Before I finish my whimsical look at the things that best expressed “Yuri” for me for the year, I just want to thank you all once again. 2016 was one of the best years of my life. I was able to travel a lot and meet even more of you than ever before. I was able to attend some fun events, speak with terrific folks and generally had a fantastic year.
And with that, here is the Okazu Best Yuri list for 2016!
10. LGBTQ Anthologies
From Northwest Press’s Absolute Power, to Indie books Oath, Dates, Beyond, and Power & Magic through the IDW/DC collaboration Love is Love, 2016 was chock full of wonderful, hopeful collections of comic and prose for, by and about LGBTQ folks.
I love them all and love that out of pain, will come ever more inclusive and diverse art. We’re going to need it, we’re going to need to be making it. Commit to reminding yourself that you are not alone, there there are many people like you out there and who need you. Anthologies are one way we can speak to one another…and I love them.
9. Yuri Webcomics
I remember back in the 1990s, checking out a listing for “Yuri” webcomics someone had suggested to me, and finding a pretty amazing list of comics that had no lesbians and were “Yuri” only in the most extreme sense of the word. Wow, have we come a long way. I don’t think I’ve read so many webcomics in my life as I do now.
I’m reading Yuri and lesbian webcomics from North America, Thailand, the Philipines, Europe and Japan. The art is breathtaking, and there are so many it’s hard to single out a few, but I’m going to anyway.
If you want to read Yuri webcomics that inspire, are beautiful and have great stories, I recommend Pulse by Ratana Satis, Carciphona by Shilin and Always Human by Ari North. All three will give you wings. ^_^ Which is why these Yuri webcomics and so many many other LGBTQ and diverse webcomics (Agents of the Realm, The Hues, and so many more) make my best-of list for the year.
8. Yuri Publishers
In years past this mention has had a few names, most of which you’re more than familiar with. This year I want to list out all the publishers I thought off the top of my head that have in the past year, are currently or are about to publish Yuri manga.
In English: Seven Seas, Yen Press, Viz Media, and Udon Press.
In Japanese: Ichijinsha, Kodansha, Hakusensha, Gentosha, Futabasha, Takeshobo, East Press, Kadokawa and Media Factory. Global Bookwalker for digital and a host of online comic providers in Japan and overseas.
Yuri isn’t niche anymore. In a few short years (short in terms of literature, that is,) Yuri has gone from being merely a fetish or a plot element, to a fully-developed genre in it’s own right. In large part this is because creators and readers demanded it…and, as the market developed, the publishers followed. Thank you to all the publishers who bring us great (and some not-so-great ^_^) Yuri!
7. Yuri and LGBTQ Comic Events
It’s getting harder and harder to plan my events schedule, there are so many new and wonderful inclusive events out there.
There’s Girl Love Fest, of course, and Nijicon and Flamecon, here in the US. There’s YaY-con in the Netherlands, Y/CON in Paris, and Yaoi/Yuri North in Canada, all of which tend to be a little heavy on the BL stuff, but all can use as much interest in Yuri as they can get! So, if you’re planning on attending, get involved and let them know what you want to see. And coming up for 2018, keep your eye on Universal Fancon.
There’s also indie/small press comic shows like MoCCA and Stumptown and the amazing Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which are all queer-friendly. Don’t forget that that among the masses of doujinshi at Comiket and Comitia there’s great LGBTQ work. Queer and Comics , the first academic conference on LGBTQ comics will coming to San Francisco for 2017!
There’s never been such riches in shows for folks who are looking for comics that tell their stories and communities of fans to be part of. If you haven’t yet added a LGBTQ comic event to your schedule, there’s no time like the present! Make it a 2017 New Year resolution to get yourself to a Yuri/ LGBTQ comics event.
6. Lesbian Comic Essays
I keep mentioning these, but comic essays have really lifted the profile of “lesbians” in the world of Yuri manga. Where manga often seem mired in coming out narratives about young girls, comic essays pick up the thread of lives lived by real women, for whom the story did not end with a kiss and promise.
