MARIA HOLIC • Minaro Endou • Tokyopop • 16+
A black comedy parody of yuri (lesbian) manga, specifically the “lesbians at Catholic school” light novel series “Maria-sama ga Miteru”. Kanako, a closet lesbian, has always dreamed of attending Ame no Kisaki Catholic girls’ school and finding the girl of her dreams. But everything goes horribly wrong — someone slips a slimy tentacled monster into her bookbag, everyone at school is some kind of weirdo, and her cute roommate, Mariya, turns out to be a crossdressing male sadist who calls her “swine”, “sewer rat” and “excreta” and makes creepy threats (“If I get in trouble, I’m really gonna stick it to you!” “Stick what?! Where?!” “Every single pore and every single follicle!” “Yeah, but with what?!”) From its unrelentingly snarky dialogue and mean-spirited mood, to its heavy saturation with manga clichés, Maria Hoiic is a dense read intended for high-level manga fans. (A love of sadistic humor helps too.) At its best, though, the dialogue is very funny and clever, and gets some nice digs in on yuri manga, a genre filled with all too many soppy love stories about shy girls holding hands (“You’re a lesbian, aren’t you?” “Noooo! You don’t have to be so blunt about it! Just say, ‘I’m into yuri’ or something like that!”) Contrary to stereotype, Kanako spends most of her time thinking of female flesh and erupting into gross-looking, eros-triggered nosebleeds. One of the biggest weaknesses is the awkward artwork, which makes the series simply hard to look at, although some of the cartoonisms are original. As a side note, the series is drawn by a female artist for a magazine mostly aimed at male readers, and its hybrid style shows the breakdown of the traditional shonen manga-shojo manga divide.
** 1/2 (two and a half stars)
Today’s winner is Erika D. of Georgia! Congratulations, Erika!