What’s that? Syrup is a collection of fourteen short manga stories focused on yuri relationships. Don’t mind if I do!
Syrup: A Yuri Anthology (Volume 1) – How Sweet It Is!
All right, I’m going to do something a little different today. As this is an anthology and I love to talk about the stories and what I think we can learn from them, rather than reviewing the book, I’m going to look at each story individually. That’s right this will be a longer post than normal as there are fourteen stories. I’m excited. Let’s get into it.
One AM at the Laundromat – Yukiko
This story follows a girl that has just moved to Tokyo for an office job. As you might expect, she’s working hard and not earning a great deal. Her apartment doesn’t have laundry so she goes to the laundromat after work to clean her clothes. After finishing her book, she hopes that she’ll have enough money to buy the next volume next month. Another girl cleaning her clothes overhears and says she can read her copy, inviting her home. She then leaves her at her apartment while she goes to work. When she comes home, the office worker is still there, having fallen asleep on the laundry after reading the book. Realising she’s got to get to work, she runs out and says she’ll see the other girl at the laundromat at one AM.
This was surprisingly cute. At no point do we get any names or even much about the girls and their lives, but the moment the second girl comes home from her job to find the first girl still in her apartment was great. It showed us how much she would like to have someone to come home to regularly. I really enjoyed how warm it felt.
Daily Smile (^ ^) – Kodama Naoko
In this story, we have another office worker. The focus is on her daily interaction with a girl who works at the convenience store. She thinks she’s cute, but she looks like she’s in college so that’s not going to happen. Then, after work, she goes out with a friend and gets drunk. She’s not feeling great so heads into the store to get some turmeric. The girl is there. Feeling sick, she ends up vomiting in the toilet and is watched over by the girl. Well, it turns out she’s actually the manager and is older than her. Then as she passes out, she confesses her feelings to the manager.
Damn it, this one was super cute too. It wasn’t as warm and fuzzy as the first one, but I liked the interaction between the office worker and the convenience store manager. It started as the classic forbidden fruit trope and then flipped it on us, but she was drunk and vomiting by then… I’m glad that it didn’t hold her back though.
Coward Queen – Yoshimura Kana
This one is focused on a single event – an adult video shoot. Kagetsu Ren is an established adult film star and is set to perform with Yamamomo Hinata who is about to make her first video and wants to do it with Ren. There are hints at some past between them and how in real life Ren runs from close connections. Hinata pushes things and the director films it all, catching an authenticity that is rare in her movies. Ren discovers that they were both in on it and is mad.
I feel like we were missing a lot of context and information in this one. It could have been fascinating had it been a little clearer on Ren and Hinata’s past and exactly what was going on. I think it had potential, but it left me trying to piece together exactly what happened.
My Girl – Goumoto
Mayama and Saejima work together at an advertising firm. Saejima is the senior and regularly gives Mayama a hard time. So much so that the other employees have noticed it and feel powerless to help. What they don’t know is that Mayama and Saejima live together. At home, they take on different personas, although Mayama is still very much submissive. Although that looks like it might just be an act to get Saejima.
This was a fun concept, although I think I would have liked it better had their roles been flipped at home. Seeing one character be domineering at work and then submissive at home would have been far more interesting. I do like the idea that Mayama is up to something though.
The Cram School Teachers – Mocchi_au_Lait
Ueda and Shimokawa are teachers. One teaches math, the other science. They are dating and one of their students saw them holding hands at an aquarium and then kissing on the train. This, of course, gives the students lots of questions to ask that don’t relate to math or science. They try to make their questions relevant, but it’s not that simple.
This was the most cartoony story so far and had some funny moments such as the girl revealed that she saw them kissing. I liked how awkward the students were and how each of the teachers was handled differently. It was fine but lacked a bit of a spark.
Night Flight – Kawanami Izumi
Azumi is stuck in an office job where nobody likes her. It’s a far cry from her time at high school when she was the most popular girl in class. After a night of drinking with the boss, an old classmate offers her a ride home. They’ve not spoken since high school, yet there is something comforting about being in Ogata’s company. After a couple more rides home together, Azumi tells Ogata that she wished she’d gotten to know her better when they were in school. Ogata then apologised for kissing her while she was sleeping at school. Although, Azumi knew.
I loved this one. It had a calmness that flowed through every panel. It also managed to show us a lot in a short period of time and with surprisingly few dialogue boxes. There were some interesting observations about the differences in high school and how they really don’t mean much in the real world that I enjoyed too.
Promise – Shioya Teruko
Kaoru just got home from saying farewell to her parents for good. They had a marriage arranged for her and everything, but that was not what she wanted. They wouldn’t accept her for who she was so she left. Upon returning home, she remembered how Eriko had taken her away from their home town so that they could be together. So that they could live. Kaoru suggests they get matching rings to celebrate, much to Eriko’s excitement.
It’s incredibly sad that a family would ostracise someone for any reason, but at the same time, I don’t think we should be beholden to blood. If someone is toxic, you should absolutely walk away. The goal of life is not to tolerate someone, it’s to find someone that accepts you as you are. This story did a great job of showing that. This was a good one too!
The Florist and the Wednesday Night Lady – Amano Shuninta
The florist has been working in her parent’s flower shop for three years and as such, has a good instinct for what the customer wants. There’s a lady that has been coming in every Wednesday at seven PM and she’s sure that she wants her… After helping her out again, the lady asks if she would meet with her on Monday at a beach. It’s a date. However, the florist learns that the lady recently lost her dog and the flower shop is next to the pet store where she would buy treats. The florist begins to cry when she realises she had it so wrong, but the lady thinks she’s crying for her dog. They both cried, ate ramen, and then went home. Ever since they continue to meet up every Wednesday a seven PM at the flower shop.
