Yearning for Yuri: Tamamusi

So far I’ve been focusing on specific manga in this series. I’ve been sure to bring up the mangaka behind them since it’s important to spotlight creators of material like this, but I’ve still had a sole focus on individual manga so far. This week I’m going to cover one mangaka as a whole, an up-and-coming yuri mangaka by the name of Tamamusi.

There’s a lot going for Tamamusi. She got her start by posting her manga online, primarily to Pixiv and she only grew from there. The reason I’m covering her though is the fact that she often focuses on adults. She makes a wide selection of yuri, some of which focuses on school girls, but most of her longer works focus on adult characters, often in very different scenarios and settings.

Something that’s important to note before reading any of her manga is that her art is very much unrefined. Until recently all of her manga was Pixiv art or doujinshi, so it makes sense that it wasn’t the most “professional”. The bulk of her work very much has a rough, sketchy style to it, with the linework often being very loose and undefined. Her actual paneling is good, so it’s still easy to tell what’s going on, but it’s worth knowing this going in. Much of her more recent work has been more refined, likely owing to the fact that some of her work is now getting published, though all her work is still recognizably in her style.

Tamamushi.png
As you can see it’s very sketchy art

Her stories tend to be relatively cute and light, something you don’t often find in manga focused on adult characters. Part of this owes to the format, as much of her manga is far too short to get that serious, but it’s worth noting. This gives her a unique storytelling style even among adult-centered yuri mangaka, something I find enticing.

As I said, most of her work gets uploaded to Pixiv first, and because of that, it comes in two forms. The first is short, 1-3 page comics. These are usually cute but lacking in substance, something that’s understandable given the length. These are more likely to have school girls, but they’re almost all great and worth reading if you enjoy her other works.

Then there are her more focused, longer manga. These are mostly doujinshi, though she recently started getting published. They’re more likely to have drama than the really short ones, but they still tend to be relatively light, and they’re often 4-koma. Now, let’s look at some of these in order to show her merits.

The first manga to discuss is Roommates. This is a cute and somewhat dramatic story focused on two roommates who fall in love with one another. There’s not a ton of depth to this, but it does present how two adult women start dating each other while remaining as roommates. It’s also implied that their third roommate might be gay, though it’s hard to say for sure.

The second is Transient Dreams of Transient Things. Now, I’ll be clear here, this one is super problematic. It’s a story of a high school girl who worked as a prostitute in order to get money, and how she fell in love with her first female client, discovering she’s gay in the process. I think this one is really cute and also pretty well written, but as I said, it is problematic. The age gap is about 20 years, so there’s definitely a major power imbalance here. If you can stomach that it’s absolutely worth reading, but if you can’t that’s understandable.

The third is Ikenai Hito, my second favorite of her manga. This one chapter manga is focused on a teacher who comes to talk to the mother of one of her students, before quickly falling in love with said mother. This is cute, yes, but it’s also pretty brilliant. The adult aspect definitely matters here, as it doesn’t feel like this relationship could have formed in high school. It’s constantly clear that, even if we don’t see it, the teacher works constantly and was ready to quit before she met the mom. The teacher helps the mom through her divorce before they start dating each other. It’s just a really solid adult-focused yuri manga which brings meaningful adult issues into it while remaining a fun and short read.

And lastly is Akarui Kioku Soushitsu or Bright and Cheery Amnesia. This wasn’t her first manga to be published officially, but it’s definitely her best so far. This comedy manga is a 4-koma about a woman who lost her memory of the last 3 years, the period over which she had known her girlfriend. While her girlfriend worries that she won’t accept the idea of dating another woman, she’s quick to do so, immediately falling in love with her all over again. This manga has everything going for it. It’s legitimately funny, absolutely adorable, and it’s another case where you definitely feel like the adult aspect matters. The two of them live together and it’s made clear that before the memory loss occurred, they regularly had sex. This is just a fantastic domestic yuri series, perhaps the best I’ve ever read and if you were to read one manga from this list, this is the one. I read the first volume in Japanese — a language I’m hardly proficient in — and I still loved it.

Like Nagata Kabi, Tamamusi is one of many yuri artists using Pixiv and the internet in order to carve out her own space. Traditionally these kinds of stories wouldn’t have taken off, but nowadays mangaka have the internet as a proving ground, a place they can go to prove to publishers that they’re worth picking up, and her works are a great example of that. Her manga are just another part of the massively positive direction yuri is going in. They’re quietly queer, clearly eschewing past heteronormative tropes without calling attention to it, and that’s absolutely worth celebrating. Tamamusi has a long career ahead of her and I can’t wait to see it continue.

Volume 1 of Akarui Kioku Soushitsu can be bought on Amazon. Since they’re mostly Pixiv comics, the rest of her manga can be found there or around the net.

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