Archive for the Yuri Anime Category


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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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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