Every year, when I post my Top Ten lists, I get comments like, “Why didn’t you include ‘xyz’? The answer is always the same – either 1) I simply haven’t read or watched it or, 2) I didn’t like it as much as you did. Pick the answer that seems the most likely to you.
This list is, as is everything here, *my opinion.* Other than the fact that I pretty much single-handedly spearheaded the genre “Yuri” as you know it here in America, I make no claim to being more expert than anyone else. :-) Not everything on the list is something I like – not everything I like is on the list. That having been said, here is my list for the year’s Top Ten Yuri-related things:
10. FanBoys/Girls – So awful, so wonderful. These, the large majority of the yuri fanbase, R us. From the bottom of the barrel, where they seriously *don’t* know why we think they are creepy, to the pick of the litter, those folks who turn their interest into great original art, videos and literature, Fanboys and Fangirls are the folks who, for better or worse (usually worse) support Yuri. I revile them/us, make fun of their/our propensity to eschew quality for service, to not be able to tell the difference between a good story and a bad one, but they/we are the folks who buy the videos, the manga, the t-shirts and postcards and other goods that keep Yuri (and Yuricon and ALC) going. For being our backbone (and our potbelly) and for inspiring me to write reviews, do lectures, publish books, run events and for giving me many a good laugh at our collective insanity, Yuri Fandom everywhere makes number 10 on this year’s list.
9. Mai HiME/Mai Otome – For the sheer volume of conversation, fanart, fanfic and the like, this franchise has to make this year’s list. The manga is foul, the anime is laughable and full of service, but you know, we had a good time picking it to pieces. And we’re still watching the OAVs, aren’t we? It’s shiny, it’s full of women who are easily slashed, if not obviously coupled, and it has lots of pretty colors. 9 out of 10.
8. Maria-sama ga Miteru – I’ll be sure to let you know when I get tired of this series. :-) In the meantime, I continue to read the novels (falling behind faster and faster as Konno Oyuki continues to pump them out), watch the OAVs, listen to the Drama CDs, and read the manga, because when it’s all said and done, these are some of the greatest, most three-dimensional characters I’ve ever encountered. Never dull, always human and frequently hysterical, I have every intention of raving about this series for years to come.
7. Ichijinsha – I’m sorry that I’m not going to be the one to bring the great, great manga put out by Ichijinsha to the US. I really am. (And I want you to know that I did try.) But despite that, I have nothing but admiration and desire (Can one akogare a publishing company? lol) for the fantastic manga being created by Ichijinsha and Comic Yuri Hime. Many of my favorite titles this year were Ichinjisha publications – Strawberry Shake Sweet, Voiceful, Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo, Simoun – and I look forward to everything they do in the future. I hope more of it becomes anime, too. Strawberry Shake Sweet would be an awesome anime, wouldn’t it? So, consider all but one of the above books all tied for number 7….
6. While we’re congratulating publishers, let me mention Seven Seas. They are the “new kid” on the yuri block, but with a PR machine, staff and money that ALC Publishing does not have, they’re instantly bigger and better known than we are after 3 years of paving the way. I’d like to resent them, but I can’t. LOL I just finished reading their translation of Kashimashi Girl Meets Girl and it may well be the best translation/transition to English I’ve ever seen for the American mass market. (A glowing review will be forthcoming.) I just wish they were picking up decent yuri titles, instead of the crap stories they’re promoting as “Yuri.” Stories aside, if their “Strawberry” imprint is as well executed as Kashimashi was, they’ll be on Okazu alot next year.
5. R.O.D and Read or Dream – This multiverse has alot going for it. Great characters, good action and, in one or two of the versions, some excellent writing. The anime for both were enjoyable and this year we got to see both manga come to the western market in English. And it was good. It’s not Yomiko or Nenene’s fault that the R.O.D. manga wasn’t that great – and it does help fill in some of the holes inthe TV series for those as didn’t know. Read or Dream is just fluffy yuri-filling fun. Yay Viz for giving us more Paper Masters.
4. Aoi Hana – This was not the world’s most popular yuri manga this year, but it should definitely be in the top ten. The art is simple, realistic, and the story is both simple and realistic, as well. The emotions are genuine, sweet, raw, and the characters – for once – act and look the ages they are supposed to be. I’m looking forward with bated breath to Volume 2, and praying that Yasuko-sempai doesn’t turn out to be a jerk. :-)
Deep breath, everyone. Here’s the top three Yuri of 2006…and not one surprise, I’m sure. lol
3. Hayashiya Shizuru – This woman is seemingly tireless. For years and years, she cranked out funny Yuri doujinshi, and last year “suddenly” exploded onto the scene as a popular yuri artist. Her doujinshi work in Jesus Drug has had to slow down, since she’s now responsible for one monthly series and another quarterly series, both of which are in my top ten. For both Hayate x Blade and Strawberry Shake Sweet Hayashiya Shizuru-sensei and her two fabulous manga series make my number 3 for the year. Either series would be a great anime (hint, hint, freakin’ Dengeki/Mediaworks who have made anime of much weaker series!!!!) and both are popular with the yuri crowd and beyond. I know how hard it is to do anything under a deadline – to have the constant strain of two deadlines is beyond my wildest nightmare. Kudos to Hayashiya-sensei. May she draw us yuri love comedies forever.
2. Strawberry Panic – And a panic it was. I, and others like me, panicked that we would, yet again, be forced to educate and inform shrieking hordes of near-illiterate fandumb, and the hordes panicked that they wouldn’t get more great stuff just like StoPani. Well, educate and inform I do, but still the hordes shriek for more. We talked about it a lot on the Yuricon Mailing List, parsing many of the multitudinous stolen concepts and characters, but in the end, it wasn’t so bad. It just wasn’t good. It was, therefore, insanely popular. This year’s “zOMG HAWT!!!111” series, I give you Strawberry Panic at number 2.
1. You have to have seen this coming. :-) At number 1, for the scope and breadth of the story, is Simoun.
It wasn’t perfect. But it *was* fascinating. Characters, plot complications, subcreation – all worked together to create an endlessly fascinating and meaningful world in which we watched a group of fine individuals lose a battle that was untenable from the beginning. This was not Gundam – they could not save their universe, but they did manage to find a way to save themselves. I admit to being a snob – any anime that confuses the majority of fandumb as Simoun did, is something I’ll consider worth watching. The fantastic art, the cinematic music (another OST I listen to all the time) the ship design, the religion, the politics and the people made it worth watching. Call it elitism, call me a stone cold bitch, but I call Simoun the absolute best Yuri of the year.
There you have it. I hope you enjoyed this, and the other 193 posts on Okazu this year. That makes slightly more than a post every two days. Where *do* I find the time…?
And with that, I will wish you all a wonderful New Year – I’ll see you in 2007!