Now This is Only My Opinion, Part 7

May 24th, 2009

Once again, I take some time out of my – and your – day to answer your questions about, well, anything. In doing so, I expect to befuddle, entertain and probably enrage. I’ve also organized the questions into categories, since so many of them run along the same lines (and are often the same question.) I apologize because it is very long, but I did want to answer as many of the questions as possible. Shall we dance?

Yuri Manga/Yuri Anime

Q: I don’t know if you can answer this one considering your tastes in Yuri, but what Yuri Manga title would you consider that could become an anime series and has a potential of becoming the Top 10 Best Selling Animation DVD in the Oricon ratings like how that Yaoi title Junjou Romantica has become in the past couple months?

A: Hayate x Blade

Other than that, none. The appeal of Yuri in anime right now is more as one fetish in a long list of fetishes. Few hardcore anime fans in Japan (which is to say, mostly adult males) are really that interested in a romantic story about two women who love one another, full stop. I want to be very wrong about this, and see Sasamekikoto and Aoi Hana break into the top ten. But, as popular as they may or may not be ,schoolgirl Yuri is *still* not the Yuri I want to see make a splash.


Q: My question is not clever, funny or provocative in any way, and is in fact quite boring, so… let’s say I’m asking it in spite of that to be provocative. (In a boring way, I know.)

I’ve been wondering what a mangaka was allowed to do in a doujinshi of one of his/her own works, from a legal point of view. Do they use the opportunity only to let their fans spend some more time with the characters, or can they expand on something they didn’t have time to develop properly ?

A: That entirely depends on their contract with the publisher. A new artist who works for contract is likely to have no rights at all in regards to their own characters. I’ve seen any number of artists do doujinshi on their own characters, so it’s not entirely uncommon, either. Sometimes the doujinshi are more interesting than the original work, sometimes its more of the same.


Q: What do you see as being the future of Yuri?

A: More of the same. Schoolgirls, Yuricest, best friends with crushes, etc, relationships that are ambiguous or one-sided or are pure service. It sells and offends few societal standards.


Q: How far do you think Yuri can go? I mean, in your wildest dreams of some sort of utopian manga future, where would you like to see it and in what form(s)? Conversely, where do you think Yuri publishing can realistically reach? What are its limits?

A: I think that Yuri publishing in the west has currently hit the limits of where it can go right now, given the size of the fanbase. The fans seems to think there are millions of people ready, willing and able to buy Yuri manga, but in reality there are a few hundreds. Most of the audience is downloading, not buying. That kind of thing kills the industry before it can really grow.

In Japan? I think Yuri has kind of hit a nice trough right now. Slow, steady growth, pushing the limits of what sells. There’s very little mingling between lesbian manga and the Yuri manga audience. It would be nice to see – but unlikely, since one deals with real issues and the possibility that there are people outside the status quo, while the other deals with idealized, non-threatening situations.

I don’t have a Yuri utopia, but I’d love to see more manga which star adult women who are in love with other women and then the story happens – which is why I publish Yuri Monogatari, WORKS, Rica ‘tte Kanji, etc, etc.


Q: I’ve got a multiple part question for you. Why do you like Yuri? Are there more men or women fans of Yuri and why do you think that is so, unless it’s an even split. Sorry if you’ve answered this in the past, I’m a new subscriber.

A: Hi Kevin, yeah, these have been asked a few times before.

I’m a lesbian and like most people, I like to read about people that share my path through the human condition known as life. So far, no one has written about a librarian who likes martial arts, lesbians in anime and manga and bronze age archeology, but if anyone did, it would probably annoy me, so I read Yuri. :-)

In Japan, “Yuri” still applies to porn for guys, so there are more men, in general, who like Yuri. There is a female audience for “Girl’s Love” but since in Japan the audience determines the genre, not the other way around, while more women than men read Yuri Hime, more men than women read Yuri Hime S.

Here in the west, because when I started Yuricon all those years ago, I said, hey, look, women not only like Yuri too, but some of us create it, people see Yuri as a genre for women here. (Not what I said, not what meant, and not really true.) What is true is that about as many women as men like Yuri here. Yuricon membership is
just slightly more women than men.


Q: If you were suddenly put in charge of an anime studio, given a very large sack of money and carte blanche to adapt a novel or manga of your choice – which would it be?

A: Shoujoai ni Bouken.


Q: I’ve often heard Aoi Hana and Marimite compared to one another. Besides the fact that the former has more overt Yuri and even less melodrama than the latter, what would you say are the main differences between their plot and characters?

A: Maria-sama ga Miteru is a story about an average girl surrounded by not average people and thrust into a decidedly not-average situation. The story is primarily set in a fantasy setting and has distinct comedic elements. Yuri is a side effect.

