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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

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Yukarism (manga, vol. 1) by Chika Shiomi, translated by John Werry

Yukarism, Vol. 1 - Chika Shiomi

At his birth, Yukari was declared to have retained memories of his past life. In the series' present, seventeen-year-old Yukari is a prolific author of books set in the Edo period. He doesn't particularly like writing and he never does any research, but his memories of his past life compel him to write.

His lackluster attitude towards writing dismays Mahoro, a student at Yukari's school who happens to be a huge fan of his work. Yukari feels a connection to Mahoro, which he immediately realizes is due to the fact that they knew each other in the past - Yukari's past self was cut down by a sword and died in a fire, and it seems that Mahoro's past self died right beside him.

It'd merely be an interesting discovery, except that Yukari suddenly finds himself drawn into the past and deposited into the body of his former self, Yumurasaki, a popular oiran (according to the translator's notes, a class of courtesan). For some unknown reason, Yukari keeps getting pulled backward and forward in time, meeting people in his present who are reincarnations of people he knew when he was Yumurasaki.

I didn't realize until I started looking up more info about the meaning of "oiran" that I had probably mistaken this series for Sakuran, another series starring an oiran. Whoops. Well, I can try to hunt that series down later.

Yukarism wasn't exactly bad, but it left me feeling very underwhelmed. Yukari's reaction to being transported into the body of his past self seemed extremely muted considering that 1) his past self was female, 2) sex was very likely to come up at some point, and 3) it was possible he could end up experiencing his past self's death. Oh, and he had no idea whether his actions in the past might have some effect on the future - although he inhabited the body of his past self, his mind was very much that of his current self.

In this first volume, Yukari met three people he knew in his past life: Mahoro, who was once Kazuma, Yumurasaki's (male) bodyguard; Emi, who was once Hitoha, Yumurasaki's apprentice; and a young man who once Takamura, a good-looking but menacing client of Yumurasaki's. Everyone seems to be at least a little affected by their past lives, even though most of them have no memories of their past selves. From the look of things, the series is going to be focused on the mystery of how Yumurasaki died, and whether history will end up repeating itself.

Since the series is only four volumes long, I plan on continuing on. I hope it improves, though. The premise is interesting enough, but the execution is a little weak. At least the artwork is decent.

Extras:

  • A couple pages of translator's notes.
  • Author sidebars. Writing/illustrating a historical manga was very much outside the author's comfort zone.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)