Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Whenever Our Eyes Meet
Whenever Our Eyes Meet… is an anthology of love stories between adult women, most of them working women. Whether they meet on the job, at a reunion, or just by chance, each encounter is one that explores the love between two women and the many ways it may manifest.
Short story collections are like a grab bag, and that's part of what's wonderful about them. Fortunately Whenever Our Eyes Meet...…is more hits than misses, and it has a unique aspect that stands to endear even the less stellar stories to readers: it's a “woman's love” anthology, so all of the characters are fully grown women, not blushing schoolgirls. Given how much more of the latter than the former we get, that's quite a heady premise. The stories in the book range from a mere three pages to around twenty, each drawn by a different creator. The three pager, Tamamushi Oku's “Rainy Day Dream,” is also the saddest, about a housewife who has a one-off affair with another woman before having to return to her regular life, with the implication that the affair was a moment of peace in an existence that is otherwise overwhelming and perhaps a bit lonely. Most of the other stories, however, focus on happier endings, with a few reuniting former crushes or lovers (Satsumaage's “In My Studio-Apartment Palace” is the best of these), pairing off co-workers, or detailing the beginnings of a sweet romance, or perhaps a very cozy, warm friendship that will later bloom into something more. There's also a story that has the distinction, dubious though it may be, of being the only May-December romance I've ever truly, truly enjoyed, irua's “Everyone's Missing Out,” about an office worker and her much-older boss who are in a relationship. Since the boss isn't well liked by the other women in the office, the romance has less of an air of something vaguely forbidden and more that the younger woman has a delicious secret – that no one but her knows how wonderful the other woman actually is because they can't be bothered to look at her as a whole person.
This, it should be noted, is par for irua's course as an author. Several of their doujinshi works are available digitally in English (with the Japanese version included) and most of them are about relationships with large age gaps, including A Female Middle School Student x Married Woman and My Childhood Friend Loves My Mother, and they do seem to be much racier than anything found in this anthology. (A third title, Queen Bee x Queen Bee does not appear to follow this pattern.) Irua isn't the only creator in the book with works released in English, either – Mikan Uji's Now Loading…! has been released by Seven Seas and is also a story about working women, and Yukiko, who only provides a (lovely) illustration, is the creator of Futaribeya, which is currently being released in English by Tokyopop. For most of the other artists and authors, this is their first work to be translated, and in some cases, their first work ever. This variety does contribute to the interest of the book overall, as it gives us creators with a variety of levels of experience as well as the chance to read something else by an author you may already know you enjoy.
This does not stop this from there being a sort of similarity to much of the art within the book, which is interesting because that wasn't the case with Éclair, the previous yuri anthology Yen Press released. Fortunately that means that most of the artists draw with a delicate touch that's really very lovely, and none are so alike that you'd think they were drawn by the same person. Seta Seta's clear use of digital tones in “The Stopped Meter” does help the story to stand out artistically, Suzuki-senpai's “Saccharine Beauty” is notable for being less fussy than many of the other pieces. The book is rated Older Teen, but it really isn't all that racy or even risqué; there are maybe three stories that hint at sex and no actual sex scenes, and even the kissing is pretty tame. The romances are also almost entirely consensual, with the one that pushes the line, Kurukuru-hime's “I Want to Make My Work Sempai Moan” making it clear that this is how the women have agreed to conduct their relationship.
While the stories are perhaps only “mature” in that they're about adult women, this is still a charming anthology. It has a nice variety of scenarios and professions in the stories, and the color illustrations are especially attractive. Every so often it's nice to read about older characters, and if that and yuri are both things you enjoy, I'd suggest checking this out.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B+
+ Nice variety of creators and stories, all-adult cast stands out, satisfying number of stories
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