Iono the Fanatics by Fujieda Miyabi is a short yuri manga with a vastly distinct premise. The queen of a small nation, Iono-sama visits Japan in search for women with luscious black hair to take as concubines (sobame). After meeting and and quickly seducing Eto, Iono tries to convince Eto to leave Japan as her sobame. Iono the Fanatics depicts the pair’s time in Japan before Iono returns to her country. Clearly, this is not the usual overused schoolgirl romance.
Iono the Fanatics does not take place in a school. The characters are not students infatuated with their sempai. Instead, Iono-sama, Eto, and her ministers are all assumed to be adults (except that one cute loli). With that comes a lack of teenage drama and a maturity in all the characters. This is something I really appreciated.
Further, unlike other yuri manga depicting adults like Octave, Iono the Fanatics features almost no angst. The characters do not show much insecurity or self-doubt over their love for Iono. There is no gray area between romance and friendship nor conflicting thoughts of social conformity. The romance is lighthearted but firm and the characters are honest about their feelings. For example, Iono is very clear on what she wants from Eto and she is very aggressive in getting what she wants… Free from all the uneasiness, the manga remains a fun romantic comedy all the way through the two volumes. This is particularly important also because Iono the Fanatics is a harem yuri manga.
Harem and yuri are two genre that are rarely paired together. Most notably Shoujo Sect has done it before, albeit with less focus on the actual simultaneity of relationships. The notion of being in love with a single lover still remains in Shoujo Sect. Iono, on the other hand, is frank about her status as a queen and her voracious appetite for cute girls. She makes it clear to Eto and the ministers/ mistresses that she cannot love only one woman, and Iono’s harem embraces this. Of course, Eto and some women do wish for more attention from Iono at times. However, as alluded to before, the comedic and loving mood of the manga allow these issues to be addressed easily and pleasantly. Jealousy among the women never becomes anything too serious or ugly. Iono’s charming personality probably helps a lot with that as well.
Iono is definitely quite the character. She is beautiful, cute, ecchi, fun, aggressive, a bit conniving, and most importantly, very queenly. Miyabi Fujieda succeeds in portraying this incredibly lovely queen through Iono’s various interactions with other characters. There are several glimpses of her elegant eminence, during which the readers could really understand why the women willingly follow Iono despite having to share her love.
Iono the Fanatic has always been a favorite. It is a rather unique yuri manga that breaks the popular yuri stereotypes set by Marimite and Strawberry Panic. It is a romantic harem comedy and it does all three genre really well. The romance is heartwarming; the harem is lovely; and the comedy is funny. Moreover, consistent with Miyabi Fujieda’s style, it has no ecchi at all even as a harem manga. What it does have is lot and lots of cuteness. In fact, everything and everyone are so cute that I just cannot fault it for anything.