Return of the schoolgirls.
I’ve talked about the June-released, food-named yuri anthology that was all about the adults (Syrup), so now it’s time for the other one more interested in the schoolgirl set – Éclair Bleue, the third installment in the Éclair anthology series. It is also the June-release I read first… and that I am reviewing it after Syrup’s first volume probably says a fair bit all on its own.
If Blanche was surprisingly good, Bleue is, apparently, the regression to the mean; much of what passes here is, quite frankly, utterly forgettable, although I’ll grant that little of it is outright bad. There are fifteen stories in all, many from authors who also contributed to Blanche. In fact, of the ones which are decent, two are continuations of stories begun in Blanche – Canno’s Unemployed Woman and High School Girl returns, while Kazuno Yuikawa’s Azalea Corner gets a sequel in Castle in the Bushes. Azalea Corner had caught my attention, but I appreciated it more than I liked it – its safe to say that with Castle in the Bushes, I’m up for whatever ride Yuikawa is planning with it.
Other favorites of mine include Musshu’s The Girls’ Destination, in which the romance begins when one girl asks another to pinch hit on guitar for her band and concludes years later with the two as adults, and Kabocha’s In the Twilight, which involves a girl teasing her friend for being distracted by the friend’s crush… only for it to become clear that the girl has a crush on her friend. I’ve always had a weakness for that particular terrain of adolescence. And then there’s Auri Hirao’s contribution, Let’s Make a Yuri Manga, a comedic short featuring a manga author insisting on setting her yuri tale in an all-boys’ school and her weary editor. (Between this and their contribution last time, I feel safe saying that Hirao’s sense of humor is similar to my own.)
So, that makes… five out of fifteen that I dug. That’d be a good batting average in baseball, but for reading it leaves a bit to be desired…
Whatever the case is for the material, Yen nevertheless delivers a solid release of it. I’m going to sound rather similar to my review of Syrup here, but the difficulties posed by translating the works of multiple people remain true here – translator Eleanor Summers has handled it adeptly, no mean feat.
Next in the series is Éclair Rouge, which is slated for publication in August. Despite this one being a letdown, I’m sure I’ll be picking it up – there’s enough that I have enjoyed in this anthology series that I’m willing to give it another go. I also want to keep on supporting yuri anthologies published in English, as I’d love to see some more get licensed.