This year I have read, watched, bought, listened to, published and discussed more yuri than probably just about anyone else on this planet. LOL Today’s entry is simply a celebration of yuri-related anything that I read/watched/got/enjoyed/developed, etc over 2004. This is my “Best of 2004” list.
10) ALC (Anilesbocon) Publishing
We managed two books in 2004, one translation, WORKS (which is very nearly sold out!) and one anthology. We’re working on a 2nd edition of Rica ‘tte Kanji!?, a new anthology – Yuri Monogatari 3 – and an illustrated novel, Shoujoai ni Bouken, Vol. 1. It may be self-aggrandizement, but at the moment, we’re *still* the only yuri manga publisher in the western world. And you know, that makes me very, very proud. My thanks goes out to all the contributors to the Yuri Monogatari anthology, Ed. Ed, Kun, and especially to Rica Takashima and my wife – I quite literally could not do it without them. I think that, for all our hard work in spreading the yuri genre to the English-speaking world, we at least desrve 10th place on this “Best of” list. :-)
This scanlating and fansubbing group deserves recognition on my Top 10 of 2004 list, definitely. Not only are they a really fine group of women and men (although the women are finer – if you know what I mean… lol) and fun to hang with, they are also really dedicated to making decent, unlicensed yuri manga and anime accesible to online yuri fandom. I especially thank them for scanlating some of the truly obscure, but classic, yuri manga out there, like Claudine and the stories from Mist, because these are *so* out of print and so very worth knowing about.
8) ROD The TV on DVD
I’ve beaten this to death all year long, so suffice to say that, this series has been one of the best things I’ve gotten all year. The double sided pencil boards and covers have more to do with the fact that we get twice as many episodes per DVD than the Japanese do, than good marketing, but you know, you can see that Geneon is *trying*; trying to finds a happy medium with the translation, with the packaging, with the extras. I remember when an A.D.Vision VHS tape had one episode and nothing else – for the same price as a 4-episode DVD with double-sided cover, liner notes, mini-poster and a double-sided pencil board is now. Think about it. :-)
7) Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (Live Action)
I wrote about this series alot too, but haven’t yet done a wrap-up entry. I’ll do that later. Let me just say that this was pretty much the perfect thing for this series’ 10th anniversary. It got me all jazzed up again about the Senshi and all their lovely yuri potential…and reminded me just why I consider Haruka and Michiru to be the eternal Queens of Yuri. We now have several new additions to our terrifyingly large wand/locket collection in the house and, yesterday, *just* in time to sneak onto this list, I received in the mail the original toy of Haruka’s communicator watch from Sailor Moon S! Yep – the thing is nearly 10 years old and looks perfect. Battery’s dead, though. LOL In any case, here’s hoping this series never dies. PGSM/BSSM and related toys make number 7 on the “best of the best” list.
6) Azumanga Daioh on DVD
Not only is this series gut-splittingly funny, the yuri is not at all subtle (even if it is ultimately just one more gag.) The DVDs have excellent episode count, REALLY good liner notes – best of the breed in fact – and fun toy surprises. This wins “best bang for your buck” award for licensed DVD releases this year from me. ADV deserves recognition for doing what almost approaches a perfect job. (Now, just leave the honorifics alone and you’d be golden!) ADV also deserves a real nod of gratitude for their continuing support of yuri-friendly anime in general and this series in specific, which is definitely one of the best of 2004.
I know, I know, another shameless plug moment…but no, not really. Four years ago, we had a goofy website, a tenuous premise and not much else. Now, entering our 5th year of existence, we have just announced an event *in Japan,* have almost 900 members on our Mailing Lists, have a line of “I love Yuri” gifts, and a presence at some of the largest and most influential anime cons in the country. Yuricon’s efforts have spawned like-minded efforts in Japan, and I have been informed by several Japanese yuri fans that Yuricon pretty much created the idea of a genre of yuri whose birth we are witnessing right now. Who *knows* what the next five years will bring – but I’m betting that you’ll see some pretty amazing changes in regards to yuri and shoujoai.
