Over the past two weeks I took a look at The Feelings We All Must Endure and Ayame 14. These are two very different works, but both of them are clearly coming from the perspective of a queer woman. They’re works which are at the vanguard of the yuri genre’s current shift, and I think both are somewhat necessary reading in order to participate in the discourse on modern yuri manga. The same is not true for Amano Shuninta’s other manga. Her other works are varied, interesting, and absolutely worth reading, but they aren’t as important or relevant. It’s for that reason that I’ll talk about them all here, rather than giving them their own posts.
Yukemuri Sanctuary is a collection of couples connected by one shared setting. This is a common trend in Shuninta’s shorter works, and here the connection is that of a shared bathhouse. Serving as an anthology, we see the stories of a variety of couples, many finding love at this bathhouse. The stories build on each other here and they have a conclusion, but they aren’t deep. By-and-large the plots themselves are often an excuse to portray the couples having sex, though this isn’t a manga you’ll want to read just for the sex scenes. It’s not a great work, but it’s fun because of how over-the-top it can get.
Sweet Guilty Love Bites is another collection, though this one is much more interesting. Here we see three couples, connected by the fact that 4 of the characters are hostesses at the same club. Because we only have three couples here we get a lot more elaboration on the relationships, making this a more interesting anthology. The actual dynamics of the three relationships are unique and it manages to be that way without resorting to frequent absurdity. It’s cute and it’s sometimes hot(there is sex), but it’s also just a good yuri manga, and perhaps the one I’d recommend most out of Shuninta’s less vital work.
Philosophia is not an anthology. This is Shuninta’s darkest work by far, surpassing even The Feelings We All Must Endure. Like that work, this story stars characters who feel like real people, but here I can safely say that this made me dislike them. The series is moody even at its happiest moments, and it often sinks to true depressions. I honestly can’t say I enjoyed reading this manga at all. It’s probably the most important of Shuninta’s manga after the two I first highlighted, but it’s not a fun read in the slightest. The ending isn’t happy, and it’s hardly even hopeful. I just don’t like it and I won’t reread it, but it is a valuable work and probably an important one.
The Structural Form of First Love is another anthology, though it’s lacking in a through line this time. Unlike many of Shuninta’s works, this one contains a large helping of schoolgirls, though it still comes across as notably queer. Unlike her other anthologies, this contains no porn, and it almost feels lacking every once in a while because of it. Perhaps it’s just what I’ve come to expect. Either way, this one isn’t all that interesting. If you really like her work it’s worth checking out, but otherwise, it’s pretty run-of-the-mill. The titular story is the best one if you do decide to search it out.
And lastly, we have Bombshells. This is a collection of doujinshi that Shuninta wrote, and it’s pretty weird. As the title suggests it has some porn, but that’s hardly as present as you would expect. Instead, we get stuff like exhibitionist Little Red Riding Hood, size gap furries, women sitting in an inflatable swimming pool and more. It’s bizarre, but that makes it quite enjoyable. Here you really get to see the kind of stuff Shuninta is interested in when she has no editors directing her, and it’s absolutely ridiculous. If you want to get a better sense of Shuninta as a mangaka this is absolutely worth it, and it’s also worth reading if you’ve got any interest in the absurd.
She has a few other one-shots, but that’s the bulk of Amano Shuninta’s published work. She has another manga but it seems to be het and it’s not in English so I won’t cover it.
Overall Shuninta’s works share a few key traits, outside of their great character art. Compared to yuri as a whole, Shuninta’s works are queerer, older, and more complex. Her characters are less simple and more layered. At times this makes them unlikeable, but at other times it pays off in a big way. These characters are often in college or older, and when they’re younger such as in Ayame 14 that’s actually used to say something. And her works are very queer. There are characters who actively identify as lesbians, and it’s clear that her works come from her own experiences and feelings, at least to some extent.
There are many mangaka worth praising. But I can say with extreme confidence that Amano Shuninta is one of the best. Without her, the yuri manga industry would be in a much worse place. I’m happy she’s around.