Here we are, looking back at a tempestuous, and in many ways frustrating 2008. It’s been challenging for all of us, fans and companies alike. But – and there’s always a but… – in many ways it has been quite excellent. In celebration of the excellent, here are my choices for Top Ten Yuri (Anythings) of 2008. :-)
10) Candy Boy – This series made a *tremendous* splash in the world of Yuri. Frankly, I’m still not sure why, as there is so little Yuri in it that if you take out Saku-chan and the series subtitle, it is merely a slice of life story about three not terribly interesting sisters. But, you have to admit that my disinterest in it gave lots of people a chance to hate me all over again. lol In a nod to all of Yuri-dom that thinks this is the most fabulous Yuri of 2008, Candy Boy gets to be on the Top Ten.
9) Octave – A surprising story, an interesting story. A story by an artist we weren’t already following, in a magazine that we weren’t necessarily reading. Not about schoolgirls, not about immature crushes. Full of conventions we were familiar with, but not conventional and pleasantly realistic. Octave didn’t make a huge splash, but I think it will create ripples that will spread for some time.
8) – Media Blasters – for bringing us Simoun, Strawberry Panic, Kashimashi ~ Girl meets Girl and Maka-Maka, any one of which could make this list by itself. Media Blasters really outdid themselves, really stepping up the quality of everything they did, just because we asked them to. The folks at MB have fun with their Yuri, but treat it with the respect the end product deserves. Above all, they *enjoy* bringing Yuri to the fans. So, for their “Yuri Fans” line, Media Blasters and their series, make Number 8 this year.
7) Shoujo Yuri Manga…for Men – This year we have seen several popular Yuri series that were, in nearly every way, classic shoujo, run in magazines for men. Aoi Hana (Fx Erotics magazine) and Girlfriends (Comic Hi magazine,) immediately come to mind. They explore young love – not in an icky, service-y way, but in an honest and emotional way. They are written by women and just happen to run in magazines that are written for men. Years and year ago, I predicted that Yuri would start to blur that line between “for women” and “for men” in the Japanese manga market and I continue to think that Yuri, of all the genres, is the one genre that can successfully do that. In any case, for making this prediction come one step closer to true, these series and their magazines, make number 7 on the list.
6) Right Stuf – They entered the Yuri market with eyes and arms open. They *talked* to us. They asked what we wanted and paid attention to what we said. In a world where companies are giving less and less, they went ahead and offered more – and they didn’t shy away when Yuri fandom stood front and center to say that we are the most rabid fans. It was a great start to what I hope will be a fabulous relationship going forward. Thanks for 2008, Right Stuf – here’s looking forward to 2009 with you!
5) Yuri Hime and Yuri Hime S, and all the many collected volumes from their pages continue to put Ichijinsha on this list. They continue to lead the way in “Girls Love” publishing in Japan, proving that Yuri for both men and women can be profitable. Because of them, little by little, “Girls love” sections are popping up in bookstores all over Japan. It takes vision and conviction to change the world. I’m doing my best on this side of the ocean, and for all their efforts in Japan, Ichijinsha and their Yuri magazines make the midpoint mark on this list.
4) Mnemosyne – y’all didn’t like when you watched it, you didn’t like it when I put it on the Top Yuri Anime list, it disappointed you throughout for not being the anime you wanted it to be. What it was, was a wonderful occult/horror/BDSM/speculative fiction for adults about a woman who cannot stay dead, and the people in her life, battling a completely evil nutjob. It had lots of delicious Yuri-service, and even the occasional glimpse of Yuri romance. It totally worked for me. The fact that the voice cast was Marimite-ful and made for crazy cross-over gag comics, just added to the joy. lol
You already know all these…
3) Hayate x Blade – I have been accused of obsessing over Maria-sama ga Miteru, but that is not entirely true. It’s just that there’s *a lot* of that to review. If you want to accuse me of obsessing, the true culprit is this series. There are no novels, no anime, only manga and Drama CDs, and yet I cannot stop talking about it. It’s the funniest damn thing I read every month. It’s got moments of “Yeah!” and “Wow.” and “Bwahahahah!” and this last chapter still has me snorting with laughter. I hope Seven Seas does well with it, because it is one of the best manga ever and certainly the pinnacle of Hayashiya Shizuru’s skills. Once again in my top three is Hayate x Blade.
2) Maria Watches Us/Maria-sama ga Miteru. As you read this, I am reading the final novel in the series, looking forward to listening to the new Special CD, and awaiting the 4th season of the anime. Everytime I look at the DVDs on my table here, I’m absolutely blown away that this series – in which *nothing* happens and Catholic schoolgirls do not get into trouble – has filled my life with so many hours of entertainment. This is not the last time you’ll see this series on the list, but it’s the last time you’ll see the novels mentioned, because…there are no more. In homage to 11 years of unbelievably good writing, great characters and some really special moments, thanks Konno Oyuki-sensei, for Maria-sama ga Miteru – and thank you Right Stuf for Maria Watches over Us. My second-favorite series of 2008.
1) Gunjou – It’s still hard for me to believe. A simple message in my Mixi inbox opened a whole new world up to me, and soon Lililicious will open up that world for you. This is story of raw emotion, brutal tenderness and a love that has no name to speak. It is a story of two women on the lam from a terible crime they committed, and a story of two women running towards freedom from the crimes that were committed against them. It’s dysfunctional and beautiful. I have never read anything like it – creator Nakamura Ching is an exceptional talent. As I suspected all along from the moment I first read this, my number one Yuri of the year is…Gunjou.
I want to take this opportunity thank all the many heros and superheros that have made Okazu so much fun over the years, all my staff at ALC and Yuricon, all the folks that have offered us support. Also, to all the folks who write in here, frothing at the mouth about something, anything you disagree with.
Above all, I want to thank those of you who are my friends and those of you who have become my friends because of Yuricon and Okazu.
And one last time, please allow me to remind you that the best way to “support” Yuri is to purchase Yuri. Whether you are picking up a copy of Hayate x Blade or Strawberry Panic, whether you’re looking for anime, manga, novels or t-shirts, whether you shop on the Yuricon Shop, or with one of our Yuri-related advertisers, please don’t forget that downloading Yuri doesn’t support it in any meaningful way. Support your favorite Yuri artists and the companies who are bringing it to you – buy Yuri.
I wish you all a very happy, healthy New Year.