While I appreciated the first two installments of the Éclair yuri anthology series, I’m not so sure about its latest addition Éclair Bleue. This book is like the troublesome sister out of a group of triplets. As with any anthology, it’s a mixed bag, but sometimes the ratio of good vs. bad stories is skewed in the wrong direction. There was a decent portion of girls’ love stories that were likable, don’t get me wrong. I just felt that half of the entries were problematic (or simply not that great) in one form or another.
Let’s look at the positives first. The stories I enjoyed include Soul Mates, Love Drops, Open Your Eyes, The Girls’ Destination, In the Twilight, and Sato, Tears, a Woman, and a Woman. All of them had a twist or premise that was unique and provided something new, which can be difficult for someone like me who’s read God knows how much yuri.
As for my favorite out of the anthology… It’s a tie between Soul Mates and Love Drops. Both were cute and simple. In my review for Éclair Blanche, I mentioned that I lean towards longer stories. This still holds true, even if these two stories are on the shorter side. They were the perfect length honestly. Both provided enough background information to flesh out the characters a little and help the reader understand their feelings for each other.
Soul Mates is about Ritsu who has a crush on Seina because her horoscope says they’re a perfect match. Ritsu takes astrology and fortunetelling too far, and Seina is conflicted because she wants Ritsu to love her for real, not because a horoscope told her to. I’ve always been interested in astrology (not at Ritsu’s level, though), so this story’s concept instantly got my attention. At the same time, I know relying on it too heavily isn’t wise, and I understand Seina’s side of things. Finally, Miman’s (the mangaka) art and character designs are adorable as always, which is an added bonus.
Love Drops also had the kind of cutesy, airy artwork I drift toward. Besides that, I really liked the concept and the characters. Yakko, the love interest, has an unpredictable personality and one day randomly starts feeding “love drops” to Koto, the main character. The “love drops” are supposedly a love potion in candy form; the more you eat, the more you fall in love with the person who’s feeding them to you. Koto already likes Yakko, but she isn’t sure if the love potion is just another one of Yakko’s games or crazy schemes. I really liked the girls’ dynamic; their antics are so wholesome and cute. Yakko’s unpredictability and Koto’s naïve yet laidback nature remind me a lot of the relationship I have with my partner. (I’m the laidback one in case you’re wondering.)
Now, let’s move onto some of the entries in the anthology that I wasn’t so fond of. First, I’ll note Castle in the Bushes which is a sequel to a story in Blanche. I wasn’t crazy about the original piece Azalea Corner, and I didn’t like this one much either. It still had the same confusing storytelling that tried to be more edgy than understandable. I was confused about what was going on, and that was after reading the first part. I can only imagine how confused the people who didn’t read it would be. Anyway, another one I didn’t like was The Joy of Big Boobs. You can probably guess why from the title. I’m not against fan service, and it actually didn’t really have any. But this story was plain odd and inspired many “What the heck am I reading?” moments.
Most of the other stories are where the problematic elements come in. There are multiple that have adult and high schooler relationships. Some of the adult characters set up boundaries, which is good, but other characters don’t. There’s also a story with incest. It’s implied that maybe they’re not blood-related, though it’s vague and ambiguous. I understand that these topics aren’t as taboo in Japan, but I also know that westerners may not be comfortable with them. Either way, these stories, even without these elements, were not the strongest story-wise. Stick to the ones mentioned earlier for unique, solid, and nonproblematic girls’ love stories.
Mixed bag or not, Bleue was not as worthwhile as the first Éclair or Blanche. You’ll still find some nice stories, but there aren’t as many gems in this supposed yuri treasure chest this time.