Yearning for Yuri: Collectors

I’m back with some more adult-focused yuri. This time I’ll be focusing on a fantastic 4-koma manga: Nishi Uko’s Collectors. Collectors is a great manga to start with for those looking to get into yuri that features adults, primarily because it’s not that long and somewhat silly while still focusing on serious, adult issues. It’s centered entirely around adult women and does a great job at being both a yuri series and a queer narrative in general.

Collectors is a 4-koma manga, and therefore it has a lot of focus on comedy, but that hardly detracts from the story or characters. Collectors does a great job at focusing on its main couple and blending its comedic elements in with its more serious moments, which is key to a work like this.

The principle idea of this manga is that our main leads are both collectors: Takako is a collector of clothes, while Shinobu is a collector of books. While these elements are used for comedy, they’re surprisingly important and have a major impact on their personalities and relationship. These two aren’t just people who fiddle with clothes or books as minor hobbies: they spend lots of time and money on these collections.

And that’s used to great effect at all times. They frequently come into conflict with each other over their interests, which often results in humor but just as often results in fights, and these fights are treated very seriously. If this manga excels at any one thing it’s the portrayal of a fairly realistic relationship and the ability of those in the relationship to fight while still loving one another is a great example of that.

One other key element to the series is their desire to move in with one another, which we are to understand as their equivalent to marriage. This desire gets brought up somewhat frequently, and it leads to the most important fights in the series. Both of them want this, but both worry that the other is two focused on their work or passions in order to ever settle down. These are very real fears that they grapple with, and the manga does a great job with handling these fears. It’s also clear that the manga takes their relationship seriously, as their intention to move in is entirely lacking in fetishization while at the same time validating, showing them as equally valid to any heterosexual couple.

As I said earlier, Collectors is written by Nishi Uko, who is a wonderful mangaka overall. I believe(though don’t quote me on this) that she is an openly lesbian woman, one of many who has entered the yuri genre within the last decade, spreading works which are more blatantly queer. Many other authors I will cover are part of this trend as well, but we can see this incredibly well in Collectors as well as Nishi Uko’s other works. Almost all her works focus on adult women or otherwise out-of-the-ordinary relationships.

A good example of this is her one-volume manga Tonari no Robot. While one of the characters in this manga is a schoolgirl, the other is an android, and the manga details their relationship, going into classic ideas about how a relationship works between a being who doesn’t age and one who certainly does. This is a tried and true romance plot, but queering it is important, as it erases the idea that queer relationships fit one mold. Like Collectors and her various one-shots, this manga takes the relationship totally seriously.

Collectors has a few other characters as well, and they spend time with our leads when they’re not together. Our leads are not just a well-made couple but also well-made characters, as they’re given occupations, hobbies, separate friends, and different personalities. They do come across as adults, but unlike many works that try to seem “adult”, they also come across as funny and sometimes silly. I suppose I’d describe the entire manga like that because while it has its fair share of dramatic and emotional moments, it never gets bogged down in them, and it could always make me laugh with the next chapter. We’re very fortunate to be getting works like Collectors nowadays, and I hope stuff like this continues to pour in.

The Japanese release of Collectors can be purchased here. Scanlations are available online, but the entire series has not yet been scanlated.

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