Aoi Hana is a slightly more realistic story about a not-particularly average girl in a more realistic, very average situation. There is less comedy.


Q: Some anime critics have shot down Hayate x Blade for poor plotting and redundant, poorly-timed humor, and bad characterization. How do you respond?

A: In most cases, the reviewers were befuddled by the multiple genres that HxB crossed. It was an action story, a comedy, a girl’s school drama, and they were unable to deal with the fact that it was actually *all* of those at once. The criticism that stands out in my mind was one plaintive cry to “pick a genre already.”

To me, this indicates a lack of sophistication on the reader’s part. Why should a story not be able to be three or four things at once? It’s silly to insist that all girls-school romances be set in a Marimite-style setting or that comedy cannot have action. (I can only assume that reviewer does not watch Jackie Chan much.)

I am very used to Hayashiya’s broad physical comedy and her ability to draw high-octane action. I love the fact that she combines them and drama and gives it all a light frisson of Yuri. They did not. It’s okay – everyone’s entitled to their opinion. :-)


Q: Now that Revolutionary Girl Utena is getting a remastered version, do you think you’ll review it, so a younger audience will get some exposure.

A: No – the newly remastered edition is selling for $600 in Japan. I will not be getting it for myself and I sincerely doubt that too many existing fans, much less a whole new generation is kicking in that kind of money for it – even should the remastered set make it here at all. ADV picked up a number of CPM titles, but Utena was not among them. I would be pleased, but surprised, to see anyone license the remastered set.


Q: Which Yuri anime and which Yuri manga would you show to somebody who isn’t familiar with Yuri to introduce them to the genre? (Gateway Yuri, so to speak.)

A: Ugh. I can never answer that question. What you like and what I like – what will hook you and what will hook me…so different.

For instance, it makes me sigh that so many people watched Strawberry Panic and thought it was a brilliant romance. That’s the last gateway we had. Better than lesbian rape, but still…ugh. And yet it was *hugely* popular. I’d never recommend it, because so much of it was parodying earlier series that I think the watcher should know, so they *get* that it’s parody.

Every generation’s going to be different. My gateway was Sailor Moon and I’d never suggest a newbie watch it, because I am not under the delusion that my seminal works are going to be yours.

Watch whatever comes next. The next gateways will be Sasamekikoto and Aoi Hana.

(For the record, I do not answer this question by email, either. I have a boilerplate response for people that gives suggestions on where to find suggestions.)


Q: Anyway, I hope this question hasn’t been asked already. If you could have a casual meal with any one Yuri character, who would it be and why? Also, which Yuri couple/duo/supposed pairing would you like to have a casual meal with and why?

A: Not this particular iteration, but something similar gets asked every time. Since “Yuri characters” are 2-dimensional fictitious creations, I’m not much in the habit of wanting to meet them, sleep with them, etc.

I would like to have been able to have met and had a meal with Yoshiya Nobuko, to thank her. She is dead, but she was at least real.


Q: What was the first story you ever wrote a fanfic about and how old were you?

A: I engaged in a multiverse-crossover series of “letter-letters” with a friend for years that were clearly fanfic. I was about 14 or 15.


Q: So, you reckon they’ll close out Maria-sama ga Miteru anime with an OVA, a television series, or just leave the last four and a bit books hang and wrap it up?(NB. The question is not “what will they do”, but “what do you reckon they will do, so no weaseling out with, “I don’t have any inside information”).

A: So basically, guess? I *guess* that it’s over. Done. Wrapped up, otsukaresama deshita.

I *want* them to do an OVA series. They ended the 4th season at about book 27 and there’s 7 more to go before the end of the story as we know it. I’d like to see one story arc (that crossed several novels) and 3 specific novels covered.


Q: What is the most artistic non-Yuri manga you’d ever read?

That’s a really hard question for me, since I don’t usually become engaged with a manga for the art, but for the characters.

Yuri or not, I probably have to say Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. The art really touches me.



Q: Do you have any opinion on this whole Touhou Project thing and its curious Yuri popularity?

A: None at all. Haven’t paid the least attention to it.


Q: How do Yuri goggles work? How would you market them?

A: They work in the same way Beer Goggles do. Given one particular criterium, the ability to see Yuri between two characters goes up. In the case of Beer Goggles, the criterium is the application of alcohol. In the case of Yuri Goggles, it’s the proximity of two female characters to one another.

No need to market them, they seem to be handed out for free on some other Yuri sites. :-)


Q: How do you picture your Yuri goggles?

A: I don’t. I typically prefer to look at things without delusion.

When I create delusions, it’s not so much because I believe a thing *should* be that way, but because it makes me happy to imagine it that way.


Q: Pulp or no pulp?

A: In lesbian lit, pulp. In orange juice, none.


Q: I guess this means we need an answer to the “how do Yuri goggles work?” question before a full explanation can be given to the Touhou Project issue? ^_^

A: Yes.


