Archive for the Yuri Anime Category


Yuri Anime: Mikagura School Suite, Guest Review by Mariko S

March 29th, 2017

Out in the wider world, Wednesday may be known as “hump day” but here on Okazu, it is always a good day when it’s Guest Review Wednesday! And today we have a lovely guest review by returning Guest Reviewer an all around extremely nice person, Mariko S. (Seriously,  I honestly think our Guest Reviewers are swell.) It’s so much fun for me to read other people’s experiences and perspectives. Definitely one of my favorite things.

And even better, Mariko is going to talk to us about a series I know nothing at all about, which is awesome. So, take it away, Mariko!

Mikagura School Suite. (Streaming on Funimation.com and Viewster, with subtitles in various languages: English,German, French, Italian and Dutch.)

What a weird little show. On the surface, it seems like a series tailor-made to sell toys and cards to kids: a girl enters an unusual high school where everyone develops super powers related to their club activity and battles in video game-like contests for school ranking. The gem battles, the colorful characters and unique powers all spell kiddie fare… but…

First off, the heroine, Eruna, is an unabashed pervert who lusts after all the girls on campus. Not in an “Oh, she’s so impressive” Class-S way, but like, horny nosebleed let-me-kiss-you stuff. (Forced to start her own club, she creates the “Surround Ichinomiya Eruna With Cute Girls Club”). The main reason she chooses this crazy school is because a girl she thinks is cute goes there. There’s no “What are these confusing feelings?” here: she’s blatant about her desire for girls and matter-of-fact in shutting down the interest of boys.

Second, the show isn’t particularly interested in those battles that in any similar series would be the focus of every episode. Eruna is strong, but not the strongest, and is beaten a few times. When this happens, she more or less doesn’t care and just wants to make friends with her opponents. A lot of the battles take place off camera – she will just show up and say “Oh, I won my last two matches!” or, “Oh, I lost!” and then the show will move on to other stuff. The battles that get shown tend to happen fast.

Eruna is an unusual/interesting heroine aside from her girl-lusting as well. She is that rare anime heroine who has absolutely no lack of self-confidence. She always thinks she can handle whatever happens, and when she loses or someone is nasty to her she fights back with jokes and smiles and energy. She doesn’t mope or cry once. These character traits are a surefire way to raise a show’s esteem for me; much like Marika from Mouretsu Pirates, you can’t help but love Eruna.

The last thing I’d like to mention is the show’s weird and manic sense of humor, based largely around how bullishly oblivious Eruna is, and her purposefully misconstruing things other people say (or just outright steamrolling over them verbally). I actually laughed a lot, surprisingly.

If you can get past the fact that there has probably never, ever been a teenage girl this confident and blatant about her sexual attraction to women, it’s a fun and breezy watch and a welcome change of pace from Yuri tropes.

Ratings:

Art – 5
Story – 6
Characters – 7
Yuri – 8
Service – 5

Overall – 7

Erica here: Well, that does sound…refreshing. Based on a light novel series, it’s pretty obvious that it’s going with the less-common, but still common enough, “predatory lesbian” trope. It’s just that they so rarely get to be fun, too, which really makes it sound interesting. Thanks very much for the review! I’ll keep an eye out for it. ^_^

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Where to Watch Yuri in English Online, Free and Legally

March 12th, 2017

Last year I did a round-up of free legal anime streaming services where you could watch Yuri anime. Recently I was name-checked on Twitter when someone discovered an older legit channel for the first time. And, since this happens regularly and old services close down and new services pop up, it seemed apropos to go through some of the free, legitimate anime streaming services available to you on which to watch Yuri anime.

Caveats: I’m focusing on US-based services, because while I am dedicated to you, my readers, my dedication does not extend to working with proxies or VPNs in every major market to see if these services work in your hometown. Assume there are regional restrictions in place for some or all of these services. But feel free to use proxies or VPNs on your own. ^_^ And, if you use a regionally legal, free streaming site in a non-US country, by all means, please let folks know in comments!

I’m also not focusing on paid services like The Anime Network or Amazon’s Strike. Today we’re focusing on services that are free and legitimate. 

 ALL these services have shifting catalogs. That’s just the nature of the beast, the beast being video licensing. Just because a series is on one service now, does not mean it will always be.  Another good reason to update this list periodically.

 

Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll is doing a pretty good job of licensing anime as broadly as possible. They have been very Yuri-positive and often, when they lose a license, circle back around and get it again – for instance, they have Aoi Hana/Sweet Blue Flowers  once again after viewers complained when the IP holder pulled the show after a limited time. Crunchyroll is my go-to, because their catalog is one of the most comprehensive, from Bodacious Space Pirates to Riddle Story of a Devil to Yuru Yuri to Sakura Trick to Cardcaptor Sakura. 

