I Accidentally Started Watching A Lot of Yuri Lately

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.

anime-girl-yuri-wallpaper

I’m back now baby

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.

lonely yuri

lonely yuri was cute

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….

anime-citrus-mei-

better?

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?

underwater yuri

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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35 Responses

  1. aina says:

    Although I enjoy both yuri and yaoi, the anime adaptations oftentimes can be a hit or a miss for me. A few that I watched was too melodramatic and plot driven I couldn’t care much about the characters and the relationship. But I’m looking for new yuri shows these days so your post and comment sections are really helpful 😊

    • Irina says:

      I read both Citrus and NTR. I thought the adaptations were pretty spot on. But otherwise I don’t think I have ever gotten to nw both the source and the adaptation.

      Og except for Given were I had read the manga before and abandoned it. Just couldn’t get into it. When the anime came out I watched it out of curiosity and loved it. I tried the manga again after the season, read everything available but still wasn’t crazy about it. I find the opposite, where the source is way more melodramatic than the adaptation.

      • aina says:

        I’ve read Given manga too but just couldn’t get into it because it’s too melodramatic for my taste. And just like you, I enjoyed the adaptation more than the source material.

  2. What a pleasant coincidence to watch all this Yuri during pride month of all times! I really need to watch more Yuri works myself. (Looking at you Kase san!)

    • Irina says:

      I hadn’t even thought about it, that is cool. Especially as it’s the first year in like a decade or so that I won’t be going to pride.

  3. David Boone (moonhawk81) says:

    Yeah, practically all of my yuri viewing has been completely, utterly accidental. . .anyway, I’m another fan of Sweet Blue Flowers. But one of my favorite portrayals of a more mature–if also more fantastic–yuri relationship occurs between the titular characters of Hakumei to (or and) Mikochi. The quietude and absolute ordinariness of their expressions of love are believable, relatable, and beautiful. Have you seen the series or read the manga?

  4. I don’t have much experience with the Yuri genre, but yeah, Scum’s Wish and (to a much smaller extent) Bloom Into You were a little too melodramatic for my tastes. The main characters seemed to overreact to every little problem to the point where you could “see” the writer’s hand a little too much, IMO. I’ll have to give Wasteful Days and Sweet Blue Flowers a try.

    I’m honestly not sure what the correct balance between character development and story ought to be for romance stories, especially for the Boys’ Love and Girls’ Love genres, but it’s something I’m fascinated by, as I’d like to try writing a romance story someday. Out of curiosity: what exactly do you mean by preferring “character-driven” stories? Like Slice of Lifeish? Just wondering.

    Another good point is that, yes, girls are awesome. I’m a guy, and even I find it easier to write a unique, interesting female character than I do a male character. I have some thoughts on that, but I’ve already spent an embarrassingly-long time in front of this comment trying to phrase my opinions on the topic of male vs female character design & development without accidentally saying something that someone might find controversial, so I’m just going to leave this off by saying, yeah, I understand what you mean. Interesting topic, just one that needs a nuanced approach. Maybe I’ll write a blog post about it someday (heh, who am I kidding?).

  5. Artemis says:

    I’ll warn you well ahead of time that this isn’t lighthearted (and is also quite graphic in terms of general themes and on-screen violence), but I think it deserves a mention just because I believe it’s criminally underwatched: Mnemosyne (also known as RIN: Daughters of Mnemosyne).

  6. wingking78 says:

    “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?”

    And the first one that immediately popped into my head was Simoun, which is a yuri mecha series from ’06, and kind of a buried treasure nowadays. Very character-driven, and pretty fresh when it came out, at least. I wouldn’t call it exactly “happy” – Mari Okada was part of the writing team, so it’s hardly a spoiler to say it has drama – but it’s definitely not nearly as grim as some mech shows can get either. Unfortunately it looks like it’s also not available anywhere right now; I can’t find anyone who’s streaming it legally.

    • Irina says:

      ooohhh bou! I was intrigued!!!

    • Dawnstorm says:

      Couldn’t find any streamer either, which is a pity. Simoun was great. It’s got a rather unique gender constellation, though, so calling it yuri is more an “our world” perspective. In universe? I can’t remember.

      • wingking78 says:

        I think so. It is a bit complicated, admittedly, but even if you choose to discount anything that happens before the characters choose their adult sex, I think the ending was still pretty yuri-friendly, what I remember of it. And people like Erica Friedman who are much closer to this topic than I am have considered it a yuri series, so I’m happy to defer to their expertise.

