I Love Yuri/ Shoujo Ai

(Saki and Maria from Shinsekai Yori)

What is Yuri?

Yuri is a genre of anime, manga, or hentai that features female homosexual couples. Very unfortunately, yuri was not (and still is not) typically made for lesbians to enjoy. The target audience is males who have a fetish of seeing women together. That is a generalization, though, and there are some good yuri shows that appeal to lesbian or bisexual women. Some people think that something has to be explicitly sexual to qualify as yuri, but that’s absurd. It may have been “correct” at one time, but it’s all semantics, and common word usage has changed it so that yuri refers to any loving relationship between females. (Traditionally, this was called shoujo ai as opposed to the then-hentai term yuri, but now the words are used interchangeably.)

(Shizuku and Nana from Magical Girl Raising Project)

Some Reasons Why I Love Yuri

I am under no obligation to state this, but I feel that saying it adds to my personal “yuri story.” I am a female, biologically and in the way I identify. I also happen to be bisexual with a slight preference of women over men. One reason I love yuri is that it often appeals to the LGBTQ community, of which I am a part. Another reason is that yuri/shoujo ai anime was a good source for me when I was struggling to come to terms with my orientation. Romantic yuri relationships, also, are so simple and picturesque in anime that it’s a nice escape from the challenges of real-life relationships. (And yes, on the rare occasion a yuri doujinshi or hentai is sexually enjoyable.)

How I Discovered Yuri

I grew up in an extremely oppressive community of fundamentalist Christian homeschoolers following the Quiverful movement. So, when I was growing up, and even as a teen, I wasn’t allowed to watch most anime. One exception was the American animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. I was allowed to watch that, for some reason. I’m much better at writing stories than casual blog posts, so as a writer of stories, I decided to make an Avatar fan fiction, joining fanfiction.net online. In the tiny window of time I had to access the internet without being monitored, I read also read fan fictions from a few other authors.

(Ayano and Kyouko from Yuru Yuri)

Eventually, I started coming across entries on the site that said, “Warning: Yuri” or “Warning: Yaoi.” I looked up the definition of those terms and discovered what they meant. As a young teen, I didn’t read any of those yuri/yaoi because I knew if I was discovered, my internet priveleges would be instantly revoked and I would be verbally abused to no end. Still, I discovered what yuri meant. At 18, having accomplished becoming the weird one of the family without being too badly treated, I bought a laptop with my life’s savings. It was mine and mine alone. It had high-speed internet. I ended up using that to finally watch anime, including shoujo ai.

A Few Favorite Couples

Just for fun, here are a few of my favorite yuri pairings from anime. They aren’t my very favorite ones, but they’re some that immediately come to mind.

1. Sakura Kyoko and Miki Sayaka

These two characters are from the 2011 anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica and the three Madoka Magica movies. Kyoko fell in love when she started to see herself in Sayaka and become her friend instead of her enemy. She saved Sayaka’s life at least twice with no benefit to herself. Sayaka originally had a powerful crush on a boy, but by the third movie, she’s living at Kyoko’s place and showing physical affection like hugging and holding hands. Sayakyo or Kyoyaka is a ship with countless fans and supporters.

2. Azuma Tokaku and Ichinose Haru

This couple is from the 2014 anime Akuma no Riddle. The title obviosuly and clearly means “Devil’s Riddles” or “Riddle of a Devil,” but because of someone’s illogical, nonsensical choice, the show’s English title is “Riddle Story of Devil,” which makes no sense. Anyway, Tokaku (right) was originally supposed to assassinate Haru (left), but fell in love with her instead. Haru seems to return the feelings, being very physically affectionate with Tokaku and even kissing her.

3. Chikane and Himeko

Himeko (right) and Chikane (left) are the main characters and the Priestesses of Sun and Moon in the 2004 anime Kannazuki no Miko. This literally means “Shrine Maidens in the Month without God” but for simplicity’s sake it’s known as Destiny of the Shrine Maidens. Chikane is in love with Himeko, but Himeko thinks of her as a friend and has a crush on a boy. Or that’s how it is until the final episode, when the cruel truth about the destinies of the shrine maidens is revealed. Himeko confesses that she does love Chikane, once she remembers everything.

4. Hanazono Shizuma and Nagisa Aoi

Strawberry Panic, a 2006 yuri anime, was low budget and is not that good from a critic’s perspective; from the view of a yuri fangirl like me, though, it’s one of the best anime series in existence! Shizuma (right) is attracted to Nagisa (left) because she looks a lot like her previous lover who passed away. As Nagisa falls in love with her, and they spend more time together, Shizuma moves past her grief and comes to love Nagisa for who she truly is.

5. Fumi Manjoume and Akira Okudaira

Fumi (left) and Akira (right) are the main characters in the 2009 anime Aoi Hana (Sweet Blue Flowers). This is a great show because it’s made more for girls and for LGBTQ community than for men. Fumi is a lesbian who starts dating her female senpai in high school. The only person she comes out to is her best and childood friend Akira, whose orientation is not really stated in the anime. She is fully supportive of her best friend’s orientation, though. After Fumi’s relationship doesn’t work out, Akira is the only one who can comfort her. The anime ends a bit vaguely, with the two being best friends and only suggested as a couple. I suspect that in the manga, the two actually become more of an official couple. Regardless, they’re the two girls I ship.

Hopefully, my yuri story was entertaining. I’ll see you next time on Anime Rants. Jya ne!

Please note: I do not own any of the fan art or official images in this post.

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