Rating: A- They’ve really kept up the commitment to Yuri. It’s not an all-in-one-place-go-to-stop for everything, but it’s damned close. The biggest issue is the region-blocking, which is not Crunchyroll’s fault, but does have an impact.

 

Viewster is a trove of forgotten Yuri treasures. Their library includes Strawberry Panic!, Maria Watches Over Us, Aria and some other random things I’ve liked over the years, like Murder Princess. ^_^ Viewster claims to be available worldwide. 

Rating: B-  The catalog is hit or miss, but they often have stuff you can’t find anywhere else.

 

Hulu

This time last year, Hulu had a ton of anime but they purged most of it, including a large pile of interesting western animation. However, it’s the only place you can go for the original Sailor Moon. How fun, huh? Where Toei licensed Sailor Moon Crystal to everyone and their cousin (finally!), Viz obviously has an exclusive agreement with Hulu for streaming the original series. 

Rating: B- There’s nothing else here, the adverts are annoying and for the cost of subscribing (which doesn’t get rid the ads,) I might as well get the DVDs.

 

Tubi TV

Tubi a newish service that includes a random smattering of anime, but has a surprisingly strong showing in Yuri, on account of Nozomi’s titles. So they have Revolutionary Girl Utena, Season 3 and 4 (? No idea why only those two seasons)  of Maria Watches Us and Bodacious Space Pirates. They’ve also got a few other notable series, like Moribito, and Sound of the Sky. It’s worth a look, if only to boggle you with the vagaries of anime licensing.

Rating: B- It’s worth looking at, but I probably wouldn’t subscribe.

 

Nozomi Entertainment on Youtube

The Official Nozomi channel currently has all of Revolutionary Girl Utena and Rose of Versailles in full on Youtube, but this may be ephemeral.

Rating: C It’s cool as long as it lasts, but there’s no way to know how long it will last. And Youtube.

 


Daisuki

Speaking of services no one remembers, Daisuki was launched by the Japanese government with “Cool Japan” money a few years ago in order to create a better streaming service to overseas watchers. Unfortunately it fell into the exact same pit as all the other “Cool Japan” endeavors – it was random, inconsistent and had no long-term planning. So you can still watch, say, Jubei-chan on Daisuki, but only Season 2, not 1. I will give them credit for excellent genre break down, “sci-fi” “robots/mechanic” “heartful” “novels” “games” “sports/race”. You actually have an idea what a series is about/from with descriptions like those.

Rating: D 

 

Funimation

Auuuughhghghghghghgh. Funimation, you have the worst website. Always. Ever. There has never been a single day I have visited the Funimation website and not wanted to put my fist through the screen. Sure, they have Riddle Story of a Devil, and Yurikuma Arashi, but so does Crunchyroll without committing every single website design failure in the world.

Ratings: D Go anywhere else. It’s never worth the agita.

 

If Media Blasters and Nozomi licensed their catalogs to Crunchyroll, they’d be the all-in-one-place, but even so, they come closer to anywhere else. The biggest problem is the inconsistency and ephemerality of the licenses. And the region-blocking, which is a relic of another age that is slowly disintegrating, but still exists, for now.

If you are using a legitimate streaming site for your country and want to share, please add it to the comments!

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Sailor Moon S Anime , Part 1, Disk 3 (English)

January 11th, 2017

Today’s review begins with my very heartfelt gratitude to Okazu Superhero Ivan L. Upon reading in an earlier review that my computer had crashed and taken my Blu-ray player with it, Ivan generously donated one to Okazu. And so, because of Ivan’s kindness, I am able to report on Sailor Moon S, Part 1, Disk 3 on BD.

Sailor Moon S looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray. ^_^ As a quick test, I rewatched an episode in DVD. It looks great, but damn, that Blu-ray is smokin’. There’s no going back now. ^_^

The episodes of Disk 2 and 3 are arguably the reasons that so many fans love this series. These episodes are where we spend so much time with each individual Senshi, learning about their hopes and dreams and the self-doubts that hold them back. It gives them time to be people, rather than just archetypes.

On Disk 3, we also have the second-best episode* of the entire season, Uranus’ origin episode, Episode 106. By this point, the animation has really settled in. 20 years ago, Michiru’s drawing of Uranus was pretty and a little sexy. 20 years later it looks as good as – perhaps better than – new, as our screen resolution can finally really capture the movement and light in it.

For this episode, I also watched the dub. You may not appreciate the leap of faith that took for me, but trust me – this is my second-favorite episode of  all 200.* I had to believe that Erica Mendez and Lauren Landa were going to voice Haruka and Michiru in a way that wouldn’t make me cringe. So when I tell you that I thought they did a fantastic job, it has meaning and weight. My sincere thanks to both of them. It meant a lot to me to see Uranus and Neptune voiced “right.” The script isn’t exact to the Japanese, but it works beautifully and I have no major complaints. (Of course I have minor ones…I’m an otaku. ^_^)  The rest of the cast is also excellent – it was an actual pleasure to watch a dub. I don’t think I have ever said that before in my life. 