Q: Can you believe it’s not butter?

A: Yes. It neither looks, tastes nor has the consistency of butter and Fabio is no enticement for me to look the other way. As it happens, it’s a decent enough margarine. I have no idea why they think their market is that stupid.


Q: What do you like more: cheese or ham?

A: Cheese.


Q: Have you been to Europe before? If so, what did you think of it?

A: I have only been to the UK, which I very much like.


Q: What did you study in college?

A: Comparative Literature – just like Satou Sei.


Q: Do you like JPop?

A: Depends.


Q: you seem too busy promoting Yuri, do you still have time for sex?


are you the seme or the uke?

A: I assume that point of that question is to see if I would even publish it. The answer to the first is yes and to the second, I bequeath to you an afternoon of imagining it to figure out on your own. That’ll teach you.


Q: What is your all time favorite yuri manga?
Q: How large is your collection? Have you ever taken pics and would you show them?
Q: Do you buy the cute little figures and statues?
Q: What is your favorite flower?

A: I don’t have all-time favorites. I really don’t. I like what I’m doing/reading/watching now.

I have no pictures of my current “Shelf Porn” and am unlikely to take any, sorry. There are too many shelves and piles in too many different places in the house. If you look up “my brand new shelves” here on Okazu, you might find some early pictures of them, before I filled them up.

Yes, I buy figurines. I have requested they be buried with me when I die to take the place of ushabti, and to keep my heirs from having to throw them all out.


Q: Coke or Pepsi?

A: Cup of tea.


Q: What your all-time favorite Yuri couple?

A: Tenoh Haruka and Kaioh Michiru, Sailors Uranus and Neptune from Sailor Moon.

(I wonder how MANY times I have been asked these 2 question for these Q&As. Do any of you EVER read any of the others to find out if your questions have been asked a million times already?)


Q: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

A: The lizard.


Q: Ok, something that requires a little bit more thought.

If you were going to name a Star Trek ship anything, what would you name it?

A: The U.S.S. Daniel Pritchard


Q: Best movie ever?

The Univited. 1944. Ray Milland.


Q: What’s the best Yaoi blog you can think of? Ya know, a blog just as good as yours? :)

A: I’m sorry. I don’t know of any that really fit the bill. I asked on Twitter and found a lot of generic review sites, and was pointed to Aestheticism, but they are more like Yuricon with reviews, than Okazu, I think.

Since I do not follow Yaoi/BL myself, I’m maybe not the best person to ask.

I have no doubt that if I asked people here to send in suggestions, they would send in the pretty generic Yaoi review sites one can find on Google, so you probably should just start there. Reviews are only opinions, after all.


Stories/Translation/Industry/Predicting The Future

Q: What, to you, constitutes a ‘good translation’ when translating from Japanese to English? Also in mention to an earlier comment about Touhou. Surely everyone knows Touhou is a shooting game, right? It’s incredibly popular but has zero Yuri potential because it’s a shooting game.

A: That is *such* a subjective question. Sometimes sense is more important than meaning, sometimes meaning is important….and sometimes there’s no win either way. Translation is an art, not a science. To me, the best translation is done by a team of two people – one who is a writer and has excellent grasp not just of Japanese, but of Japanese and Western culture, then a second person to do the adaptation who is also a writer, fluent in English and has a grasp of both cultures as well.

This allows for the most fluid translation – one that feels authentic, but flows well.


Q: Do you prefer happy endings, sad endings, or a bit of both? Is it okay for a story
to end on a low note if it’s done in a realistic way? I ask because I prefer a happy ending, or at least one with hope for the future.

A: I prefer really well-written stories that have internal consistency, with good characters. A plausible ending is all I ever ask.


Q: What’s the desirable quantity of reality in a Yuri story? What things should be realistic, and what things should be more fantastic?

A: See above


Q: Okay, I got one.

What’s your opinion on girls/women who love Yaoi but are extremely self-misogynistic and/or are y\Yuriphobic? I mean you don’t have to like Yuri, but the incessant bashing of it and any female characters that exist that may interfere with their beloved pairings have always rubbed me the wrong way. I have seen barely, if any, behavior like this amongst Yuri fans.


A: I think they are exactly the same as men who think Yuri is HAWT LESBO SEX, but are uninterested in LGBT rights.

Sexually immature and very exhausting to talk to.


Q: When Moto Hagio first drafted November Gymnasium, she considered making the protagonists two girls, but found the story worked better when they were both male. What’s the difference between a good Yaoi/shonen-ai/BL story and a good Yuri story?

A: There is no difference between a good story and a good story. “Works better” means “will sell better” in publishing speak. :-)


Q: If you ever make a Yuri-themed kissa (cafe), theme park, or love hotel, what would you name it?

