Your Friend in Japan

The Birth of Yuri, and Does Technology Make it Harder to Love?

Written by HotAnime

One of my hobbies is investigating the origins of random elements of fandom and reporting on them here. Like the Japanese nosebleed joke, which started with a goofy Shonen Jump gag manga in 1970 and has been with us ever since, or Japan’s fascination with stories about imouto (younger sister) stories, which originated with a 1983 anime/manga called Miyuki about a love triangle between a boy, his girlfriend and his not-related-by-blood younger sister, the latter two both being named Miyuki. If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram you know I have a penchant for posting yuri (lesbian) pictures. including plenty of “yuri shipping,” which is when fans fantasize about romantic relationships of female characters, cheering the couples on in their minds. The other day I was wondering where this hallowed tradition got its start, and did some research. While the term “shipping” came from the 90s, when fans used to obsess over whether Mulder and Scully from X-Files would ever hook up, I mark the start of the yuri anime version of this trend to a 2007 Lucky Star poster showing Konata and Kagami enjoying some “morning coffee” together. These days it’s a given that every show will have a list of four-syllable “pairings” like MadoHomu (for Madoka and Homura) or AoHifu (Aoba and Hifumi from New Game!), and fans debating which grouping is best. Who was the first yuri couple you obsessed over?

Last Friday I got a nice early Christmas present: a pair of Apple’s new AirPods wireless Bluetooth earphones. I love gadgets and listening to music, and the AirPods’ ability to switch between devices (laptop, iPhone, iPad, etc) easily is extremely cool, plus it’s nice to try something completely new. When J-List’s bento, cosplay and Sailor Moon buyer Mai saw them, her reaction surprised me: “This is terrible. If separated earphones become popular, how will Japan’s young couples get close to each other? It will make it harder for them to fall in love!” In Japan, certain things are considered romantic, like a couple walking under an umbrella, or a girl riding on the back of her senpai‘s bicycle. Two people sharing a pair of earphones is also considered romantic since you have to keep your faces close to each other, but if the earbuds are separated, this might increase the romantic distance between people.
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