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November 24, 2014

Bento Bako Weekly: Yukarism volume 1

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Written by: Kristin
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yukarism1Title: Yukarism
Author: Chika Shiomi
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 1, $9.99
Vintage: 2011 by Hakusensha, December 2014 by Viz Media
Genre: Romance

At just seventeen years of age, Yukari Kobayakawa has written multiple high selling volumes of books about the Edo period – specifically the pleasure district. The books are filled with amazing, historically accurate details, and are huge hits. There’s a reason Yukari can write so many books with so much living detail, however – he’s the reincarnation of a famous geisha named Yumurasaki, and it seems he’s retained all his memories of his past life (or at least of the general era, if not the specifics). He even knows he was killed somehow, though he can’t remember how or by who. Once he meets Mahoro, however, the details of his life as Yumurasaki start coming back. Mahoro reminds him of someone from his past, though she doesn’t feel any special connection to him herself (aside from a huge fangirl crush). Yukari starts passing out for stretches of time, and slipping into his previous life. However, rather than a simple dream about the past, it’s as if he’s traveling back in time to inhabit his previous body and live through that life all over again. Throughout these dreams, he continues to have visions of his mysterious death, and as he meets more people as Yumurasaki, he starts to develop a theory. Past and present start tumbling together when another fan of his books arrives at his school and insists she’s long felt a connection to him and his stories. As soon as he sees her, Yukari is immediately reminded of a girl from his past named Hitoha – a shy, frightened child who worked as his attendant. Emi Yoshizumi embodies much of Hitoha’s traits, but without the life experiences that caused Hitoha to fear everyone around her. Somehow, using the connection between them, Yukari is able to free Emi from her past memories, and the young woman immediately blossoms. Another trip back into his past reveals an intimidating young man named Shizuka Takamura, a famous witch doctor known for his effective curses. He makes his desire for Yumurasaki abundantly clear, and leaves Yukari with the sense he may be responsible for the deadly fire. Despite this journey into his past life, when they run into his housekeepers’s nephew, it’s Mahoro who has the strongest reaction to the encounter.

Yukarism doesn’t waste any time diving into its premise. Within the first few pages, Yukari and Mahoro have met and a clear connection is felt between them. Or at least for Yukari; Mahoro is just excited to meet her favorite author face to face. It’s not explicitly said in this volume, but Mahoro’s past identity is implied through the mark on her wrist. Yukari seems to fall asleep at random intervals, which proves amusing, especially since that means Yumurasaki does the same in the past, which results in a lot of anxiety for her poor attendants. While events play out in the past, Yukari is seemingly living them for the first time. He remembers a swath of details about the era itself, and even the life of an Oiran (high ranking courtesan), but can’t seem to remember specifics about his own life aside from his death. It’s a good dynamic that keeps the scenes from his past life interesting, and provides a good deal of humor as well. In contrast, Emi/Hitoha is lost in the emotional state of her past life, trapped by memories that don’t match with her current life. Then there’s Mahoro, who doesn’t appear to remember anything at all. Yet they (and the new addition at the end of the volume) have all been drawn to Yukari in one way or another, kicking off Yukari’s journeys into the past. It sounds a little confusing, but it flows very well. The Edo era scenes are a particular treat, with elaborate kimono designs and lovely historical details. I’ve enjoyed what little I’ve read of Shiomi’s Rasetsu, so I was certainly curious about title. It’s a good read. Pleasant, amusing, nice to look at, interesting concept. And it’s short, so it’s an easy investment. It’s definitely going on my reading list.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.



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