Ever since reading the first volume of Syrup, I’ve been looking forward to diving into the second one. Looks like it’s time for even more yuri manga short stories!
Syrup: A Yuri Anthology (Volume 2) – Forbidden Fruit
As I did with the first volume, I’m going to do a series of mini-reviews for each of the short stories because why not. I really enjoyed taking the time to talk about each of the stories in the first volume and while this one is a little shorter, I’m sure I’m going to have just as much fun with this one.
Call of the Mayflies – Kawanami Izumi
Yume is studying for her entrance exams to a particularly well-respected girls’ school, however, her parents are constantly fighting which is not creating an environment suitable for studying. She comes home from school one day to find a young woman in her apartment. Apparently, she has some papers to give to Yume’s mother. She works with Yume’s father. Could she be the one that he’s having an affair with? Takada Sari asks if it’s all right to wait there. Yume doesn’t care, but she’s certain that Takada will split her family apart. Takada ends up helping Yume with her homework and then leaves. Surprisingly, she comes back from time to time, but only ever sees Yume. Eventually, Yume asks her about her first love. Takada won’t answer and flips it on Yume. Yume reveals she’s never even kissed someone. That is something Takada can help her with. After they kiss, Takada reveals that her father was her first love. She leaves and doesn’t come back. Yume’s family returns to normal, although her heart is broken as Takada was her first love!
Well, that was kind of exciting. I understand the subtitle for this book now and am preparing myself for more of this. I felt sorry for Takada who was no doubt being taken advantage of by Yume’s father, especially as she probably wasn’t that much older than Yume. Of course, I also feel sad for Yume now, who saved her family but lost her first love in the process.
Photography Addiction – Goumoto
A famous actress recently got married and decided to live a normal life. However, there’s one thing that she can’t give up. She has a friend – a photographer friend who she regularly helps out, posing nude for her latest photography project. They never include her face in the photos so no one ever has to know. However, they can’t help but wonder if it’s cheating. Neither is ready to stop though. Both are addicted to the excitement.
Oooooo! Another good one. This time, we were looking at the two people involved in the affair and while it’s not exactly a standard sort of thing, they both have that feeling that it is cheating. I think the author brilliantly captured the mood of the forbidding fruit concept. If it keeps up like this it’s going to be one hell of a collection.
The Girl in the Library – Tsuji Megumi
A student teases the librarian for going on marriage hunting partings, although she calls them dating parties. However, things get more intense when she discovers the librarian got a number at the last meeting. She asks why she wants to get married at forty. She always assumed she was a free spirit who didn’t want to conform to tradition and societal norms. The librarian told her to keep her voice down, it is a library after all. They touched fingers momentarily and then pulled away, but it was too late. They spun towards each other and kissed. Then, the bell went for class and the librarian told her to go, but she didn’t. They just continued kissing…
Now, we’re going for the teacher-student forbidden fruit and while this one wasn’t as intense as the others, it still managed to hold my attention. There’s obviously a lot more going on in this story than we’re shown, but it’s told in such a way that we can get a sense of it.
That’s What She Wants – Canno
Kako’s friend Mirai is super popular. Eventually, everyone likes her. While out one day, Mirai introduces Kako to Madoka – a friend. However, Kako notices that there might be more to it than Mirai said. When Mirai invites Madoka to the fireworks show, she realises they are dating. While no one is around, Kako reveals to Madoka that she likes her and kisses her. The next day, Mirai has been dumped. Apparently, Madoka found someone she likes more. Kako consoles Mirai and offers to treat her to something nice.
So, this one was a little more cryptic. Kako is clearly manipulative, however, I’m not quite sure just how far it goes. She says she wants what everyone else wants and since everyone like Mirai, she wants Mirai. Then, Mirai wanted Madoka, so Kako made the moves on Madoka. Now, it looks like Madoka broke up with Mirai, but then Kako gave her the cold shoulder, ignoring her messages. I may have that wrong, but that’s how it seems. So, did just kiss Madoka just to get her to break up with Mirai so that she could have her all to herself? It’s entirely possible.
A Passion for Work – Amano Shuninta
Yamato is a rising star in the music industry. Her debut album is about to be released and there are some sponsors sniffing around. The only problem is that Yamato has been having an affair with her boss’s wife. She wants to break it off, but she can’t. She’s completely helpless to resist. However, her songs are getting better and better, but she feels like she should break it off. Maybe, she should leave the agency. Then, word gets back to the boss about a rumour that Yamato is sleeping with her wife. She’s not concerned. She knew. In fact, she made it happen since the guilt and frustration seemed to inspire Yamato.
This was good! Really good! I loved the twist at the end that the boss and her wife are doing it on purpose to inspire Yamato. The way the boss’s wife appeared from beneath her desk and grinned when their employee was telling her about the rumour was inspired. This was sexy and dark.
The Left Leg Shackle – Ito Hachi
The humans attacked the beast folk. One girl was orphaned as a result and instead of being killed along with her parents, their killer took her home, clothed her, fed her, and placed a shackle on her left leg. Every day, she would head out to fight in the war, returning smelling of blood and death. She would take the beast girl to bed with her. In the morning the beast girl got up early to make breakfast. She eyed the carving knife and considered enacting her revenge. One day she would kill her, just not yet.