I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, I really enjoyed it. I loved how the florist assumed she knew what the lady wanted, and while I believe she was right, she didn’t get the confirmation she was expecting and with the news of the dead puppy, she couldn’t hold her feelings in. It was a nice moment between the two of them and it probably led to something more, however, it was the ending that left me feeling a little off. It almost made out like the florist had become her replacement dog and even had her wagging her ponytail when they met again. It was nice symbolism, although maybe too on the nose.
The Abandoned Cat and the Lamp – Ohi Pikachi
An office worker’s girlfriend cheated on her and then dumped her. She hated her job and was often overlooked. On the way home, she saw a box outside a bookshop which had “Please adopt me” written on it. She knelt over the box in the rain and wondered what it would be like to be a cat. Maybe then, she would be adopted by a kind person and loved. The owner of the bookstore came outside and brought her in, offering her a towel. Then, there was a power outage and the owner lit a lamp. It was the same lamp the office worker had seen every morning walking to work and every evening walking home. It turned out the bookstore owner had been lighting it for her because she liked her.
Another tale of newfound love after heartbreak and it was a nice read. I could understand her desire to be a cat after everything she had been through. I liked that the bookstore owner was kind and had been watching over her in secret, however, that would have been far more powerful in a longer story. As it is, it feels a little bit forced, when I’m sure it shouldn’t have been.
Mama x Mom – Yoshidamaru Yu
Fumi is a writer for video games who lives with her friend, Sayaka and her baby Maria. Sayaka’s husband bailed on them which was why Fumi took them in. Sayaka often feels guilty for intruding on Fumi’s life, but she’s also grateful for the help. She wondered if Fumi could be her husband. That’s not such a terrible idea to Fumi although she’d never admit it out loud. She realises it probably won’t last forever, but for now, she’s enjoying pretending to be a happy family with them.
So, this was kind of sad. Sweet, but also sad. Fumi clearly left their home town because she had a crush on Sayaka and doesn’t want to admit it. I get the sense she would love nothing more than to get together with Sayaka properly, but she’s not got the confidence to do anything about it. I think she’s hoping it will just naturally happen. I hope it works out for her…
Rose Quartz – Kurogane Kenn
Saori is an aspiring mangaka who lives with her bestfriend and lover, Jun. They’ve been together since graduation and Jun is getting frustrated that they have to play down their feelings in public. She wants to show off their love. She wants to get married. However, each of them wants to be the wife. So, why not both be wives? The next day at the comic-con, they decide to both wear wedding dresses. Saori gives Jun a ring for their anniversaries which is met with wild applause from the convention goers.
This couple was clearly in a more established relationship than most of the stories so far and it was nice. I liked how comfortable they were with one another and were still able to bicker about silly things. It felt very real. I also loved the sight of them both at the convention in full wedding dresses. That would have definitely helped them draw in their customers.
My Femme Fatale – Matsuzaki Natsumi
Sawada works at a newspaper and is concerned that another employee has just quit. This time, it’s Oomomo. Rumour is she’s been sexually harassed and is leaving. People also call her a pervert because she has big boobs and wears a low-cut top. Sawada even tried to offer her some advice, but Oomomo didn’t care that others looked. She noticed that Sawada was looking too. Later, Sawada is given the assignment to cover a strip club that will be thirty years old. Imagine her surprise when she saw Oomomo dancing on the stage. She wanted others to see.
So, this one was far more subtle in the yuri department as there were hints that Sawada liked Oomomo, but it didn’t do much with it. I also feel like the idea of calling a woman a pervert for wearing a top that showed cleavage to be fairly ridiculous and then the leap that she must be a stripper absurd. This one felt like it didn’t really go anywhere.
First Grown-up Love – Ito Hachi
Miori has never really understood love. She’s seen it happen but never felt it before. That was until she was asked out by Haruka, a regular patron of the cake shop she works at. Unfortunately, Miori doesn’t know how to respond. Her first attempt was a disaster so she’s determined to try again. Her boss does everything she can to help Miori find her voice in the matter and arranges for them to walk home together.
This story had a very youthful style to the art and that was reflected in Miori who was struggling to take the next step in her life. It all worked very well together. It was cute, but Miori was a bit too much of a sheltered ditz for my liking. It was good, but definitely not one of the better ones.
Working With an Angel – Morinaga Milk
Tsuji is a manager at an entertainment agency. She finds roles for their group of actresses, but there is one girl that has really caught her eye. She is Kanae and she’s an angel. Although it’s strictly forbidden Tsuji and Kanae hang out after work, watching anime and having fun. However, Kanae has got an offer to do some cosplay pin-up shoots, but before she agrees, she needs to discuss it with Tsuji. Kanae reveals that she knows Tsuji has been watching her closely and even taking photos of her. She wants to know if it’s just her or if there are other girls. Tsuji tells her it’s just her, which makes Kanae happy. She agrees to take the job and if she ever gets big, she wants Tsuji to be her exclusive manager.
This was a fun and kind of frantic story that fits perfectly into the world in which Tsuji and Kanae exist. I liked that Kanae had noticed and wanted to make sure that Tsuji was all hers. Obviously, it’s funny because if Tsuji was a guy, taking secret pictures of her client or watching her change, it could have been a lot creepier. Anyhow, it was a fun way to finish the anthology.
So, there you have it. Those are my thoughts on all fourteen shorts in Syrup: A Yuri Anthology (Volume 1). Overall, I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be checking out the latter volumes in the series. One of the great things I find with anthologies is that there’s usually something that you love. There are always going to be things that don’t excite you, but you can quickly forget them with the next story. My personal favourites were One AM at the Laundromat and Night Flight. Have you read Syrup? Which were your favourites?