Archive for the History of Yuri Category

New Thesis on Yuri by Verena Maser on Yuri Essays Page

September 20th, 2015

ILYiconNew on the Yuricon Essays page, we have Beautiful and Innocent: Female Same-Sex Intimacy in the Japanese Yuri Genre, a PhD thesis by Verena Maser, examining the relationship between media content, its production, and its reception in Japanese popular culture in regards to Yuri. (Full text article available at linked page.)

Yuri scholarship is really starting to build up. If you know of or have written an article on Yuri, Yuri fandom or anything to do with Yuri, let us know, we’d love to link to your work!

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Flower Tales (花物語) Manga Guest Review by Michelle W.

March 18th, 2015

HanamonomanImagine me flailing wildly in excitement! Today we have two amazing things all at once. First of all, a Guest Review by long-time Okazu reader and commenter and all-around nice gal, Michelle W.! (yaaay!)  AND, the review is of the manga edition of Yoshiya Nobuko’s classic Hana Monogatari. (Of which Yellow Rose has been recently translated by Dr. Sarah Frederick and is absolutely terrific.)

So, two of my favorite things – Guest Review Wednesday and Yoshiya Nobuko all at once. Take it away, Michelle, before I cause a scene and swoon… ^_^

If you’re knowledgeable about the history of the Yuri genre, you’ve probably heard of Yoshiya Nobuko’s Taisho-era (1912-1926) work, Hana Monogatari (Flower Tales). The original Flower Tales is a collection of fifty-two short stories involving relationships between high school girls, and is largely considered the birth of the Class S genre. In 2014, almost 100 years later, Ozawa Mari turned fourteen of these stories into a manga by the same name.

Right away it’s obvious that this manga has a strong connection to the aesthetics of the past. Instead of relocating the story to current times, or leaving it floating in a non-specific time, Ozawa has put a lot of effort into reproducing the feel of the Taisho-era. The artwork is reminiscent of the 70s manga style, which is modern, and yet dated enough to be well suited for the material. The design itself is meticulous in its attempt at reflecting the era, and everything from hair, clothing, architecture, and even the trains are reproduced. If you enjoy the 1920s, this is a good manga to look into just for its visuals.

The stories are what you’d expect based on the original anthology. These are stories of two characters meeting, many only a few pages long each, with bittersweet endings. What’s striking is how many cliches are represented in these stories, however, when coupled with the art, you get the sense that this work created many of them. There are many classic topics, such as taking an entrance exam beside a cute girl, or a nurse falling for a patient.

Looking at Flower Tales in such a visual form, you can clearly see the impact Nobuko’s work had on Yuri (and homosexuality in Japan, for better or worse). The idea of fleeting, youthful romances being an ideal more than a reality is definitely present here, but unlike modern Yuri, this feels in context. You can see how impossible true homosexuality must have been in such a strict and orderly time period. It’s ultimately a testament to Nobuko’s passion that she herself was able to maintain a long-term homosexual relationship in this era.

It’s hard to give this story a rating, as it has such a specific appeal, even among fans of Yuri. In many ways, this feels less like a new work of fiction, and more like a loving retrospective of a classical work. For someone who wants to see Yuri’s tragic past come alive, this is for you. However, if you’re a fully modern or casual Yuri fan, who perhaps enjoys pretty artwork and fan pairings more, this is a tough sell. The art style is intentionally dated, and there’s very little, if any, Yuri content. Some of the kanji may also be a little bit difficult, as it relates to parts of 1920s culture that are no longer in common use. This is a world of flowers and subtext, a portrait of the past.


Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 6
Service – 0

Overall – 7

It’s hard to accurately rate something that is simultaneously so old and so modern, so maybe you should try it for yourself!

Squee! No, seriously, this manga sounds just fantastic. And thank you for the great review! I cannot *wait* to get this book. ^_^ I’m not sure I’d say Nobuko created “S”, but her work is definitely good examples of the genre. Her contribution to “girl’s literature” and therefore girl’s manga…and by extension, Yuri, is incontrovertible. ^_^

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Yuri Short Story: Yoshiya Nobuko’s Yellow Rose (English)

February 15th, 2015

yellowrose Today’s review comes under the category of “At last!” Dr. Sarah Frederick’s discussion and translation of Yoshiya Nobuko’s Yellow Rose (黄薔薇) from her Hana Monogatari collection is available to us in English on Kindle from Expanded Editions press. It was worth every penny of the 299 pennies it cost – and to be perfectly honest, I would have paid considerably more to have it.

