Top Ten Yuri Anime of 2014

December 28th, 2014

It’s that time of year again – time to count our riches and talk about the best Yuri anime of the year. Unlike previous years, this list was actually pretty easy! That says something about the number and quality of Yuri anime available to us in 2014, thanks to the various streaming services and western distribution companies. All but one of the series on the list made it over here legitimately. Note: For sanity’s sake, presume all streaming links mentioned have some regional restrictions, so check your local legit licensed streaming providers for access.

Before we jump in, just a quick reminder that this list is my opinion, no more, no less. Neither inclusion of anime you hate or exclusion of anime you love is meant as a dig against you, your taste or your status as a fan. By all means please feel free to mention your Top Ten in the comments. I love it when you do. ^_^

And away we go! Here’s the Okazu Top Ten Yuri Anime for 2014!

 

10-9 Dear Brother, Set 1 and Rose of Versailles

CompDBs1lete and real and in our hands and on our shelves. At last!

Lady Oscar, the avatar of Girl Prince characters for decades, her protege Rosalie, her mistress Marie Antoinette; the tragic, mysterious Saint-Just, her scheming half sister, Miya-sama, honest, forthright, Kaoru no Kimi and the girl who gets wrapped up in their world, Nanako and her bosom friend Tomoko.

Some of the most timeless, influential and remarkable characters and stories to grace anime and RoVmanga. Now for us to have and watch and enjoy whenever we feel like it. The combination of Riyoko Ikeda’s timeless writing and Dezaki Osamu’s sharp eye for dramatic visuals have changed the way we view anime forever.

Rose of Versailles from Nozomi Entertainment, Part 1 Amazon/RightStuf |Part 2Amazon /RightStuf |  Complete Set on RightStuf Streaming on Viki.tv, or Nozomi Entertainment’s Youtube channel.

Dear Brother, Set 1 from AnimeSols available on Amazon, RightStuf.com or streaming on AnimeSols.com, Viki.tv or Viki’s Youtube Channel.

 

8. Sailor Moon Original Anime

SM1Squee. You may not remember why you liked it, it was so long ago. You may have made up stories in your mind about how good or bad it was. You probably forgot the dinosaurs and some of the worst Monsters of the Day ever. But when you watch the original anime and re-meet  Usagi, Ami, Rei, Makoto, and Minako, you’ll remember all over again why you love them.  ^_^

Sailor Moon is available from Viz on Amazon (Part 1 | Part 2 ) or RightStuf.com (Part 1 | Part 2 or 1-2 Bundle ) or streaming on Hulu.com or Viz’s Neon Alley.

 

7. Sabagebu!

SABAGEBUIt’s silly, it’s stupid, it’s full of painful gags and a duck that looks like a platypus, dumb service (especially for a shoujo manga) and made-up violence scenes that are pretty bloody (especially for a shoujo manga). But it has Yuri and if you can just take your brain away for 20 minutes at a time, it’s actually enjoyable in it’s own way. Urara and Momoka aren’t a real couple, but that’s pretty much a relief. ^_^

Sabagebu! is available for free, legitimately  streaming on Crunchyroll and licensed for streaming and  DVD release eventually by Sentai Filmworks.

 

6. Yuru Yuri OAV/ Puella Magi Madoka Magica Movies

yuruyuri-nachu-yachumi-film-poster

Yuru Yuri seems to have finally played out its popularity with this past autumn’s  OAV theatrical release, Yuru Yuri Natchuyachumi. I’m not going to pretend I’m sad about that. The Yuri in the series was always marginal, despite it’s name.  This is the only title on this year’s list that hasn’t been picked up for official English-language release.

magicaThe Puella Magi Madoka Magica movies came out in theaters in the US and on DVD, thanks to Aniplex being so willing to keep up the high-saturation level of the series. They were an interesting alt-story to the Madoka TV anime, and had great visual impact…and, even if the story didn’t play out as positively as the TV anime, that was a good thing, too. This series is showing surprising longevity in Japan, so I’m not entirely sure if we’re saying goodbye to it just yet.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica movies are available from Aniplex on Amazon (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3) or Rightstuf.com (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3).

