There were a lot of good thing Yuri-wise in 2005, and many mediocre things. Here are some of the series, things, events and people that I think made 2005 Yuri-riffic.
10. Mai Hime and Mai Otome. It’s not that often than an anime series gives the Yuri world a poster-child couple. Sailor Moon gave us Haruka and Michiru, Utena gave us Utena and Anthy, Maria-sama ga Miteru brought us Sei and Shiori (as well as Yoshino and Rei, Sachiko and Yumi, Shimako and Noriko and a host of alternate variations. ShizNat, as Shizuru and Natsuki have come to be known, have joined the popular consciousness as a couple…even when really, there’s no evidence that they are one. LOL For this and all the reasons stated in this year’s top ten anime list, and the fact that they both spawn much conversation, discussion and conjecture on the Yuricon mailing List, both Mai series make this year’s top ten.
9. What would my top ten list be without a monstrously unsubtle self-congratulatory plug for Yuricon and ALC Publishing?. ^_^ Let’s see – in 2005 Yuricon sponsored not one, but *two* events – including one in Tokyo. How amazing is that? ALC Publishing remains the only English-language publisher of Yuri in the world and continues to gather the finest Yuri artists and writers together for the Yuri Monogatari anthology. This year’s included Japanese veteran Yuri artists Akiko Morishima and Rica Takashima. This year also saw the distribution of Yuri manga for the first time to comic book stores – and now to chain bookstores in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. I don’t feel one whit bad about saying that the staff, artists, writers and supporters of Yuricon and ALC have had an amazing year and deserve, 100%, to be on this list of top ten Yuri everything for 2005.
8. Kannazuki no Miko, ugh. Despite my feeling of hoplesseness every time I read a post by someone who uses the word “HAWT” in conjunction with this series, I have to get off my high horse for a second and admit that this god-awful farce of an anime and manga is what passes for Yuri to an awful lot of people. Not people I’d invite over for lunch or anything, you understand, but…. KnM put “Yuri” on the map for scads of fanboys who wouldn’t understand why “Strawberry Shake Sweet” is actually *good*, with a plot and characters etc., etc. For shoving the word “Yuri” up the noses and into the collective consciousness of the lowest common denominator, Kannazuki no Miko comes in at number 8.
7. Let’s talk dedication here for a second. Let’s talk shinyuu, friendship that goes above and beyond the bounds of sense and propriety. Let’s talk about two people you don’t know well enough, but you should – two people whose unending efforts in the cause of Yuri has made a real difference to us.
Rica Takashima has been a driving force behind a Yuricon presence in Japan. She was the organizer and host of Yuricon 2005 in Tokyo – and turned it into a history-making event quite single-handedly. She mans the Yuricon table at Comiket, creats cards and comics and art that make people happy – worldwide – and is an amazing person. And all this year, in *between* doing all this, she’s been handling a weekly cartooning job for a newspaper, and spending time, effort and energy on her own life. To say that all of Yuri-dom, owes Rica a debt of gratitude is not an understatement. Without her, Yuricon in Tokyo would not have been the success it was, and all the artists and writers who were there, who are now sitting in East Hall 5, Row Po at Winter Comiket, would not be talking about themselves as “Yuri” artists. Rica should probably come in at number one, really. But to her, I say, from the bottom of my heart, “Thank you.”
The other person I want to mention here has gone essentially unnoticed in the world of Yuri. She tends to hide behind me, but without her, there would be no, well…Yuri. Kelli Nicely has been the Yuricon staff illustrator for several years. She does the covers of our Yuri Monogatari anthologies and incidental art for them. She is the talent that brought Yuriko and her friends to life in the illustrated Shoujoai ni Bouken, and she’ll be illustrating a short for the next YM anthology. She created the wonderful “I Love Yuri” logo you see above. Posters, logos, whatever Yuricon needs, and whatever *I* need, Kelli has cranked it all out. And for all that work, she receives an unending stream of abuse and agita from yours truly. She also gets alot of lunches and snacky foods, but in the big picture she gives more than she gets. So for all her hard work as my whipping girl and right hand, Kelli Nicely makes the top ten this year.
6. While I’m talking about people who have influenced Yuri, I have to mention Hayashiya Shizuru. I’ve only mentioned her or her work about 10 times this year, but as the year moved on the frequency of her name popping up in my conversation has increased significantly. Her works, from the early ero-manga Ultra Sword to fanboy fave Onegai Teacher, from her doujinshi work as Jesus Drug to her Yuri serial Strawberry Shake Sweet, and of course, Hayate x Blade, Hayashiya Shizuru is making waves, setting trends and establishing a whole new wave of Yuri with humor – can you imagine? No more overwrought angst…no, the angst is now accompanied by ridiculous sight gags and egregious puns. And silly, silly situations. Yuri fans everywhere should say an Ave that she’s out there cranking out funny, happy, goofy Yuri.
5. I talk about them constantly, I can’t get enough of them. My drug of choice this and every year is Drama CDs. And at number 5 is the slowly but steadily growing collection of Maria-sama ga Miteru Drama CDs. One more moment in Rosa Chinensis’ Greatest Day, one more time for Yumi and Sei to interact, one more chance to hear Sachiko have a hysterical fit over something, one more chance to hear Shizuka sing. These CDs are the perfect way to get another infusion of the voices that make the characters come alive. Next year expect to hear about Hatsukoi Shimai and Hayate Cross Blade CDs, as well as more Marimite. But for now, the lovely ladies of Lillian make my best of without question.
4. Did I mention how utterly delightful Iono the Fanatics is? Yes? Oh well, let’s go over it again. Great storyline, charming characters, adorable art and sexy without cheesy fanservice. Can we get more of this please? :-)
3. I’m totally biased, I know. And I’m not above sucking up, either, so once again Japan’s quarterly Yuri manga magazine, Yuri Hime makes my list. Last year it made this list in its Yuri Shimai incarnation and now, reborn as Yuri Hime it’s even better than before. They’ve upped the grown-up-ness of the stories, added some significant artists and generally started putting out the Yuri manga magazine I’d like to see. If we can get their collected works over here through ALC, that would be icing on the cake.
2. I’m not *quite* sick of talking about Hayate Cross Blade yet, but I’m betting you’re all getting sick of hearing about it. :-) It’s funny, it’s deep. It’s got great, original characters and situations, and it has chicks with swords. In my personal opinion – a winning formula. The only reason I’d like to see an anime of it, is because then more people will see how wonderful it is. :-) Otherwise, I’d be happy with the monthly manga chapters that I read over and over in anticipation of the next collected volume. My most re-read manga of the year and greatly anticipated Drama CD…Hayate, Ayana, Jun, Momoka and Isuzu all make number two for the year.
Drum roll please……
1. In September 2004 I began reading these. I have read just about one a month since, and am steadily falling behind as Konno Oyuki cranks out more. LOL I’ve typed up notes, I’ve talked about them ad nauseum, and I’ve lived, eaten and breathed them for the last year. My number one diversion, and best Yuri anything of 2005 is, hands down, the Maria-sama ga Miteru novels by the magnificent Konno Oyuki-sensei. I am a notoriously picky reader – being a writer and editor has just about ruined reading as a pasttime for me. I constantly note inadequacies in the text, characters and situations. I just finished the thirteenth novel and all I have to say is – Konno is brilliant. The characters are delightful, the situations are fun and funny, and dramatic and worth every second it takes for me to translate, take notes and type the same up, so you all can spend another second with the Yamayurikai, too.
And so, please excuse me as I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year, Akemashite Omodetou, etc, etc, and end this, so I can begin the next novel. ^_^
See you in 2006!