Now This Is Only My Opinion, Volume 6

September 2nd, 2008

Erica is on vacation this week. She will have sporadic access to the internet, so has thoughtfully supplied reviews ahead of time for you to be entertained and/or outraged by. Comment approval and replies will undoubtedly be delayed while she eats lobster rolls and steals rocks from protected sites.

Thanks once again to everyone who sent in questions for this edition of “Now This is Only My Opinion,” in which I answer completely random questions for no reason other than we all find it amusing when I do. :-) Let’s get to it…

Have any of Yoshiya Nobuko’s works been translated into English?

Not that I am aware of. I know that chunks of Yaneura no Nishojo were translated by Hiromi Tsuchiya for her paper “Yoshiya Nobuko’s Yaneura no nishojo (Two Virgins in the Attic): Female-Female Desire and Feminism”, and I remember discussing some years ago a translation of her Hana Monogatari with Dr. Frederick, but haven’t heard anything since. I think that if someone *did* do a translation, you’d all be disappointed, because her writing is very early 20th century. Like when you read Lady Chatterly’s Lover in school because it had been banned and was scandalous, and then didn’t see what the big deal was. lol

Besides Seirei no Moribito (which, indeed, is very awesome), what other recent non-yuri anime series have you enjoyed?

I watch and read quite a bit of non-Yuri, I just don’t review it here. ;-) I think the two anime that I’m following right now that are not at all Yuri, but are very enjoyable are Black Lagoon (Balalaika is my role model) and Ni-mensou no Musume. Neither are Yuri, but both are action series that star strong, competent women.

Do you find there are different character types in yuri aimed at different audiences? What are they?

Different audiences in Japan are defined by gender and age, so the portrayal of Yuri characters fall along the lines of what that audience expects in *any* anime or manga targeted to them. Kids series will have a different kind of Yuri than shows for an older audience, series for girls, women, boys and men all have quite specific tropes that have been developed in the several decades each genre has been in existence. I wrote a bit about some of the typical tropes one sees in shoujo vs shounen in this post about Yuri.

Is there yuri series that even casual fans can identify that automatically synominous to the yuri genre?

Nope. See above. And remember, what you see as definitely positively Yuri, I might not see as having any at all. Because “Yuri” spans all ages and audiences, what some people see as definitively Yuri others don’t. In my experience, the series that Western fans have used as their gateway Yuri most often are these, in chronological order:

Sailor Moon
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Maria-sama ga Miteru
Kannazuki no Miko
Strawberry Panic

The last is about as close as we can come right now to a series that is synonymous with “Yuri” in most people’s minds. More’s the pity.

Can we ask the same question to the same casual fans about the one series they automatically think of that’s yuri?

Same answer as above. Everyone is going to interpret Yuri based on their own unique interests. Yaoi/BL is a specific genre designed to appeal to a homogenous audience of gender and age, so it has very specific tropes and conventions that appeal to that crowd. There’s a huge difference from a 15-year old straight boy’s idea of “Yuri” and a 42-year old lesbian woman’s.

Why are butchy characters (like Utena, Haruka, and Plica) usually the “uke” and femme characters (Anthy, Michiru, and Mari) usually the “seme” in yuri relationships? Is there a cultural reason, or some basis in an early influential yuri title?

I think it’s because in real lesbian relationships, the femme tends to be the one who calls the shots. As I once said to a group of Japanese lesbians in Tokyo – my wife is the Queen of the Universe and I live to serve.

What’s your favorite yuri manga of all time?

Always a tough question, because I don’t do favorites. I like what I am reading right now best. Right now, my favorite is Gunjou by Nakamura Chin.

What do you think are the chances of Strawberry Shake Sweet being made into, if not an anime series, at least an OVA (in light of the adaption of mangas like Blue Drop and Shoujo Sect)?

You’re comparing apples and oranges. The magazines that publish Blue Drop and Shoujo Sect appeal to and sell to a COMPLETELY different audience than Yuri Hime. Considering that we haven’t gotten an anime of Hayashiya’s infinitely more popular and better selling Hayate x Blade, not that good. So far Ichijinsha hasn’t attempted to make anime from any of the Yuri Hime titles.

If you could take one yuri anime to a deserted island with you, which title would you choose?

The Drama CDs for Kntonoha no Miko to Kotodama no Majyo to. These never fail to make me smile like a complete freak, because they are so wonderful.

What the hell am I supposed to use pencil boards for?

The usual use in the West is for decoration, but I use them as a thin, flat, smooth surface to write upon which is what they were intended for, I believe. I’ve got some friends who are professional editors who I’ve converted to the use of pencil boards during editing and proofreading. They work perfectly for that. The point being that when you are writing on top of a stack of paper, your writing utensil doesn’t push through to the pages below. The wife posits that they were probably developed for use with workbooks.

What is your opinion about the upcoming Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha movie?

I won’t have an opinion until after I’ve seen it, but I do wish they were doing a StrikerS movie instead. :-)

And to my wife, who also asked me a question for this Q&A, my answer is, “Yes.” :-)

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That’s it this time! As always that was loads of fun. Thanks to everyone who sent in questions! We’ll do it again – eventually!

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3 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    I received the first part of Hana Monogatari from a Japanese friend who was visiting me a while ago. Reading it reminded me of this post and the comparision to Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which is indeed quite apt.

    While the stories in Hana Monogatari are fun to read, from a 21st century perspective they are often amusing in a manner probably not intended by the author. In their noble admiration of an (often unseen) faraway person, the girls in the stories are made to seem, well, rather pathetic… One might say the stories make the most uneventful Yuri Hime hand-holding one-shot manga seem like a tentacle-strewn hentai splatter orgy in comparision.

    Here is a short but representative excerpt from a story called Chrysanthemum to give people an idea of the style (my (very quick) translation):

    The lady’s elegant lips trembled slightly, like the petals of a flower. Yet the words wouldn’t come out as we sank into a fearfully deep melancholy. At the moment as she made to pass the folded handkerchief to me, she stopped and removed from her finger a sparklingly brilliant silver ring, which she placed it on top of the folded handkerchief. The driver’s whip sounded and the carriage started shakingly forward…

    I was thinking of translating a complete story at some point, but I fear I might run out of flowery expressions before I get far.

  2. Victoria says:

    Wow…your description of the order anime fans get into Yuri is so right on for me, it’s scary.

    I was a rabid Sailor Moon fan when I was little (and it still brings back good memories even as I acknowledge the show’s flaws). Then in high school, I began searching for intelligent manga with strong female characters, and I stumbled across Rose of Versailles, which became a fast favorite of mine.

    The online reviews commending ROV highly recommended Utena due to “similar but different” content, and the reviews lauding RGU highly recommended Marimite for the same reason. Soon after I solidified my love for Marimite, (because who can resist Sato Sei?) I decided to officially call myself a Yuri fan and quickly discovered your blog.

    I owe you for introducing me to Simoun, Strawberry Panic, and Kannazuki no Miko (though I’m far more thankful for the first). Now, half my favorite anime and manga are Yuri, and I’m currently reading Strawberry Shake Sweet and Sweet Blue Flowers.

    (I hope I didn’t write too much. It’s a habit.)

  3. Victoria says:

    A question for the next Opinion column! I’m beginning to read Sweet Blue Flowers and am a longtime Marimite fan. How does the plot style and character development differ between the two series? Just a general overview. (I don’t mind spoilers.)

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