Archive for the Yuri Anime Category


Yuri Anime: Yamibou, Disk 1 (English)

June 30th, 2016

YamiboYami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito anime was originally released in 2003. Based on an ero-game visual novel, in 2004 when I reviewed it, I said, Hazuki was one the “most openly lesbian character in all of 2003.”

It’s quite extraordinary how much changes in 13 years. There are series I loved when they debuted, that upon aging, never really held up. And there are series that I really loathed at the beginning but, as they and I aged, we both mellowed a bit.

It’s even been 8 years since Touka Gettan, the main selling point of which was that it was by the same team that brought us Yamibou (not much of a selling point, I thought then and still think.)

Somewhat surprisingly, Yamibou, which has been released by Media Blasters under their Anime Works imprint, is both better and worse than I remembered.

Let’s get the bad out of the way quickly. I had technical difficulties playing the disk. We had to dig out a computer with an old version of Windows Media Player to get it to work. Our DVD player and my several media payers failed to do more than open up the title page. The title page is slim, but typical of Media Blasters, you’re just never quite sure your choice has stuck, until the video starts. ^_^

The art is….well, of course, it’s all subjective, but it’s worse than I remembered. Obsessively male gaze, and the faces are the most absurdly big eyes – small mouth I’ve ever seen. Almost a parody of the worst bits of the genre.  Lots of high-contrast light and gel lens effects and do not get me started on the “shaky camera” that is so overused I was beginning to feel seasick. UGH, animators who use a shaky camera, there is a special place in hell for you.

The story is, well, it’s better than I remembered, if only because it’s got an actual story within all the story jumping. I only remembered dribs and drabs of the narrative.

The first part of the story is, of course, our introduction to high schooler Azuma Hazuki, who is in lust with her older sister , Hatsumi. On Hatsumi’s 16th birthday, she disappears, Hazuki follows her into a library in which millions of stories exist, all of which are a world that Hazuki, and the keeper of the Library, Lilith enter, ostensibly to look for Hatsumi, but more realistically so we can lasciviously leer at the sexual harassment of a variety of female characters.

We learn that Hatsumi is actually Eve and that the melodramatic Adam by the name of Gargantua, is looking for her…for reasons. Reasons which include being insane and obsessing over Eve’s ability to give life and therefore immortality.

Mostly we’re watching Hazuki wander through worlds in which she is cast as the strong but silent and broody type that all the girls fall in love with, including Lilith. She’s cool, if you like that type and she’s voiced by Noto Mamiko, which I hadn’t remembered at all. (Shimizu Ai plays Hatsumi, although admittedly, not a chewy part what with Hatsumi being mute for huge chunks of the story and all.)

If this anime was re-done to not work so hard to be appealing to a truly lowest denominator audience who imagine that young women objectify and sexualize their objects of desire the way a male audience is presumed to, it might not be bad. Instead it vacillates between deeply cringe-making and not-entirely-awful. ^_^;

Ratings:

Art – 5 what was I thinking in 2004?
Story – 5
Characters – 7
Yuri – 7
Service – a grillion

Overall – 7 If you know what you’re getting into, it still has moments that are worth watching for.

Another thing that has changed, in 2003 I apparently didn’t like the music, but Aitai, the OP, has been on my MP3 player for a decade and I still like it, so in your face younger me. :-P

Thanks so much to Media Blasters for the review copy. It is truly a blast rewatching this.

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Sailor Moon Crystal Season Three Trailer

March 6th, 2016

Take a deep breath.

Via YNN Correspondent and the First Lady of Yuricon, and from Sailor Moon 20th Anniversary Twitter account, the trailer for Sailor Moon Crystal‘s 3rd season is here!

Breathe. Then notice how well Haruka and Michiru have been drawn – especially when compared with the earlier two seasons. (Or indeed as compared with the Inners, as can be seen in this comparison of two frames from the trailer by my wife.)

