In a secluded school almost like a mystical convent from an ancient tale, girls come together to study and form bonds on the edge of a vast forest. Some of those girls will form closer ties to each other as schwestern, or sisters, a pairing that speaks of the love that cannot be truly named or explained but will live in their hearts long after they have left the school…Or at least, that’s what the patrons of Café Liebe are meant to think. Café Liebe is a theme café like a maid-based eatery where all of the high school-age servers dress in elegant school uniforms and pretend to be serving guests in an elite girls’ school’s visitors’ salon, playing out elaborate yuri fantasies for their patrons. And that’s where the unsuspecting Hime is forced to work when she accidentally falls on the café’s manager and breaks her arm.
Based heavily on Class S yuri – a subgenre set in elegant girls’ schools modeled on early 20th century Missionary schools where more is implied with a single flower description than most romances show – Yuri Is My Job! is both a send-up of yuri tropes and a slowly building actual yuri romance. This first volume is much more interested in the parodic aspects of the story, though, so readers should be prepared for more humor than actual yearning glances, and a certain degree of familiarity with Class S yuri is probably going to make the book more enjoyable. (One of the genre originals is available in English translation as an ebook, Yellow Rose by Yoshiya Nobuko. It dates to the 1920s, and Yoshiya is considered a Class S pioneer.) That said, the character interactions are entertaining even without knowledge specific to the subgenre.
The story follows Hime, a high school student with the stated goal of being liked by everyone so that she can eventually secure a rich older husband and be a pampered trophy wife. In her entire life, there’s only been one person she couldn’t charm, a girl who outed her as a liar in elementary school and made Hime paranoid about being found out. She’s therefore horrified when she lands (literally) on another young woman and ends up having to take her place at Café Liebe, especially since she has zero real knowledge of the type of story the café is themed around. Hime quickly learns that she can’t just fake her way through the job, something driven home by the fact that Ayanokouji, one of the other girls working there, is in a constant state of anger and annoyance at Hime’s antics. We don’t know if Ayanokouji is just super devoted to the job or a fan of the genre, but nothing Hime does goes right where she’s concerned. Many of Hime’s gaffes are because she’s not well versed in the Class S genre – she casually uses “onee-chan” and messes up the storyline, she’s far too perky for a refined maiden, and she can’t get the hang of the casual German used for restaurant items. In short, she’s the bull in the china shop, and the only thing really saving her is her carefully cultivated cuteness.
While this makes for a very funny story in a lot of ways, it isn’t without its annoyances. The fact that Hime never sought to work at Café Liebe and was basically forced into it (which everyone knows) makes the exasperation of the other girls feel needlessly mean. Hime gets virtually no instruction before she’s thrown onto the floor, so how is she supposed to know how to act and what to do? That no one takes this into consideration is doubtless intended to be part of the humor, but it doesn’t quite work, especially when the manager at least seems to delight in dropping little bombs on her just a teense too late.
Although most of the actual yuri content at this point is pretty up in the air, it’s clear that Miman is setting up a love triangle between Hime, Ayanokouji, and Hime’s one true friend Kanoko. Kanoko is obviously in love with an oblivious Hime and is both too shy to say anything and afraid to mess up their close friendship, which Hime values. To that end she basically stalks Hime to Café Liebe, where she’s aghast at the pretend relationship between Hime and Ayanokouji, which flusters and confuses Hime, who has no idea how she ended up in this situation. Things are pointing towards Hime developing (or admitting) a crush on Ayanokouji, but Kanoko is the only actual romantic content at volume’s end.
As a yuri parody, Yuri Is My Job! does a very good job. Slight edge of meanness aside, it’s a well-established satire of the Class S romance, and getting the customers’ reactions definitely adds to the silliness while acknowledging the performative nature of so much GL and BL. Miman’s art is charming, with each girl looking distinct and maintaining a balance between beautiful and cute, as well as a decent variety of figures. The glosses in the back are worth mentioning as they’re especially good; the notes on yuri as a genre are some of the best I’ve seen in similar volumes. All in all, this is a truly entertaining book, warts and all, and it’s worth anticipating the second volume.