This epublication begins with a very excellent discussion of the time frame of the story, the symbolism it contains in the context of early 20th century Japanese literature, conjecture about the lacunae within the story and other literary and historical commentary. The kind of thing that reawakens my dormant inner Comp. Lit. major and makes me ridiculously happy. Even more personally meaningful, Frederick includes a small, but pointed rebuke to academic authors who do not acknowledge that reader’s impressions have both meaning and weight in popular thought. You may remember that that was my primary criticism of Passionate Friendships – that being cautioned to not see something as “lesbian” when, through my filter it could not be read as otherwise, is wasted effort. ^_^ Here Frederick acknowledges my point as, if not objectively verifiable, then at least subjectively valid.

The introduction was at least as good as the story itself. That alone would have been worth reading this for. But then, we get to enjoy one of the two “Yuri” stories from Hana Monogatari. In Yellow Rose, we meet a just-graduated young woman who is off to her first job as a teacher, only bare years older than her students and the student with whom she forms a romantic relationship. It is a short, fraught story with a surprisingly bleak ending. Even more unusually bleak, when compared with Otome no Minato a scant decade later. But, perhaps more importantly, while the ending is neither happy nor sad, it also does not contain the “marriage or death” ending that will plague Yuri narrative from the 1960s well into the 2000s.

The translation itself is…well, wonderful. Frederick is able to capture the early 20th-century constipated sentence structure while keeping both the narrator’s voice and the narrative whole.

In short, this was tail-waggingly good and if you are at all interested in early Yuri, early queer lit or basically anything that we care about here at Okazu, you should absolutely get this Kindle edition! (If you don’t have a Kindle or kindle app, you can read it on Amazon’s in-browser Kindle reader.)


Art – 9 The cover art is adapted from a Takabatake Kashō illustration ,“Bara no gensō” (薔薇の幻想). It suits this edition well.
Story – 8
Characters – 8 For such a short story, the protagonist is surprisingly three-dimensional.
Yuri – 6
Service – 2 That distinctively early 20th century verbal sensuality-service

Overall – 9

Thanks to Dr. Frederick for shout-outs to both Yuricon and Okazu. An unexpected surprise. Thank you!

Lastly I want to note the obvious, intentional irony of the one incontrovertibly not-‘S’ character in Maria-sama ga Miteru being the Yellow Rose, Torii Eriko.

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Eureka Magazine – Current State of Yuri Culture ( ユリイカ 百合文化の現在)

November 23rd, 2014

Eureka-12-14The December 2014 issue of Eureka magazine (ユリイカ ) is entitled “The Current State of Yuri Culture” (百合文化の現在). It is the first collection of essays specifically about Yuri as a genre, that I am aware of in any language. To say that this is a ground-breaking look at Yuri is absolutely reasonable.

But, more importantly, it is a stunning collection of people who are immersed in creating, studying and promoting Yuri and, as such, it’s going to be an amazing read. I’m practically bouncing out of my skin with anticipation for this collection! If you are interested interested in the study of Yuri, this magazine is going to be a must-have.

To give you a hint of why I’m so damn excited, I’ve decided to translate some of the contributors/contributions, as listed on the official Seidosha website, so you can see exactly what has me jumping around my house. My translations, as always, are approximate, rather than definitive. This is the first time I’ve ever attempted to translate writing at this level, and these titles (and punctuation) were…difficult*. Thanks to James Welker for some help with this – and please feel free to suggest better translations. ^_^

Eureka December 2014

The Current State of Yuri Culture

[The Soul of Girls Novels]

Looking at Maria-sama ga Miteru: A Place Where “Sisters” Sigh – Konno Oyuki, transcribed by Aoyagi Mihoko

A Symbol of Partial Destruction: Yoshiya Nobuko and the Community of Yuri Desire – Kawasaki Kenko

A Viewpoint of “Suddenly [there was] Yuri”: Tawada Youko, Yoshiya Nobuko, Miyamoto Yuriko –  Kimura Saeko

From Yoshiya Nobuko to Himuro Saeko:   Genealogy of Novels for Girls  and “Pride” – Saga Keiko

Yuri as a Liberated Zone – Nakazato Hajime


[The Tangent of Being “Realistic”]

The Representation of Women’s Relationships: Notes of A Look Around at Lesbians –  Horie Yuri

Yuri-Lesbian Controversy Battle Picture Scroll – Makimura Asako


[Her Friendship, or Love, Possibly]

Love of /for a Woman, The Issue of Observation in Yuri – Amano Shuninta, transcribed by Aoyagi Mihoko