SMC3_HxM

Wouldn’t it be amusing if history repeats itself and the third season, with a different director, is just leaps better animated than the first two seasons?  For how much of this can we thank director Kon Chiaki, the first female director to run this show?

Just for fun, let’s notice all the things we don’t see in this trailer.  We see Sailors Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, the three Talismans and the Witches Five. There’s two notably missing elements – Hotaru appears, but not (yet) Sailor Saturn, which makes sense as she’s the big reveal and Uranus and Neptune’s attacks. I don’t know about you, but I’m really excited to see those in the new animation. ^_^

So take a deep breath and rewatch – and remind yourself that the story isn’t a mystery, it’ll be identical to the manga – and wait with the rest of us to see Sailor Moon Crystal, Season 3, starting in April 2016!

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Top Yuri Anime of 2015

December 28th, 2015

Of everything I do here on Okazu, this list is always the hardest. Even when there is so much amazing stuff I can barely contain myself, it’s hard. On years where there was very little of note, it’s almost impossible.

I’ve commented over the years that Yuri anime is cyclical. We get a lot….then we get none. Then we get a lot….then we get none. This was one of those “none” years. And like most “none” years, we still got some. ^_^

As always, these are my opinions, you’re never obliged to agree and you are most welcome to tell us your Top Yuri Anime in the comments!

YRYRSH5 – Yuru Yuri

I know you know I’m not a fan. For one thing, there’s very little Yuri in this series, mostly in the form of set-ups for fans to pair characters, not any actual mutual feelings between two characters.  But this series is appealing to some number of fans, and clearly to the folks at Ichijinsha, so they keep throwing money at it.

2015 included OVAs that received theater releases in Japan and a third season of anime. I think it deserves a little recognition for that, don’t you? Here’s a little recognition.

Yuru Yuri is streaming on Crunchyroll.

sound4 – Sound EuphoniumSabagebu and anything else you watched, not explicitly named here, that had a little bit of Yuri.

Yuri as a character trait, or a fetish or an add-on is still plenty common in anime. As anime, specifically, becomes more and more a media for easily influenced lonely guys, there is never a real lack of characters with vastly overstated crushes. Some of these are very good, others are bad, but it’s worth noting them and thanking them for dribbling little crumbs of Yuri on our plates. ^_^

Sound! Euphonium and Sabagebu are streaming on Crunchyroll.

pp3 – Psycho-Pass 2

The lesbians got to have sex and not die…again. Achievement unlocked!

You can watch Psycho-Pass on Hulu, or buy it on BD/DVD from Funimation in 2016.

 

hqdefault2 – Dear Brother and Sailor Moon ‘S’

I watched every last, miserable fucking second of Dear Brother with a HUGE grin on my face (except for when I was sobbing into a handkerchief.) It was, it is and it always will be an awesome story, with amazing characters, a pile of Yuri and one of the most tragic loves ever.

Sailor Moon S is currently streaming and I’m avoiding it like the plague until the BD/DVD disks come out, because I don’t want to touch anything and ruin it. But the episodes sit there, in their oh-so-very gay glory and taunt me. So very, very gay. Squee. Next year this goes up to Number 1 unless we get something amazing. Gosh I hope we get something amazing!

Dear Brother is still available streaming on Viki.com and Sailor Moon can be watched on Viz’s Neon Alley, with BD/DVDs coming for the third season in 2016.

232b78a7e4e10c28f9fcd2bb74b8b22a1420158390_full1 – Yuri Kuma Arashi

To be honest, this series had no competition at all this year. It was the only actually Yuri anime made.

Yes, it exploited that with a surreal glee, slapping the word “Yuri” on everything until it made no sense, and it was pandery and kinda creepy and did I mention it made no sense, but who are we to complain? Not me certainly, because above all other things, we got an awesome Evil Psycho Lesbian, we got to watch Ikuhara Kunihiko publicly flail with an obvious love/hate thing for Yuri and we got to see Morishima Akiko’s character designs animated and streaming on Hulu.com. There really was never a question about the number one on this list this year.

