Yuri Manga Review: Octave by Haru Akiyama

octave yuri manga
Yukino (left), Setsuko (right)

Author: Haru Akiyama
Year: 2008
Length: 6 Volumes with 36 Chapters
Genre: Romance, Drama, Slice of Life, Yuri
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I know, I know, this has been long overdue, but I just recently found the time to finally re-read this so I could write my review. So here it goes.

Story: 8/10 and Characters: 6/10
After a more or less failed career as a singer and idol, Yukino is now living alone in Tokyo, working as an idol manager. She’s very unsatisfied with her life and can’t let go of her past as an idol.

One day she meets Setsuko, a songwriter who shares a similar past to her own. Feeling like she has finally found someone who can relate to her own feelings, she lets herself be taken in by the strangely alluring Setsuko.

First of all, this manga is one of the biggest yuri stories we’ve ever seen. There are no less than 6 volumes focusing on the relationship of Yukino and Setsuko, and the yuri starts out like right when we get introduced to the characters. So unlike other yuri manga that have been going for a similar amount of time like Aoi Hana or Sasameki Koto, Octave differs from them in one big aspect.

Octave fully focuses on the yuri relationship at hand. It doesn’t add in tons of side characters, and it doesn’t take forever for the two protagonists to finally get things going. We’re basically thrown into their relationship from the first chapter on, and the focus is fully set on them for the whole run.

Well, I’m usually a sucker for really, really slow romances, so this is definitely not my ideal yuri love story, but it is satisfying nevertheless. And especially when we consider the fact that these two get on an emotional roller-coaster ride, once they meet for the first time.

It was a mix between constantly wanting them to “get their shit together” and actually wanting them to fight, just to see how they manage to get through the problem. That’s actually top-notch entertainment right there.

octave yuri manga
Yup, very good entertainment 😛

However, there is one thing that bothered me throughout the whole story, and that one thing is unfortunately the main character, Yukino. Sorry to put it so bluntly, but I hated her. I don’t feel this strongly about characters often, but damn, she was so annoying, and I was constantly hoping for her to just get another girl- or even boyfriend.

I just feel like she doesn’t really deserve Setsuko, who on the contrary, is probably one of my all-time favorite yuri characters in manga. Someone who’s so caring, understanding, cute, and yet also freaking cool; I just couldn’t see her with whiny, cheating, “Yukihoe”.

But enough about Yukino, let’s focus on something more satisfying, and that is how unbelievably well the characters seemed to developed through the manga, especially in case of Setsuko.

You might say she’s always been like that, but I think we witnessed quite a drastic change of character in her case, as well as in Yukino’s. The Setsuko we first get to know seems to be a really strong girl, someone who doesn’t really care what others think, and someone who just takes whatever she wants without a fear in the world. However, as we slowly get to know her, we realize that this is not really who she is, and by the end of it, we see her change into a really loving and caring girlfriend, which is a big surprise considering how Setsuko first treated Yukino.

All in all, I’m very satisfied with how the whole story played out. Even though I really disliked Yukino, she was mostly the one factor that made the whole story as exciting as it was, so I guess we could call her a necessary evil.

Art: 6/10
I know, it might be a little too harsh to give this “only” 6 out of 10, but this art style is simply not my cup of tea. It looks so simple, without much shading, and I didn’t really enjoy how this mangaka draws faces.

Don’t flame me for that, but as good as the story might be, the art simply doesn’t live up to it.

Yuri: 10/10
If this manga doesn’t deserve the perfect score, then which one does? It’s a story packed with yuri relationships, yuri sex, yuri crushes, and a lot yuri relationship problems. Though, let me at least inform you that the yuri sex that I just mentioned is not as explicit as you might be thinking, thanks to the NSFW tag it received on our favorite reader. These scenes are rather on the PG-16 end, which is probably a good thing, since straight-out porn would have definitely ruined the story a little.

Total Enjoyment: 8/10
It took a while for me to gather the courage to pick up this manga again, and that is purely the fault of my arch enemy, Yukino. If it wasn’t for Setsuko, I would have probably stayed away from this manga for an even longer period of time.

However, as you can see, I re-read Octave, and just like it did the first time, it left quite a big impression on me. It is seriously a one-of-a-kind manga, and if you haven’t already done so, you should at least check out the first chapter of it.

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24 thoughts on “Yuri Manga Review: Octave by Haru Akiyama

  1. I stopped reading this manga about a third of the way through just because of Yukino, and I rarely don't finish anything just because of a bad character(s). I'll try reading through it again from the start though.

    I do wish we'd have more Yuri manga that was as long, especially slow romance stories.

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  2. This is simply the best serialized yuri manga I ever read. Number one in my top 3. Number 2 is Girl Friends and 3 is Sasameki Koto. I hope something else will finally dethrone them in the future. Maybe Yagate Kimi ni Naru or Watashi no Muchi na Watashi no Michi. Or maybe something non japanese, like Fluttering Feelings 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this manga overall for a lot of the things you highlighted, I also agree with the flaws you picked, especially the main character Yukino. She was one of the most overbearing characters I've ever had to endure and I felt she deserved to get all the bad luck that came her way. Granted their was always something so beautifully tragic about their relationship that made them perfect for each other. I swear the emotional roller coaster I felt for this mange are virtually identical to how I feel toward Citrus now lol

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  4. I'm actually waiting for something that good as well. It's been a while since I was really that thrilled to read a manga, but I won't lose hope that something like Girl Friends will appear again!

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  5. I really liked how Yukino's growth was realistic. I did not hate her, even if she annoyed me some times. It was nice as well to have a story about adults, even if young. Nice to get out of school for once.

    I find Mei really annoying in her own style.

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  6. I recently reread this for the second time too. On the first reading I almost stopped at the NTR scene.

    I agree with you that Yukino is used to drive the story forward and provide drama(aaaangst). While Setsuko is cool and all, I still think you need a polar opposite to get her to evoke and develop as a character.

    Yukino does bring out your ire though. I don't know how many times I caught myself thinking “She's getting hit on again?!?! How is this gonna work out this time?”. I guess it also made me think of when I was young and stupid too though.

    The conversations with Shiori are drama gold too. My favorite quote of hers is in Ch28 P27 “It's the end when you don't know whether you love your girlfriend, or whether you love yourself who is in love with your girlfriend.”

    I added this to my favorites for these reasons: I couldn't put it down; I was engrossed by their relationship; Yukino often made my blood boil (which resulted in me not stopping reading until the latest train wreck had passed); the realism; the good ending (additional point for making me teary).

    It's excellent yuri, just a tough row to hoe.

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  7. There really were some excellent lines that got me thinking, just like the one you just mentioned. Well, I also have to admit that much of the great drama in this one happened thanks to Yukino.

    I really have to give her that.

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  8. Whoow thank you very much for this review !! I've been for a good yuri manga for so long and I finally found one. The story was great and there was just enough sex to keep you entertained. I did like Yukino though. Of course Setsuko is cooler but Yukino is more realistic in my opinion, she asks herself a lot of questions and knows pretty much nothing about the world, which make her look vulnerable so you want Setsuko to protect her. I think this manga wouldn't be as great as it is without her.
    I do agree that the artstyle was not outstanding (compared to Mira or Chi-Ran's doujins) but the story was so great that I didn't mind (it's quite original, that's more realistic than your stories your used to find in other mangas/doujins).

    Anyway thank you for this review, I had a really good time reading this manga.

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  9. If I remember correctly Pieta is one of these… very “unique” looking ones, right?
    Well, let's beat around the bush, I don't like the art style so I've never touched it.

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  10. Yes I did. Well, I'm a bit lazy 😉 If you know another good Yuri manga, I'd be eager to read it. I've heard Girlfriends is quite good but I like when there's a bit of NSFW (my favourite doujins are Mira and Minase Ruru's one).

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  11. So I just checked out Pieta. Good story like you said, but I didn't like the art, and the dialog was kind of flat and lacking tone/emotion. I did like the whole soul mates vibe.
    Not my cup of tea, but I can understand why people liked it a lot (lots of positive comments on Dynasty Scans).

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  12. Sorry for the long wait.
    Your selection seems to be quite limited. Well, naming Mira and Minase Ruruu, that's unexpected 😛

    Let's go for the obvious first, Citrus by Saburouta. Awesome art style and some sexy scenes. No adult scenes though. For these try Amano Shuninta or some doujin artists.

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  13. My selection is indeed very limited. I started to read yuri manga just recently. However I already tried Citrus but I didn't like it. I read the first five chapters and i found it terribly annoying, especially because the relationship between the two main characters isn't clear at all (five chapters and nothing serious between them) I wasnt even sure whether tehy really loved each other or not (whereas in Octave it's really explicit even at the beginning of the manga). I think I didn't understand the meanning of this manga.If I remember correctly at the beginning one of the girl (I don't remember her name) kiss the other character and then behave like nothing ever happened. It was so frustrating ! Anyway, I won't say this is a bad manga but I guess I just wasn't able to understand it.

    I will try Amano Shuninta though, I haven't heard of this artist yet.

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  14. So you want something that starts with romance and yuri right away instead of waiting a little for things to happen?
    For some reason, I think you might enjoy the Sono Hanabira games 😛

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  15. Okay thank you for your advices. I'll give them a try (not the games though, I prefer the good old mangas). It's not that I don't like when it takes some time but I found Citrus very disturbing because the romance is not obvious at all. Yes, there is a kiss at the very beginning but then absolutely nothing (the characters are very cold hearted). I couldn't have guess It was a yuri manga just by reading it.

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  16. I think the toneless feeling is important, as it helps setting the characters apart from everybody else. As for the art, it is really apart from what you get in yuri usually.

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  17. This is one of the best Yuri manga Ive ever read in my entire life. Also I don’t get why people hate Yukino, I mean sure she’s not a great character. But I never thought once that she was annoying,In
    fact the only annoying character in this manga is that one male character she agreed to sleep with……oh……thats why. But seriously, Just because she lets people take advantage of her. Or the fact that she took several pages to decide that she wanted to live with setsuko doesn’t
    make her a bad person. Also I think that the art style is nice and pleasant :D, While I do adore complex art styles like citrus. Its still nice to look at a calm and simple art style. Also why do you like slow romance? I prefer the characters become a couple immediately and have a slow growing
    relationship that lasts the entire manga, instead of the characters taking the entire manga to say “i love you” and when they do there relationship goes rapidly fast in the last 5 pages ( seriously thats so unrealistic ). But hey your entitled to your own opinion, and I’m entitled to mine :P.
    – Zion.W

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