Archive for the Yuricon Category


Happy 15th Birthday, Okazu!

August 14th, 2017

On August 14, 2002, I created the domain okazu.blogspot.com and wrote,

Welcome to Okazu!

“Okazu” (おかず) is Japanese for appetizers – and is slang for lesbian sex because, you know it’s not *real* sex. ^_^

It’s also a good name for dribbles of writing that aren’t stories – just thoughts and comments and updates on things I’m doing. Most of those “things” will be Yuri-related, some will be about women in comics and others will be me screwing around as I travel the world. Whatever it is that brings you here, welcome and enjoy the tasty Okazu. ^_^

The day after, I wrote,

“Day Two Blog –

Water is running low, I’m feeling weak. There is no end in sight.” ^_^;

I didn’t have a point, or a mission, particularly. I was planning an event at Meow Mix in New York Cit and I thought having a central place to communicate from seemed like a good idea. I think. Because, honestly, I don’t remember what I was thinking, exactly. 15 years is a really long time. At first, Okazu was mostly a list of the events I participated in, promoting Yuricon and the Revolutionary Girl Utena Movie with CPM’s blessing. (Which, like a genius, I never actually wrote about. The first Film Festival post here was the BFI Gay and Lesbian Film Fest in London, in March 2002.)

I know that I was planning on running the first Yuricon in 2003 and as running an event was kind of complicated, but people seemed to think it was as easy as ordering a pizza, I wanted a place to write about some of the issues we’d face.

By October I said,

In effect, 2002 is over for me. Now the Yuricon staff and I will be focusing on entirely dull and uninteresting administrative things – signing up vendors, advertisers, sponsors, etc.

 

In November, I buckled down and really started talking about building a convention. I wrote The Anatomy of an Anime Convention 101, Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5.

And, as the year came to an end, I went, willy-nilly, to Japan to see Comiket. Because why not? That was the beginning of the Tokyo Journal category here.

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Can you see what’s missing? Up to this point, I really never once thought about writing reviews. It just never occurred to me, honestly. You can really see that I assumed no one but me was reading this blog because the first news/review I posted was on the New Hana no Asuka-gumi manga in March 2003. I’ve never been delusional about this series – it’s complicated and obscure and was not of interest to too many people in the United States in 2003. In fact, including me and Rica Takashima…the total number was probably 2. 

By May, I was fully focused on the upcoming Yuricon event. but I took a moment to write up what was the first of what would become the Yuri Network News. Tokyopop had licensed Between the Sheets by Erica Sakaruzawa – that was certainly newsworthy! And I had, for reasons , decided to go into manga publishing and was pushing our first book, Rica ‘tte Kanji!? by Rica Takashima. It bears repeating that the reason I met Rica was that she had come to that Meow Mix event in 2002. When she told me she was a Yuri manga artist, we both knew our meeting was kismet. 

June 2003 came and with it, an obsessive chronicling of Yuricon 2003.  It rocked and I’m really glad we did it. ^_^

That summer was filled with any number of events and it wasn’t until November 2003 that I reviewed my first anime. All these years I’ve remembered it as being Air Master, but it turns out I’m wrong and the first anime I ever reviewed here was Stellvia of the Universe! Remember that one? I was just thinking about it the other day. Maybe it’s time for a rewatch, huh? ^_^

Another surprise for me is that my first Maria-sama ga Miteru post came before the end of 2003. You’re able to watch my obsession with that series grow in realtime in my posts, from “Hey, this is an interesting thing you should know about,” right to “Must consume all of this immediately.”

I’m not at all surprised at the continuing appeal of many of the foundational series for us, series that set Yuri fans on the path to understanding and enjoy this genre, like Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena. I’m thrilled to pieces that old classics like Rose of Versailles and Dear Brother have found renewed interest in a modern age.  I’m still waiting for everyone to rediscover the wonderfulness of Devilman Lady. ^_^ And we’ve encountered so many new series that have established their place in the Yuri canon, from action-adventure like R.O.D and Bodacious Space Pirates, to “new classics” like Sweet Blue Flowers and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Not to mention amazing, moving series over the years like Simoun, Kaleido Star, and the Girls with guns on the Run trilogy of Noir, Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja, which gave us so many hours of conversation! And let’s not forget the “classic” Yuri parody series Strawberry Panic!  and Kannazuki no Miko, a series that launched a whole new kind of Yuri fan in the mid-2000s.

We were able to run Yuricon 2005 in Tokyo and the Yurisai and  Onna! in 2007, both of which I like to think helped set Yuri on a whole new track toward genrehood. As we hit the 10 year mark, the country was heading towards a depression, publishing and distribution was radically altered and the end result was that we shuttered doing both manga publishing and events, but Okazu and Yuricon pivoted to an exciting new focus – public speaking and writing articles on Yuri that would help establish Yuri’s genre bona fides.

And so it has gone, for 15 years, juggling events (both mine and other people’s), talking  and writing about Yuri anime and manga. This blog has been through a few renewals over the last decade and a half (and we’re looking at another one in the near future,) but it’s basically stayed the same. I’ve basically stayed the same, I think. Maybe. Or maybe not, but I don’t feel different, although I have less patience with spending time on stuff I’m not going to like, especially as there’s so much great stuff being released these days.  ^_^

What absolute has stayed with me for 15 years as the primary focus on Okazu is this:

Yuri is a way to build a bridge from American lesbian culture to Japanese lesbian culture. It’s true that Yuri is not “ours” as such, having so many owners, but it centers around our stories. That’s really the core concept to me. It’s true that readers, publishers and creators may not be LGBTQ or even interested in telling LGBTQ stories with any sense of  realism or honesty, but in the end, it’s our stories, and our opinions about those stories, that turn Okazu and Yuricon into a community for people all over the world. In 2017, I’d say we’ve been successful. I see more genuinely LGBTQ content in manga and comics and cartoons this year than I ever have before. Anime is still lagging behind, but that’s not all that surprising.

And above all other things, it’s that community that I want to celebrate today. I thank you YNN Correspondents, Guest Reviewers, my staff who travel with me and help keep this place running, folks who comment, folks who correct my mistakes and folks who simply enjoy the posts here – you, the Yuri Network, are the pride and joy of Okazu.  

My sincere and heartfelt thanks to Okazu Patrons.You are a major part of why I can keep doing this day after day. You’ve gotten me closer than ever to being able to pay Guest Reviewers, and allow me to give them tokens in thanks now. You’re helping me travel to events I report to you and with the media I consume and review. You’re all an important part of the team here at Okazu, thank you. This post was made just for you at your request. ^_^

I want to end with especial thanks to my wife who is my editor, my #1 fan and greatest supporter (as well as the best clever idea generator a person could ever ask for!) I can never thank you enough. Love you.

Thank you all and a very Happy Birthday to all of us!

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Yuricon at Yurithon!

August 1st, 2017

Please join us August 4-6 in Montreal, Canada for Yurithon, part of the Otakuthon event. I’ll be joined by some of my senior staff and dearest friends (but not all, and we’re really going to miss those of you not there!) and we’re doing a bunch of panels. I’m bringing a bunch of stuff to give out as prizes, so come with your best questions ready!

Here’s where you can definitely find us!

Friday: 5:00pm-6:00pm: The Secret History of Yaoi and Yuri
In this presentation, I trace the artistic and literary roots of some of the common tropes of Yuri and BL.

Saturday: 1:00pm-3:00pm: Must Read/Must Watch Yuri
This is our “flagship” panel – 90 minutes of Yuri anime and manga. We’ve brought animation clips and and tons of stuff to watch and read. Prizes are primarilyy for this panel. Bring it on!

Saturday: 7:00pm-8:00pm: A Yuri Otaku in Japan
We’re going to give you the Yuri-focused downlow on getting to Japan, staying there, shopping there and going to events there. Want to know where to get Yuri? Join us and find out.

Sunday: 1:00pm-2:00pmYuri Court”
This is a silly game I made up on the spot for a con Sunday. ^_^ Participants will “present a case” for a Yuri being Guilty (of being crappy) or Innocent (by being good) and a panel of judges (not just me, so don’t worry that I’m gonna slam your decision. There’s three of us, I can be outvoted. ^_^) will decide on a verdict. I hope to have some prizes left to offer folks for this game.

If you’re an Okazu reader or a member of the Yuricon community, please introduce yourself. I want to meet you all and thank you in person. ^_^

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Yuricon ‘Yuri Essays’ Page Renewal!

June 22nd, 2017

To assist in Yuricon’s ongoing mission to disseminate information and research about Yuri, we’ve updated and slightly redesigned the Yuri Essays page!

 Broken links have been fixed, and new resources have been added, as well, to keep this page a one-stop-shop for all the Yuri-related research extant in English. Links to full-text articles exist where they are available.

You can much more easily find essays by category:

History of Yuri – History and Definition of the Genre
Articles on Yuri – Analysis of Yuri by scholars and researchers
Lectures – Links to videos and research presented at lectures about or related to Yuri
Interviews – Interviews with your favorite Yuri creators and Yuricon founder Erica Friedman
Books – Books that include discussion of topics related to Yuri researchYuri and Shoujo, Feminism, Gender and Lesbian Themes – Essays on Intersections with Yuri
Fan Studies and Perspectives – Fan research into Yuri and related genre work

And of course you can always use the site search to find something specific.

If you have a Yuri-related essay you’d like us to include on this page, please do contact us!

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Upcoming LGBTQ Lectures and Events

February 15th, 2017

Get out those calendars! It’s time to plan our next few months of LGBTQ Comics and Manga events and lectures.

February

This weekend, on February 19, 2017 our friends at Yaycon, this year in Amersfoort, Netherlands, will be celebrating Yaoi and Yuri and love! I had a lovely time at Yaycon a few years ago and hope to one day return. 

 

March

I am pleased as punch to be part of Rainbow Manga along with Gay Manga’s Anne Ishii at Hunter College in NYC on March 10, 2017. The lecture should be open to the public and as soon as I have a link or address for you, I will be sure to let you know. Hunter College is 695 Park Ave. in New York City. Anne and I will be speaking about LGBTQ manga in Japan and here in the US!

