As always, this list is a conglomeration of people, things, companies and random items of note. This list is not subject to sense or sensibility, it’s just whatever pops into my head as being notable.
Honorable Mention) Princess Knight – This story isn’t Yuri, but it created the enduring and popular Girl Princess trope, and for that, we really need to thank Vertical for publishing it in English. Without Sapphire’s two hearts, we would not have had Haruka, or Utena, or Oscar or Erminia. Thanks Vertical for giving us a chance to read this manga classic!
10) MangaTime Kirara/Comic High/IKKI – Not Yuri magazines, but more and more supportive of Yuri (or Yuri-ish) narratives and sometimes, even a lesbian or two. To some extent, the popularity of Yuri is driven as much by these series, as by anything in one of the all-Yuri manga magazines, because these magazines may well reach a wider audience. In any case, without these, we would not have Poor Poor Lips, GIRL FRIENDS, Sasamekikoto and a host of other Yuri-friendly series.
9) Tsubomi/Pure Visual Anthology Hirari/Comic Yuri Hime While I do not love every story in every issue of these magazines, it’s hard to be grumpy about the fact there there are three Yuri-focused magazines out there that are financially successful enough to stay afloat for some years running. The size of the Yuri market is still small, but with more good titles and a few blockbuster titles, like Yuru Yuri, we’re sure to see it’s gradual growth – thanks to these magazines.
8) Rakuen Le Paradis – This magazine does not get enough love. It should get a LOT of love, for being the vehicle for Nishi UKO’s “Collector”s Series, Takemiya Jin’s “Omoi no Kakera” and not least, Hayashiya Shizuru’s re-etry into Yuri. It’s josei in the way that Comic Beam is seinen, which is to say, sort of, but really for anyone. It’s a great read and whatever the orientation of the story, it’s a great read.
7) Okazu Readers – Always, you make this list. Every time. Because every year, it’s you that makes writing this blog worthwhile. Your comments, your challenges, your support and your enthusiasm for Yuri is what keeps me going. And you are the market for all this new Yuri. Okazu readers buy what we want to read or watch and thus support the industry we love. Once more, I am honored and pleased to be able to thank you and let you all know that you are the greatest readers, Guest reviewers and Heros!
6) Nozomi/RightStuf – I think it’s important to take a moment and really, seriously thank Nozomi/RightStuf for once again investing money in Yuri fandom, when that’s still a leap of faith. A shout out here to Seven Seas and JManga for their investments as well. Hopefully we can make those investments worth it and support these companies that bring us books we want to read and anime we want to watch!
5) Minamoto Hisanori/Fujieda Miyabi – These two gentlemen write sweet, soft Yuri, with women who love each other and want to be together forever. They create atmospheres we want to be a part of and people we want to know. How many of us have thought how cool it would be to have a real Amber Teahouse? I know I have. For the many hours pleasantly passed with their characters, these men make number 5 on the list.
4) Hayashiya Shizuru – This is a woman who has been “in Yuri” for a very long time. She started in doujinshi, with the same brand of physical comedy and goofy romance that we’ve come to love in Hayate x Blade. I’m not entirely sure she could write a non-silly story. For all her efforts over the years and for her absolutely likable characters, Hayashiya-sensei and her work makes my Top Ten once again. May she never stop drawing.
3) Morishima Akiko/Nishi UKO/Morinaga Milk – Like Hayashiya-sensei, these three women have been “in Yuri” for many years and for all of those years, in three completely unique ways, they all have continually pushed the boundaries of what Yuri is. Yuru Yuri is popular now, but is the opposite of timeless, draped in current tropes as it is; what these women have wrought will be around for years.
2) Takemiya Jin – For bringing discussion of LGBT lives firmly into Yuri in a way that we have never before seen, and for creating young, openly out and confident characters, my second position of the year goes to *another* doujinshi artist turned pro.
If that doesn’t prove to you how important it is to just get out there and start creating, then nothing ever can. Seriously – the lesson here is – get your stories out there! Don’t wait for anyone to “discover you.” The Internet makes it easier than ever before, so what are you waiting for? Draw, write, something. Just do it already!
Which brings me to my Number 1 Yuri anything for 2011…
1) Nakamura Ching’s GUNJO
Here is the moral of the story, in a simple, easily digestible sentence – do it, and do it your way. Don’t worry that it’s not what’s popular, but just tell your story, tell it your way and don’t worry what the world thinks.
GUNJO is the most unique, most extraordinary manga I’ve ever read. It fits no categories, and will never be an anime (god, what a thought…). And the reason I consider it number 1, again, for 2011 is exactly that – it’s unique and extraordinary.
Looking at this list, it’s easy to see that what moves me most is people with a vision of their own, who work hard to make those visions real. What I want to see now is more American Yuri artists bringing their own visions to life. What will push Yuri to the next level is not if more companies bring stories over, where they are read by a passive audience, but when that audience rolls up their sleeves and starts creating for themselves.
Here’s looking to an extraordinary 2012 for all of us in Yuri! Happy New Year!