To say that the January 2015 cover of Comic Yuri Hime (コミック百合姫) alarmed me is not an understatement. Since the repatriation of Yuri Hime S content into Comic Yuri Hime, I have had the nagging sense than the editor is trying again to shift the content away from “stories women – perhaps even lesbians – like,” to “stuff that appeals to fanboys.” When the magazine originally relauched, it had become less “typical fetish”y, slightly more adult, more lesbian and a teeny bit darker. In recent issues, it’s ended the lesbian series and strongly ramped up the Yuri fetishtry.
The cover has a purely moe piece of art, accompanied by the decision that alarmed me. Instead of the usual Kanji 百合姫, the magazine title is written in hirigana as ゆりひめ. Why would that matter, you may ask? Moe is not just the cutifying of characters, or the simplification of the art, it is also very much about keeping female characters infantile. It’s about obsessing about their “innocence” “awakening” and “budding” and other euphemisms for puberty. In Eureka’s Yuri Culture issue, Rica Takashima wrote an essay on the relationship between “Yuri” and this tendency to never move lesbian love or life beyond high school or enter the real world. It keeps the idea of “Yuri” firmly locked in that not-real-life space of school life. Lesbians die after leaving high school in this version of Yuri. Or, more appealing to ultra-conservative male otaku, they get married, leave their careers, have babies and remember that one affair fondly. The end.
Rica makes a pretty good case. Women’s progress in Japan is stagnant. You’ll notice that, for all that both BL and Yuri have grown in popularity, there has been an almost complete lack of movement on LGBTQ rights in Japan. I say almost, because a few years ago, it was reported that Japan would recognize Same-sex marriages of Japanese citizens done outside the country, but has yet to actually do so. This week Shibuya Ward announced that they would discuss the idea of issuing SSM certificates. Unfortunately Western media reported it as if they were definitely going to, but it is not a certainty. We’ll find out next month when (if) the vote is actually held….
And here we are, looking at the last of the Yuri magazines and watching it shove “Yuri” back into the school life closet where lesbians just disappear after high school and Yuri is no longer even allowed it’s kanji, but has to use more childish hiragana.
There is a textured little sticker image on the cover that says “The contents are the regular Comic Yuri Hime.” I am neither reassured, nor pleased. The situation is getting worse, if the March issue is any indication. As bad as the Yuri Hime S cover art was, it was never this horrible. To be honest, I can’t even credit this as “art” in any meaningful sense. Two blobby heads with few features, no discernible setting. This is not what I am looking for in Yuri.
It’s 2015, and my choice once again appears to be creepy tit-squeezing and bodily fluids-soaked porn and infantile love stories. Yuri has been almost completely disappeared back to 2000s level. I am sure it’s just a dip before the next peak, but UGH. Like women’s rights in the political sphere, it seems that every decade female Yuri fans are forced to remind the powers that be that we’re still here and this stuff stuff skeeves us.
That all said, the stuff I still like in the pages of Comic Yuri Hime remains stuff I like. I even found myself not disliking this issue of “Yuri Danshi,” as the Yuri Joshi contingent joins the crew of delusionals.
Of all the stories I am reading, the one I flat out enjoy the most is “Love Desu,” by Kuzushiro. It’s horribly violent, not at all cute, and I gasp with relief when I get to it. In this issue, the one character shot a bobby pin into the other character’s eye. Thank the gods for this story. Thank Kuzushiro-sensei too. One more blobby face with a blank expression and I was going to gouge my own eye out with a bobby pin.
Overall – 7
I’m asking nicely – can’t someone please write a decent pro sport Yuri series? Please? I am so so so so so so done with school drama.
The May issue of Comic Yuri Hime is also available for pre-order.