I probably should have put this disclaimer on the Top Ten Manga of 2009 too, but I always assume that my readers understand that this list is *my opinion*. If you see a series you disagree with, or don’t see one you like, then the answer to your question is, “Because I have a different opinion than you do.”
Also, for various reasons I’ve just combined the list into one again, like I did with Manga. I’ll note whether something is available in English, Japanese or both.
And with those
restatement of the obvious disclaimers, here’s MY Top Ten Yuri Anime of 2009!
10. To Aru no Kagaku no Railgun (Japanese)
The Yuri in this series is meant as a joke. It’s played as perverted, as over-the-top-uncontrollable, as laughably embarrassing and pointless. Pretty much everything Yuri was in most anime for the last 30 years – a veritable step back into the “blackface” era of Yuri.
Kuroko was in all ways a wonderful person; reliable, intelligent, loyal and friendly. Her feelings for Misaka were, wayyyyyy deep down past the layers of hopeless pervy-ness, probably real.
And frankly, who cares? Railgun was a fun anime with some crappy characteristics and some good ones. It was entertaining, which is why I watch entertainment. So, step back into hopeless, psycho lesbian urges, yes, but it still makes the list at Number 10.
9. Maria Watches Over Us, Season 3 (Japanese & English)
Sachiko would recognize Yumi, even in a panda suit.
8. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha/ Nanoha As (Japanese & English)
I’m really sorry that these series didn’t do better here. There’s some issues with the fandom that I wish we could resolve with fire and pain but, below the icky service and tiresome loli, there was an awesome series with the beginnings of a wonderful couple.
For those moments of off-stage quiet, when you can imagine Fate and Nanoha flying together for the sheer fun of it, and for a future Pluffy BedTM that we didn’t get to see licensed, but we know is there, this is my Number 8 anime series for the year.
7. Candy Boy (Japanese)
I stopped watching it after 5 episodes, so I have no idea if it got to a place where I would have actually thought it “good,” but that’s not why Candy Boy is on the list. Clearly, Yuri fandom liked it. That’s a truism. But what was most interesting and important about it is that it showed that an ONA – Original Online Animation has a future in Japan, where fans will pay. Will it ever be a realistic model in the west is still a bit up in the air. But, for changing the way Japanese anime companies think about things – and maybe paving the way for a new wave of short, original works – it makes Number Seven.
6. Kanamemo (Japanese & English)
Good heavens, there were some really crappy things in this series. lol But setting aside an elementary school age manager and a mopey protagonist and everything about Haruka, Kanamemo presented us with quite possibly the single most realistic established lesbian couple in anime this year – maybe ever – Yume and Yuuki. They are presented with a surprising amount of empathy, romance and love. They kiss. We don’t see, but we know, that they they sleep together. Above all, they are treated as an established couple by the people around them.
I couldn’t say it was a “good” anime, but Yuuki and Yume are definitely a great couple.
5. Saki (Japanese & English)
I’d seen this manga on the Japanese Yuri lists forever when the anime began – and my first impression was, “uh, yeah, okay.” Sure Saki and Nodoka, sitting in a tree….but, once we got the other schools into the mix, the Yuri rating took off. I know that I’m in a minority, but I still think Momo and Yumi were the best couple of the series. :-)
4. Blue Drop (Japanese & English)
This may well be the last thing I’ll ever like by Yoshitomi Akihito. It’s true that the anime tromps all over the same tropes he’s beaten to death over the last few years, but aside from the Dead Lesbian and the Psycho Lesbian, and the school girls and hopeless romances, this prequel to the Blue Drop manga stands strong as a fascinating “clash of cultures romance.” Still holds the record for the best pickup line ever too.
Are you getting excited? This is where I always get a little doki-doki….
3. El Cazador (Japanese & English)
I love Bee Train’s Girls With Guns On The Run trilogy. I’ve loved all of the series for themselves and love them all together as a series. I’m still a bit over the moon that we actually have all *three* series on DVD in English. It’s kind of amazing – like an alternate universe in which stuff I like actually gets licensed in the US. Catch me, I’m feeling woozy….
There’s no question that this series, as it’s sister series in the past did, would make my Top Ten list but, because I love Ellis’ “Yes, sir!” and Nadie’s “Yuigon attara, dozo” and above all I love Ellis who loves Nadie when her eyes are shining, this series makes Number Three.
2. Sasamekikoto (Japanese & English)
I didn’t expect this series to translate as well as it did to anime, but…wow, it did! And I didn’t expect people to like it, especially folks who weren’t familiar with Yuri tropes, like Aoi’s Loser Fangirlyness or Sumika’s hopless love for her best friend but, amazingly, it transcended tropes and communicated directly with viewers’ hearts.
Sasamekikoto marks the first time an anime has been seen on several high-profile lesbian entertainment sites, and the second time Afterellen.com has carried a Yuri anime. It also marks the truly significant fact that Crunchyroll has made a conscious and conspicuous effort to support and promote Yuri Anime. Heck – they even have a Yuri kisses contest. lol
For all these many reasons, and for others I haven’t thought of, but you probably have, Sasamekikoto is my Number Two anime of the Year.
And finally, probably no surprises here…
Aoi Hana (Japanese & English)
It was…beautiful. It was quiet and gentle and real. It was lovingly animated, it was extremely well-adapted from the manga – perhaps slightly better than the manga in places.
It had characters I could wish over for lunch, and a storyline that resonated as one of the absolutely most realistic portrayals of a young woman in love with another woman ever seen in an anime.
It had an Opening sequence that made us smile.
It simulcast in many English-speaking countries an hour after it ran on Japanese TV.
It is, finally, what we have never before had – a gateway Yuri anime.
There was never any question in my mind as I watched this all-too-short season that Aoi Hana was the absolute best Yuri Anime of 2009.
I only hope that I can wish 2010 be as good, because besting this is going to be hard. :-) And crichey – look at how much of it came out in English!
One more list to go – check back on New Year’s Eve for my Top Ten Overall.
And once more I end with the question – what was YOUR Top Yuri Anime of the year? Tell me in the comments!