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 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.
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!).
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.
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?