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
Complete 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 manga. 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.
8. Sailor Moon Original Anime
Squee. 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. ^_^
It’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
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.
The 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.
5. Card Captor Sakura
Rewatching 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.
4. Riddle Story of a Devil
Riddle 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.
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
I 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
I 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
I 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!