by Samantha Hill




A fairly new term that has popped up in the Otaku vocabulary. Shoujo-ai literally means "Girl's love". Stories under this category focus on the relationship between two females. This term is coined only by Western fans, and one can only assume it was in response to the ever prosperous shounen-ai ("boy's love") fandom. Yuri (literally translates as "lily") can be seen as the equivilent to yaoi, the more explicit end of the boy's love spectrum. Unfortunately, with the hentai artists of both Japanese and Western grace being male, Yuri has become such a staple that it just be heaped in with regular (hetero) hentai. You can learn more about Yuri and Shoujo-ai at ~ HAPPY READING!


Shimatenkei is a mad-made island off the ports of Tokyo created by unnamed benefactors with permission from Japan's government. It is in the shape of a cross, with an invisible forcefield enclosing it to preserve the many natural landscapes found within. Officially, the island is used for botanic and zoological research. Because so many researchers brought along their families to live on Shimatenkei, a school was built for their children. Today, the school is select private school with all the trimmings; if your parent(s) was not hired to work on the island, you are there because you were chosen for a purpose.

Shima means island and Tenkei means Heaven's blessing; gift of nature; natural resources. Shima is first in the name because in the online Japanese dictionary I use, "shima" is first in such words as shimadai: ornament representing the Isle of Eternal Youth, shimadzutai: from island to island; island-hopping, shimaguni: island country (i.e. Japan), shimakaze: island wind, ect...The combined kanji will make for a very meaningful name, combining heaven, gifts, nature and blessings for the island. For now, let's translate this as...Heaven's Blessed Island. Sound good? Though during the manga it will be Shimatenkei.

GYFU (click here for picture)

[This rune is the symbol of Shimatenkei. Is is the very shape of the island, as well as school symbol found on the collar of the male school uniform.] The seventh rune of the Elder Futhark is Gyfu, which means gift. It is the X-shaped sacred mark, the linking rune that symbolises connections between people or the gods. As the gift, Gyfu signifies unification through exchange. It denotes the unity between the donor and the person to whom the gift is given. The creation of balance is the key feature of this rune. It is personified by the goddess, Gefn, whose title is The Bountiful Giver. Magically, Gyfu gives access to those powers which can link us with other people, or the human level with the divine. It is useful in magic which involves interchange between people, such as cooperation between two individuals. This can be to further a common cause or a business relationship. When used magically, this rune should not be written as crossing between two lines, but as a combination of two strokes, > and <. When they are written horizontally, they represent a connection between human, on Middle Earth, and other powers, either above in Asgard or below in Utgard. This rune's element is air, and has a bisexual polarity. The corresponding trees of the Gyfu rune are the Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra). Its herb is the Wild Pansy or Heartsease, (viola tricolor). Its colour is deep blue. Its symbolic meaning is "sacred mark". Its sound is 'G' as in 'gift'.

KEN (click here for picture)

[This rune is the symbol of Shimatenkei Grand Student Library. The Ken rune and statues of Heimdall can be found throughout the bulding.] The sixth rune is called Ken. As with many other runes, we can find its meaning in language. The Scots dialect word ken, "which means knowledge", is the general meaning of this rune. Thus it is a rune of teaching and learning. Ken can take a number of forms. Its most common forms are < and, alternatively, a branch arising from a straight stave. It is the polar opposit of the eleventh rune, Is, the single stroke representing the static principle. This upright form is the shape of the shape of the ancient means of lighting, known in Germany as the kienspanhalter, a floor-standing holder of the flaming of pine-wood. Basically then, the name Ken describes a fiery chip of resinous pine wood, burnt for lighting. The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem says:

The torch is living fire,
bright and shining.
Most often, it burns
where noble people are at rest indoors.

Because Ken brings us light in the outer darkness symbolically, it brings the inner light of knowledge. As the fire of the hearth, Ken represents the power of the forge in which material is transmuted by the smith's will and skill into something new. The disordered raw materials are put into order by human consciousness. In the Younger Futhark, Kaun can mean a sore or wound. This relates it to the Gothic letter Chosma, which means illness/illumination in the shamanic sense. Wounds and illness are sometimes gateways to personal change. Ken is therefore a rune which connects the rune magician with the mystery of transformation. Magically, then, the Ken rune can be used in workings concerned with personal illumination, or which produce mystical creation. This is achieved through the union and transmutation of two separate entities into a third, which did not exist before the operation. Ken can be used to channel protective energy and regenerative powers, and to empower all positive actions. It is under the overall rulership of the watcher-god, Heimdall. It has the corresonding trees of Pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). Ken's herb is the Cowslip, (Primula veris). Its colour is light red. Its symbolic meaning is "fire of the torch". Its element is fire, and it has a female polarity. Its sound is 'K'.

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