You may have noticed that there was no ‘weekly reads’ post last week. When my mental health is at a low point, I seem to lose any ability to concentrate on anything, including reading. So I had a whole week where I just didn’t read anything: no fanfiction, no manga, no news articles, nothing.
I wouldn’t say I’m massively better this week, but I have at least been able to dip into a couple of things.
First up, as promised two weeks ago, I finished Whenever Our Eyes Meet, a manga anthology of yuri romance stories focusing on women in the workplace.
In some respects, this book is everything I’ve been wanting from a comic in a long time: love stories focusing on adult women, and with an emphasis on romance with no hyper-sexualised characters. 14 separate stories over 180+ pages means that some of them do feel woefully short – ‘Rainy Day Dream’ is just two pages – but sometimes it is a fun change of pace to see a story played out to a satisfactory conclusion in one read rather than waiting for volume after volume of tension.
There are some which I would love to see as longer, more developed stories, particularly the first one. ‘Masking Lady’ is about an illustrator commissioned to design an album cover for a singer who doesn’t want her face shown, and it feels like it has the potential to be more than just a brief one-shot. Some, like the afore-mentioned ‘Rainy Day Dream’, do benefit from being short and sweet, as they cover short moments in time that are just sweet memories for the characters, or they make their point and don’t need to say any more, as with ‘Everyone’s Missing Out’, about an office worker who overhears colleagues gossiping about their older boss.
One or two are mildly problematic, featuring hints of dub-con or, with ‘Oblivious You’, about a teacher and her former student. There’s also one which doesn’t seem to understand how sex between two women actually works: ‘I Want To Make My Work Senpai Moan’ is based on the premise that two women together always ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ the way men in yaoi are expected to. But, given that none of the stories actually feature any explicit sex, it feels like less of an issue as actual sex acts are left up to the reader’s imagination.
Honestly, I’d like to read similar stories about men, more focused on love and romance, and on partners building each other up and being affectionate with each other. For the most part, this was a very sweet and enjoyable read, easy to dip into if you only have a few minutes at a time to read. It’s not cheap – I’d be wary of paying the same £10 for a single volume of a longer story – but for the rarity of yuri about older women alone, it was definitely worth it.
Also this week, I picked up volume one of Coyote. It had been cropping up on various ‘recommended’ lists a lot lately, so I took the plunge, and honestly did not regret it.
It’s essentially a werewolf/hunter Romeo and Juliet (or Romeo and Romeo?) story, with hints of A/B/O dynamics. That’s not my thing with fanfiction, but I don’t mind so much with original stories, and the werewolf-in-heat aspect was only one small part of a bigger story.
The titular Coyote is one of a pack of werewolves living among humans in what I’m assuming is meant to be France. Coyote is drawn to a pianist in a bar who goes by the name Marleen, and who rescues Coyote from an unexpected heat (and by ‘rescues’ I mean ‘has lots and lots of sex with’).
But of course things never run smoothly, as Coyote’s pack is also being hunted by the Gillard family, who kill werewolves to trade their blood on the supernatural black market, and…well, I’m sure you can guess where this is going.
It’s a beautifully drawn story, with the first six pages in lush full colour. The dialogue never feels melodramatic either, for all that this is a very dramatic story. Although it’s not something I might usually have picked on my own, I enjoyed it enough that I’ll most likely be pre-ordering volume two.
I’m still trying to get back into fanfiction reading, although my focus levels are a bit hit and miss. From tomorrow, I’m on holiday for a few days, so there won’t be the usual Thursday essay, but I do want to use the time to try to do some actual reading. The thought of four whole days of unstructured time is honestly a little bit scary, so I’m making plans to scour the local charity shops for some pulp sci-fi stuff to read on the beach, and I’m also hoping to get a little work done on some fic-projects of my own.
Remember to follow me on Twitter for more up-to-date nonsense on what I’m watching from the Summer ’19 anime season (and possibly for some arty holiday photos too!).