Konshuu no Renai ~Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito~
June 15, 2006
Now actually, at the moment, I'm supposed to be preparing for my final practical exam this year, but since its in 2 hours, I thought I'd get this post done first, then I don't have to worry about it later. Pics are all I can find on Google right now since Danbooru is down. I might update with nicer ones later.
Since today marks the end of my first year at Medical School, I wanted to commemorate it by talking about one of my favourite yuri based anime of all time: Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito (Yamibou). Now, this anime has had a lot of criticism over the years after its release, and even the Wiki entry for yuri describes it as being "flawed". However, not being one to side with the opinions and morals of general society, I absolutely adore Yamibou and believe it to be the best yuri anime ever made. As usual, Spoiler warnings for what is to follow.
Now when I say "yuri anime" I am referring to anime where girl/girl relationships are the main presiding theme; namely: Kannazuki no Miko, Maria sama ga miteru, Strawberry Panic, Kasimasi ~Girl meets Girl~ and Simoun to name but a few. Also, shows such as Sailor Moon S and Shoujo Kakumei Utena could also be included with presiding yuri relationships.
Now why do I think Yamibou is excellent? Answer: Because I am shallow.
First point of note about it: The art is amazing. Since I am a shallow individual who will watch whole series of anime purely on art style alone, the superior quality of the art in Yamibou makes a huge difference to me, especially over other shows in which the art is less to my liking (such as Marimite for instance)
Second and most importantly: The relationships. Now it is clear from the outset that Hatsuki loves Hatsumi (or Eve) more than a sister, but the sheer devotion of that love is one of the best selling points about the anime. The fizzling angst and emotion that charges the scenes where they are together is fantastic and unsurpassed by any other yuri relationship in anime (people should know by now that I am an avid subtext (non-obvious) relationship fan and that angst is my favourite part).
Thirdly (mostly for my enjoyment): The consummation. The ending to the series was arguably the best ending to a anime shoujo-ai relationship: where Hatsuki and Hatsumi finally consummate their feelings just for one night and where Eve shows that out of all the forms she has been in over hundreds of millennia, she has never loved anyone more than Hatsuki. Granted it was fanservice, but the final climax of a subtextual relationship is, I believe, an important plot point in concluding such a storyline. Also, coupled with the sadness of Eve's parting from Hatsuki's life, the ending leaves you with mixed feelings of sorrow, but yet fulfillment – the best way to end an anime.
Now, supporting these, there are other aspects of Yamibou which makes it more than enjoyable to watch. There is never a shortage of emotional scenes that make the tears well up inside you, like the scene aboard the space station where the computer is left alone at last after taking care of her travellers for years and of course the tale of Ritsuko, wrongly imprisoned (though in a rather revealing outfit ^_^) Also (controversially) I rather like the mythology behind the whole thing, with the Cosmic library and Eve and Lilith as caretakers of the many worlds.
The thing I think that spoiled other yuri based anime such as Kannazuki no Miko is the inattention to the relationship – instead, they injected meaningless mecha and the relationship got shoved aside and the anime went downhill. Anime such as Marimite and Strawberry Panic are good in theory, but the way they are paced are rather pedestrian and fail not so much at story, but just being too slow and boring
So it should come as no surprise that I love Hatsuki/Hatsumi fanfiction. Unfortunately, despite my ramblings, there is a very limited western fanbase for Yamibou and therefore, fanfiction is severely limited (thats not even considering the availablity of well written fanfiction ^_^). Nevertheless, I highly recommend the fanfiction currently on Shoujoai.com in the Yamibou section.
A Time Forgotten is a rather well written lemon (i.e. not worksafe) fic from Ariana which is probably my favourite fiction at the moment
Shanejayell's Another Destiny is also good and comes highly recommended.
The other one that shows promise is Mk Anderson's Growing Pains, though this doesn't look like it will be finished or even updated any time in the near future (his last Fanfiction.net update was in September 2005), so to save yourself the anguish of reading a partially finished fic, you could give it a miss.
Any other fiction links that I don't know about that are worth looking at I would be happy to receive. I think I have another at home that I might post later.
Basically, I can't recommend this anime enough. It's a cute, well animated anime with great art and relationship storylines with a fantastic central yuri relationship. If this article gets one more person into it and writing fiction, then I've done my job.