Book Review: Yuri to Koe to Kaze Matoi by Renmei

Cover of Volume 1 of Yuri to Koe to Kazematoi. One woman with light brown hair looks back over her shoulder at another woman with short, black hair who's laughing, with the title over it in blue.
Yuri to Koe to Kaze Matoi by Renmei
Author’s Twitter | Amazon.jp

A high-schooler who knows nothing of romantic love meets an older woman with a secret—
Third year Nonoshita Matoi had never had a crush on someone and was tired of getting caught up in her little sister and friends’ boyfriend drama.
One day at the local driving school, Matoi meets Yuriko, who had just moved there from Tokyo, and got a ride home from her on her motorcycle.
Matoi is perplexed that she had taken such an interest in a woman whose name and address she didn’t know.
What could this new feeling be?

Hello There

Welcome to my blog, this fine Ace Week. What have I been doing, you ask? Only reading the best ace manga ever written![1]

[1] In fairness, there are very few ace manga

Yuri to Koe to Kaze Matoi is from the outset, explicitly, the story of a relationship between a romantic ace and an aromantic ace. But we’re not satisfied with checklist representation around here! What else does it bring to the table?

A: Nothing. But honestly, that’s what makes it kind of brilliant?

Tropes, Subversion of

So, we’re thinking typical high school yuri manga, what are we thinking? A meet cute, a couple of picturesque outings where they drink tea and eat cake and talk, some fluff about whether or not the other person returns your feelings, convening a Girl Council to give you a makeover before your big date, maybe a past tragedy that one has to open up to the other one about, both of them thinking the other is the best thing since sliced bread because of the other having qualities they lack…. fluffy end. And aside from the last onewhich I couldn’t say because it’s not overthe gang’s all here!

The tone is light, whimsical, almost comical. Everything is way too dramatic for no reason. The art is very pretty but in kind of an evocative rather than purposeful way. This is a beautiful yuri manga where everyone’s ace and nothing hurts.

And it’s about time!!

How many heartrending comings out have I had to sit through, huh? How many scenes of rejection, or worse, of aces compromising themselves to fit in? How much philosophical discussion and academic analysis? How many deeply flawed and morally questionable characters?

No, I say to you, no more! I demand a break! and I got one.

Honestly just making the main characters both ace is enough to make it feel fresh. Will it one day pale in comparison to more sophisticated works? Maybe. But we don’t live then, we live now!

In many ways the story wouldn’t work if it didn’t rely so heavily on the tropes of its genre. The fact that the punchline of all these dramatic, high Romance scenes is consistently over and over again an asexual one is a large part of the joy of reading it. To give the first example, Yuriko says dramatically that she did have a special person who she had wanted to take riding on her motorcycle, but it was too late now. The mystery! The drama! The pathos. And it is still all of those thingsjust, the special person was her grandmother. The tension between knowing where the trope is telling you the story will go and knowing for a fact that’s the one place it’s not going is poetic cinema.

Disappointment

Surely, you think, there is no way I could write a review without any criticism of the work at hand. I said that Ace was “the book I’ve been waiting for,” and yet I spent a lengthy section leveling serious critiques against it. And it is true that there are things I don’t care for either as a matter of taste or a matter of community politics in these books.

But I don’t care! I will not being saying a word against it, because that is not what it is for! It is for pure, emotional escapism, end of.

And the thing is, there are a lot of ways something like this could fail. It’s a very fine line the author is walking, because there is conflict and invalidation in the story, and acknowledging that without trivializing it is tough. But the story is so effortlessly ace. It is very easy to slip into this world, and to trust this author.

So if you like matcha lattes and getting caught in the rain, if you’re not up for philosophy and need to turn off your brain, if you like reading fluffy nonsense and cheese that leaves you agape, then they’re the manga you’ve looked for: come with me and escape.

12 Comments

    1. It doesn’t look like there’s an official translation (yet?), and unfortunately I’m not really plugged in to scanslation communities anymore. Let me ask a couple of friends and see….

      I mean, I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it myself (although it would have to be old school style; I do not have the patience for proper scanslations and never have), but. Hopefully it won’t come to that orz

      Like

    2. Agreed, this looks right up my alley, and I would love to hear about an English translation if it ever is available.

      Like

      1. So, I actually reached out to the publisher after this, and they said that unfortunately there were no plans for an English translation at this time. My understanding is that Lilie Comics a new imprint on a relatively small publisher, so this isn’t so surprising. The sense I got wasn’t that they were opposed but rather that the opportunity hadn’t come up.

        If you wanted to register interest, there is an address at the back of the book if you’d like to write to them:
        Dogenzakashobo Comics Henshubu
        1-22-7 Dogenzaka Pia Biru 5-kai
        Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
        150-0043
        JAPAN

        And they answer their twitter DMs lol But I don’t think they have an in-house English capacity, and forgive me for the assumption, but I am guessing you don’t speak Japanese (or else why would you have left this comment!), so I feel like a letter they wouldn’t feel like they needed to respond to would be better.

        I did follow them on twitter, and I will definitely come back here and let you know if they announce a translation!

        Like

      2. I just noticed today, there is a different address at the back of Volume 3:
        Dogenzakashobo Comics Henshubu
        Royal Palace Shibuya Rm 407
        15-10 Uguisudani-cho
        Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
        150-0032
        JAPAN

        Probably too late for anyone using this address, but.

        Like

    1. Not that I necessarily know, but I definitely think it would be. Like, any piece of media that gets me to just shrug and move on when the wrong definition of an ace identity is given? You know you have a winner there. However, there is a warning I want to give: the two main characters are 18 and 22, and the 18 year old’s middle-schooler younger sister has a series of older boyfriends, including one with a motorcycle license and beard. Ultimately, the manga plays it off in such a way that it’s not distractingly icky… but it certainly is there.

      Like

  1. Out of curiosity, what within the manga actually communicates that the characters are ace? Like, do they make it clear they have no sexual interest, to each other as well as anyone else? The summary seems like a typical kinda ‘maybe accidental grey-aro or demi-aro rep?’ setup (I kinda need the full aro reps though; I tried to read Bloom Into You but it just made me depressed), so I’d typically assume it’d go ‘wow, now that I love someone I want to do things with them too!’ in the end as well. You mention they’re both ace, but I don’t see anything else on that in the descriptions?

    Like

    1. Oh, they say it explicitly. In the first chapter, you get to see Matoi watching YouTube videos about being ace, and later on when she moves to Tokyo, she meets some other queer characters too. Yuriko is a little more ambiguous in the sense that she’s not connected to the community in any way, but she’s explicit about her feelings and the author’s summary confirms her orientation. Believe me, this is not a Bloom into You situation. Ugh, I never want to be in a Bloom into You situation again ><

      Like

      1. Oh wow, that’s really cool! :) Seeing manga characters who are explicitly connected to the LGBT+ community is rare enough, but seeing it in an ACE sounds downright amazing! I’ll defintiely check this out!
        And oof, glad I’m not alone on Bloom Into You… It’s weird, because when I was younger I used to LOVE ‘character thinks they can’t fall in love but then falls in love’ stories, which probably should’ve been my tip-off that I was maybe kinda aro myself :’) But nowadays, my feelings on that trope are a LOT more complicated… and while I didn’t feel like the author of BiY was doing anything BAD, at least in the first volume I read… yeah, that’s a way of doing the trope I just can’t get into anymore, sadly.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s