Saturday, June 23, 2018

Eclair: A Girls' Love Anthology That Resonates in Your Heart/Eclair Anata Ni Hibiku Yuri Anthology

I took a flyer an ordered Eclair, a Yuri anthology published by Yen Press. Normally I only follow series or particular mangakas, but who couldn't use a little more Yuri in their life? This is a collection of 16 short one-offs. Mostly they are about falling in love. I would have liked to see more of the stories focus on events within an existing relationship. Somehow the girl-meets-girl thing just seems disposable when done as a one-off story, particularly when you're reading a bunch back to back. With stories that take place within an existing relationship, it affords the author the ability to hint at all that has come before and all that will come later making for a richer and more varied opportunity. But sadly, there's only a small bit of that in this volume. So without further ado, let's do a quick review of each story:

"Happiness in the Shape of a Scar" - the arts good, at first the pacing is okay with a nice little setup, but then it just moves so briskly in getting them together that we miss what could have been some more emotionally rich moments. Doesn't really feel emotionally true to me.

"Tears in the Clean Room" - one of the more interesting stories. My only real criticism is that the author likes to show a lot of spit and saliva in the kissing. I don't know about you, but I don't drool much while kissing, not even in high-school. I've just never gotten the desire to put that into art (it's also one of my pet peeves about Sakura Trick). But as for the story, I won't ruin it for you, but it's a nice ending that is different than most in this volume. That alone makes the story worth it.

"Human Emotion" - not a fan of the art and not a fan of the message.

"Intro" - Okay art and the pacing is okay. Another girl meets girl, falls in love, but it's not completely resolved and we do get some sense of the pursued girl's having had a life prior to this story which is good. Still, I don't know that I can advocate for the age difference, even though it's probably only a few years, one of them is still in high school.

"The Unemployed Woman and the High School Girl" - yuck, so many problems with this one, whether it is the issues with selling oneself or the age difference, it just isn't sincere. You can't make light of the issue of human sex trafficing.

"The Hairdressser" - I didn't particularly care for the art, mostly the faces bothered me. But at least it isn't a clear-cut girl-meets-girl, falls in love, mostly because there is no falling in love, it's more about a new friendship. Not great, but at least a bit different than the rest in the volume.

"Alice in the Miniature Garden" - manages to work in some hints at backstory for several characters which is appreciated. I hate to say it, but sometimes I like art when they have the littlest itty bittiest mouths and there are some little itty bitty mouths in this one. So the art is definitely on the cutsey side and not the realistic side. In fact, very little art in this volume feels like more traditional shoujo, hmmm....not sure I believe in the characters but I would probably read a few more chapters about this pair if there ever were to be more.

"Master for 1/365" - more cutesy art and our first story that hints that the girls are already in a relationship, yay! Maybe the sexiest kiss in the whole volume. Not a particularly great or eye opening story, but perfectly enjoyable for what it is.

"Two Years and 11 Months" - not sure how I feel about this one. I found the speech bubbles hard to follow at times (they rarely had the little pointy thingies and often it was the person listening who we saw surrounded by the other person's speech bubbles). The art was okay, but not great. The story however, not sure I like the dependency one character showed. It has promise in the middle but the ending sort of ruined it for me.

"Game Over" - the art reminded me a little of Maid-sama! in some of the angularness and some of the more chibi/deformed panels. I liked the idea of this story and it was also another one where the girls were already in a relationship. One of the bright spots in the anthology.

"My Cute Bitch" - I have complicated feelings about this one because it doesn't really ring emotionally true, but I sort of like how it ended anyway. Basically, two women move in together, both have boyfriends. One of them sleeps around a lot. But in the end, there's an important message about not basing a relationship on sex alone. I think I'm glad this was included if only for both the variety it provided and that it made me think a little, even if that was sometimes for uncomfortable reasons.

"A Tale of Weeds" - a friendship story in elementary school. Didn't love the art but didn't hate it either. The story was so-so, but an okay change of pace from the others stories.

"The Two of Us and Apples" - I did not like the art. But, the story itself was cute. And it featured who I think are two adult women, another nice bit of variety from the mostly middle and high-school girls that make up the genre and the anthology.

"Belle the Rabbit and the Wolf" - I'm not really into stories where the characters are mostly human but have actual ears and tails. Just not my thing. The art is okay if you're into it though. The story is more about friendship and pretty generic. Didn't do much for me.

"Your Jinx" - was one that was surprisingly entertaining. It was silly and mostly about friendship, probably, but again, the comedy in it made it worth it and a nice addition to the volume.

"My Idol" - didn't like the art. Stiff and some perspective problems (which never was a problem for me in other shoujo art, but doesn't work here because it's also not "beautiful" in the intentional way other shoujo art can be deformed - like super long legs, arms and necks, here things are foreshortened funny and the stiffness undercuts any interest in the characters). I also think the "plot" is muddy and I don't have any interest in the characters. One of the weakest in the volume.

So that's it. I'd give it a 6/10 which makes it "read with reservations." For $13, you might want to see if you can borrow it from a library, unless you're like me who wants to buy things because 1) I want to own books and 2) I want to ensure enough get sold so that more shoujo and yuri get translated.


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