Here we are on the last day of 2015, a year that brought many wonderful things and many difficult things to all of us. I love taking the time to remember some of the wonderful things over the last year, it’s good for anything that might be left of my soul. ^_^
As always, I remind you that this list is my opinion and you are not expected to agree nor do I care if you don’t. ^_^ As long as you’re reasonably civil, please consider yourself welcome to add anything you found notable in 2015 in the comments!
10 – Hayate x Blade
There has been so much amazing Yuri in the past years that I often don’t have room on this list for what is the candidate for my favorite ongoing manga series. It’s not really Yuri, except for Jun being a pervy lesbian, but it fully inhabits all the possible tropes around Yuri and sometimes creates new tropes just to have more ways to pair characters up in our heads.
This year saw the third volume of the 2nd series, for a total of 21 volumes of blood, guts and tear-filled action and comedy and I think it deserves a place on my Top list, because it makes me so damn happy every month to read it.
9 – Sailor Moon Crystal and Sailor Moon
Look, I know I go on and on (and on and on) about this series. I know, really, that it’s not really good, per se, it’s just the thing that got me into anime and Yuri, so it has an important place in my heart and on this blog.
I’m probably alone in this, but I enjoyed Sailor Moon Crystal for exactly what it was – an animated version of the manga, with all the weaknesses and the few strengths of the manga. I’m excited for the third season, even though we’re not getting the Haruka and Michiru we want, we’re getting a slightly different version of them from the one we already know and love to learn to love all over again. And, at the end of the day, we can always go back to Sailor Moon S (and finally, Stars) and see them as we remember them.
I love this stupid, crappy series and am very excited to have been able to be excited all over again about it in 2015. ^_^
8 – LGBTQ Comic Essays
As I look over my past couple of years, I see more and more comic essays popping up in these reviews. I’ve talked about the importance of these multiple times, but it bears repeating – these essays by the likes of Koyuki Higashi and Masaharu Hiroko, Makimura Asako, Nakamura Kiyo and others are critical to the surfacing of real lesbians living real lives in Japan. I can’t get enough of these and hope to see many more in 2016!
7 – Yuri Kuma Arashi
This was not the anime I wanted, but it was Ikuhara Kunihiko animating Morishima Akiko’s character designs which counts for a lot with me. And it had an Evil Psycho Lesbian in Yurika whom I will treasure and adore for many years to come.
6 – Torikaebaya
There is so much more very good LGBTQ fiction in manga these days. Stories like Otouto no Otto, or Hourou Musuko/Wandering Son have made massive inroads into manga representation for LGBTQ folks (which is partly why the resistance in anime to be anything but infantile these days is more than a little frustrating.) But along with these very excellent stories, there is a classic of Japanse literature that really needs to be looked at and taken seriously. Saito Chiho’s absolutely gorgeous version of the Torikaebaya has got to be on modern classic lists. This story is an actual Japanese classic, and Saito-sensei’s take on it is modern without being preachy or unrealistic. I’d really like more people to be able to read this manga. It’s not easy but it is worth every moment spent with it.
5 – Dear Brother
If Torikaebaya is a perfect example of beautiful classic melodrama, then Dear Brother is the modern equivalent. It oozed melodrama from every pore, and as ridiculous as it sometimes was, it was always magnificent. I am beyond glad to have seen it distibuted legally on streaming and disk and will recommend it to anyone who wants a glimpse of anime in the time before moe ruled.
4 – Omoi no Kakera
If there is one single problem with Yuri it is that most creators do not provide the characters with society. You get two characters in love with one another, without connection to an outside world, apparently uninterested, unaware or incapable of learning about a larger lesbian community.
This is a mistake that Takemiya Jin never makes. Her characters know they are gay. They know what that means, they talk with other people about it. They have slang and peers and books and the Internet and brain cells where they work out their own paticular issues as individuals who are part of a larger world.
I cannot begin to tell you how refreshing it is to see Takako counseling Mika, and Mika explaining how things work to Mayu. There is community, there is continuity, there is knowledge about gayness as a human experience. Phew. For these touches, once again a work by Takemiya-sensei makes my Top Ten list! (She’s been on here so often, I oughta open up a wing special for her. ^_^)
Every year I thank you, but it can never be enough.
Thank you for reading my posts, for commenting on them, for writing in with opinions and ideas and disagreements and for never being disagreeable. Special heartfelt thanks to my Patrons who have allowed me to do so much in 2015 and with whose help I have amazing things planned for 2016! (Keep your eyes peeled for a new campaign in the coming year.)
Thank you to my Guest Reviewers – so many of you become friends as you help me build Okazu and expand its reach and scope.
Thanks to every last one of you, you are all an important part of the Okazu family!
2 – Whispered Words in English from One Peace Books
I can’t overestimate the importance of this book. The series itself was a delight and for that I’m super glad we got it here. You finally got to see the ending we always wanted for a school life Yuri romance. But for me, more importantly, this book saw the entrance of One Peace Books – a publisher who values the readers here at Okazu. We appreciate this and appreciate their ongoing efforts!
For a great series, all the Yuri tropes all at once with a great ending, Whispered Words makes number 2 on this year’s list. It might have made number one, except for one little thing…
1 – Same-sex Marriage
There is something so much more important to me than even the best Yuri manga. If you pay attention to my reviews, you’ll see that I reward realism every time. Not because I dislike fantasy, but because the power of realistic representation can never be overstated. In 2015 two reasonably amazing things happened. In one, every single same-sex couple in the United States was given the right to be married if they wanted – to have their relationships recognized by their city, their state and their federal government. The USA was not the first country to do so, obviously, but let’s be honest about the effect this decision had. It was big.
And in the way that decision was big, the decision to offer same-sex marriage certificates in Shibuya was small. A teeny-weeny first baby step only. And then Setagaya Ward took anothet teeny-weeny step by joining Shibuya. There are 23 wards of Tokyo, of these only 2 have these certificates. Then Takarazuka city in Hyogo prefecture took that same baby step. And Iga, in Mie prefecture. And so the baby steps are taken, one at a time. The baby steps grow to big steps. It works like this with humans, We fear what we don’t know, what “they” are doing, but the more familiar with it, the less fearful we become. And so, I end this year’s top list with the recognition that same-sex marriage has come to the USA, and a hope for all my friends in Japan that they will see it soon there.
Again, thank you for an amazing year and here’s to an even better 2016!