LGBTQ: Yuri no Real (百合のリアル)

March 6th, 2014

ynrMakimura Asako is a former Miss Japan finalist who is an out lesbian. She is married to a woman from France and works as entertainer (a “talent.”) To answer a lot of questions she gets about being gay and about LGBTQ people, life and sex, she has written a book called Yuri no Real (百合のレアル), or, as we might say it, “Real Yuri.”

This book, as Makimura-san plainly states, is not for people who already consider themselves members of the LGBTQ community, but really for people who just have no idea at all what being gay or lesbian or bisexual or trans…or anything means. It’s for the same kind of audience that Takeuchi Sachiko’s Honey x Honey series was for.

The book begins with, and is interspersed by, a short manga. Five people from different walks of life find themselves at a “How to Be Popular” seminar, taught by Maya, a lesbian. High school student Haruka thinks she might be a lesbian, but isn’t sure, Hiromi is an straight female office worker, Sayuki is a transwoman who has had top surgery and Akira is a straight guy. The five of them will discuss common misconceptions and questions of femininity, masculinity, gender roles, straight and gay sex and they will cover a lot of LGBTQ terms, history, and life.

Breaking up the discussion sections (which are appealingly designed, with little character faces expressing emotion, above the character’s dialogue, Makimura-san discusses her own life – her attempts to be straight, questioning her own gender and sexual identity, her acceptance of herself and her coming out. (Incidentally, she also mentions Higashi Koyuki, who very publicly married her partner at Tokyo Disneyland last year, which is tangentially how I “met” Makimura-san on social media, through another friend who was present at that wedding. It’s a very, very small world.)

It’s all very approachable, with the characters in the seminar voicing concerns, myths, questions and assumptions of the sort that most LGBTQ people have faced. Makimura-san’s autobiographical segments are going to be familiar to anyone who has been down the same road.

Through the book I honestly had only one complaint. The premise was that the seminar was supposed to have been about learning to be popular. After Maya has so thoroughly covered LGBTQ history and current issues, I wondered if they ever would, in fact, talk about how to be popular. Well…they do, and a lot of it has to do with accepting one’s self. And, of course, that is true. ^_^


Art: 7 Simple, magazine-y and appealing
Characters: 7 Morishima Akiko-sensei-esque. But I felt bad for Akira, the only guy in the book
Story – It’s really a non-fiction, with some fictive elements, but as a guidebook to LGBTQ life, it was quite good.
Yuri – 10
Service – A shocking almost nothing. Even in the “explaining lesbian sex” bit, it’s pretty low on service and high on useful content.

Overall – 8

I realize that this entire review will probably get lost in a black hole of no real audience. Japanese LGBTQ community members aren’t reading this blog and English-reading Yuri readers aren’t reading this book. But that’s never stopped me before and it’s not stopping me today. ^_^ Real no Yuri was real and it is yet again another small mesh in the zipper of terminology that is Yuri and Lesbian.

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13 Responses

  1. liz says:

    This book sounds amazing! I wish I could get a copy.

    • It’s available from Amazon JP, as usual. ^_^

      • Tzivya says:

        I suppose there’s no chance it will get translated? I’d love to see this, as a transwoman, to see Japan’s community take on it and their history! But I can’t even begin to read Japanese, I am severely language impaired. :(

  2. Cryssoberyl says:

    Sad that I probably won’t ever be able to read it, but I am happy it exists. Hopefully having books like this will a) increase the amount of helpful and illuminating LGBT material for individuals in Japan, and maybe even b) help to narrow the cultural thought gap that exists between “Yuri” and “lesbian”.

  3. I like it for a refreshingly easy book to read that a kid could hand to their parents and say, “this will answer your questions.”

  4. Jye Nicolson says:

    FWIW you did sell at least one copy. Flicking through it, it’s a little ahead of my reading level, but not by much! In particular I think the character icons above the dialogue will provide much-needed context for weak readers like myself :)

  5. Charles Cabell says:

    Thank you for this really helpful review. I just read Makimura’s interviews in Japanese in Huffington Post and I came across this. It seems like a great book. Thank you for sharing.

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