All posts by Nefarious Reviews

First Love Sisters – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Hatsukoi Shimai

 

Similar: Nijipuri

Shoujo Holic

Sky-Coloured Girlfriend

Mousou Honey

Brother, Dear Brother

Strawberry Panic

 

Genre: Yuri Romance

Length: 3 volumes

 

Positives:

  • Nothing

Negatives:

  • The romance starts on nothing and doesn’t build up to anything meaningful.
  • Incredibly creepy subplot with the new English teacher.
  • The drama stems from the most inconsequential problems.

Chika studies her hardest to get into the same prestigious all-girls high school as her senior crush, Haruna; however, on her first day, Haruna no longer shows interest, pretending they have never met before. And this, to Chika, is the greatest problem in the history of the universe. Chika uses her persistence and bubbly personality to win over Haruna the introvert.

This initial setup encapsulates First Love Sisters’ major fault. All the drama stems from first-world problems- no, that’s too serious a term here. Petty is more accurate. Even if I ignore the choice of using the most clichéd yuri plot type (in love with a senior in an all-girls school), there is no trigger for the romance. It doesn’t even start with basic attraction or infatuation; instant true love before any redeeming quality is shared. And the reason for why Haruna ignores Chika…wow. Haruna has recurring nightmares that make her scream out in terror in her sleep because a senior rejected her…seriously? That is some Twilight level garbage.

Volume two introduces a new English teacher who, without hesitation or protest, starts hitting on several junior students. Not a single complaint voiced. Nothin’. It isn’t “innocent” flirting either. Yet, even without this creepy quandary, the drama is so lame. When the characters are sad, I feel no pity for them. Not. A. Bit.

Art – Medium

Standard art that offers little variety or creativity, though has nothing bad to it.

Story – Very Low

A lame plot that stems from petty dilemmas. There’s also that creepy subplot.

Recommendation: Avoid it. Simply rubbish.

(Find out more about the manga recommendation system here.)

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Free Soul – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Free Soul

 

Related: Love My Life (same author)

 

Genre: Yuri Drama

Length: 1 volume

 

Positives:

  • Nothing

Negatives:

  • A mind-numbing plot of shallow characters and trumped up conflict.
  • Sterile dialogue.
  • The subplot of writing a manga is worthless.
  • Art is empty.

(contains nudity and sex)

Bloody hell, Free Soul is terrible. If I celebrated thanksgiving, I would be thankful that I never have to read this again. The plot is dull, the characters shallow, the art ugly, and it couldn’t even manage a single point of believable conflict.

One day, Keito sees a woman called Niki walk into the record shop where she works. Keito is immediately infatuated, a few pages and some awkward dialogue later, they sleep together. What attracted them to each other…? Why are you looking to me? I have no idea. Niki is free-spirited and doesn’t like anything more than casual relationships; however, after they part, Keito can’t stop thinking about her and wants more. Oh, and there’s also this subplot about Keito writing a manga on a black diva, which has no effect on the narrative. One could quite cut this subplot and have no effect on anything (apart from how much time you waste with Free Soul).

The dialogue is so sterile that I can see the characters reciting through key sentence bullet list. Instead of having natural dialogue from real characters, most dialogue is exposition. “As a child I did that—” “Now I do this—” “My parents are—” “I like to—” So dull. In regards to conflict, it’s all forced and strawman constructs. Take Keito’s mother for example, who hates lesbians, for what reason? No idea. Does this have any effect on the plot? Not an iota. Scenes like this are designed to illicit sorrow, but any smart reader will notice the rubbish ploy. The manga she writes has an exact same moment, except it’s a white guy being racist to the black singer. Again, worthless. If you can’t handle tough issues like bigotry, then don’t put them in you stories.

I can’t recommend Free Soul any less.

Art – Very Low

The art is as empty as the plot with no signs of talent, detail or creativity.

Story – Very Low

The narrative is a dull amalgamation of strawman characters, forced conflict, and sterile dialogue.

Recommendation: Avoid it. One of the worst manga you could possibly read.

(Find out more about the manga recommendation system here.)

Girl Friends – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Girl Friends

 

Related: Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry-Blossom Pink (same author)

Secret Recipe (same author)

 

Similar: Hanjuku Joshi

Prism

Candy

 

Genre: Yuri Romance Drama

Length: 5 volumes

 

Positives:

  • Likeable, three-dimensional characters.
  • The romance builds up properly and tackles many issues often ignored in the yuri genre.
  • The narrative doesn’t forget the small things like character’s hobbies, everyday conversations to build personality, character quirks, and background mutterings.
  • The cute art fits the characters and their personalities.

Negatives:

  • None of the drama reaches a tense high.

(contains nudity and mild sex)

After having read a dozen yuri manga, ranging from the terrible to the decent, it’s good to read one that is great, finally. Girl Friends succeeds where others fail (not just in the yuri genre, but all types of romance) because it focuses on characters first and foremost, sex later. The characters in Girl Friends are charming, have strengths and weaknesses – major and minor – have a vulnerability to them born from their youth and inexperience, making them relatable to the reader. It spends a full volume, which spans a few months, to establish the characters’ interests and friendship before even mentioning intimacy, and acknowledges the conundrums of falling in love, particularly as a lesbian. This makes the eventual intimate relationship believable.

