Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Eve x Eve
Two young women are the only survivors of a global apocalypse. A couple tries to keep their love alive forever by volunteering to be the brains powering two satellites supposed to fly forever. A curse keeps a young woman trapped in her village. These and other stories in the collection explore the nature of love between two women in different incarnations.
While yuri as a genre has definitely gotten much more common in English translated manga, much of it remains in the realm of the sweet and sexually innocent. Even series with higher sexual content, such as Citrus or Transparent Light Blue, still steer more on the side of purported “purity” in their depictions of sex between two women. Nagashiro Rouge's Eve and Eve is, therefore, worth paying attention to in terms of landmarks for non-hentai yuri releases, because it is by far the most explicit manga to be licensed, at least that I've found.
Why is this something that you should care about? Well it's certainly a good thing if you prefer more sexual romances, but it's also noteworthy because it doesn't try to gloss over or erase the fact that women are just as sexual as men. Notions of female “purity” are fine in fiction to a degree, but if that's all that's available, it doesn't really do women any favors, and it also certainly risks fetishizing lesbian relationships in a very specific way. Again, if this is your preference in fiction, that's perfectly fine, but having only one or two examples of the genre does a disservice to readers and to what the genre is capable of as a whole. Yes, yuri is still fiction and therefore not beholden to realistic depictions of its romances, but variety is always good.
All of the stories in this collection are written and illustrated by relative newcomer Nagashiro Rouge, and they cover an interesting variety of plots and relationships. Of the six, two involve the “yuri pregnancy” subgenre (where a woman impregnates another woman), one is science fiction, another dystopian post-apocalyptic, and one fantasy/horror, with the remaining two pieces being humor and sweet light sci fi. That's impressive in that even though there's some repetition of theme, each story is still in its own distinct genre of fiction. That makes reading this book feel like a true anthology even though they're all by the same creator and certainly speaks well of the author's creativity. Of the pieces, the yuri pregnancy stories may be the most difficult for readers in general to get into, not because they're less well done, but because that is a fairly specific fetish that doesn't work for all readers in a way that a genre shift doesn't. Of those two, “Heir to the Curse” is the more difficult because it's also the piece that comes closest to crossing lines of consent. Although it is eventually given, the entire premise of getting the two women together is based on deceit on one of their parts, which makes it a little harder to swallow. By the same token, “An Infidelity Revisited,” about two women who cheated on their boyfriends in high school with each other and meet up again in their twenties to cheat on their girlfriends is the least romantic in general, and while it explores an interesting topic – their love is only worthwhile when forbidden – it leaves a bit of a sour taste behind.
The post-apocalyptic tale, the first story in the book, is one of the most interesting in its execution. The author admits that the opening scenario of Earth's destruction is completely over the top (although done that way on purpose), with meteors, aliens, zombies, you name all happening one after the other, but that's then used fairly well to further the plot of the piece, which is the love between Sayu and Russian exchange student (trapped in Japan during the apocalypse) Nika. All of Nika's lines are written in Russian, which is either frustrating or a good way to make the reader understand the difficulties the two women face communicating verbally, depending on how you interpret it. As the young women wander around devastated Tokyo, they come across a crashed alien spaceship that was apparently intended for Earth repopulation after all of the men had been killed off – it contains special beds with pictoral instructions for two women having a baby together. Credulity straining? Yes, but given that Sayu's greatest wish is that she and Nika could have a child as an expression of their love, it's easy to overlook the narrative issues.
As I mentioned, almost all of the stories in the book are fairly explicit in nature, albeit without showing much detail in terms of genitals or even nipples, which is honestly a little odd given the obviousness of what's going on. The exception is one story that specifically discusses levels of comfort with not sexuality, but having sex. In that piece, a manga artist has bought a sexbot for use as both an assistant and a model, but she's reluctant to actual use Lisa (the bot's name) for her intended purpose, even though the two have fallen in love. This is because despite the erotic nature of her manga, she believes that in real life, sex should be the result of an emotional connection, and she doesn't want to do it just because Lisa's designed for it. The question of their attraction is never an issue; it's more a statement on how not everyone is going to have the same attitudes, and that those can be respected and negotiated with love. While the comedic story (which has a great end gag) is also pretty tame, this is the one that stands out in how it handles the idea of sex rather than sex itself.
Eve and Eve is an interesting collection, thoughtful in its plots and not always comfortable in its romances, two elements which are definitely connected. It's not going to be for fans of exclusively tame/pure yuri, but if you're looking to expand your idea of the genre, it's a very good place to start.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B
+ Soft attractive art, stories all have interesting themes that the author explores thoughtfully
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