yep these be words
Yuri anthology Éclair is back with it’s fourth volume, and, eek! We’re threatening to catch up with Japan at this point! Having come to be quite a fan of the anthology approach, I’m glad Seven Seas has been putting out Syrup… although, gee, would be nice if Yen Press or Seven Seas would consider licensing Galette. (Heck, White Lilies in Love would also be a pick-up I’d welcome… and I might even be willing to muster some enthusiasm for Yuritora Jump… maybe.)
I accused the previous volume, Bleue, of being a regression to the mean, so it brings me great joy to be able to say that Rouge was much better… although it does leave me expecting the next iteration, Orange, to not be so great given the pattern to date. Hopefully it’ll buck that trend. Getting back to, Rouge, though – there are fourteen stories this time around, as a story by Hachi Itou that was in the Japanese release did not make it into this edition. I have no idea why that is the case, as Yen has not commented upon it – could’ve been due to content, I suppose, but it just as easily could be to do with the author’s preferences or some arcane legal issue to do with copyright. If it was not related to Itou’s wishes, then it’s too bad it wasn’t included, but whatever the reason, I don’t think its exclusion makes for a good reason to skip this volume.
Of the fourteen which are here, three are continuations of stories from previous volumes – Canno’s surprisingly charming The Unemployed Woman and the High School Girl, Kazuno Yuikawa’s series that began in Blanche (and which gets the cover illustration here), and a second chapter for the Kagekichi Tadano story in Bleue involving a girl who can read people’s minds if she makes eye contact with them. The rest of the stories are from folks who’ve contributed previously to the Éclair series; familiar names also provided the color inserts at the start of the volume. Oh, and it ends on an Auri Hirao chapter, which seems to be the standard now, as every volume other than the original has done that to date. (I approve – Hirao’s stripe of humor is a good note to go out on.)
I enjoyed ten of the stories, skipped the Tadano story as I didn’t like the first chapter in Bleue, and only actively disliked two of them, one as the central conceit was intellectually insulting and the other as the resolution involved a trope that I find incredibly repellent (pairing someone off with their crush’s off-spring isn’t actually satisfying!!!). My favorite of the bunch was Haruka Kiriyama’s Every Little Bit Helps Make Love, which involved a day off from work for a couple that doesn’t go as hoped for but which grows far rosier after a late day stroke of luck. I enjoyed that it was about a well-established couple and featured the mundanities of life such as drying laundry being rained on and succumbing to a convenience store dinner because one doesn’t want to cook.
I also really enjoyed Kabocha’s tale of ships passing in the night, Nice to Meet You, It’s Been a While, as well as the latest of Canno’s humorous story about an over-exuberant teen and the jaded woman she insists on pursuing (this time around, slacker Mao is eminently relieved to find that Hazumi’s idea of salacious is… a lap pillow; this reader was also quite relieved). I even liked the contribution from Nio Nakatani, I Am Custom-made, which involved a woman whose attention to detail in her job as a designer of virtual avatars evades her when it comes to realizing what’s staring her directly in the face. But, my second-favorite probably was the Hirao piece, I’m Gonna be a VTuber!, which featured the sort of ridiculous plot that I’ve come to expect of them. Here, Kao becomes jealous of her girlfriend’s interest in a VTuber and resolves to become a VTuber herself… except she doesn’t know what a VTuber is… and once she clears that hurdle, she has to contend with the fact that she neither plays video games nor owns a computer.*
Eleanor Summers, who translated the previous volumes, keeps up the great work here, no mean feat considering how many different people she’s handling the translation of. Yen’s done a nice job with this series.
This is a great outing overall, which I’m relieved about since I really, really did not like Bleue. Orange already has a street-date, so we’ll be seeing it in November, and I’m patiently awaiting the pre-order to go live (I’ve been following Éclair on Bookwalker, one of the few series left that I’m doing so with). In the meantime, I’ve just ordered a physical copy of this, as I enjoyed it enough to want something more permanent than a copy of it on an app. Definitely worth picking up for yuri fans.
* The release of this story in English at this particular moment seems marvelously well-timed, as VTubers have surged in popularity in the West over the past year, so much so that one of the big VTuber projects, HoloLive, just launched a slate of English-language VTubers in September. I’ll note, though, that HoloLive spit up a bit on themselves later in September in that they suspended a pair of their VTubers for… daring to say in a stream that they have viewers in Taiwan, which resulted in mass-reporting by folks from mainland China who were angry over the acknowledgement of Taiwan. As someone who isn’t interested in VTubers (c’mon, it was bad enough being subjected to other people playing video games in my youth), I nevertheless have found this incident interesting. Anime News Network wrote up a decent overview of the matter, and you can read some commentary here.