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MANGA DOUBLE-DIP: 'Netsuzou Trap' & 'Bloom Into You'

By alicebg, Jun 24 2017 02:18PM

The past few years have been a boom time for yuri manga, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down in 2017. Two contrasting series are currently running here in the UK, and I thought it might be fun to review them together.

NETSUZOU TRAP: Love Really Hurts

Netsuzou Trap is my first overt example of what is an emerging anime/manga sub-genre: NTR. Like many anime terms, NTR is difficult to define precisely, but essentially boils down to creators putting their characters – and by extension audience – through emotional torment. The fundamental niceness of most manga characters (even quite dangerous ones) is here replaced by murkier motivations and a nastier edge. The result is engrossing but occasionally uncomfortable reading.

Netsuzou Trap features the thoroughly decent Yuma, whose relationship with equally decent boyfriend Takeda seems to be following a gently upward curve. But there’s a problem – Yuma’s childhood friend Hotaru. Once a wallflower, Hotaru has jumped ahead to adulthood by means of fooling around, and now she wants to fool around with Yuma. Under the guise of ‘educating’ Yuma in the ways of men, Hotaru effectively seduces her and puts and severe crimp in the progress with innocent, unknowing Takeda. Meanwhile, Hotaru’s own on-off affair with arrogant tosser Fujiwara begins to take some decidedly dark turns.

Quite where all this is leading is anyone’s guess, but the constant threat of something awful about to happen is slightly wearing. So far, we have no clue as to Hotaru’s motivation – is she gay for Yuma, or does she just want to fuck up Yuma’s feelings to the same degree her own appear to be damaged? Time will tell on this slick but uncomfortable ride.

BLOOM INTO YOU: What is love, anyway?

Bloom Into You is a much more traditional yuri manga, at least in its first volume. Yuu is a confirmed romantic who dreams of the thunderbolt-style love match happening to her. But, on graduation from Middle School, her best (male) friend confesses his undying devotion, and Yuu’s response is – nothing. No drama, no drumrolls, no feeling whatsoever. Entering High School, Yuu quickly comes into the orbit of the popular Nanami, who plans to make a run at being Student Council President. Things are just peachy until, out of the blue, Nanami confesses she is in love with Yuu. Yuu’s response? Nothing; again. Can Yuu actually feel love, or could it be reality is different from all that shoujo manga she’s been consuming?

Bloom Into You has an interesting take on the subject of unrequited love, since Nanami maintains her stance even though the response from Yuu is entirely neutral. Nanami has no intention of forcing the issue, but whether her long-game tactics will ever pay off remains to be seen. Meanwhile, a neat little triangle is beginning to emerge, as Nanami’s old pal Sayaka clearly wants to be more than friends, and is just waking up to the possibility of Yuu as a threat, albeit an unwitting one. As sweet and delicious as Netsuzou Trap is sour and sleazy, Bloom Into You more closely approaches the traditional expectations of yuri. But both titles are well worth a look.

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