“Paradise Lost” is the direct English translation, however it is mostly known as Shitsurakuen.
Is starts off with an optimistic, strong-willed girl Himoto Sora. She has just transferred to a school where males are more “dominant” and actually “own” girls. It’s a virtual reality game, that is a bit too real. The girls are “weapons” in this game and they battle each other (not like THAT you DIRTY MINDED PERSON, YOU). Her best childhood friend Tsuki goes to this school.
Using a special glove to draw weapons from the girls’ bosom, and battle each other. If the weapon gets hurt, the girl feels the same pain. The only exception is death, if the weapon is completely broken, usually the girl is just severely injured and unconscious.
Only males get sent this glove. Except for Sora.
As she learns more about this, she acts all “knightly” and vows to try and save as many girls as possible from this chauvinistic system.
I would categorize this into the shoujo-ai and harem genres, as you can probably guess she has many many girls she’s quite nice to.
The ending is mind-fucking (By ending I mean chapter 23….but Chapter 24 is messed up too so…)
You can read the English translation of it on mangafox, here.
Yuri Rating: 8/10
Overall Rating: 4/10 (more detail as to why below, but contains spoilers)
WARNING WARNING MAJOR SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT
Ok I….I…I DON”T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN WITH THIS ONE.
And I Don’t mean that in a good way. Like “ehhmigod it was soooo amazing i don’t even know where to start” it’s more like “ohhhmy goodnessss this was kind of a mess I don’t know where the fuck to start.”
First, I’m going to say I really really really LOVE Square Enix (Makers of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Sleeping Dogs, and also publish manga/anime such as Full Metal Alchemist, and this one was well). They always have a deep meaning/message to almost all their things. Shitsurakuen did have a deep message. However, the execution of it was…..questionable.
Here’s the main problem I found reading it.
1. You can’t trust anyone. It is constantly contradicting itself, even to the very end.
It’s honestly such a whirlwind of both trust and doubt surrounding so many characters. One minute, you think “oh that person would never do that, they’re so loyal and trustworthy) and literally the next chapter, they’ll show you a different side of them that makes you completely distrust them. The message even changes
ughhhhhhhhhhhhh. this made me soooooooo frusterated!
2. Sora is too perfect
I mean perfect as in, she is ALWAYS optimistic, ALWAYS strong, and ALWAYS Knightly. In fact, there was only one moment where she showed a weak side, but at that point you’ve already built such a strong image of her, it leaves you in strong distaste.
3. The ending
Maybe I won’t spoil everything, but the original ending (which was actually chapter 23, NOT Chapter 24). It was bad. In fact, it changed the whole meaning of whatever it is you thought the message was. It received so much hate, the author was forced to write an alternate ending, which is now Chapter 24. At the time I finished this series, chapter 24 did not exist, thus I was literally so close to losing it and flipping tables.
I won’t spoil Chapter 24, although you would probably be able to guess, but at least there’s one Canon yuri pair….
Art wise, it was quite nice. it’s simple yet detailed. You can actually tell Square Enix developed this since some of the hair actually looks like Cloud xD
Karin vs Cloud
However the girls are all quite cute.
ITS MORE THAN SUBTEXT! YAYYYY!
Well kind of.
There is one cannon yuri/shoujo-ai pair, but you don’t find that till the end.
This was more a Yuri harem for a good bit (which I don’t mind at all :3). And it’s heavily laced with confessions, devotion, loyalty and determination. There’s more than enough Yuri to go around. As for actual action (such as kissing), there’s some intimate hugging…..kissing only happens about twice, no sex scenes at all (don’t expect one).
Overall, it was quite plenty actually.
This pretty much goes hand in hand with story line. The message sent is quite inconsistent, but however I think the bigger message is what counted (at least up until Chapter 24)
The initial message I saw was “go girls”. Feminism rules. Yuri Feminism? Ok. Males suck? ok. Can’t trust nobody? ok.
And then you read chapter 23.
And you’re left with the literal feeling of “what the fuck just happened?”
The message changed to “not all guys are bad, guys have feelings too, there’s always another side, people are not always evil” etc. I mean that’s fine and all, but if you want a mind fucking inception ending, this is the one. The reason is that the feminist theme was prominent and unwavering for almost 22 chapters straight.
It just feels like we just landed back to square one, with no actual change except in perspective which….I don’t like.
Then you read Chapter 24
As nice as it is to get an actually Yuri canon, first that girl was bat shit crazy.
No I mean, I know I’ve called other girls bat-shit crazy before, but this one is like…legit, bat shit crazy.
It was like, “gurl you should not have left that mental hospital” LEGIT.
and suddenly you’re not too sure of what exactly the “message” is.
What is Utopia? An interpretation of the original ending (Chapter 23)
Now taking a step back, I do believe the main goal of this was to find “Utopia,” a world in which everyone is happy and at peace. However this manga basically points out that what you may consider to be Utopia, is not someone elses’. Utopia can be found in what you already have, and not what you want.
That is probably why we go into a very large circle, just to land back to square one. Utopia already exists, it just takes a journey/change of perspective to appreciate what it is you have, versus trying to create a Utopia, which is really just a Utopia for yourself and not others.
It was also interesting as to how the story line would parallel with Sora’s Knight’s fairy-tale, almost as if they were reincarnated versions of sorts.
Yuri Rating: 8/10
I’ll give them something for the alternate ending, but honestly it was just reaaaally fucked up. Art is beautiful, girlxgirl content is….enough I guess. That storyline though just really brought it down for me. I think it would be a good read through about once, but after that I just can’t stomach reading it again.