A: Lily Paradise. :-D Subtlety does not sell.


Q: Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

A: You Tube – same as everyone else:


Q: Whereas a vast majority of Yaoi is created by females, Yuri seems to have more equal numbers of female and male creators. Do you think Yaoi will ever become more dominated by male artists? Or will gay comics (bara) and Yaoi remain separate? Do you foresee a merging of Yaoi/Yuri with LGBT comics in Japan, or are they too distinct?

A: A good question! There’s a distinct separation in Japan between comics by/for gay men and by/for lesbians and the more mainstream BL and GL markets.

This is in part a reflection of a number of cultural traits and partially a human thing – you know, A lesbian can make lesbian jokes, but if a straight guy makes a lesbian joke it’s not only not funny, it’s rude and insensitive. You know the drill.

In Japan the gender and age of the audience determines the content of the stories. Stories meant for straight women will have certain qualities that don’t really have anything to do with the lives and loves of gay men – and same for Yuri.

There are certainly artists that are lesbian who are creating both GL and BL, but I don’t know of (which does not mean there aren’t any) gay men creating mainstream BL in Japan. It might just be easier for women to cross those lines, gender roles being what they are and straight men being assumed to be wholly uninterested in that kind of thing.

Certainly there are lesbians and gay men here in the west involved with either/both.

Will there ever be a coming together of Bara/Bian and BL/GL? In the west – yes. I already gather Bian manga, Yuri, GL and OEL stories for the Yuri Monogatari series. I’ve seen a Dutch doujinshi collection that has Yaoi by gay men. In Japan – I don’t know. The women who draw GL are not openly lesbian – even when it is well known that they are. Almost every artist/author uses an alias to provide another level of anonymity, so even artists that are out aren’t really out.

For this and several other reasons, I do not see any merging of these things anytime soon. But I believe, from the bottom of my heart, in my lifetime, we will see LGBT rights be acknowledged in many parts of the globe and you will see some slow movement towards that kind of thing. (I think it would be great, myself, if more gay men drew BL for the female Japanese audience.)

That’s such a good question – I’d love to revisit that again next year and see if anything changes.


I think that’s a great place to stop. Thanks to everyone for participating. I will no longer answer questions asking to compare two drinks I do not drink, or “My favorite questions. Ever again. Bookmark this entry and refer back if you want to know the answers. lol

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12 Responses

  1. Winterbraid says:

    Hehe, I guess Touhou Project is kind of a vortex for a certain type of people; I’d say the most important thing is to pick the good stuff amongst piles of crap (which can in itself consume insane amounts of time)… but that’s pretty much what everything is about. ^-^;

    In my humble opinion, the doujinshi by Personal Color are a good start, especially the recent ones… actually I’ve heard that a certain scanlation group has been translating quite a lot of these recently.

  2. CBanana says:

    I never expected to see Touhou Project mentioned in this blog. ;)

    One question that wasn’t asked was if you’d ever review a Yuri visual novel (hentai or non-hentai)?

    There will be a lot more schoolgirl Yuri but it seems that’s a part of the medium. Anime/Manga characters regardless of genre are predominantly teenagers and it’s been for that way for a long time.

  3. Anonymous says:

    ::puts on eyepatch::

    Leave Utena to me.


  4. Thanks Erica for answering these questions. I find that on regular days I usually get no-pulp, but when I’m sick or feeling a bit hungry, it’s pulp all the way. :)

  5. bec says:

    thanks for the amazing answers erica :) strawberry panic was my gateway to Yuri. it was also my gateway to okazu, which i am glad about, because okazu has shown me so much better series to go on to. now i just want to watch SP for the sheer hilarity of it all.

  6. Anonymous says:

    “So far, no one has written about a librarian who likes martial arts”

    Reading that, I instantly pictured the original R.O.D. OVA series… in itself a nice gateway Yuri anime. Only three episodes (no intimidating investment of time/emotion), and as much Yuri in it as the viewer wants to see.

  7. BruceMcF says:

    rum or warm milk?

    Oh, damn, too late.

    Thanks for the answers … NTIOMO is as entertaining as always.

  8. LOL @Bruce McF

    @CBanana Haven’t see one that interests me enough to buy it, but if one I thought had some interest floated across my desk, yes.

  9. Naolin says:

    Hah, Touhou Project got a mention. There’s a pleasant surprise.

    But you know, this really makes me want to sit myself down and marathon Sailor Moon. I remember watching it in the afternoons (I think) when I was younger, and then later the movies in a room down the hall from mum’s office, so it’s sort of nostalgic.

  10. mistressatma says:

    A bit late to the party but all these were answered most beautifully.

  11. Loli says:

    No opinion on Touhou

    I am disappoint

  12. @Loli – I don’t game and have never seen it. Therefore – no opinion.

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