The Top Yuri Anime for 2015 is Yuri Kuma Arashi.

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Yuri Anime: Dear Brother, Set 3, Disk 2

July 30th, 2015

DearBrother3-275x390“The tears, they will not stop.”

We hear this sentence at the end of of every preview, but do we listen? The tears, all the tears which have not been shed by Rei, by Kaoru, by Fukiko, and by Nanako are going to come gushing out in the most horrible lancing of a wound possible. It takes a pointless, awful, stupid, tragic death for healing to begin.

Saint Just is dead. It’s not a suicide, and that helps, but it doesn’t change that she’s gone.

All along, we were thinking that Nanako was the mascot of this series, that the story was always about the beautiful people. But in the end, it turns out that Nanako, like Yumi many years later, is truly the protagonist and that she functions as a catalyst for the lives around her, is not entirely accident.

Misohoh Nanako, who can see the symbolic moments in her life, the rain, the wind, and the doves, has always been the center around which this tale orbits and Saint-Just was just everyone’s mascot after all.

Ratings:

Art – 9
Story – 9
Characters – 9
Yuri – 4
Service – 6 Bathing suits, nakedness

Overall – 9

It’s been a long time since this series ran on Japanese TV. Divorcing parents are no longer a scandal, breast cancer is no longer a death certificate. But, some things are timeless. Dear Brother is timeless.

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Yuri Anime: Dear Brother, Set 3, Disk 1

July 3rd, 2015

DearBrother3-275x390It’s so fascinating, isn’t it, when something that was life-crushing 40 years ago is pretty normal now.

There is a movie, Stella Dallas. It is about a poor mother who has a child out of wedlock. She raises the child while working, but when a rich sophisticate falls in love with her daughter, the mother all but disowns her, driving her daughter into her fiancee’s arms and keeping herself out of the picture. She sees the wedding through the church windows from outside, in the rain, because of course. In 1937, this movie was a tearjerker. In 1990, when it was remade as Stella, it kind of didn’t really make any sense. Single, unwed mothers were no longer a life-ruining thing or something to be ashamed of.

In 1975, divorces were just starting to become common. I remember when, for the first time, I was in a class where more students had divorced parents than not. It was just about then that the stigma of a divorce was starting to fade.

Now, in 2015, it has no stigma at all. Like, say, being gay, having divorced parents will not completely trash most young lives. It’s not to say that the actual action of coming out or going through a divorce is not difficult, but…

So watching Mariko in the beginning of Dear Brother, Set 3, Disk 1, crying her heart out over – and worse, suffering bullying because of – her parents divorce is a Stella moment. It doesn’t have the impact it would have in the 1970s…it wouldn’t even all that much in the early 1990s when the anime was made. Times change.

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As Miya-sama will learn, as Kaoru-no-kimi proposes the dissolution of the sorority. Watching Miya-sama’s delusions being eroded, while she sits in denial, was fascinating.

The school drama is far more interesting than poor Mariko’s personal drama, until we learn that Mariko and Aya had once been friendly rivals and in the end, save each other just enough to face another day.

And finally, we come to the most amazing, heartbreaking scene, as Fukiko asks Rei flat out if she hates her and Saint Juste breaks down completely over her feelings of love and hate for her half-sister.

This volume is a rough ride. I think I ended every episode by saying, “Wow, this is a depressing series.” But for all that, it’s one of the most deep, complex and in many ways human, dramas I’ve ever watched. The characters by now are all so fully fleshed out that you can see them as humans, rather than ciphers. These were the days before one-issue/joke per character was the rule. Everyone has flaws, everyone has strengths.

My personal favorite scene is when Nanako notices that drama-signifying doves have all left and no one else notices that there were ever any doves at all.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 9
Characters – 9
Yuri – 2
Service – 4 Naked Rei.

Overall – 9

To the end, Miya-sama remains selfish and mean. And in our hearts we can never even imagine her as anything but.

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