Theme: "Mero Mero"
The Rundown: We thought this theme heralded a change from the old Zips compilations, with less smut and more cutesy-ness. (Mero-mero is literally "Mellow mellow", but generally means happy sweet romantic love.) We were wrong. So, that's either good news or bad news, depending on what sort of stories you're looking for. It's still one of the greatest ways to meet new artists, or catch up with old favorites, so I'm sticking with them.
Haikei Kekkon Shitashitemasu (by Monchi Kaori): Monchi-sensei is a Zips regular, and I rarely feel indifferent towards her stories. Usually, I find her short stories disturbing in a thought-provoking sort of way... though I'm not certain that's her intention. This time around, cute Takashi is looking for a way to spice up his relationship with teacher Wakana-san in time for their (seemingly randomly assigned) anniversary. Nothing works as well as some good old-fashioned introspection on both their parts to get things going again. Cuter than most of her stuff, but a better fit for the mero-mero book.
Fifty Fifty (by Sawauchi Sachiyo): This short takes place in her "Devil Devil" storyline, which I hadn't read. Based upon this installment, I don't think I'll pick it up. I'd probably be less annoyed by Hotei's constant bawling if I'd read the rest of the series and grown an attachment to him, but as it is he drives me up the wall. Anyway, Hotei's an over-sensitive demon in a definite love-hate relationship with Suzaku, a callous angel who likes to take advantage of him. Dangerous Hijinks Ensue. I suppose it's mero-mero to somebody, but I wasn't interested. If you're a fan of weepy-love (or just really like guys with wings) this will probably appeal to you.
kiss o saseteyo (by Murakami Sachi): A favored plotline amongst mangaka has always been the "power struggle" between seme and uke. Murakami-sensei tosses said plot device into a schoolboy romance in a far more believable manner than I normally see. Kaoru is very popular at school because he's cute (like a puppy). He's dating Tetsu, who is rather vocal that Kaoru belongs to him. The guys at school assume since Kaoru is cute (like a puppy), Tetsu must be the seme. Tetsu lies in a heartbeat to keep from changing their perceptions, but forgets what's really important to him in the process. It's almost a mero-mero morality play, this one.
Wagamama mo Aishite (by Yamada D Yonezou): Wow, these are some damned ugly school uniforms. Yamada-sensei goes plaid-crazy in this schoolboy romance starring popular Daijuu and his mood-swinging boyfriend Kan. Kan desperately wants to be the one in control in the relationship, but slowly comes to realize their dynamics will never mesh that way. Cute, but I kind of wanted to slap Kan-chan too. Yamada-sensei's art is strong as usual; if you look closely at the hideous plaid, she doesn't just screentone it one-dimensionally, she actually lines it up with the folds in the fabric. Gold star!
Osananajimi no Shiikuhou (by Nanten Yutaka): You know the uke is going to be cute when a bunch of first-graders in the first panel refer to him as "Nori-chan-sensei". Childhood friends Kazu-kun and Nori-chan (who absolutely don't look like high-schoolers) only sort of admitted their feelings for each other, before Kazu-kun got sick and the subject died off. Kazu-kun comes to visit Nori-chan at his dojo to see if his love is still reciprocated. The "Say you love me" scene is particularly adorable, this story is definitely mero-mero (though typically Zips explicit). Kansai-ben warning; it's not the only Kansai story in the book, but it has the thickest accents of the lot.
Akai Mikazuki (by Enomoto Tsubaki): I went into this story rather biased, since Enomoto-sensei has only written a few stories I've really enjoyed. It's a slow-moving romance, that would probably match well with classic literature if the sex was replaced by random images of flowers blooming and snow falling gently on a willow tree. Lots of mero-mero dialogue, but it seems kind of stretched.
Tsukiatterannee! (by Hori Erio): Upperclassman Naoya is an odd but happy match for cool jock Yaegashi. Yae's a bit more adventurous than Nao can tolerate, and after a make-out session in the phys-ed storage room gets "interrupted", Nao breaks it off. Yae tries to win him back in as many persistant ways as possible, but Nao still shoots him down. It isn't until Yae backs off that Nao realizes how lonely he is without him. Cute opposites-attract schoolboy romance... nothing ground-breaking here, but I was rooting for them.
2 ketsu nite Sanketsu (by Noda Kanami): The simple relationship issue of riding a bike together. Morimoto is uncomfortable, and it's cold, and it gets him and his boyfriend Nakane in trouble at school. But the little gesture of being together is really more important to easily-embarrassed Morimoto than any of those factors. Noda-sensei's simple art matches her storytelling well.
Unlocked Cellar (by Nitta Youka): Installment 27 of her Haru o daiteita series. Katou gets jealous when other guys look at how pretty Iwaki-san is! Shock! Okay, if you love Haru, this is about as mero-mero as they get. If you don't like Haru, it's only 16 pages long. There's also a pull-out color insert of Katou and Iwaki, if you need more incentive.
Koisuru DNA (by Yamane Ayano): This is the sequel to a short featured in her "Finder" tankouban, where rivals Mizuno and Hiyama do a little spying after accidentally seeing their fathers together in a romantic moment. Mizuno has a serious crush on attractive Hiyama (as if Yamane-sensei could draw an unattractive guy if she tried) and it's only gotten worse since last time. Hiyama's dad finds out that the two boys are "friends", which becomes a convenient excuse to go visit when Mizuno gets sick. So hilarious, such amazing art, a great little story to round out the book. Cheers!
Warnings and Suggestions: Zips were always adult, and Luv is shaping up the same way. A lot of naughty scenes, quite a few set with high-school students in this one. A non-consentual scene in "Fifty Fifty", but everything else was quite vanilla.