Saturday, May 7, 2022

Eclair Bleue, Eclair Rouge, and Eclair Orange (manga reviews)

Two teen manga girls sharing a bike
    During the period where I took a hiatus from blogging, I also had to decrease my manga purchases, and so as a result after reading the first two volumes of the Eclair series (Elcair and Eclair Blanc) I didn't purchase the final three (Rouge, Bleue, and Orange) [published by Yen Press]. I'm finally beginning to chip away at my backlog and given the nature of these volumes, it made sense to just talk about all three at once. And frankly, there isn't much to say.
    Do you like middling, repetitious, and tropy yuri stories that are way too brief, relatively simplistic, and often have an unresolved tone to the ending? Well then you're in luck, cause that's about all you get with these three. And BTW, if it wasn't clear, I'm not a super huge fan of this series.
    Let's start with the format. Each story is very short, shorter than your average chapter of a serialized manga. It's interesting to me, because while I don't enjoy reading short stories (literary fiction short stories), I have found that I do enjoy writing them. So with that growing understanding of what I like about my own writing of short stories, it has made me even more suspect of the one-off stories in manga. And frankly, these don't have much to say. A great short-story provides amazing depth on the characters, time, and setting without ever spending any time on it. The writing hints, implies, or at least provides fertilizer for the mind to imagine all that came before and all that will follow. You'll find very little writing on that level here. Further, a great short story manages to either really give meaningful insight into a character, situation, or event or actually transform (even if minutely) the character in the space of the short story. Again, you'll find very little of that in these stories.
Two adult women in a relationship laying fully clothed next to each other staring into each others eyes
    Which brings us to the repetitious and tropy qualities. Many (most?) of the stories in these three volumes are school-girl yuri. Fine, whatever. Believe me, as a lesbian manga fan hungry for representation and a lover of sweet romance, it's not that I'm against the school-girl genre. Hell, Maria-sama Ga Miteru (Marimite) is my all-time favorite anime. But you won't find any of that classiness or emotional depth here. I also love Sweet Blue Flowers (in both anime and manga form), Kase-san (ditto), Bloom Into You (ditto), and even Sakura Trick (fight me, the anime is amazing as long as you ignore the horny camera operator). So it's not the genre that's the problem. It's the execution. How many brief stories of two girls getting together after one thought it was only one-sided can there be? There is rarely anything interesting being said in the process of that. Oh sure, there are some cute moments. But not enough to call it anything other than middling. 
    And, because it's a review on, you knew this was coming...YOU CANNOT JUSTIFY HAVING AN ADULT AND A CHILD IN A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP!!!! There are stories of teachers and students (the worst trope of them all - yes, I work in education and am very protective of those accusations - and as a lesbian in education even more concerned with the rise in attacks on queer folk accusing us of gm00ming. - I won't even type the word because it's use in homophobic attacks diminishes the true trauma and horrors that victims of child abuse have faced). In addition to child/teacher, there are also stories of random adults and children. NOT OKAY (Looking at you Canno).
Two teens in formal dresses with strings of pearls looking with sultry eyes at each other, one touches her lips
    Also, there was at least one with elementary students that heavily implied more than just childhood crushes, but actual romantic (sexual?) attraction that felt very uncomfortable to me. It was as if the author was taking adult feelings and putting them on children in a way that was not only inauthentic, but also gross.
    Was there anything above middling or awful? A couple things. Of course the best ones happened to be from our more established mangaka such as Nakatani Nio. Sadly Canno continues the chapters on the unemployed woman and the high-school girl that just is uncomfortable on so many levels. 
    One of the more interesting stories is a science fiction piece. Although it is rough from a characterization standpoint, and morally, I don't think one of the characters would have been okay with what the other did at the end, at least it was dramatically different than all the others in the five volumes. Even if it wasn't actually good - sometimes different is enough. And, thankfully, sprinkled throughout the volumes are some actual adult relationships (you know, adults with other adults). We don't really get any josei style or tone, these are firmly more "yuri" in tone (I use quotes there not to denote the genre as a whole, but more to talk about the tropy, light-romance-comedy style that is dominating yuri recently). But at least they are stories about adult relationships and I'll take what I can get.
    Should you read these? Meh? Hard to recommend. If there weren't any creepy elementary romance or adult/child romances, then I would probably say they're a fine light read. But those pieces do exist, and the rest are of such mostly middling to worse quality, that it's hard to justify you spending your money on them. 


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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