 

5. Card Captor Sakura

CCSRewatching this series was a real eye-opener for me. I had forgotten just how Yuri and BL this series was, and wow, does the action and art hold up well. As much as Tomoyo was the Yuri torch-bearer to generations of Yuri fans, she can barely hold a candle to her mother, Sonomi. This is one of the best “magical girl anime made for girls” series ever, really.

CardCaptor Sakura is available as a complete BD/DVD Hybrid set (all 70 episodes) from NIS America on Amazon and RightStuf.com or streaming on Crunchyroll.

 

4. Riddle Story of a Devil

RSDRiddle Story of a Devil was was a “Yuri” anime because we were told it was, but there was some interesting sexual tension and random partnering to make up for the lack of affection. The action was good, the plot full of holes, but as a modern version of Seraphim Call-like character scenarios tied up by a ribbon story, it was entertaining. It’s not timeless, but we looked forward to it being on air and enjoyed the heck out of it while we watched it. That’s a good enough reason for me to include it on this list. ^_^

Riddle Story of a Devil is available  from Funimation streaming on Funimation.com.

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And here we are at the top three already! As happens so often, these three could practically be in any order and still be right.

3. Sakura Trick

skaniI know you know that I didn’t much care for the anime. But setting that aside, it was a fairly significant series – a Yuri romance anime, nuthin’ else but Yuri. No gimmicks, no pretend drama, just straight up “Story A.” While I did not care for the thigh-staring, and the creepy male gaze of the camera, there is no doubt that Yu loves Haruka, Haruka loves Yu, they love each other. The end.

Sakura Trick is streaming on Crunchyroll and has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks.

 

2. Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san

itnaI toyed with making this my number one choice for the year. Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san was, to me, the most enjoyable advertised-as-Yuri anime of the year. It was silly, and actually funny in places, and light-hearted and goofy. There are any number of potential pairings and a few actual couples, but the anime kept  the Yuri mostly in the imagination of the leads…and I enjoyed it. From the insanely adorable opening theme, right to every stupid animal pun, Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san made me smile.

Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san is available streaming on Crunchyroll.

And really, I had this pegged for the #1 slot this year until a dark horse showed up and took the lead.

The Okazu #1 Top Yuri Anime for 2014 goes to…

 

1. Legend of Korra

lok4I watched Book One of this series back in winter 2013, and marathoned Books 2-4 over the past few weeks and I have to say…this may well be one of the greatest animated series ever made. It blasts through the Bechdel Test and the Friedman Addendum…and it’s an awesome ride all the while. Legend of Korra has everything I’ve ever wanted in an animated series – amazing characters, great action and lovely animation and a female lead who has a life and family and friends and complexity and morally ambiguous bad guys. The stories are well written, the dialogue sounds human. And in Book 4 we got something else. We got the ‘ship we’d been keeping one eye on the whole time. We got Korra and Asami.

Legend of Korra, available from Nickelodeon, streaming on Hulu.com. Available on Amazon Instant Video (Seasons 1 and 2 are free with Prime and Season 3 and 4 were worth *every* penny of the about $1/episode I paid.)

For some of the best characters I have ever watched in an animation, terrific world-building, very excellent stories and an unexpectedly fabulous end – Legend of Korra, Book 4: Balance, is the Okazu Top Yuri Anime of 2014.

Well…that was fun. I hope there’s more years in our future where we have such tough competition for the #1 slot! Next up, the Top Manga list…and this year *that* was the tough one for me!

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27 Responses

  1. Mara says:

    Yay. It was a fantastic year now that I see it all lined up. Glad to see you had such high praise for Korra. Watching book 2-4 over a short period of time was probably a better way to watch them too.

  2. Jenny says:

    And (since I reviewed it) you know I did like Sakura Trick… but I agree that you have to be able to get past the “Pervert camera operator” aspect of it to really enjoy it.

  3. Liz says:

    I’m so happy Korra ranked so high! I can’t wait to see which Yuri series comes out on top next year!

  4. Michiru says:

    I just finished watching Korra and it’s so fantastic. It’s like what u said miss Erica korra got every thing XD and i love your reviews too <3

  5. Eric P. says:

    I’m intrigued/curious to know what direction the Madoka Magica story would go after ‘Rebellion’, which upon second viewing was a damn good film by itself.

