Here we are at the tail end of 2014. This is the tenth annual Top Yuri of the year list. Last year it was all about people. This year, we’re looking at a tumultuous year of people, places, things, companies, anime, manga, very real non-fiction and fiction that felt real. This year was an awesome meta-look at itself, with old series coming back again, beloved series ending and a host of changes. Yuri, the genre that we love, is ready to take on the 21st century. Here we go, revisting this amazing year in our Top Ten Yuri List!
10. Maria-sama ga Miteru 15th Anniversary
This is not a thing, per se. I’m not talking about the anniversary event, or any specific moment. But I thought it interesting and important enough to note that – despite not being Yuri specifically – this series has, for 15 years, made us all so very happy. And with the final period of the final novel it is officially over, so now is a great time to dig out the DVDs and novels and start all over again! For Sachiko, Yumi, Touko, Shimako, Noriko, Rei, Yoshino, Nana, Youko, Eriko (and, let’s be honest, especially for) Sei, let’s raise a toast to the 15th Anniversary of Maria-sama ga Miteru.
9-7. Yuri Publishers
I always like to take a moment to thank the publishers who bring us the Yuri Manga we love and which become the anime we love. There are fewer Yuri anthology magazines than there were a few years ago, but we have more publishers than ever before.
Thanks, OnePeace Books, Seven Seas, Ichijinsha, Futabasha, Hakusensha, Shonen Gahosha and all the other publishers for giving us more Yuri from great artists!
6. Yuri Non-fiction Comic Essays
This was something totally new for this year. I loved reading the auto- or semi-biographical comic Yuri essays that popped up in bookstores throughout the year Advice on being gay and confident from Makimura Asako, coming out letters from lesbian and gay people to people they care about, a Japanese TV talent who wants the world to know that she’s lesbian, an essay about the lesbian wedding in Disneyland – these tales tell the stories of real people who just want to be accepted for who they are by their friends and families and fans and government. These essays are everyday people talking to other everyday people. I’m loving them – and the hope they represent for LGBTQ folks in Japan.
5. Yuri Doujinshi Artists
Just out of curiosity, I took a look at past Top Ten Lists to see what I was thinking in 2004. It was entertaining, but not surprising, to find that I listed Yuri doujinshi artists on that first list. ^_^ Doujinshi has always been the breeding ground for good Yuri. Unfettered by publisher requirements, censors, limitations of audience or genre, artists are free to tell the stories they want to read.
Most of the best known and best loved manga artists started as doujinshi artists and many of them still create doujinshi on their own time. There is *nothing* like the energy of a Comiket, or the sheer fun of a Yuri-focused doujinshi event. For being the standard-bearers of Yuri through good years and bad, Yuri doujinshi artists get my thanks once again.
This lady. I mean it. She’s got a load of work right now, with multiple series in Comic Yuri Hime and you know, everything I’ve read by her…I like. Her art hurts my eyes and her sense of humor hurts my brain, but she draws gag comedy that is incredibly smart, even as it’s incredibly dumb. It’s really time we give her the respect he deserves what with her cranking out all this stuff we’re enjoying and having a successful anime and all. Thanks Kuzushiro-sensei!
Okay, so basically, these top three are just so damn cool that there’s nothing I can say other than “wow.” For sheer yeeha factor, there was never any doubt what my top three Yuri things of the year were going to be.
Here’s the Okazu 2014 Top 3 Yuri things….
3. Ikuhara Kunihiko and Morishima Akiko collaborating on Yuri Kuma Arashi
HOW COOL IS THIS? Answer: Very cool. Morishima Akiko is an artist I have been following for a ridiculously long time. To see her working with someone whose contributions to Yuri are indescribably weird and timeless and mindblowing is both unexpected and delightful. I have no idea if I’ll enjoy what comes out the other side, but it’s going to be interesting, that’s a given.
This makes, what, a half dozen or so “Yuri” anime marketed as such in the past few years? That’s a net positive in and of itself. But seriously, Yuri Kuma Arashi is gonna be weird fun. And it’s gonna be Yuri. With bears. It’s got bears! It has to be good. ^_^
2. The Yuri Network
Traditionally, Okazu readers have always had a place on this list, but this year I’m bumping you up. Yuri fans all over the world come here to read, to comment, to write guest reviews, to send in news items.
It’s not just that you contribute huge chunks of great content, you make everything we do worth doing. You fact check me, and aren’t afraid to share your thoughts, your experiences and ideas. You support the artists your like by buying from legit sources, and you give me hugs when I get to meet you in person! Each and every one of you is an important part of our Okazu family.
For all your time, energy, engagement and interest, you are the second best thing about Yuri this year!
Even better than how amazing you are, there was one thing that really stood above all other things this year as a special contribution to Yuri. Something actually groundbreaking…
1. Seidosha’s Eureka “Current State of Yuri Culture” Issue
We’ve been collecting (and creating) writing about Yuri as a genre for about a decade here on Okazu and on Yuricon. But until 2014, there hadn’t been an attempt to look at Yuri as a genre by academic and enthusiast writers in Japan.
It’s immensely exciting to be part of this volume, but even more exciting for me to see critical thinking about the entire genre, from Yoshiya Nobuko to Shimura Takako. Included in the pages of this issue are interviews with or articles by a number of our favorite creators – Konno Oyuki, Rica Takashima, Amano Shuninta and Nishi UKO, speaking from the trenches.
What makes Yuri? Where have we come from and what are we looking at? Most importantly – what are we looking forward to Yuri becoming?
There was never a doubt in my mind that of all the amazing, wonderful, things that happened to us in 2014, Seidosha’s Eureka magazine “Current State of Yuri Culture” issue is the Top Yuri thing of 2014.
On behalf of everyone at Okazu and Yuricon, we wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2015 to you and yours!!