In which Irina gives up and just starts making up words…

Good day to you all. I hope you are in fine spirits today as I am once again about to embark on a half thought out venture where I attempt to discuss a subject I have very little expertise on, namely: The general concept of Yuri.

For reference, I am familiar with both the Yuri and Yaoi genres, although a little more with Yuri, possibly just because there’s a lot more out there. Utena is one of my favorite animes, and I grew up on rose of Versailles so the genre also holds a bit of beloved nostalgia for me. I am not however anything you could call an expert and have had little contact with the fanbase so I’m iffy on public opinion and general conception.

I’ve seen Yuru Yuri so forget what I said. I AM an expert!

I do know a few Yuri centric bloggers though and have even had the chance to chat with some on occasion. And it’s one of those bloggers who introduced me to the notion of Yuri bating. We were discussing Sound! Euphonium and they mentioned disliking the show because it was Yuri bating. I was a bit confused having not realized it was supposed to be Yuri at all but even if it was, how did that make it bad. The other blogger went on to explain that in the source material, Kumiko eventually starts dating Shuuichi. Setting aside whether source material should be considered when evaluating an adaptation, or whether that particular plot twist changes anything in the overall dynamic. It made me realize something, I might not actually know what Yuri is.

After a year of reading Yuri dedicated blogs, I have read a lot about Pan de Peace, Yuru Camp and idol shows but rare are the posts about series like Strawberry Panic or Uthena. Granted both older shows but still explicitly exploring romantic relationships between women and the obstacles they face. Citrus was pretty generally discussed as is the recent Bloom into You but they share the spotlight with a lot of othe all female cast hows. It seems that explicit homosexuality isn’t necessary for an anime to be considered Yuri. Something like Harukana can make the cut simply by pouring on the fanservice and Yuri Camp didn’t even go that far, straying away from sexuality of any sort.

I guess one common feature is a mostly female cast. At this point though I’m not entirely sure what the difference between moe, cgdct and Yuri is. I noticed that both magical girl and idol shows often get thrown into the category as well. Also seemingly randomly. I don’t think anyone felt bad that Serena was dating Darien though. Except for me! The guy’s a jerk! You can do better sailor moon. Oh man, I just revealed a secret identity.. forget you read that.

Sailor Mars was way hotter – all the sailors were hotter…

You may think, but Irina what does any of this even matter? It’s just semantics. Half the words you use aren’t in any known human language, why would you care? And you never shut up about genre classification being of dubious merit at best. And you’re right. Maybe a bit aggressive about it but still completely right. However, if we are going to understand each other as anime fans, we need to have basic understanding of each others’ vocabulary. And if we’re going to huge anime for their failures to stick to their genre, we should know what those genres imply.

I should say that for the moment,this ambiguity applies more to Yuri as Yaoi still seems to be reserved for anime with clear homosexual themes but this could change if the cute boy genre becomes more prevalent.

As such, to make things easier for us all, I have taken it upon myself to clarify the genre a bit by making up my own classification rules (because actually learning the ones that already exist is hard!).

I’m not sure where this is from but it seemed on brand

Hana: Anime with no sexual or romantic elements that fandoms have decided to call Yuri for reasons.

Zassoo: Anime with no romantic storyline and no explicit lesbian relationship but with tons of fanservice clearly meant to get the audience thinking that way. Hint hint, nudge nudge…

Shoujo Ai – Hinagiku: Shoujo Ai already has a clear definition. It’s stories with important plot threads of romance between two girls but where the relationship never becomes sexual. Either because it’s one sided or because they concentrate on courtship before the physical aspect. But since no one ever uses that term, and to keep my theme going, I suggest we rename that category Hinagiku.

Benibara: anime with either shown or implied sexual relationship between women, and where the relationship between two women is a fairly important part of the story line.

Ringo: series that contain explicit lesbian relationships but those are very secondary to the story so the anime isn’t considered Yuri despite having more elements not it than a lot of shows that are. Think Psycho Pass or Shin Sekai Yori.

And Finally Yuri. Because I have learned that there’s little point in fighting against the tide, I suggest adapting the meaning of Yuri to its use and making it an umbrella term for all the above categories.

See, now it’s nice and tidy. You can openly talk to your friends about your favourite girl on girl show and they will know exactly what you mean.

I never would have guessed

Actually while we’re here, we should also find a name for Yuri fans.

As most of you know the common word for Yaoi fans is fujoshi but we have no equivalent for Yuri fans. I get that the term is an insult meant to shame girls who admit to having such interests, but it does still serve as a mark of fellowship among those trying to reclaim the term. It’s a bit sad that Yuri doesn’t have anything like that…

Once again my very kind twitter friends came to the rescue. It seems there is in fact a term, though I had never heard it before. It’s “hime danshi” or princess boy, which is confusing because it really sounds like the title of a Yaoi doujin… I do like it though. Do you guys think we can popularize it a bit?

princess boy
Google tells me princess boy looks like this and oh yeah…this screams Yuri….

28 thoughts

  1. Am an expert in this genre cause I haven’t watched much romance anime, I have Rumbling Heart and I still haven’t gotten to it. I really should start watching them. But princess boy is a really cute name for Yuri

  2. “Yuri” means romance and/or lust between females in anime… or it means whatever you want it to mean. Which is to say, if you don’t limit it to “Light of God” in Hebrew or “lily” in Japanese (I caught that!) or “romantic love – or lust – between females” in anime speak it is meaningless. You get to see it where you want it. And that is OK for whoever.

    I just like love stories that feel real and I can understand the motivations. Gender preferences are irrelevant.

  3. I always found it hilarious how SIMILAR yaoi and yuri stories are. Ever notice a lot of them have a blonde/light colored and a black haired girl as a couple?

      1. I just think it’s strange, half the time. I know it’s a practical choice but when you look at covers, it starts to feel like a trope. Even the personalities fit the hair, lol

        1. Not strictly. But at least it had a gay feel about it and it was well done. They do kiss at the end.

          Unless you define yaoi as being something other than the male version of Yuri.

  4. I–I’m so confused! I thought this was eventually leading back to that post about you collecting a harem of female characters. . .(btw, while I don’t know anything about the source material, I don’t see how anyone would consider Yuru Camp a yuri show. . .)

  5. I believe the yaoi fangirls themselves made up the word fujoshi, so it feels a lot less derogatory than its literal meaning (rotten girl)! Himedanshi is nice…maybe I’ll try to use it.

    1. It supposedly comes from 2chan. From what I read it is supposed to be pejorative but I don’t think many people get insulted

  6. I’ve never heard “hime danshi”. Learn some every day.

    As for “yuri”:

    Mission statement of yuricon. In short, it’s supposed to be a very broad defiiniton: ” intense emotional connection, romantic love or physical desire between women”. If you add “intense emotional connection” and think of it as something different from “romantic love”, then basically a lot applies that I wouldn’t have thought would apply. Personally, I think the motivation to add both those things stems from the sort of fuzzy boundaries and avoids the necessity to decide, because in the end it’s just not that important.

    Very interesting sentence: “As long as we, the ‘taku-rezu, the lesbian fans of anime and manga, see some part of our lives reflected in a character or series, it’s Yuri no matter who drew it.” This seems to implicitly deny hetero-voyeuristic interpestations, and as long as the term’s political, that’s an interesting spot of potential tensions: allies in some respect, at odds in others. So would it be possible to classify a show the right way for the wrong reason?

    The yuri-baiting accusation with respect to Sound! Euphionium is no surprise. I expected this while watching. Certain scenes between Kumiko and Reina were pretty eroticised, while at the same time Kumiko had a maybe/maybe-not romantic plot line with a childhood friend in the background, while Reina had a crush on her teacher. There are plenty interprations of the situation – but trying to get people wrap their heads around non-clear stuff is hard. Hetero-romantic bisexuals, anyone? The key problem here, though, is the tradition of “class S”, where schoolgirls are supposedly experimenting on each other in preparation for the “real romance”. The Class S show would have been Maria Sama ga Miteru, which lampshades the class-s trope by including an actual lesbian couple for reference. So yuri-tease is often sean as erasure, either a cowardly tactic (they want to have both ways), or by re-inforcing the idea that lesbianism is just a phase (class S). Bloom Into You quite openly addressed the harm the class-S trope can do with a character’s backstory (excellent show, characterwise).

    I personally have little use for the genre term “yuri”; I’m watching romances, rom-coms, slice of life, comedies – I have no personal stake in lesbian content, so I tend to leave the term to those who do. People should watch shows the way that gets them most out of them, I think.

    1. Wait..not to give away too much here but if I see myself in any character whatsoever then it’s yuri? That’s super broad. I often identify a lot with male characters…does that count? Wait, is Natsume yuri? Cause I can roll with that

      1. They did stipulate “intense emotional connection, romantic love, or physical desire between women”, so I’d assume that sort of frames the latter sentence? Am I being too serious?

        1. A little also bursting my Natsume as Yuri bubble but that’s ok. I’m always happy to chat with you anyways

          1. Ah well, there are plenty of flowers left. Of the ones you haven’t used, how about “tanpopo genre” for stuff one identifies with. Dandelions are cute.

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