And these are my general, not necessarily insightful thoughts on the subject.
I like Yuri. Ok not really a revelation, I’ve always liked Yuri well enough. In fact, I like it just about as much as any other genre but considerably more than classical romance which is a little confusing. However, I also ended up watching a series of not really Yuri shows that made my interest in the genre dwindle a bit and I hadn’t been back to it in a while.
By not quite Yuri I mean shows where the Yuri element is limited to fanservice only and doesn’t have much if any narrative importance. Actual romantic relationships are also usually implicit rather than explicit. There are a lot of great shows that fall into that category it’s just that they don’t really fill the same hankerings as Yuri does for me.
I’ve already tried to explore my odd lack of consistency when it comes to fiction with romance as a central plot and why I seem to gravitate more towards both Yuri and Yaoi than more traditional romance. That’s not what we’re going on about now. Now I’m just going to aimlessly talk about a few things I noticed lately.
Just to give you a bit of context, I saw someone advertising Butterfly Soup (a Yuri visual novel) on twitter and played that. I had also ordered BL Metamorphosis which I will review. Granted Metamorphosis is not a Yuri manga at all, not even a little, but it did contribute something to my thinking on the subject. I am watching the Wasteful Days of High School Girls which takes all the usual Shoujou-ai fanservice tropes but makes them much more explicit and straightforward. Unlike a lot of shows of the genre I’ve seen, it’s not that every girl is gay because it’s a man free universe or that no one is actually gay they just spend a lot of time feeling each other up… In Wasteful Days there are a few characters that seem to specifically prefer the same gender (while other explicitly do not) and they both look and act very differently. What I’m saying is that the implication is that there are some actual gay characters in the series which is actually somewhat unusual.
But what really brought all this on is Sweet Blue Flowers (depending on when this publishes I have either already reviewed the show or will do so soon). Sweet Blue Flowers is an actual Yuri series. It follows and dwells on the explicit romantic relationship of two young women. There’s no room for doubt. And it made me realize something.
Girls are great! As in attractive and delicate and fun. Also they’re all different. I sound like I hit my head. I’m spouting really boring obvious facts as if they were a revelation. But you see, aside from the fantastic Their Story, the yuri I had been consuming was of a particular type. The Sakura series of visual novels, NTR, Scum’s wish, Citrus… These are not really about the girls.
First the Sakura series are cute and all but their not really about anything. It’s basically just naughty manga in VN form. And they’re not pretending to be anything else. But the anime are some of the most talked about Yuri that cam out lately. I know that Bloom into You was also much beloved and is way more character driven but I haven’t watched it.
NTR, Scum and Citrus are all plot driven and a lot of them have a tendency to fall into melodrama at times. Because of the way the narrative is constructed, we only get to know the girls partially. We get to know them through the lens of the story and that’s the part of their personalities that we get to see. Before anyone gets touchy, I’m just talking neutrally here, none of this is a bad thing. It’s just a different way to approach character development and it’s perfectly viable, sometimes even better, depending on your story.
Because the stories these shows are telling are tortures love affairs with a sexy angle, the girls can come off as a bit dramatic, unfair or one note. And what I got form these series is sense of the events rather than one of the characters. And they were all perfectly fine, if you like romance anime.
Everything I’ve been watching lately is very character driven. To the point that if you don’t connect with the characters, I’m pretty sure you’ll be bored to death. The events just aren’t that interesting or that developed. That’s not where the focus is. The drama is kind of small by comparison and the stakes sort of pathetic. Even if I combine all the media I wrote about in one, it probably wouldn’t have as much exciting or dramatic things as a single episode of NTR. I’m selling this well I think….
But that’s why I had the time and space to realize that, girls are awesome! I knew that already! But other people know that. People that write Yuri, studios that produce it, all the fans that enjoy the calmer and more character driven series. They all know that too. And that’s just a really nice realization to come to.
On another note that I find interesting is that all of the titles I’ve mentioned here (with the exception of the Sakura series) are written by women. There’s this unfortunately persistent little preconception that women don’t like each other or something along those lines. So I think it’s kind of cool to have all those female authors focusing their energy on female characters or stories about girls and women. This is a bit of a trite aside but hey, it still made me happy to see.
This was a very very long way of saying, do you have any good character driven Yuri to recommend? Preferably something more on the happy side?