I hate doing this list. Have I ever mentioned that? Yuri and anime don’t mix well too often. The best Yuri manga will never, ever become anime and the anime that is popular that includes Yuri is so…blecch…most of the time.
This year I give up. This isn’t a top 10 list, it’s 10 series of interest – for one reason or another – to the Okazu audience list. I’m not even saying they are Yuri series. It’s just things that some Yuri fans might care about, or not.
As always, feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments, you always do. (^_^)b
10. Koi Hime Musou – This is on the list to round it out to 10 and because there is a smidgen of Yuri in it. It sucked in every other way.
9. Sound of the Sky Yeah, there’s pretty much no Yuri here that we didn’t make up in our heads. So sue me. Moe fans liked it, wrote and drew lots of pictures and stories that paired characters up and it made them happy. So shut up with your sensible objections.
8. K-ON! Same as with Sound of the Sky, the Yuri here is entirely in ours and Mugi’s head. But it’s a sincerely adorable story and if it makes people happy to see Ritsu and Mio as a couple, who am I to stop them?
7. Fate/Zero No Yuri here either, but I DO NOT CARE. Saber was made to look extra butchy cool and be all knightly at Irisviel. This is my kind of service. There is no other reason I even bothered watching this, so it works for me. The animation for this series is super swell, if that kind of thing is important to you.
6. Digimon Tamers – On Hulu! I was so inordinately happy to see Ruki again, I creeped myself out a bit. Seriously, if you haven’t seen this, watch it. It’s really quite excellent. Good story, great characters and Ruki’s got to be one of the best babydykes in all anime.
5. Wandering Son – This story isn’t Yuri, it isn’t lesbian, but of definite interest to anyone interested in LGBTQ stories which, I’m pretty sure I can say the Okazu audience is. This series probably wins on storytelling for the year, overall. It was overlooked by way too many anime fans both in Japan and the west, but it was a genuine masterpiece about gender and sex and sexuality.
4. Yuru Yuri – I can’t really like it, I don’t get why anyone likes it, but sales tell me I’m wrong, wrong, wrong. Yuru Yuri is the first “Yuri” anime made as such, and I’m very glad for Ichijinsha that it’s so popular. I just wish it was good.
As always, when we come to the top three, I don’t expect anyone to be surprised.
Here are what I consider to be the Top Three Yuri Anime of 2011.
3. Revolutionary Girl Utena – Juri was, for many Yuri fans, their first “Yuri” character. Her one-sided relationship with Shiori colored a whole generation of Yuri fans’ perceptions. And for so many people who watched the series, Utena and Anthy’s relationship, as complex as it was, was wonderful and remarkable. And then they drove off into a blue sky kissing, naked and seriously, it changed a lot of things in anime. Thanks to Nozomi/RightStuf we can experience the whole thing again and it’s just as wonderful and remarkable this time around. For a purely compelling narrative, I consider this series to be a masterwork.
2. Mawaru Penguindrum – While not technically *better* than Utena, Mawaru Penguindrum is new, is just as compelling and is wholly, uniquely Ikuhara. The fact that ten years after Utena changed everything, Ikuhara is back, doing it again and being just as compelling, means we really need to pay attention to this guy. he’s no fluke. He’s not afraid to consciously embrace Yuri tropes like predatory lesbians, Takarazuka, Rose of Versailles and then stand them on their heads in a way that actually makes the series more interesting, not less. I’m very much hoping that someone will license this, because everyone who likes anime should watch it – it’s really made for anime fans. Much like my number one choice for the year.
(This series has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks for 2012, so look for pre-order info in our Yuri Network News posts.)
And here we go….the number 1 Yuri Anime for 2011 is…
1. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica – This series also took well-known tropes and turned them inside out. We all know magical girls, but we don’t know anything about magical girls, this series says flat out to us. I’m very interested to see how it does in sales here in the west. If you haven’t already put this on your 2012 to-buy list, let me suggest you do. With insanely popular moe design, with a return to really good storytelling (something way too many anime avoid) this series carried itself consistently all the way through a story that was visually interesting, well-written and made sense.
This series is licensed and released by Aniplex in English in 2012.
I don’t think there’s any question that the number one Yuri Anime of 2011 was Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica.