Top Ten Yuri Manga of 2006

December 22nd, 2006

Okay, I admit it, I didn’t think anyone ever really read these lists. ^_^ So, thanks to everyone who commented on yesterday’s Top Ten Yuri Anime of 2006 list! I’ll try not to let it go to my head. ;-)

Because this year we finally have a body of translated manga that falls under my loosest interpretation of Yuri, I’m going to split the manga list into two Top Five lists, one for translations into English and one for untranslated Japanese manga. It’s sort of restrictive, only having five and five, but I don’t want to add things that are merely okay, just because they happen to be translated. That having been said, let’s go!

Top Five English-language Yuri Manga of 2006

5. Strawberry Marshmallow/Ichigo Mashimaro – Okay, even I’m beginning to get sick of this series now. LOL But the manga, like the anime, makes me laugh, Miu is whack-tastic and clearly an EPL (Evil Psycho Lesbian) in training, and it’s just freaking cute. Okay? Let’s never mention it again. LOL

4. Kashimashi Girl Meets Girl – I haven’t had a chance to review the Seven Seas translation yet, but on first glance it seems a solid transition to English. The story still has that not-quite-Yuri feel about it for the first volume but, like the anime, by the end the gender issue isn’t, and the story remains about three girls in a love triangle. My opinion might change when the manga ends (something that really ought to be soon…) but for the moment, this remains one of the top five.

3. WORKS – Imagine this. A lesbian artist, drawing beautiful art, with stories about lesbians, for a lesbian audience. No almost yuri here – in fact, this is the only title on this year’s list that can claim that. That’s why we call it “100%” yuri. Tadeno Eriko has a classic manga style, her stories have humor, and pathos and angst and love and sex – between adult women who look and act adult. Exactly the kind of thing *I’m* looking for in yuri. While this was originally published in 2004, this year’s revised edition had mainstream book and comic store distribution, so here it is at number 3.

2. Blue – The story is not earth shaking, but for sheer excellence in transition to an English edition, Nananan Kiriko’s Blue has got to make this list. By far and away, the *best* reproduction of a manga I’ve ever seen. The English-language edition is exact to the original in every way…except that I can read it alot faster. :-)

And this year’s winner:

1. Read or Dream, Volume 1 – Not the most yuri story, not the best reproduction, but overall, one of the most *fun* things to come out this year. This alternate ROD-verse has a little something for everyone, and double that for fans of the ROD The TV anime. This will definitely be one of my “go to” books for a quick hit of chuckles time and time again. I’m thrilled to have it in English and I can’t recommend it enough. A total win for anyone who doesn’t require angst for a story to be “good.”

Top Five Japanese-language Yuri Manga of 2006

5. Kotonoha no Miko to Kotodama no Majyo to – In the beginning, I did not like Fujieda Miyabi’s art. Seriously. As my regular readers know, I am not a fan of “cute.” But over time, both story and characters really began to grow on me. By the time the story ended, I was hooked. Of course, the fact that Letty and Tsumugi’s story has continued in Drama CD form only serves to keep me hooked. :-) In the mean time, like Fujieda’s Iono-sama series, I’ve re-read MikoMajyo multiple time already and enjoyed it more every time.

4. Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou – This series is in serious contention for my “Best manga series ever ever ever” award. And, although it ended this year, it will remain in my heart forever. Sounds goopy, I know, but it’s true. Art, story, characters, were all well-crafted with subtle, delicate strokes…a veritable masterwork of manga. It ended as beautifully as ever, with exactly the right touch of Yuri. I, and other fans of Alpha and Kokone, couldn’t ask for more.

3. Kuchibiru no Tameiki Sakurairo – I’m not the only Yuri manga fan to be sad that Morinaga Milk has decided to stop drawing for Yuri Hime magazine. Like most of the stories that began in Yuri Shimai and were continued in Yuri Hime, this began as a series of semi-related one-shots that developed into an actual story somewhere along the line. I’m sorry that we’ll never get to see Nana and Hitomi grow up, move in together and live happily ever after, but we do get to see them go from friends to lovers, with beautiful art. A pleasure to read – and again, a volume I’ve already re-read several times.

2. Hayate x Blade – Hayashiya Shizuru is surely angling for “Yuri mangaka of the year” this year. Her Hayate x Blade gets a little gayer with each chapter, a little crazier, a little cooler and a little win-er. The HxB Drama CD kept the Yuri and upped the wacky. And when, every month I pick up my copy of Dengeki Daioh, its Hayate x Blade that I save for last so I can savor every moment. Hitsugi x Shizuku, Momoko x Isuzu, Hayate x Ayana x Jun, and every other pair of shinyuu at Tenchi Gakuen make this series pure gold. If only an anime…

And this year’s new champion….

1. It’s a one-two punch for Hayashiya Shizuru-sensei, with her winning combination of Julia and Ran in Strawberry Shake Sweet! (You can’t be too surprised to find three of the Yuri Hime manga volumes on this list, right?) A Yuri mangaka, who has been doing comedy Yuri manga and doujinshi for just about *ever*, all of Hayishiya’s physical humor and goofiness come together in this strangely touching and strangely hysterical and plain old strange girls’ love series. There’s about two straight female characters in the whole series. And one of them is doomed. ^_^

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And that’s it for 2006’s Top Ten Yuri Manga. Sometime before I leave next week, I will sum the whole year up in a giant Top Ten of Yuri, but until then, don’t forget two things: scanlations do not pay artist’s bills, and comments don’t pay mine. Rent, borrow, buy – don’t download. If you love Yuri, support it in a way that pays the bills. On behalf of Yuri publishers everywhere, thanks to everyone who *has* supported Yuri by buying it from ALC and/or through the Yuricon Shop!

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2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great list, but where is Strawberry Panic?! Inquiring minds wish to know! ^^

    Actually, the only qualm I have is with Kashimashi, in which the gender never really stopped being an issue for me (why?! Why with the Aliens, if it was never going to be a relevent part of the story? Why not just give us Yuri fans something good for once, without complications? GAH!)

    But there’s something missing from the list that maybe you haven’t read. It’s a direct-to-English manga called 12 days by June Kim, and it’s wonderful. It’s about a completely grown up lesbian dealing (or not) with the death of her ex-lover, with some wonderful insight into their relationship via flashbacks. It’s bleakly hilarious, and really, really worth it, not just from the Yuri point of view- it’s really excellent. Buy it, read it, love it; there’s nary a schoolgirl in sight!

  2. after all the convincing, I will definately pick up strawberry marshmellow. And thanks to the previous commentor, 12 days as well.

    I wonder, how did the second volume of steady beat rank (or not?) – and what about admittedly my favorite lesbian/tomgirl genre; the female sports manga? Yes, it was a disappointment when Crimson Hero went all hetero but Angel Cup has at least one lesbian, hopefully two (goalie and friend?) – maybe it’s me, but anytime we have a heroine running around the field with blood running down her face mutter how she’s going to beat the boys it just reminds me of Revolutionary Girl – or high school – whichever.

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