I started these lists because I’m very bad at recommendations, and while that has not changed, I do think it’s worth taking the time out every year to note the stories that surprised and pleased me over the course of year. If you have also enjoyed any of these in scanlation, please buy the original, even if you cannot read it. 2017 will present an extraordinary opportunity for you to get many of these in English, so there’s really no excuse! I know that Okazu readers are very likely to contribute to the Yuri ecosystem and for that, I thank you all. And, with that….Welcome to the Okazu Top Yuri Manga List for 2016!
10. Mahou Josei Chimaka
There’s a number of reasons I wanted to put this graphic novel on the list. The first and most important reason was that it was good! I really enjoyed the storytelling and the characters. I love stories that take a look at after the story ends, and this story was that AND a fun magical woman story AND had a WoC lead AND was just generally cute as the proverbial button. And it was from Sparkler Monthly, which is the one fully truly original English language women-focused comic and prose magazine. I cannot begin to tell you how important I think this magazine is. Yes I can…I think it’s immensely important. For all these reasons, Mahou Jose Chimaka makes my best-of list for the year. ^_^
9. 2DK, G Pen Mezamashitokei
I love this story. I want so badly to take Nanami out and have a good long talk with her. Sure I want her and Kaede happy together, but honestly, I don’t really care about Kaede, I want Nanami to be happy.
I love Ohsawa Yayoi’s art, which has really leveled up. I love that it’s a story about adult women that has adult things like face soap and nice clothing and marketing promotions at work.
Volume 2 made me think that I couldn’t wait to read Volume 3. And that’s why it’s on the list. ^_^
8. Hana to Hina ha Houkago
Morinaga Milk has had a rough couple of series. Trying so desperately to apply a “Yuri” formula to characters she should have felt free to just tell the right story for, is no fun. But it feels like she’s hit her stride again in Hana to Hina ha Houkago, with a cute, cherub-faced innocent and ever-so-slightly-more-worldly girl who loves girly things. It’s a formula she’s used before, but it’s working here. I’m enjoying this series and hope she’ll be allowed to, and want to do, something beyond another coming out drama.
Coming in 2017, we’ll all be able to enjoy this story in English with Hana and Hina After School. Volume 1 and Volume 2 are already up for pre-order!
7. Last Waltz
Katakura Ako’s art is a trainwreck and so was the story, but this highschool Jane Bond just really appealed to me. Shinobu took everything annoying about the “nonverbal anti-hero” wrapped it up in a school uniform, her ‘M’ was everything annoying about every ‘M’ ever….and slathered in Yuri for no reason. I loved it.
This is not even the only title on this year’s list that had no redeeming qualities. ^_^
6. Seesaw Game/Renai Log/ My First Lady
Takemiya Jin continues to be an absolute machine at putting out good-to-excellent Yuri. And I continue to enjoy the heck out of it.
Her art has come a long way, her touch in storytelling is so deft that I’m probably holding her to higher standards than I have ever held anyone else. It’s not fair, but she’s just that good. It’s always a good year for Yuri when her work has to be this far down the list. ^_^
5. Yagate Kimi ni Naru
This is a manga that is on the list as much for the splash it made, both here and in Japan, as it is for my reaction to it. The formula was typical…and not typical at the same time. The story is playing with the audience, making us dance to it’s tune, rather than rushing forward into the most obvious ending.
The art is clean, the characters have depth and you’ll be able to start the new year off with the first volume of this series in English, from Seven Seas as Bloom Into You, Volume 1.
4. Anoko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo
Another series on the list that is here as much for General Effect as it is for anything else. While the world may not have needed another all-Yuri couple school, Canno has included some slightly-less typical stories and created characters that exceeded their initial boundaries. I’m also just really glad that Canno’s got a breakout hit. Every artist ought to have at least one series that catches the Zetigest.
And, again, you can celebrate 2017 with the first volume of the English–language release of Cannos’ series, Kiss and White Lily for my Dearest Girl.
Which brings us to my Top 3 manga for the year. The shuffling around on this list has been shell-game worthy, but these are the three that landed on the top. ^_^
I warned you that Last Waltz wasn’t the only manga on the list that had no redeeming qualities, so you should have, honestly, expected this one. ^_^
Murcielago is ugly, it’s violent, the sex is nasty, the characters are cracked. The plots are absurd strings of ways to kill and dismember people and the dialogue is absurd. When it hits low points, it gets really low. Lower than Weather Woman low.
High points include creative ways for horrible people to die, consensual lesbian sex and perfectly matched psychopaths fighting.
And! You too can read this “violence Yuri manga” in English in 2017 from Yen Press (I like to pretend I don’t know why) as Murciélago, Vol. 1. Isn’t that amazing and cool? I certainly think so!
With so many of these titles coming out in English next year, it’s a fair bet you’ll see some back on the list next year. ^_^
2. Comic Yuri Hime Renewal
I’m not going to lie here. I was on absolute pins and needles about the January 2017 issue of Comic Yuri Hime, especially after Ichijinsha was bought by Kodansha. I was worried for a lot of reasons. Comic Yuri Hime had just gone through a cover series of extreme moe-blob faced covers, and a cover “story” which had me stabbing my eyes out with boredom and disgust.
There were, still, artists I liked, but how long would they be allowed to remain…and most of all, would we get anything ever again that was even remotely original? I don’t hate school girls, I just wanted a frikkin’ story that isn’t the same exact thing over and over.
While Comic Yuri Hime is not (and never can be, if it is to survive,) perfect, I was super pleased to see some genuinely original stories and new artists who didn’t need to retread the same old stories. Kind of out of relief, but also because I was so genuinely pleased at the direction the magazine is taking, the Comic Yuri Hime renewal is number 2 on the list!
No drumrolls, no cutesy leadups. This year my top Yuri Manga is….
1. Collectors, Volume 2
This manga has everything I’ve ever wanted in a manga. Adult women in a commited relationship, with lives and friends and family and snark and romance….
Shinobu collects books and Takako collects clothes and they love each other very much, even if they’ll never understand the other’s obsession.
Nishi UKO’s art is slick and adult and beautiful and I physically relax everytime I look at it. Collectors is everything a Yuri manga could be if it was ever allowed to grow up.
My Top Yuri Manga for 2016 is, once again, Nishi UKO’s Collectors.
One more list to go…!