Top Ten Yuri Anime of 2006

December 21st, 2006

It seems to be that time of year again, when “Top Ten” Lists of everything from manga to Bollywood Babes pop up and, as I am leaving next week right after Xmas for Tokyo and Comiket, I thought I’d better start working on this now. ^_^

As always, this list is going to be a mix of old and new, licensed series and as-yet unreleased in the west, because otherwise the list would be darn short. ;-) It’s also all in *my* opinion, so go ahead and comment that I’m wrong, but it’s not like you’re gonna change my mind.  In any case – here we go!

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10. Aria the Natural – This anime is making this year’s top 10 list, not because of its brilliant overt yuriness, but because part of the fun of watching it was looking for every teeny weeny little thing that could be vaguely run through the Yuri goggles and pointed at with a successful “Aha!” I and many others, remain convinced that Akira and Alicia are an item.

9. My HiME – What might have been a HUGE release for this anime in the US seems to have fizzled, largely in part to the DVDs for Volume 1 having issues. But the love of ShizNat, and other smexy Yuri couples, with or without any basis for existence, made this series a Yuri fandom fave in 2006. I personally think a strong push as a “Yuri” series would have bumped sales considerably.

8. Ichigo Mashimaro/Strawberry Marshmallow – I know, we’ve been beating this series to death this week, but when I bought the first volume of the anime I remembered all over again just how snortingly funny it is. And how much Miu is all about getting a little sugar from Nobue. Because, despite myself – every freakin’ time – I watch this, I laugh, and because there’s more than enough Yuri in it to make a case for just about anyone and anyone, this series makes number eight this year.

7. Coyote Ragtime Show – Sometimes a show just gets it right. The women are cool and sexy without making you feel yucky for thinking that, they look voluptuous, but not absurd, and they make you laugh, even as they are capping some redshirt. When neither the men nor the women are weak or incompetent and there’s a sense of something, you know, between the women. Throw in some space opera and friendly ruffian-type action, and you got yourself a winner. To paraphrase a very bad movie, give me a bottle of redeye, a crazy straw and Coyote Ragtime Show, and I’ll be one happy Erica. ^_^

6. Tied for sixth place are Kannazuki no Miko and Ninja NonsenseKannazuki no Miko was undoubtedly one of the most popular yuri releases of 2006. I’ve talked alot about KnM and why it’s popular but not good and, every time, people prove my point by writing incoherent comments filled with righteous indignation at me. But re-watching it, I was able to divorce the anime from the fandumb and remember why I thought it fun in the first place. The same is true for what is being released here as Ninja Nonsense. It’s openly tacky and ridiculous and, unlike KnM, is not going to have armies of insane fans, but *like* KnM it has a really cute Yuri couple, and some fun moments. Fun train-wreck Yuri anime. Number 6.

5. Mai Otome – It ended in spring 2006 without the enormous thud that tarnished Mai Hime. It was not nearly as good a story, and the plot holes were, well large and plentiful. But it had about 1/100th the angst and the whole setup read like an alternate-universe fanfic for the original anyway, so anyone who expected “good” clearly lacked critical thinking skills in the first place. What it was, was a fun, stupid take on the characters of the HiME-verse and it remained, from beginning to end a coherent, consistent, fun stupid take on the HiME-verse. And once again in the minority, I liked the ending. ^_^

4. Kashimashi Girl Meets Girl -I haven’t reviewed the thirteenth episode yet, but it hasn’t changed my opinion overall of the anime. This is another series I was prepared to dislike, but never really needed to. Sure, it was light, fluffy, full of incredibly convenient plot complications….but hello, anime? This is not Ghibli. So, for the anime, at least, once Hazumu became a girl, she stayed that way and it became a Yuri story by sheer force of the fact that it was girls in love with a girl. When the end came, which I saw as “the right choice for the wrong reason” I wasn’t surprised. When the *real* end came, which I saw as “the wrong choice for the right reason” I still wasn’t surprised. I was surprised at the outrage among viewers at the fluffiness of the end. Did they not notice that the plot was about a boy who was turned into a girl because he was killed by an alien spaceship? In any case, although it will never be something I recommend as a representative “Yuri” anime, it was still fun to watch.

Now for the big three. ^_^

3. I am SO glad the Maria-sama ga Miteru OAV 1: Kyuuka no Hitsuji/Vacation of the Lambs made it in for this year’s list! I think the OAV did a great job of capturing Yumi’s feelings of akogare/admiration/desire for Sachiko, while significantly cutting down on the self-loathing. It’s romantic and sweet and win. Once again, my akogare for Konno Oyuki grows by leaps and bounds. ^_^

2. Strawberry Panic was undoubtedly, the hottest Yuri anime this year. What began as cheesy, blatant rip-offs of every other Yuri anime and manga ended as a cheesy blatant rip-offs with a decent story, characters that didn’t blow and a fun, if predictable, ending. The Yuri was as blatant as the rip-offs, and all the plots and characters were recognizable and therefore easy to comprehend. Fandumb rooted for all the wrong characters, for the wrong reasons, and delighted in the gouts of fanservice and pandering. This series will be a benchmark series for me going forward. If a person likes Strawberry Panic more than Marimite, they won’t be coming over my house for lunch, ever. And they probably won’t ever understand why. ^_^ But in the end, the characters proved us wrong and they all went ahead and became three-dimensional anyway, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.

