One genre of anime-related pop culture that seems to be rising in popularity is yuri, as series like the outstanding Scum’s Wish and the upcoming Citrus anime show. The term 百合族 yuri-zoku (meaning “lily tribe”) was coined by the literary magazine Ito Bungaku in the 1970s to describe the new wave of lesbian fiction that had started to surface in Tokyo around that time, and in the West the term yuri has come to represent these themes in anime, manga or games. Ever since the classic Cream Lemon hentai anime Escalation in 1984, of which our Yukkuri Panic: Escalation game is a direct homage, the drama created by girls who are attracted to other girls has been a part of our shared anime experience.
- It can be fresh and unexpected, and also funny. When one person feels a certain way but the other doesn’t, comedy can ensue.
- It’s violates society’s traditional rules, which creates dramatic stories. Scum’s Wish tells the story of five people who all suffer from unrequited love, two of whom end up in a yuri relationship, and it’s a real roller coaster ride.
- It’s a new frontier. Many new series belong to tired genres like “harem” or “battle high school” or “modern Japanese youth finds himself in a fantasy world where he possesses great skill for some reason,” but a well-conceived and subtle story about two girls attracted to each other (like Aoi Hana) is interesting.
- In a world of generic “everyman” male characters who seem to be hated by fandom more and more each season, a strong female character on a journey through uncharted waters is potentially compelling.
- “It’s pure and innocent and just fills you with sweetness.” I know this makes no sense, but a lot of fans say that yuri relationships feel somehow more “pure.”
- Every since the “cousins with benefits” Haruka and Michiru captured the imaginations of Sailor Moon fans, anime has been a “big tent” that’s been very open to stories of alternate relationships and genders.
- While biological differences might make men and women feel different about various aspects of love and sex, liking yuri seems to be one of the few things we can be 100% on the same page about. I’ve had many fascinating discussions with female fans on the subject at anime conventions over the years.
- While anime aimed at males usually tries to make us imagine ourselves in the leading role, swinging a sword like Kirito or romancing Emilia, that dynamic doesn’t work if the characters can’t choose us by definition. Thus there’s no chance of rejection for males in yuri stories, or for females obsessing over their husubandos, which is somehow relaxing.
- “Yuri shipping” — fans obsessing about which female characters are romantically involved — has been part of fandom ever since the famous Kagami and Konata poster that launched a thousand ships in 2007. Nowadays, almost every series has talented doujin artists creating yuri art, and I’ve found myself pulled into new shows by the amazing fanart alone.
- When all is said and done, maybe we like yuri because it’s two things we like, together.
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