Unsurprisingly, many of these stories deal with difficult topics, precisely because the story does not end when the last page of the book is turned. Like autobiographical comics in the western indie market, these manga fill in the gap between fantasy and reality for LGBTQ readers.
Every year I find these comic essays to be some of the most satisfying comics I sit down to read. I hope the trend continues and we get even more women telling their own stories. Next year, you’ll get a chance to experience a legally licensed comic essay, My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, from Seven Seas. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it!
5. Sailor Moon
I said it the other day, “If Haruka and Michiru make an appearance in any given year on Okazu, they are always going to win by default.” By default, Sailor Moon makes the list this year. ^_^
Not ONLY did we get a powered up- Season Three of Sailor Moon Crystal and Sailor Moon S finally got the definitive release it deserved, but also, I was able to see the Sailor Moon 20th anniversary exhibition in Tokyo!
2016 was a good year for me and Sailor Moon and for that, it just has to be present on this list. ^_^
4. Yuri Games
Without any doubt, this was the most surprising thing that happened this year. 2016 was the year I started to play Yuri games, read Yuri VNs and promote Yuri games that did not suck the life out of me! There were two Yuri VNs that were excellent, a couple that were good and a lot more that weren’t terrible, just not for me. I am still shocked that I have an actual Steam account I have used multiple times this year(!). That’s just…amazing.
So, yay for Yuri games! I’m glad to see some good ones from Japan make it over here, like Kindred Spirits, but even gladder to see good original games from domestic creators, like Highway Blossoms. And best of all, I think the Yuri Game Jam may be the best thing ever for all Yuri gamers. Support and play those games, then come back here and let us know how they are! Let’s go Yuri gaming!
So, we’re here at the Top Three Yuri anythings this year, and I’m pretty sure if you’re a regular reader you won’t be surprised, just from the sheer number of times I have raved about all these things….
3. Steven Universe
I don’t know what to say about this cartoon that I haven’t already said. It speaks to me in ways I had no idea a cartoon even could. Multiple episodes this last season have been Emmy-worthy. I sing the songs on repeat for days on end. The story is strongly anime-inspired, but never pretends to be something it isn’t. This is a true child of the Utena generation of American anime fans.
The acting, storytelling and sheer radical diversity of every single facet of it’s production, including staff, cast and characters, makes Steven Universe the cartoon I’d been waiting my whole life for. With so many canon couples between gems who identify as “she,” and such strong Yuri anime roots, I have no qualms about claiming it as ours. ^_^
Without question, Steven Universe has been one of the absolutely best Yuri things about 2016.
2. Yuri Community
You, my Okazu Family. You, my readers, and writers, and commenters, my social sharers, my YNN Correspondents, my Patrons. Every year you make the list and every year, it always feels a little inadequate on my part. I can never quite express how thankful I am for your support, your Guest Reviews, your comments and corrections, your news tips and the tremendous outpouring of generosity which always takes my breath away. I’ve been touched over and over by your kindness, your humor and your insight.
The Yuri Community is, once again, one of the very best things of the year. Thank you for being part of the Okazu family.
There’s been one thing that I think has been conspicuous by it’s absence from these lists. We will now rectify that. ^_^ The number one Yuriest thing of 2016 is, without question…..
1. Grand Stage Drama CDs
These are so Yuri…! Otokoyaku of the Grand Stage Revue, all voiced by high-Yuri cred actresses, in which *we* play the part of the partner? The only way this could have been Yurier, is if these women showed up at our house dressed in suits and proceeded to read romantic poetry to us directly.
Having Ogata Megumi, Toyoguchi Megumi, Inoue Marina, Kitamura Eri and Saiga Mitsuki swooning all over you (metaphorically) while whispering sweet nothings in your ear? This is so. fucking. Yuri. ^_^
This series hits me square in all my weak points, so short of a manga about a motorcycle riding, eyepatch-wearing martial artist librarian lesbian, this is pretty much it, this is the champion.
The Yuriest anything of 2016 is étriere’s Grand Stage Drama CD series. ^_^
As we finish up our look at the best of the year, I offer my fervent wish that our year going forward is a very good one. From my family to all of you in the Okazu and Yuricon family, we wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.