1. Simoun and Strawberry Panic were opposites in nearly every way, but they both undoubtedly shaped this year’s Yuri anime scene. Simoun was an eclectic mix of Yuri fanservice, war story, character story, gender issues, politics and religion. Not everyone who saw it liked it, but those who liked it, loved it. And rightfully so. This was not an anime for the lowest common denominator – it presupposed some genuine intelligence in the viewing audience. For that alone, it stands on top of the pile. No blatant rip-offs here – this series took actual work, because the world it was set in was original and unique…and they never filled in all the details. And yet, because the characters were strong, and the reactions real, the holes in the world weren’t a problem. After all- who knows everything about why people do what they do in this world, either? I wouldn’t recommend Simoun to a beginner, but if I were doing an academic course and wanted to use an anime to engender discussion, Simoun would be the one I would choose.

By far and away, the most outstanding Yuri anime of 2006, Simoun.

 

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8 Responses

  1. Thank you for the annual list – I was awaiting it with some anticipation to see what series I had missed this year. I have to say, though I only have the manga of Aria, I too saw them as a couple – but then I tend to “queerify” everything I watch/read – as I am working my way through Simoun and Strawberry Panic I won’t comment until I have seen them through – I was surprised that Blood+ wasn’t on the list – I couldn’t find it reviewed either – have I missed it?

    I was also surprised how low you rated My Hime, which had a minimum of 4 lesbian couples or romances – two of which were explicit; and if you stopped at ep. 24 – two of which were eternal – I can’t say I’ve seen another anime since maybe Battle Athletes or Maria Sama where is just sort of “assumed” that the majority of female characters are going to pair off with each other.

    I guess I have the some question about Girl Meets Girl – which you say you wouldn’t recommend as Yuri yet which centres exclusively around lesbian love triangles and happens to contain some “in” lesbian humour (like when the “sporty” girl decides to wear something overty feminine to the festival making her parents almost rabid with surprise and joy). Also, there seem to be at least 4 females in love with females out of the “major characters” – which includes an “official pairing” declaration – the very type that was cut from the theatrical release of Memento Mori in Korea (maybe this is more accepted in Japan?). I am also not sure if your Girl Meets Girl includes the OVA – which sort of “retells” the ending – for those who find resolution difficult I suppose. Which, without talking about for spoilers, included a scene that I NEVER expected to ever show up in any anime (and considering the US position right now, I assume will never be translated).

    Anyway, I guess I just wanted to speak up for my favs – thanks again for the list.

  2. neo_hrtgdv says:

    I agree with this list for the anime/manga I know, overall I think this year was good for Yuri fans, both the “relaxed” and the “strict”, whether you wanted just hot girl on girl action or an elaborate plot and real characters I’m positive you had it this year ^-^

    So yes, this was a good year of Yuri.

    As a final comment, I think many would sign up for a Yuricon approved Yuri appreciation course ^-^

  3. Julien says:

    Actually, I would even say that artistically, Simoun was the most rewarding Yuri anime of 2006 : from the music to the geogeous backdrops to the designs, everything in this show just look beautiful, aestheticaly recherched, and not overly complex. The anime was just lacking a little in angst for my taste, as I couldn’t help but make a parallele with the heroines a famous doomed squadron from V-Gundam.

    The other shows don’t even compare (Strawpa, non-starter, Marimite still as heart-aching despite the kitschcheesyness, and don’t even get me started on the Mai series).

  4. Tess says:

    I have to agree with your choices without any argument. Because I agree completely!

    At first I wouldn’t rate Strawberry Panic very high, because it obviously didn’t requre much thought to create. But it was undoubtably a very enjoyable series, even if it was mostly to laugh at. It also had some really likable characters.

    Simoun on the otherhand… I can’t even leave it as “Best Yuri series of the year”, but I feel it is the best series of the year in entirety, period. I watch a lot of anime and respect a lot of anime, but Simoun really took the height of these feeligns and I really wish more anime were created like this. Truly an intellectual anime series, and I can’t wait to see how the manga will end in the direction it’s going. Simoun also undoubtably had the best characters of the year, I feel.

    I’ll watch just about anything as long as it has a hint of Yuri in it, so Simoun was a real treat. I ended up not liking it because of the Yuri, but for the characters and plot itself. They really suceeded in creating a different world that just thinks differently, simply from the fact that everyone is born female. It’s one of those series I could watch over and over and not get bored, I think.

  5. Anonymous says:

    great list, only one i’ve seen is strawberry panic, i thought it was surprisingly great, and all the characters ended up becoming much more than I had anticipated, definitely caught my attention more than some of the other animes out there , very great series just finished watching it…:)

  6. Teresa says:

    I think they should make a second season of Strawberry Panic because I wasn’t all to pleased with the ending. Tamao and Nagisa still need to get somethings straight. I heard there’s going to be a live-movie of Strawberry Panic too. Heard anything about that?

  7. @Teresa – There is no second season planned for Strawberry Panic, Nagisa will never get together with Tamao who was created specifically to be the best friend who never gets her and the live-action version is a misunderstanding of an entirely *different* movie called The Cherry Orchard which was entirely similar. Read about it here to learn more.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Winter is always weakest, but wow very short. Haven’t seen so short in a long time. Definitely be easier on my net now. I can watch o so much more :D Probably be watching almost everything minus the yaoi. Not too sure on the kindergarten thing either. But hey, who knows. TTGL animation turns kindergarten, lol. And Chu-Bra… probs a no. I’ll probably be sucked in to watch it coz of friends like kissxsis ugh… -.-“

    regards,
    misterhex,
    Fairy Tail

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