Yukarism Vol. 1

Yukarism Volume 1 by Chika Shiomi

I’m always excited for the first volume of a new Shojo Beat series comes out, but I was SUPER EXCITED for Yukarism because I’ve enjoyed previous works from Shiomi so much. My absolute favorite of her series so far is Night of the Beasts. I thought that Yukarism had an interesting premise, so I was very curious!

The couple embracing on the cover of the first volume isn’t a couple, it is the same person in a current and previous life. Yukari is a young teenage genius of an author, producing books set in the Edo period with vivid historical detail. His new classmate Mahoro is fascinated by him, coming up with excuses to stop by with homework or treats when he’s absent from school due to a writing binge. Yukari recognizes something in Mahoro, but when she has a conversation with him, her expectations of talking to a author dedicated to his readers are derailed. Yukari seems to approach the world with a significant amount of detachment, perhaps because he’s haunted by memories from a previous life. When Yukari notices a scar on Mahoro’s wrist, he’s catapulted into the past and wakes up as a courtesan in the Edo period named Yumurasaki. Here, Mahoro’s previous life was as a man named Kazuma who serves as Yumurasaki’s protector.

Shiomi’s art is lovely. The character designs for Yukari and Yumurasaki look like male and female aspects of the same person. The shift in detail in the backgrounds from the sparse modern day to the elaborately decorated Edo period is a treat to see. There are little moments of physical comedy scattered throughout the book, because when Yukari travels to the past he can’t be as graceful as Yumuraski and finds himself overbalanced by headgear and teetering off his shoes. Kazuma is terrified when he sees Yumurasaki casually sitting like a teenage boy with his legs spread apart.

Yukari approaches his sudden experience of his past life like an adventure, but he doesn’t yet seem to be emotionally affected by living Yumurasaki’s life. He’s unconcerned by how his odd behavior might affect her relationships, and his attitude seems to be much more that of a writer observing details than someone who is invested in actually experiencing his life. Yukari’s encounters in the past end up giving him insight into the present, as a tormented girl who works in Yumurasaki appears in the present with psychological issues due to the trauma of her forgotten previous life. Yukari is able to use the knowledge he gained as Yumurasaki to help her.

Overall, I found this first volume very intriguing. I’m looking forward to seeing how the past continues to have an impact on Yukari’s present. Shiomi does a great job coming up with characters who have reticent but interesting personalities. Yukari really acts just as one would expect a teenage boy who used to be an elite courtesan of the past to behave. I’m also curious to see how the relationship between the more dynamic Yukari and the watchful Mahoro develops. Yukarism is a great new manga to kick off the new year!

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