Content warning: this work contains sexual assault and mentions of suicidal thoughts.
Readers of Yuri may be familiar with Mikanuji’s work – I Don’t Need a Happy Ending was the third work released in English, following Assorted Entanglements and Now Loading…!, and they also contributed a story for the yuri anthology Whenever Our Eyes Meet… I Don’t Need a Happy Ending is in the vein of that last book, a collection of unrelated short stories about women trying to looking for love together and sometimes not reaching the goal. While the title seems to imply that that’s the point, most of the stories lack the bittersweet quality that makes up for that theme.
The title story is by far the most successful, both in terms of creating a story of beautiful desire and in giving us a satisfying resolution. The story is about Maria and Roberta; the latter is the only daughter of a nobleman while the former is her maid. Roberta is on the brink of being forced to marry her father in order to support the family (if not the name), and Maria is willing, although dissatisfied, to love her lover only from afar. That changes when Roberta propositions Maria, saying that if she is forced to marry, she at least wants to control her first sexual experience—preferably with someone she loves. This is notable not only because Roberta admits to having feelings for Maria but also because she equates it with “losing her virginity,” something that is not always brought up when talking about sex between two women. , largely due to the lack of anything. penis in action. Although virginity is a social concept, the importance of Roberta considering sex with Maria as “real” is significant and speaks to her deep feelings for the other woman. This story is the only one set outside of modern Japan (it takes place around the turn of the twentieth century in Europe) and is also the only one with an ending, showing us that despite title but a happy ending is huge. within a woman’s reach. In their afterword, Mikanuji says that the title is intended to show that neither Roberta nor Maria need a traditional happy ending, i.e. marrying a man and that they can find happiness together .
Unfortunately, where there are bright spots, there are also weak spots, and this book has two of them. Both “I’ll Never Fall in Love with You” and “I Don’t Know What Love Is” can be very uncomfortable reads, as both stories deal with consensual sex. unconsciously and suspiciously. The first story is the most disturbing. Its plot follows Saara and Sugiya, two high school girls who have not seen each other since elementary school. Sugiya bullied Saara relentlessly, and now that Saara is back, she feels uncomfortable as she becomes aware of her actions. So does Saara – and she has a plan. Throughout the story, Saara rapes and sexually abuses Sugiya, videotaping the acts to ensure that the other girl will accompany her. When Sugiya begins to show what she thinks is love for her tormentor (I’m sure we can think of another word), the story shifts to imply that they could have a normal relationship. often. To call it uncomfortable would be to underestimate the problem. “I Don’t Know What Love Is” tackles some of the same issues, with shy Nakamukai being dragged along by Hayakawa, senpai from both high school and now her college drama club. Hayakawa continually belittled Nakamukai, reacting negatively every time she got the young woman to open up. We want to see Hayakawa bringing Nakamukai out of his humble shell, but Hayakawa’s complete failure to listen to Nakamukai or consider his feelings makes the whole thing unpleasant. It’s not quite as annoying as “I’ll Never Fall in Love with You,” but it’s close.
On the plus side, if you’re looking for yuri with actual sex scenes, this one fits the bill, so much so that the last time I checked the book wasn’t on Amazon. While it’s not nearly as adventurous as some BL or heterosexual romance titles, it’s much clearer than the usual English-translated yuri. Mikanuji’s art is also quite good; the profile is a major weakness, it looks more like half the face has just been cropped rather than we are looking at the face from the side. All of the character designs have similarities, which can be confusing if you’re reading while tired, but overall it’s very nice and the story’s title gives a nice sense of the turn-of-the-century setting 20.
I Don’t Need a Happy Ending is only as strong as its weakest stories, and that makes this a mediocre book. While the title story is great and the author’s notes are interesting, the second and third stories drag it down, and the fourth and fifth stories are just okay. If you’re offended by rude yuri, this should cover it, but otherwise I’d recommend looking at the library instead of buying it.