an abusive relationship with some smug, sinister rapist, but it’s an exciting taboo in fiction. Many of the readers don’t want a relationship with another girl, but it’s sort of exciting in fiction due to the forbidden aspect of it. There’s much of that targeting boys too. I doubt the target audience of say, the Secret Devil would want to get it on with guys in real life because the feelings of the protagonist are meant to be relatable, but in fiction, the idea of accidentally summing a male succubus and first thinking “No no no, this is a guy, this is wrong; I don’t like guys.” but warming up more and more as the story goes on to it to finally have sex with him in the final chapter is exciting.
Fiction isn’t reality and people are willing to go far further in it, and people don’t understand that nearly enough.