Girl Friends centres on high school girls Mari and Akko and their blossoming relationship as they deal with school, fashion, friends, and confusing emotions. Mari is a shy girl befriended by Akko one day, and after a haircut, they become fast friends. While Akko teaches Mari about fashion and confidence to help her grow out of her shell, Mari opens Akko up to new emotions and the idea that schoolwork matters.

Girl Friends makes the small things count. Unlike Pietà, there are proper transitions and build up between key events. The narrative thoroughly incorporates their interests and regular high school girl conversations to bring them to life, making them real girls. Small dialogue lines of characters muttering in the background are a nice touch. Sure, much of the hobbies and discussions are rather girly; however, though I don’t care for fashion, gossip, and such, I enjoyed their conversations because it made their personalities shine through.

Even if you have no interest in yuri manga, Girl Friends is worth a read for its interesting characters and heart-warming story.

Art – High

Cute, expressive art with a good level of detail. Each character is distinct without having to resort to ludicrous features.

Story – High

A sweet high school romance filled with small details to create a complete, believable story. The characters are likeable and interesting, each with their own traits and dilemmas.

Recommendation: Read it. One of the best (if not the best) manga in the yuri genre.

(Find out more about the manga recommendation system here.)

Wife and Wife – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Fu-Fu

 

Genre: Yuri Slice of Life Comedy

Length: 2 volumes

 

Positives:

  • Has an adorable charm.
  • The liberal use of chibi art enhances the charm and cuteness.

Negatives:

  • No serious conflict or tension.
  • While pleasant, the lack of depth can lose one’s attention.

Wife and Wife is the story of two lovers who move in together and start referring to each other as ‘wife’ to signify the new step in their relationship. Each chapter focuses on the ordinary dilemmas of their new life, such as what furniture to buy. It’s a simple narrative. No serious conflict, but is pleasant enough.

Where Wife and Wife shines is with its cuteness. Every aspect vomits cuteness all over the reader. First, there are the characters. One woman is a romantic airhead, always trying to find new ways to show affection. The other is stern and serious, but has a soft spot for her wife’s silliness and charms. They have great chemistry together, complementing each other’s personalities. Then we have the art – blerrrgh *vomits at cuteness.* It uses a mix of normal manga art interspersed with chibi style to augment the charm of the characters – forty percent of the panels are in chibi.

Other than the lack of conflict, a noticeable problem is that every character introduced is a lesbian, a cliché in yuri manga. That said, if you’re looking for a pleasant manga coupled with cute art, then Wife and Wife is for you.

Art – Medium

Undeniably cute art, but the basic premise doesn’t allow for variety or creativity beyond the use of chibi panels.

Story – Medium

Though it lacks depth, the story is pleasant and oozes cuteness.

Recommendation: Try it. Read one chapter to see if Wife and Wife is for you. The quality and style remains unwavering throughout its two volumes. Disgustingly cute.

(Find out more about the manga recommendation system here.)

YuriCam: Yurika’s Campus Life – Manga Review

Japanese Title: YuriCam – Yurika no Campus Life

 

Genre: Yuri Comedy

Length: 5 volumes

 

Positives:

  • A ridiculous premise you may find hilarious.

Negatives:

  • No real depth or quality.
  • The humour gets repetitive after a few chapters.
  • Utter nonsense if you don’t find it humorous.

(Contains high levels of nudity and sex)

I have never seen/read an anime or manga with a premise as ridiculous as Yurika’s Campus Life. Yurika attends a girls-only college and has been with 5,000 of its students (rumour), seriously hurting her chances of getting a boyfriend (in what universe?). Many of her lovers got pregnant as well (allegedly). See, she has this animal magnetism that makes her irresistible to women, even those who claim to be straight. When her socialite family goes bankrupt, she must use her “talents” as a gigolette in exchange for food and accommodation.

To give an idea of just how alluring she is, the opening page has a girl drop her dress because Yurika asked to borrow study notes. A dozen pages later, another woman throws herself at Yurika to forget her ex-boyfriend. As word spreads, more and more students crave her lurid services, which include mayonnaise bottles used as an extra “appendage.”

There is a lot of sex in this manga, roughly two scenes per chapter, all with comedic intentions, and while the most explicit areas use strategic censorship, innuendos more than pick up the slack. You will think this whole manga either entertaining or nonsensical. I personally found the one joke repetitive with a couple of chapters.

Art – Medium

The art is rather standard without much variety.

Story – Very Low

A repetitive and ridiculous premise of salacious activities. The absurdity may be funny to some.

Recommendation: So bad you have to read it to believe it. If Yurika’s Campus Life sounds hilarious to you, then give it a try. Just don’t expect any sort of depth or insight.

(Find out more about the manga recommendation system here.)