Top Ten Yuri Anime of 2009

December 27th, 2009

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.

But.

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!

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18 Responses

  1. I agree with you about Aoi Hana being the best Yuri of the year. And hopefully, it will be that gateway Yuri and a series that people immediately think of when someone asks for a Yuri anime recommendation.

    I think the Yuri Anime of the Decade goes to Marimite though :P That series is the most discussed, recognisable, parodied, referenced, notable Yuri series probably… ever.

    I’m almost surprised Taishou Yakyuu Musume didn’t make your list given that it probably had more Yuri in it than Candy Boy and you seemed to have enjoyed that about ten million times more than you did CB. But, for the inexplicably huge impact it has had on Yuri fandom, I guess it makes sense.

    I suppose I too am in that minority of people who thought Momo and Yumi were the best couple in Saki as well :P At least on image boards, they seem to be more liked than Saki x Nodoka, but on other anime sites, it appears S x N are indeed in the lead.

  2. Ahms says:

    >Momo and Yumi were the best couple in Saki as well :P

    I agree with you both! As individual characters they seemed (to me at least) to be the most interesting/had the most depth, so they were extra fun together :)

    Great list!

  3. SatoshiMiwa says:

    I’m hoping the movie and the re-release of Nanoha on DVD helps it get over here, but that’s just the fanboy in me ignoring reality and really hoping!

    Second the Crunchyroll stuff, and glad for the service as it allows me to support stuff that might not make it to DVD in NA given the state of the industry

  4. ArcaJ says:

    This was a phenomenal year for Yuri! Thanks for the list Erica. ^_^ I think the best way to rate this season is I haven’t had a chance to see all those titles. I could never imagine a day when there was too much Yuri anime to watch. I’ll probably catch up later. Here’s hoping for a Yuri-filled 2010.

    ::HUGS::

    Arca Jeth

  5. BruceMcF says:

    So that’s five of the top six available on legit streams – one at Funimation and four at Crunchyroll?

    Tres Kewl.

  6. @Bruce McF – And 8 out of 10 available in some officially licensed English version or other.

    Nice, huh?

  7. Ashrie says:

    No doubt that this has been an awesome year for Yuri. I am hoping that next year brings along more good stories, and more great examples of what Yuri, as a genre, can do. I am in agreement with Aoi Hana and Sasameki Koto. They are my top two titles as well.

    To Erica and all the readers:
    Have a great New Year! Hope it brings us even more great Yuri to enjoy :D

  8. Anonymous says:

    I would say that 2009 is the year that I really delved deep into the Yuri world.
    I first read Maria Sama Ga Miteru light novels in my senior year of highschool after my classmate handed vol. 1 to me saying that I would definitely enjoy it. Like many fans of Yuri, my gateway was Maria Sama Ga Miteru (especially Satou Sei, I think), and I just couldn’t stop after that.
    And then one day, I forgot how, I stumbled upon this website, and I have been following and reading all the posts here ever since. : )
    (although I usually don’t leave comments)
    I find that the progress of Yuri in the US is about the same as Taiwan, where I live. It’s a pity that a lot of great works are not licensed here, or I would gladly buy them with my own money.
    My favorite Yuri anime is Maria Sama Ga Miteru and Sasamekikoto (I have bought the licensed manga here in Taiwan, though it’s only two volumes so far). And I enjoyed CANAAN greatly too, eventhough the Yuri is only subtext.
    My favorite Yuri manga is definitely Octave!!Second in line is Red Garden (which was released here in Taiwan in ’09), I watched the anime on TV and bought manga and it’s awsome!! Third one is probably Girl Friends, which I read and enjoy as a shoujo manga.
    I am very grateful that I discovered this website that widened my view of the Yuri world. Thanks to Okazu!!

  9. Ramiya says:

    Regarding the anime adaptation of Sasameki Koto, it’s interesting the screenplay adaptation was by Hideaki Kurata who worked on Battle Athletes and created R.O.D. among other stuff… :D

  10. Cryssoberyl says:

    Thanks for your efforts, as usual. Nobody could argue with Aoi Hana as an incredible landmark achievement. Yuuki/Yume is definitely a historic pair in my mind as well, and you even dug up some kind words for Candy Boy, for which I admit to having an undeniable fondness. ^_^;;

    I can promise you that you aren’t alone when it comes to putting Yumi and Momo first, even if I personally must confess to being a hopeless Saki/Nodoka cheerleader. To me though, Saki‘s many Yuri dynamics are all part of a deliciously multi-layered (and of course, highly sugary) cheesecake. :P

    I’d also like to agree that Taishou Yakyuu Musume did have it’s fair share of “esu” that was both entertaining on its own, and interesting to study as a cultural element emblematic of the period.

    As you say, the fact there have been so many is wonderful and – I hope – a sign of the times. The age of Yuri is finally here! It’s been such a long wait.

  11. Pamela says:

    Can anyone tell me what was that great pickup line in Blue Drop?
    I absolutely loved that anime but I can’t pinpoint the line… :(

  12. @Pamela – “You want to go for a ride on my ship?”

  13. Pamela says:

    Hahaha, thank you :)
    For sure it’s better than yet another big red car.

    Thank you very much for a year of fantastic reviews by the way :)

  14. Motormind says:

    Well, for one I agree with your assessment. Aoi Hana is my favorite anime of all time. The OP alone elevates it to a masterpiece. I do hope that there will be a second season.

    On the other hand, the series is called El Cazador De La Bruja. El Cazador is a totally different series altogether.

  15. Megan says:

    I agree that Aoi Hana was the best, but I am still unsure as to how El Cazador de la Bruja, is Yuri. I mean undoubtedly it is about love between two women, but it wasn’t romantice or sexual at all. And the age gap was never truly clarified.

  16. I didn’t really like any of these Yuri anime of the past year. I think I just can’t stand this school class-S stuff anymore. I wan’t a Yuri anime like Mnemosyne/Mai-HIME/Devilman Lady :(

    But I also think Aoi Hana and Sasameki Koto are soon to get into the lists of anime recommendations when talking about Yuri haha

    I’m hosting a poll on the best Yuri anime of 2009. I’d appreciate your vote :)

  17. Anonymous says:

    I definitely agree on Sasameki Koto being in the top 2. Just finished it recently and I can’t get enough! Maybe I’ll check out the manga. For Aoi Hana, many say it’s good, but I can’t get myself to like the characters. =/..Anyway, why is Marimite 3 in the list and not Marimite 4??? (LOL @ one liner description)..pleeease, it’s my all-time fave Yuri series!

  18. Umai says:

    I like the Momo and Yumi Couple they look cute together.

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