Released by Kodansha Comics in the West, miman’s Yuri Is My Job! is a new yuri manga with lots to offer. Main character Hime is obsessed with her image, putting in massive amounts of effort so that she can impress others enough to slack off for the rest of her life. Unfortunately for her, she bumps into another girl going home one day, and with her arm injured, that girl ropes her into working at ‘Cafe Liebe’, a maid cafe of sorts with the theme being that of an all-girls’ school, particularly the sort you’d see in Class S-inspired yuri such as Maria-sama ga Miteru. Unable to get out of it as a result of blackmail, Hime tries to make the best of her experience, but various complications arise in her attempts…
At first glance, the series would seem to ring as remarkably voyeuristic, with customers there entirely to watch the performed relationships of the employees. However, a couple factors work to downplay this, minimizing any creep-factor that might otherwise be present. First, the audience is at all times mixed-gender, demonstrating the diversity present in fans of the genre. Second, it mocks these fans to some degree: after all, they’re watching a performance and yet they eat it up as if it’s entirely genuine, something which surely makes fun of its readership to some degree as well.
However, do not let this fool you: this is a satire, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in genuine merit beyond its biting humor. In Volume 1, Hime is first forced to struggle with whether or not her plan is even a good one, and whether or not she truly enjoys putting on the front that she so regularly employs. In Volume 2, after meeting a childhood friend with whom she had a falling-out, the potential ramifications of Hime’s behavior are further questioned, with the end of the volume hinting that the next will focus on one of Hime’s other friends, Kanoko, presumably exploring the front she puts up.
What this builds to, above all else, is a question of performance. The girls at Cafe Liebe are performing the role of queer(though in a stereotyped way) for their customers: does that mean there’s no real feeling beneath that, no genuine attraction? Hime puts on a front of being perfect: does that mean she’s horrendous deep down? What is the moral value of putting on these fronts, and is it natural behavior or something which should be stopped? These questions are all raised by the series, and though none of them are answered in full in these first two volumes, the direction it seems to be leaning towards is a satisfying one. As Bloom into You approaches its conclusion, Yuri Is My Job! may become the premiere yuri manga with a focus on performance.
And lest you think it’s only thematically interesting, the character beats throughout these two volumes stand strong as well. The depths to Hime herself mean that any page which peels her back just a little bit more is a joy to reach, and even when she’s being a bit of a brat it’s all in good fun. It’s equally enjoyable to see Mitsuki—Hime’s in-character ‘partner’—’s strict interior when compared to the loving senpai routine she puts on for the crowds and the different ways in which she and Kanoko display interest in Hime means that those coming to this series for non-satirical yuri are sure to be satisfied. The other two members of the cafe are also quite engaging, though we’ve done little to dig into their characters thus far.
And don’t be afraid: this release is more than solid enough in other departments to back up its strong writing. The art, while far from the best ever seen in anime, looks far nicer than you’d expect on first glance, with emotional faces and funny deformed characters equally well-done. The translation work is also strong, with Kodansha providing translations for the German words used in-universe. Certain elements, like the paneling, are nothing to write home about, but there’s remarkably little to bemoan.
Yuri Is My Job! is, in all, a very strong narrative, wielding both satire and drama to great effectiveness. If you like yuri, then it’s your job to read this.