  7. Mari says:

    I feel weird cause I’m a lesbian, but I don’t watch a lot of yuri 😅 It feels like a lot of the time, it is overly sexualized, or they bait and switch you into thinking there will be a relationship but it never goes anywhere. Actual LGBT+ representation, has gotten better in recent years, but most yuri is written by and for straight people, so I weirdly have a hard time relating to a lot of it.

    That said, I loved Bloom Into You, and I think it did a great job representing some of the struggles young LGBTQ+ people go through in terms of discovering their own sexuality, and even dealing with homophobia to some extent. So any yuri that is like that, I’d love to check it out 🙂

    • Irina says:

      I did read Bloom Into You and liked it a lot but I didn’t watch the anime. I enjoyed Sweet Blue Flowers a lot. It’s quieter and not as eventful though

  8. Scott says:

    I’ve been blaming your Yuri goggles post for me seeing Yuri relationships everywhere recently.

    I guess I’m not the largest Yuri Watcher, but Bloom Into You is good and Yuri Kuma Arashi is very Ikuhara. I’m sure you’ve watched the later though.

  9. ramon3ljamon says:

    All I wanna know is where that last screenshot is from… Hopefully not just a random drawing found on Google search!

  10. Dawnstorm says:

    I’m going to second Kase san and Morning Glories. For feel-good yuri it doesn’t get much better.

    I can think of very few explicit yuri titles. There’s, for example, Blue Drop, but I remember absolutely nothing about it, which means it was probably entertaining. (It’s a SF show, I think?) There are a lot of Class S shows around (basically lesbianism as practise phase for the real thing); Maria sama ga Miteru, for example, has an explicit lesbian couple to drive the point home that that’s not what soeur system is about. You can think of it as the Kumiko/Reina constellation, where there’s definite sensual tension, but Reina really has a crush on that teacher.

    And a lot of implicit stuff that’s deliberately left up to interpretation. (Noir is famous for it). Out of those, my favourite’s probably Yuyushiki, a CGDCT show about looking up stuff on the internet and summarising it in a short surreal poem (and calling it the “Data Processing Club”). There’s a lot of stuff here I see as Class S, but there’s one character among the core three I actually think is lesbian. The show’s tone is happy go lucky, but there are lots of little blink-and-you-miss-it moments in bodylanguage a scene composition, and the set up has a little sense of unrequited Yuri love to me: there are three friends, two of which were childhood friends; there are two computers in the club room for three people (the advisor has taken the third one home)… and so on. I’m sort of curious how other people see this, since the show acknowledges nothing and leaves everything up to interpretation, but is also really good with little character moments.

    I find it interesting that, for all its openness about its yuri, Sakura Trick feels more like an open-to-interpretation show to me than a real yuri show. It’s strange, really. Yuru Yuri is quite openly about the yuri-tease elements of the genre.

    And I know I’ve said it enough times already (like much of what I’ve said here actually), but I do really love Bloom into You, whcih was one of the best shows in its year. (The same year Kase san came out; and exceptionally good year for out-in-the-open yuri.)

    • Irina says:

      There is a very annoying notion that lesbian relationships are somehow less “official” or don’t quite count as much as “actual” relationships which really annoys me. I tend to skip the class S stuff. So two counts for Kase san and Morning Glories, I should get on that

      • Dawnstorm says:

        I’m aromantic, so I default to friendship wherever possible. I’m fine with class S stuff, if they don’t rub my face in it, but it’s never a plus.

        Kase-san is only a single OVA, so watch it in the right mood. (I still wish there were more. TV series, please!!!! Oh, the same production team if possible.)

    • “There’s, for example, Blue Drop, but I remember absolutely nothing about it, which means it was probably entertaining. (It’s a SF show, I think?)”

      It wasn’t a bad way to spend some time!

  11. alsmangablog says:

    Still Sick is a more character focused manga that I’ve been enjoying. Yuri is My Job! is also a super fun and cute series that I’d recommend checking out.

    • Irina says:

      I actually read the first volume of Yuri is My Job! right after writing this and it was great fun. I’m ordering the rest soon

  12. Irina says:

    It’s already on my watchlist! I’m still going to go look at your blog though cause that’s always fun

  13. LitaKino says:

    Know what I’ve got just the thing kase san and morning glories. I wrote a post on this while I was MIA. I was going to wait to post this but it would just be sitting there anyway I’d forget about it. Go look on ma blog now and be convinced to watch! It’s on HIDIVE !!

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