And here we are at the second of our three Top Lists of the year. Once again, I break all the rules because, duh, they are my rules and I get to do that! ^_^ Objectively speaking, there’s no *way* anyone should use this list as a list of recommendations for anyone else other than me.
Strap yourselves in and get ready to disagree in the comments!
Yes, number 10 on my top Yuri manga list is not a Yuri manga. ^_^ It is, however, one of the most important LGBTQ manga published in Japan in 2015. In this manga, creator Tagame Gengoroh sheds every single trope for a pared down, crushingly beautiful and realistic look at a gay man visiting his dead husband’s hometown. This story runs in a mainstream men’s manga magazine and I desperately hope it paves the way for more realistic LGBTQ manga fiction in the future.
9 – Comic Yuri Hime, Rakuen Le Paradis, Comic Cune, Comic High and all the Mangatime Kirara magazines
Let’s face it, if it weren’t for these magazines which run Yuri manga, we wouldn’t have much Yuri manga. The fact that we can actually go to something like Bookwalker Global and click on “Yuri” as a category is because magazines like these, imperfect as they are, are supporting and investing in Yuri artists and in the end, that kind of financial support is what Yuri needs. So I’ll keep buying them, and once again, want to thank these folks for their investment.
8 – MURCIÉLAGO
I am pretty confident that no one else but me would put this ugly, violent piece of utter crap on a Top List, but that’s okay. I actually look forward to getting new volumes of this particular piece of crap. It has no redeeming qualities, it just happens to hit my soft spots for psychotic violent lesbians. This is not a recommendation for you to read this, just recognition that I do.
7 – Comic Anthologies (Mebae, Yu-Ribon, Freya Anthology, Valor, Beyond, Dates and others)
Anthologies are the best and worst of everything all at once. They are frustrating, when the stories rely on old, tired tropes, they are delightful when they do something never seen before.
On days I am despairing at the future of Yuri, I remind myself that while publishers in Japan may be relying on the tried and true to sell to the same people, crowdfunding allows us to push the boundaries of what we think of as “Yuri” all the time. And when a story in anthology is outstanding, it gives one hope for not only the future of comics, or of Yuri, but for humanity.
Iono-sama is the exact opposite of Kumomori Kuroko, except for the lesbian part, but what this series lacks in violence and psychosis, it makes up for in sugary sweet and cool. I adore Flèche and Arata’s romance, silly as it is, and I find the clothing design and set pieces of the auditions amusing and comfortable. It was nice to get a perfect edition of this Yuri classic, complete with new Drama CDs, thus scratching another of my itches. All around a good thing and a series I would love to see more of, even if it was really all just the same thing over and over. ^_^
Sometimes a story hits me more after I have read it than while actually reading it. (Quote often, in fact.) For whatever reason, this story struck me as cute when I read it, but as I thought about it, it grew on me.
As I think about it, it comes down to one thing – the characters’ honesty. They talk about their feelings, and don’t let them fester. Kazumi, particularly, seems to be unusually honest and upfront about her feelings. The lack of drama plus the honesty combined to make this one of my top reads in 2015.
This manga just completely flew under most reviewer’s radar. In Japanese, by est em, but not BL, it was beautiful and brutal. Chika was a very real protagonist, even if there were times you couldn’t like her, per se. From beginning to end, she’s a lesbian and in the end that is the thing that helps her find herself as she finally becomes La Golondrina. I really loved this series and was terribly sorry to see it end. But there is no doubt in my mind that it belongs on this list.
Taking a moment for a deep breath, here, at last, after much consideration is my Top 3 Yuri Manga of the Year!
Another series that I’m sad to see go, but I’m very glad was created at all, Omoi no Kakera started in one place and ended somewhere completely different. Throughout, it introduced all sorts of excitingly real things from actual lesbian and gay life and threw in a couple of tropey side stories for good measure. I looked forward to this every chapter and knew the moment I put it down that it would be here in the top three for the year. Takemiya Jin’s work is always exceptional.
When I reviewed Kuzushiro’s Love Desu, I began “At last, a Yuri manga that was written for me! I do not care if nobody else on the whole planet enjoyed this book, because I loved it.” And yes, that’s pretty much exactly how I feel about it. ^_^ I enjoyed the violence, the emotional torment, expressed through stabbing and shooting and the tender moments as they laid there bleeding and arguing over who would be uke. This was my kind of Yuri. ^_^
2 -Non-fiction Lesbian Comics
I mentioned these last year and will continue to mention these until everyone knows how amazing this new trend is. Where Otouto no Otto is opening up new avenues for gay fiction manga, lesbian manga has blossomed into a whole new nonfiction path. Stories like Manga de Tsuzuru Yurina Hibi, Doukyonin no Bishoujo ga Lesbian Datta Ken and the brand new autobiographical comic essay by Nakamura Ching, Okaasan Futari itemoii kana? all tell real stories of real people, living as lesbians, loving and building relationships and families. I honestly can’t get enough of these. I think they are the most important thing to happen to manga in years.
Finally…we come to our Number one Yuri manga of 2015! Have you guessed?
This surprising series came to a close this year breaking ground for a new publisher among our ranks and giving us the ending we’d always wanted – not just happily ever after, but happily accepted by peers right now.
It was a comedy, it was a tragedy, it made us uncomfortable and almost without anyone noticing, it was one of the few Yuri manga in which the characters came out to their friends and family and everyone loved them anyway. It was a hell of a series, and I am utterly thankful to One Peace Books for bringing this out in English so everyone can enjoy it. I know I certainly did.
My number one Yuri Manga of 2015 is Whispered Words, the English edition of Sasamekikoto, by Ikeda Takashi.