April

For San Francisco-area friends, I expect you will not want to miss this year’s Queers & Comics Conference. Keynote Speakers are Tagame Gengoroh and Mariko Tamaki (and, I have all my digits crossed that maybe, maybe we’ll have Nakamura Kiyo as well. Pray for this. Pray hard.) I’ve made all my reservations, so I will absolutely be there. I’ll be participating on a Queer Manga history panel and moderating a Craft of Queer Manga panel and bouncing around like a child the rest of the time, surrounded by such awesome talent and energy. Please join me! The 2015 event was magical.

In addition to praying, the Queers & Comics Travel Fund has been created to help Q&C bring in queer creators from around the country (and world) and give them a place to stay, food, etc.  You know that queer comics don’t often have the kind of mainstream distribution that the superhero stuff gets, and queer creators are often living on the edge. If you can even offer a cup of coffee’s worth of support, you can get some great digital rewards, including ABSOLUTE POWER: Tales of Queer Villainy!  and more from Gay Manga and Northwest Press. (I also wrote to Seven Seas to see if we can get some Yuri manga on that rewards list. We’ll see if they are interested.)

May

Toronto Comics Arts Festival is around the corner and on my radar once again. After a few years away – and missing it badly – I’m going to do my very best to be part of the 2017 event. (I cannot wait to experience the new de-improved DHS processes at the airport. Ugh.) TCAF is held for free at the Toronto Reference Library and external venues in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, May 13-14. Traditionally, it has always been very LGBTQ-friendly and inclusive and manga friendly and inclusive, unlike some other comics events, for which manga is just a thing some people sell there. There’s usually a Queer Mixer before the event, as well. Guests include Tagame Gengoroh, Jillian Tamaki and Sandrine Revel, all of whom have worked on LGBTQ content. Also, our friends at Sparkler Monthly are usually there and this year they have even more Yuri than ever before. It’s a don’t-miss event for folks who can make it.

My schedule fills up pretty fast these days, so if you want me at your event, as a moderator or to present, do please contact me. Here’s to a year of amazing queer manga events!

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Art is Resistance – Yuri Manga, Politics and Okazu in 2017

January 1st, 2017


 

 
 
 

 
  

 
 

I’ve been trying to find a way to discuss 2017 here on Okazu without writing a purely political post. Every single time I have attempted to do so, I’ve ended up deleting it. In some cases because I have become too angry at the things I feel have to write. Sometimes I’ve self-censored to not offend people who tune in here for news about comics and manga.

But today I was reminded by Notes From The Resistance that language is – and always has been – a weapon. And likewise, comics have always been political acts, acts of rebellion and protest and defiance and propaganda. And LGBTQ comics have, likewise, always been the voice of people largely silenced by mainstream media.

I’ve made a few promises to myself in the last month. I’ve committed to working only on and with genuinely diverse books and publishers. I’ve committed to listening to and speaking with voices I haven’t formerly opened up to. 

I re-read this post on defending democracy about twice a week and hope you will too. Unfortunately for all of us, the checks and balances we presumed we had in the government are gone and a liberal democracy has no real defense against that.

So what does this have to do with Yuri manga? I’ll be doing a talk – my first of several – in January 2017, on the way fans pushed for and created spaces for LGBTQ stories in manga. When I return home I am joining a march to protest the inauguration of a patsy for a foreign government as President of the United States, a man who has hand-picked a Cabinet that will dismantle the last 150 years of American progress…and I encourage you to protest, as well. There are marches all over the US being planned. If you care at all about anyone who is a non-white, non-Christian, non-male, you will make your voice heard that this is not acceptable.

Despite the pressure by straight men to keep Yuri manga in a space of fetishized infantilism, Yuri manga is and always has been, stories of women in love with other women. Yuri manga is lesbian. Yuri manga is our story. I commit to continuing to speak for and about women who love other women, to demand Yuri from creators and publishers that represent the stories of women who love other women. 

My primary goal for 2017 on Okazu is getting to the point where we can pay our guest writers and get their voices out there and heard by as many people as possible.  Your subscriptions on our Patreon will help achieve this goal!

I commit to keeping Okazu radical and outspoken and for those of us who care that women who love women deserve a place for ourselves at the table of social and political discourse and representation in entertainment on our own terms.

And I think it’s only fair to warn you, my dear readers, that I’m not planning on stopping using words and pictures to speak up against the wall of injustice I can see being built already. 

A lot of you have been with me for years and I appreciate that more than I can ever express. I hope you’ll stay with me in the year to come. I think it’s going to get harder before it gets better, so keeping Okazu and the Yuri community here for all of us is important to me. 

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Art is resistance. Tell your stories, draw your stories, sing your stories and support artists who tell those stories for you. 

Come here to Okazu to share your stories and tell other people where to find those stories, too. We all need them. Making sure our stories get out is an act of resistance we can all share. Make 2017 the year you back diverse causes, creatives and creations in your entertainment, consumer and business behaviors.

Happy New Year to all to all of you. Here’s to great art in 2017

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