Friday, June 21, 2019

Whenever Our Eyes Meet - another bland yuri space filler (Manga Review)

A Women's Love Anthology
Whenever Our Eyes Meet - 5.5/10

"Whenever Our Eyes Meet... A Women's Love Anthology" published by Yen Press is another middling yuri one-shot manga. I'm really starting to wonder if I'm so desperate to see two women together in comics that I'll buy anything, because my reviews of these type of manga have not been too favorable. The question is how to tell the quality releases from the mass-produced filler (which this more or less is) made just to appease the current yuri "craze". I don't really know how to tell them apart from just the Amazon descriptions, so I'll probably keep buying any that come out (so long as I am sure they don't have explicit content) in the hopes that one will be brilliant. Unfortunately, that isn't the case with "Whenever Our Eyes Meet".

Now, that's not to say this one is all bad. It's just really really average (or maybe a bit below average). Whenever Our Eyes Meet is an anthology, which means there are many short stories collected together. I'm not super up on all the creators our there, so I couldn't tell you if any of these ones are famous, but from the quality of writing and art, my guess is "no." For the most part, the stories were by-the-numbers (if even that) and much of the artwork had a distinctly amateurish feel. Let's do a "The Good" and a "The Bad" list to expedite things, shall we?

The Good:

  • The English translation actually used the word "gay" to describe the relationship and that same story briefly talked about the problems the woman would face if people at work knew she was with another woman. That's actual LGBT rep, if only for all of two speech bubbles, but still, as I said earlier, I'm probably desperate for this!
  • The couples are all adults. We definitely need more adult lesbians in our manga and fewer high-school stories.
  • There is a mixed age couple (20 something with a 30 or 40 something - can't tell from the art - woman).
  • There is a story about a teacher and a student, told from the teacher's perspective (that's a bit new) and where nothing happens until the student is an adult. So at least there was no relationship with a child! (Am I so desperate that not breaking the law is enough to place a story in the good column?) It might almost have been a cute story, but there's a couple problems with it - see "The Bad" below.
  • While there is nothing explicit, there is one clear reference to two women having sex and they also refer to themselves as girlfriends. I think it's important to acknowledge that adults have sex, talk about sex, and other adult things - it was nice to see this in a non-explicit way.
  • The story about the two women who have been fighting with each other ever since high-school ends with a great gag about the fact that they're actually together as a couple now, and still fighting, it was one of the funnier moments in the whole anthology.

The Bad:

  • As I said, the art, it's mostly awful, I mean, some of it is really really really awful. Some is just boring. Essentially none of it shows any unique style or vision. At best it's serviceable, at worst, it's poorly drawn.
  • Most of the stories are beginnings/meet-cutes. Only a few take place in the middle of a relationship, and there are no endings to relationships. The meet-cutes or first kisses are only meaningful if we have spent time with the characters leading up to this, otherwise, they just feel the same, story after story, anthology after anthology. The middles are interesting because we can assume the lives before and see things just on a day-to-day level. But there are very few of those.
  • There is a woman who has a relationship with her intern at work. Just because it is two women, doesn't mean the boss/employee power dynamic doesn't exist, and yet this isn't treated with any sensitivity or even acknowledged.
  • So when there is another story where a woman is in a relationships with her boss (the mixed age couple), even though I liked that they had an older (I use that term loosely) woman and a younger woman, there is still the power dynamic that a boss holds over their employee and we need much more nuance in stories about bosses dating their employees.
  • When the teacher and her former (now adult) student finally have their moment, it's the teacher who forcibly kisses the younger woman. Just because they are two women, doesn't mean that active consent isn't needed. What if the teacher was wrong and the younger student really didn't like her? Enough with the aggressive forced kisses in all manga. At least set up the mood and the moment so we get some sort of implied consent that both people are in to it.
  • At the end of this same story, the older teacher says she should have done that a long time ago. I hope she means, like days ago, or weeks ago, and not when the younger woman was actually a high-school student, because that's gross and illegal.
  • One story is so stupid, and poorly drawn, and the plot goes like this: "I developed a really tasty gummy candy a few years ago at work, I haven't come up with anything really awesome since, so now I'm pretty cold to people around me, but my new trainee likes the gummies, so she must not like me, right? Wait, she's a gummy loving lesbian? Let's share gummies and now I'm all healed and smiley again!" - it was stupid, poorly drawn, poorly written, and not even cute. Like at least make it really moe kawaii art or something, ughhh.

So you get the point. Either you want a bunch of short stories about women who might be lesbians, who might like each other, or who do like each other and kiss once, mixed in with a few actual stories about possibly real human beings, and all drawn in middling to poor quality...or you don't want that.

Aside from some tropey mixed messages about consent, work relationships, etc...there isn't much objectionable, but there isn't anything to recommend it either. It just barely rises above a 5 to get a score of 5.5/10 and only that high for the stories: "Head-to-Head Reunion! Flirty Battle",  "You Did Well," and "In My Studio Apartment Palace" (which had my favorite moment of the whole series - but then went in another direction, which was okay, but not what I hoped).

 Let me know what you think after you read this (or don't).


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