Let me take this opportunity to thank my staff at Yuricon, starting with Kun, my right hand and whipping girl, who does very nearly anything I ask of her, including neck rubs. Also Katie, May, Paulette, Trevor, Serge, Donna, Rica and everyone who has put time and money into Yuricon to help it further the cause of yuri and shoujoai in anime and manga. And of course, my wife. :-) But mostly, I want to thank all you fans of yuri and shoujoai who keep convincing me that there *is* a market out there, if only we can reach it. Yuricon will keep trying to do everything we can to increase our presence, and gain respect for the genre we love so much. So, for all that everyone has done, and all that we have accomplished – Yuricon makes the top 10 list for me this year.
4)Yuri Doujinshi Circles
At Comiket 67, which took place last weekend, nearly 80 circles were selling yuri doujinshi and novels. These groups, made up of individuals who put their own time and money into these self-publishing efforts, rarely make back the money they put into the projects. But every year, they keep on doing it – because they love yuri. Some of these circles do fan art, but more and more of them are doing original work, and every year another group of women who draw and write yuri seem to join this incognito army. It is because of these people that Maria-sama ga Miteru gained enough popularity to become an anime, and it is these people from whom ALC will draw publishing projects. Because of their dedication and hard work and because for many yuri fans, doujinshi make up the bulk of their yuri-related reading, the folks who write for various yuri doujinshi circles get my thumbs up for 2004.
As I said yesterday, it may not be perfect, but this quarterly manga magazine has created ripples in the manga word, spawining me-too anthologies and generally changing the landscape of yuri manga completely. In a mere five issues, it has improved dramatically and we can hope that we’ll see even more improvements and growth for the next year. For having such a significant effect on the genre of “girls love” manga – Yuri Shimai makes third place in the Best of 2004.
2) Koi Shimai Drama CDs
For me, what makes a manga or anime come alive is the voices…hearing a character, even more than seeing him or her animated, makes a character real for me. It’s well-known that I started my otaku career because of Ogata Megumi’s voice, and I’m still captivated by excellent voice acting. Because of this – even more than the magazine from which it came, I feel that the Koi Shimai Drama CDs were the second best yuri-related thing I got this year. The story is simple, a little unsatisfying, but the idea that they managed to find women who were willing to put their voices into characters that specifically were in a “girls love” drama really makes them special. The second CD, which features Park Romi as hunky Touko-sensei is wearing thin as I listen to it over and over and over. It’s SO sexy that it’s inspired me to write a fanfic! LOL Again, kudos to Sun Publishing for the idea – and here’s hoping that we see more of these!
Which leaves me with my number one get for 2004. If you know me, if you’ve read these entries, or my posts on the Yuricon Mailing List, you will probably not be surprised at all. :-)
My number one best of everything yuri of 2004 is….
1) Maria-sama ga Miteru Drama CD, 1,2, 3 and 4
These were, bar none, the absolute *best* things I got this year. These four CDs contain voice dramas of the first three Marimite novels, as voiced by the actresses from the anime. With more detail than the anime, or even the manga, the Drama CDs contain not only the story, but also the emotions of the story, as interpreted by some of the finest voice actors extant. As I wrote in my review of the Ibara no Mori/Shiroi Hanabira CD, there were moments when I was left breathless by the virtuosity of the actresses’ work.
The packaging for the Drama CDs is lovely, with covers from the novels, extra art by novel artist Hibiki Reine, nice little inserts, and of course, those fantastic plastic dolls of the Yamayurikai which greet me every day on my desk at work. :-) The fourth Drama CD is now available and I’m just *dying* to see what extras they’ve put in it! LOL
To put it simply – these rock. If you can understand even a little Japanese, run out and get them for the best yuri-related experience you can have that doesn’t actualy involve another person. :-)
Overall, as it has made my Top 10 in anime, manga and general Best Of, I think we really have to say that Maria-sama ga Miteru wins overall award as “Best Yuri of 2004”.
When I first got into yuri, we had Haruka and Michiru as poster children. When I created Yuricon, we had Anthy, Utena and Juri…now, as a whole new era of yuri is being born, we welcome it in with Yumi and Sachiko, Sei and Youko (or Shiori or Kei!) Yoshino and Rei, Noriko and Shimako, and characters yet to come. :-) I think the future’s looking bright, myself.
You all know that the calendar is arbitrary, right? Today is no more “the last day” of the year than it is the “first day of the rest of your life.” Nonetheless, I wish you all a Happy New Year/Akemashite Omodetou. May 2005 be filled with yuri for us all!