    I’m trying to get around to finish up ‘Korra’ this week, yet had heard of the pairing a while ago. With or without it, ‘Korra’ has always been a kickass series and I’m excited to see its conclusion for several reasons!

  6. Jackie S says:

    Korra books 2-4 was already high on my to-watch list, but I think it just jumped to number 1. (^.^)

    Looking forward to your top manga list!

  7. Andrew says:

    Dare I even ask what you think of Cross Ange?

  8. Donald Simmons says:

    The ending of Korra blew me away so much I’m actually writing fanfiction for the first time in my life.

    It’s so amazing that the ship we all wanted actually happened, that all the little things that we knew in our hearts we were just seeing as romantic because we were shippers and that it would never actually happen were there because the showrunners themselves wanted us to see them that way! (As they confirmed on their tumblers).

    Plus about 97% of the media I’ve read on the finale viewed it as a positive, progressive step. Even the Guardian (as my brother says maybe the last actual newspaper on Earth) covered it!

    I’m just giddy all again, an dplanning my re-watch.

  9. The Legend of Korra has surprised me the most. Since I did not expect such a wonderful ending. I sometimes suspect that Korra and Asami nourish each other feelings that can be called more than just friendship. And here are my guesses were confirmed. I am very grateful to Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko for what they gave all Yuri fans such a wonderful ending. I very much hope that these wonderful creators withdraw continued about love relationships Korra and Asami, filled with purity, tenderness and understanding. A new and powerful enemy with whom they fight, and our favorite characters will again fight for the world of magicians, protecting it from complete enslavement.
    P.S. I’d really like to write a letter to Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko with the idea of continuing Legend of Korra, so that they can remove a worthy sequel to this wonderful American anime.

  10. Zefiris says:

    A list that is surprisingly similar to mine. Yay :)

    That 1. position sure was a surprise. I’m really glad they not only pulled that, but clarified it in no uncertain terms afterwards in posts. Enough to even convince certain elements of wikipedia to put the girlfriend status in.

    Quite something for a series like this! Definitely unexpected.

  11. Shiya says:

    Woah, Legend of Korra is so awesome and I shipped korrasami for 2 years now and I’m so happy that it happened, I have never imagined it would.
    And thank you for your summary, I see that I need to catch up with some animes and mangas.

  12. Kim says:

    I was hoping to read up on your opinion of Korra, and am so happy that you like the series and gave it such a high rating! And yes, watching the series straight through is much much better than watching it as it was coming out (the nerves, the tears!). The ending is just the most beautiful thing I’ve ever watched, and that’s saying something. I hope Legend of Korra continues to change the US animation industry for years to come. Do you think animation in the US will one day stop being just cartoons for kids, and be more like Japanese anime? Or is it already happening but I’ve yet to meet one casual/typical adult who doesn’t consider animation a purely children “thing” :/?

    • I plan on doing a real review of Korra 4, eventually. ^_^

      The thing is, for most people – people who are not fans of animation – cartoons were something they did as children. People weigh the world in their own scales, with their own bias as filters. People who never go to the library will tell you confidently that libraries are useless, because they imagine them to be exactly the same as they were when they were 9. It never occurs to them that libraries have evolved.

      So it doesn’t matter that people who don’t watch cartoons think they are for children. It matters that the people who make cartoons know what audience they make them for and it matters that when we watch them, we understand who they were made for.

  13. stevens says:

    sakura trick should be #1 how does lengend of kora even come close

    • I stated the reason plainly: “Before we jump in, just a quick reminder that this list is my opinion, no more, no less. Neither inclusion of anime you hate or exclusion of anime you love is meant as a dig against you, your taste or your status as a fan.”

      If you have a different opinion, that’s perfectly fine. The world is a big place and many people in it will have different opinions than you. It’s a good idea to just sort of accept that as a life lesson. ^_^

  14. Eve says:

    Good list! I just watched “Riddle Story of Devil” and “Sakura Trick” back-to-back as my first foray into yuri. I’ve enjoyed both immensely, though certainly for different reasons. Now I wish there was something between those two extremes – a noir/dystopic action story with actual relationship development. That doesn’t appear to exist, but I’m willing to compromise. :) Could you maybe recommend something similar to either of those two or just a good yuri with tomboyish protagonist a-la Tokaku Azuma?

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