20 years later, I’m watching Haruka being mean to Michiru on a ship that inexplicably has a painting of the entire city being destroyed by a giant tidal wave and the painting is so vivid and so extraordinary a thing that I had to comment, “What a thing to have on a ship!” And then be sucked back into a story I have watched dozens, perhaps, hundreds of times.  Haruka, Michiru, two 15 year olds torn between their own dreams of the future and the past, and between desire for each other and to save the world. It’s a pretty intense episode, in a series that is about to take a turn into intensity.

However, before we do that, we have Eudial and her terrible driving, the ongoing gag of her parking tickets and her terrible Daimons, and a discussion of a rosy future. There’s one last gasp of humor to come, before this all goes dark, but we’ll have to wait for it in the second set. I cannot wait for the second set!

Ratings:

Art – 8 
Story – 9 Haruka and Michiru
Characters – 10 Haruka and Michiru
Yuri- 7 Haruka and Michiru 
Service – 4 

Overall – 9 Did I mention Haruka and Michiru?

I’ve written about this before, but the line “I won’t let you go home tonight” was a well-known pickup line in the 90s, when Sailor Moon S came out. It is suggestive to a Japanese audience in a way that an American audience might miss. And by “suggestive” I mean it wasn’t suggestive of driving all night long, it was a blatant come-on. Which is why Michiru says “ara” in that pleased/slightly scandalized tone. I’m sorry they changed it in English, but I’ll give them a bye on it. I can’t expect too many folks at Viz to know ancient pickup lines….although they could just ask me. ^_^ 

Thanks once again to Viz Media for the review copy, special thanks to Erica Mendez and Lauren Landa for their excellent jobs voicing roles that are so foundational to so many of us. And many, many thanks to Ivan. You all made me cry, in a good way. (T_T)

* If you can’t guess which episode is the favorite, then you’ll just have to wait. There’s really only one possible candidate. ^_^

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Top Yuri Anime of 2016

December 28th, 2016

When I say that I could not have written this list without you, my dear readers, I am not being hyperbolic in the slightest. If it hadn’t been for your guest posts and suggestions on Twitter, this list would have been three series – and two of them would have been Sailor Moon. ^_^ So, thanks to everyone who helped! As always, please feel free to disagree by posting your choices for Top Ten in the comments.

 

10. Any series you think ought to be on this list

I’m weaseling out on the first item, because being told by some random person that a series is Yuri is, for me, not quite sufficient to get on a Top Ten, but I also strongly believe that fanon has a very important place in a healthy fandom. Ultimately Yuri is the one genre that, by it’s heterogeneous nature, is defined by fan perception. Therefore, insert whatever series you think ought to have been here. ^_^

 

Tied for 8. Izetta, The Last Witch and Harmony

These series had enough Yuri (or Yuri service) to get mentions this year. Whether you see them as “Yuri” or akogare or loyalty or friendship is entirely up to you.  

Izetta The Last Witch is available on Crunchyroll, Harmony is available on Amazon Video or DVD/Blu-ray combo from Funimation

 

7. Riddle Story of Devil

This series is more “Yuri because they said so” than substantively Yuri, but there is one canon couple a priori and another by the end. It wasn’t as good as I hoped nor was it as bad as I feared. I have yet to watch Funimation’s home video release, but I am looking forward to refreshing myself on the series. ^_^

Riddle Story of a Devil is available on Crunchyroll and on DVD from Funimation.

 

6. MAGICAL GIRL RAISING PROJECT

Sister Nana and Winterprison  are a canonical couple. That their story is not a happy one puts it towards the bottom of the list. So if you’re using this list to find cool anime to watch, do be warned. Nonetheless, one of the signs of a mature genre is when not all the endings are happy. (But, yeah, ugh.) If anyone is interested in reviewing this series for us here, do let me know!

Magical Raising Project is available on Crunchyroll 

 

5. Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon 

This entry is on the list entirely because of the strong case for Yuri made by Mariko S in her Guest Review for Okazu.  Like so many series that include Yuri as a plot element, it’s as much service as Yuri, but canonically lesbian characters is pretty acceptable. 

Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon is available on Crunchyroll

 

4. Flip Flappers

Again, a series appears on this list not because of my opinion, but someone (in fact multiple someones) else’s opinion.  Miles Thomas is not alone in reading this series as a queer narrative. I’m almost moved enough by the passionate defense of this series to give it a try myself. Again, if you’ve watched and would like to write a guest review, do contact me!

Flip Flappers is available on Crunchyroll.