So, this one is seriously dark. There are so many levels of darkness that a lot of the panels have pure black surroundings. Anyhow, the beast girl is very young. If I had to guess, I’d say somewhere between eight and ten. The military girl who killed her parents is quite clearly sick, especially keeping the child of the people you killed around. Then, to make them sleep with you every night is beyond evil. The darker thing, however, is that the beast girl is waiting to enact her revenge. What is she waiting for? I don’t know, this one felt more like it should be in a horror anthology.
My Little Sister’s Ice Cream – Takahashi Mako
Walking home, she saw her sister, Sawa kissing Miyako. Once home, she confronted Sawa and told her she would tell their mother. Sawa was confident that their mother would side with her. However, she wasn’t sure that Sawa was right. Later, she went to the corner store and met with Miyako who told her she still loved her and wanted to get back together. Sawa was almost as good as she was her sister, but it wasn’t the real thing. After walking home, Miyako kissed her and then ran off, laughing that it was an indirect kiss from Sawa…
This is another one with a slightly ambiguous meaning. It would appear that Miyako wants the older sister back, but something happened between them – possibly her mother disapproving which is why she warned Sawa. I get the feeling she still likes her but won’t do anything. Miyako, however, seems to delight in causing mayhem, playing the sisters against one another.
The Fourth Woman – Matsuzaki Natsumi
Misaki is in love with an idol. She’s been to all of her meets and this is the last one before she retires. Marino seems to be familiar with her, but is it really anything given how many people they must meet? Five years later, Misaki is introduced to a new teaching aid at her school. Surely, it couldn’t be! The new aide is Miki Marino and she bears a striking resemblance to Marinon. After discussing, her teaching plan, Miki tells Misaki that she has beautiful lips and that there isn’t a table between them anymore…
This was a nice moment of serendipity. Fancy meeting like that after all that time and she still remembers her. I’ve worked jobs where you begin to recognize the regulars so it’s not completely implausible which is why I think it works. It’s probably the happiest ending so far.
Swallowtail Takes Flight – Yoshidamaru Yu
Hime is a wasp. One time, she saved Nami, a caterpillar and they have been friends ever since. Nami dreams of becoming a swallowtail butterfly and soaring through the sky. One day, Hime comes to visit Nami and finds that she lost an arm when she was attacked by a spider. Hime is pleased to see she’s all right and kisses her. Nami asks Hime if she will eat her. Hime promises that she won’t. The next time they meet, Nami is in a chrysalis, preparing to become a butterfly. Hime wishes her goodnight and leaves. When she returns, Hime’s child emerges from the chrysalis, having eaten Nami. At least she gets to fly high in the sky now.
So, this was dark and surprisingly funny. I’m not if it should be, but when I realised that Hime had placed her larvae on Nami’s chrysalis I couldn’t help myself. Dark humour is a bit of a weakness of mine and this was perfect. Otherwise, it was a very strange tale about humanoid insects, but it was fascinating all the same.
Slit – Ikeda Takashi
An awkward girl who is bullied for being large and unathletic hides away from the school beneath the stage. There, she finds a gap where she can take pictures of the student president while she plays basketball. They are polar opposites in every way, but that might be what draws her to her Senpai. Then, Senpai injures her knee. While she can’t play, she falls in with a man that gets her in trouble. She returns to the school after her suspension, her knee still healing. Meanwhile, the awkward girl is still taking photos of her.
This one had a very creepy vibe to it. The awkward girl spying on the student president and taking pictures of her definitely pushed the tone in that direction, but it was the way she spoke about her that really gave me chills. I did feel like we missed a whole bunch of things that it tried to boil into a single line that pulled me out of the story. Not bad, but not good either.
At What Point? – Morinaga Milk
Tsurumi is worried that her husband is having an affair. At the very least, he’s been lying about where he’s been, saying he’s working late when his business is closed or when he left on time. She confides in a co-worker, Rika who is determined to help her. Rika gives her a GPS tracking device so that they can follow him. Over time, she continues to comfort her, even showing sadness at Tsurumi’s misfortune. Then, when it’s time to follow him, Rika kisses Tsurumi. She’s sorry for taking advantage of her, but Tsurumi finally understands. It’s over when they fall for someone else.
This is possibly my favourite story in the book. I loved the way it showed Tsurumi and Rika coming together. There were signs and hints that made it clear what was happening. Obviously, being a part of a yuri anthology meant it was more obvious, but I appreciated the level of storytelling involved. I loved that Tsurumi realised she didn’t need to catch him. She could get a detective to do that and then she would get divorced. After all, she had Rika now. Great ending to another wonderful anthology.
You really don’t see enough short manga in my opinion. Admittedly, I love short stories too and understand that it’s a niche market that is hard to do well in so there isn’t much incentive. So, it’s great to find a series like this where we get to experience a host of different authors and artists all providing their unique take on the volume theme. I’ll be sure to check out more in the series and will be on the lookout for any other manga anthologies. My favourites were A Passion for Work and At What Point?. Have you read this volume? What were your favourites?