“Yuri” in the Past: How Has Manga Drawn “Women’s Love”? – Fujimoto Yukari

Girl’s  Breakthrough – Kawaguchi Harumi

Japan, Fertile Ground for the Cultivation of “Yuri” – Takashima Rika

read between the lines – Nishi UKO

It’s The Same Story, So Why Does It Taste Like Alienation?: Analysis of the Movie Version of LOVE MY LIFE – Mizoguchi Akiko


[Intersecting with “Yuri”]

If It’s Love, it’s Necessary: About Her and Her and Him Depicted in Kanojo to Camera to Kanojo no Kistesu  – Tsukiko, transcribed by Tamaki Sana

Yuri: A Genre Without Borders – Erica Friedman translatd by Shiina Yukari

Thoughts on the Representation of Yuri Fandoms in Yuri Danshi by Uso Kurata – James Welker

The Blooming of a Variety of Yuri Is Good, I Want To See Yuri the Color of Blood – Tamaki Sana

The Dust Which Constitutes The World of Manga. Can We Draw A Border Around Yuri? – Hidaka Toshiyasu


[Girl(s) Whereabouts]

Looking Everywhere for Yuri – Ayana Yuniko, transcribed by Kitsukawa Tomo

Pretty Girl Fighters Shouting Out, And Then Yuri – Ishida Minori

Freeing the Inner Girl: Simoun and Solidarity in Loneliness – Ueda Mayuko

Your Pain Is Mine, The Joint Struggle – The Tranquility of (Magic) Girls – Sugawa Akiko



In Order to Categorize Yuri Culture: A Guide to Works, People and Media – Aoyagi Mihoko, Tamaki Sana, Nagato Yuusuke



Being included in this volume with a number of my favorite writers, artists and scholars = Squee. >_<


* This took me about 4 hours, no fooling and that’s just for the titles. I cannot imagine how hard it would be to translate academic articles.Thanks very very much to Shiina Yukari-san for translating my article. I know I’m in good hands with her.

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CBLDF Presents Manga: Introduction, Challenges , and Best Practices

April 21st, 2014

Quickie personal note – I haven’t had a lot of free reading time in the last few weeks, so my apologies for the slowdown in reviews. Next couple of months ought to speed up as I spend less time with actual people. ^_^.

In 2011, I was approached by Charles Brownstein, Exec. Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which was handling more and more legal challenges to manga in schools and libraries,  to edit a book for them on the topic of manga. I was working with JManga at the time and had my hands full, so I regretfully said no, but suggested the amazing Melinda Beasi, Editor-in-chief of Manga Bookshelf instead. Thankfully, Melinda said yes, and as the next few months played out, she and Charles pulled together an amazing team of manga journalists and reviewers to create CBLDF Presents Manga: Introduction, Challenges , and Best Practices. I’m immensely honored to have been a part of this project and I wanted to take a moment to talk about it with you.

The book begins with a solid, short overview of Manga, Anime, OEL/Global Manga, Manwha and Manhua by “Manga Critic,” Kate Dacey. This is followed by an extremely informative discussion on Shounen Manga written very entertainingly by Shaenon Garrity. I’ve been steeped in manga history, but both these chapters had something to teach me – a strong opening from this book.

Sean Gaffney of A Case Suitable for Treatment, also on Manga Bookshelf, handles the chapter on Shoujo manga with solid scholarship and his usual sense of the big picture, while Ed Chavez of Vertical Press brings his encyclopedic knowledge to the incredibly broad topic of Seinen Manga. Shaenon then deals with the least-familiar genre here in the West, Josei and later Boy’s Love. I was able to contribute chapters on Yuri and Doujinshi/Scanlations.  The book wraps up with a detailed discussion of challenges both librarians and teachers might face in regards to manga, penned by Robin Brenner of No Flying, No Tights and Shaenon Garrity, as well as a comprehensive list of resources for defending against challenges to manga in classroom or library.

The stand-out quality of this book is that it is clearly and simply written. Anyone without the slightest background with comics or manga will be able to understand the admittedly foreign concepts presented. For readers with a familiarity with manga, there is a tremendous amount of information you may not have seen or heard before.  As well-read as I am about manga, I learned quite a bit reading this book – and I really enjoyed myself reading each chapter. The slight differences in tone and handling of the material felt more like a panel at a con, than being lectured to. It’s all very approachable and personable, as are the people who contributed.


Overall – 8

This book is an important defensive weapon in the toolbelt of educators and free speech advocates. In addition, it’s a good read and solid source of history and info about manga for fans everywhere. We did good. ^_^ Purchase of this book does raise money for CBLDF to assist them with free-speech issues  and defense of comics and manga, so get two copies – one for you and one for your local library!

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