 

Okay, here we are at my top three of the year, and none of these are likely to surprise anyone, although undoubtedly, there’ll be some eyerolling. ^_^

My Top 3 Yuri Anime of  2016….

 

3. Sailor Moon Crystal, Season 3

This was the manga come to life. This was the Haruka and Michiru Takeuchi Naoko wanted us to see in the first place. This was the tender embrace and touch of two young women with no one except each other to rely on. 

I hope you’ll understand all the many “whys” that, for me make this series my third best Yuri anime of the year.

Sailor Moon Crystal, Season 3 is available on Crunchyroll, on Viz’ website (and it will become available on DVD and Blu-ray, eventually.) 

 

 

 

 
2. Yuri Kuma Arashi

Talk about a big old “duh.” By it’s nature, Yuri Kuma Arashi has to be on the list, doesn’t it? Even though it’s more like a game of Madlibs or Cards for Humanity than a story, this anime has something I’d long wanted to see – Morishima Akiko’s characters come to life.  

The story is indubitably Yuri, as is the ending, and all the middle bits and the empty spaces between – there’s pretty much never going to be a series that is more “Yuri” than this one, to the point of obsession and beyond. 

In 2016, it was released in English by Funimation, which makes it totally worth a rewatch! Yuri Kuma Arashi is available on Crunchyroll or in DVD/ Blu-ray combo pack from Funimation.

 

 

Here we go, my number one anime title of the year is…

 

1. Sailor Moon S 

I’ve been writing Okazu for almost 15 years now and obsessing about Yuri for longer than that. And through all those years, the Queens of Yuri have been – and always will be – Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, struggling to live…and to die…together. They are the reason I am here, and the reason so many of you are, as well. 

Sailor Moon S is available streaming on Viz’s website and on DVD/Blu-ray combo from Viz Media.

If Haruka and Michiru make an appearance in any given year on Okazu, they are always going to win by default.

And so they do, this year, where my Top Yuri Anime for 2016 (and for now and forever) is Sailor Moon S.

 

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Yuri Anime: Yamibou, Disk 3 (English)

July 8th, 2016

YamiboWell, here we are at Yamibou, Disk 3.

The disk begins with an arc that immediately has the potential for being extremely good or extremely horrible, but manages to thread between them for something that doesn’t need to be in this series at all, but isn’t terrible; about a colonization ship that would have just failed in space if Lilith hadn’t been there. Hazuki is pretty much window dressing for the arc.

In the middle of the space ark arc, we digress into an extremely tedious arc with Gargantua and his trolls, that ultimately turns out to be the climax of the whole story. Eve/Jill/Hatsumi returns, sends Gargantua and Ritsuko to live happily ever after, while leaving Hazuki in an alternative version of the one she came from in which she has, at least, a mother.

We learn that Eve is not, in fact, Hazuki’s sister, but Lilith’s sister, who should have been tending the library, but was traveling through the books.

It’s not a great ending, but not just because Hatsumi leaves Hazuki with a weird obsession about the child she will one day bear or because we return to the most tedious service of the series, but because it could have been, with one tweak, a much, much better ending.

If the point of the series had been to tell Hazuki’s story, all they would have needed was to bring Hazuki to the library until she died. She’d have her Hatsumi and lived happily ever after, the end. But that was never truly the point of the series. Traveling through the stories was the point and Hazuki was merely the vehicle.

For an incredibly messy ending with loose ends all over the place, it wasn’t as stabbingly awful as I remembered it. It still think the incest and child thing is creepy at best, but your mileage will obviously vary.

I did quite like Tamamonomae’s floating compound, and the idea that if there is a library in which all the books are worlds, then there could be a compound which had access to them all. I would love to see someone with talent take a stab at that, although, on second thought, I think Borges already came close in the stories “The Library,” “The Garden of Forking Paths” and “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”, all in Labyrinths. (I strongly recommend this book if you have not read it. It deeply informs my writing and my reading. ^_^ So if you want to understand me, this book is a great place to begin.)

The art really didn’t hold up well. It was surprising to see that this was Studio Deen, although, they did get much better with time. As excruciating as it was to watch this again , I don’t think I hated it and maybe even can find some “like” in there for it.

Ratings:

Art – 5 Still crappy art
Story – 6 How *easy* it would have been to make this a good story
Characters – 7 How *easy* it would have been to make this a good story about good characters
Yuri – 6
Service – 8 It almost disappeared there for a bit, but then came back with a vengeance.

Overall – I’d give this series a 7, exactly what I gave it the first time around in 2004. ^_^

Hazuki is still gay. She’ll spend years falling for girls who look or sound like Hatsumi for a while, then settle down with a nice girl and have that daughter.

Once again, many thanks to Media Blasters for the review copy and for bringing this early Yuri Anime out in English!

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