I found this in the clearance section during one of my used book shopping trips. The cover art reminded me of Yun Kouga, although the interior art wasn't quite as easy to follow as I remember Kouga's art being.
This was an anthology of four of Sumomo Yumeka's shorter works. I liked the second story the most, then the first story. The third story was passable, while the final story was confusing garbage. Unfortunately, the final story took up almost half of the volume.
Himeyuka & Rozione's Story:
Himeyuka, a 17-year-old girl, wants nothing more than to be an independent adult. In her mind, that means leaving behind everything from her childhood. Her parents' job transfer gives her to opportunity to live in a place of her own, and she impatiently rejects the childhood items and toys that her mother keeps shipping her. However, strange scribblings all over her building, plus a mysterious little boy named Rozione who declares himself hers, prompt Himeyuka to rethink her determination to completely reject her childhood.
Rozione's identity became obvious fairly quickly, but I still enjoyed this story – it was surprisingly sweet. The two pages devoted to Rozione kissing Himeyuka made me a bit uncomfortable, though. Maybe Yumeka didn't mean anything more by it than the bit where Rozione hugged Himeyuka, but it felt more intimate than that.
Yamamoto, Himeyuka's classmate who constantly kept candy in his pocket, stood out so much that I thought he'd be a recurring character tying the whole volume together. However, none of the rest of the stories had anything in common. Yamamoto was just a strange guy Himeyuka happened to know.
The Princess of Kikouya in District 1:
An is the daughter of the head of a yakuza family. Now that her father has passed away, her family is urging her to go through with an arranged marriage to a member of another yakuza family. She plans to do her duty, but first she has to bring herself to say a proper goodbye to Takeru, a kind guy she met at a ramen shop.
The artwork wasn't anything special, and the story was very cliched, but I loved it anyway. It was such a sweet little romance, very fluffy.
My Very Own Shalala:
A half-witch, half-human girl (?) named Shalala travels to our world with her little companion, Jirou. Because of her half-human ancestry, Shalala's magic is weak. If she wants to become stronger, she has to acquire the tears of the first human boy she sees (no explanation why, that's just how things are). That boy happens to be a loner named Ueno. However, Shalala discovers that Ueno's tears cost more than she may be willing to pay.
All the witch stuff looked like it came straight out of a children's series. Stereotypical Halloween-y witch costume, a ridiculous broom – the only thing missing was an adorable animal familiar of some sort. Jirou was supposedly a bat but looked like a tiny stereotypical “good looking demon” character, so he didn't really count.
The story itself was so-so. Again, pretty stereotypical. About as fluffy as the other stories in this volume, but it didn't grab me as much.
I put a question mark after Shalala's gender, because it occurred to me that I didn't actually know for sure that she was in fact a “she.” Her hair was long and she was wearing a skirt, but I don't think anyone ever referred to her using a particular pronoun, her body type could have worked for either gender, and she seemed just as comfortable assuming a human male form as she was in her original form.
It's the future, and for some reason humanity has opted to no longer reproduce, but rather continue on via cloning. This story focuses exclusively on a little “family” composed of two androids and an elderly human. They go out for cake, the human dies, and then everything apparently starts over when a younger version of the human joins the androids again.
When I saw the title of this story, I got excited. The execution was a complete and utter mess, however. I have no idea whether the synopsis I wrote was correct, and I honestly don't understand how or why this world worked the way it did. Things didn't make sense from one page to the next, I wasn't always sure who was thinking or saying things, and I didn't understand why things were happening the way they were. The beginning of the story seemed to imply that the elderly human was being continuously re-cloned to keep one of the robots from destroying the world (because, to do that, he'd have to destroy his favorite human too), but the story was told in such a confusing way that I'm not even sure about that little detail.
One full-color illustration, a page of translator's notes, a two-page afterword by Sumomo Yumeka, plus a note on Japanese honorifics. Yumeka's notes in the afterword were short but interesting. Yumeka, too, was very critical of the final two stories in the collection. It turns out that “Robot” was the oldest one of the bunch, which maybe explains why it was such a confusing mess.
As I usually do with anthologies, I struggled with rating this. I decided to rate them individually and then use the final average. "Himeyuka & Rozione's Story" got 3.5 stars, "The Princess of Kikouya in District 1" got 4 stars, "My Very Own Shalala" got 3 stars, and "Robot" got a mere half star. The final average was 2.75, which I rounded up because I really liked the first two stories.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)