Archive for the Yuricon Category


New Essay on Yuricon Essays Page!

November 20th, 2017

Last week I had the extraordinary pleasure of lecturing for the Gender and Fandom class at Harvard University. I cannot express what joy I have when I stand up in front of a class and get to expound upon the vagaries of  publishing, sales, communications, queer manga and the role fans have played in the evolution of it all.

I’m always asked if I’ll have a video up and the answer is usually no. It’s still no today, but at least I can share with you the full text of the essay on which this talk is based. 

How Fandom Made Queer Manga Possible is up on the Yuricon Essays Page today. It’s also been added to the Big Book o’Yuri, which is closing in on 2/3 done. ^_^

While I was in the area, I also hit up the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to see the Murakami / Tsuji collaboration, Lineage of Eccentrics exhibition. It was fantastic.  And…it was fanart! Basically they pulled items out of the MFA collection and Murakami did a riff on the item. You can see what I mean a little on this video preview on the MFA’s website.

The MFA also had a delightful “showdown” exhibit, pitting Kuniyoshi’s bright colors and  Shounen Jump-eque heroes against Kunisada’s sophisticated body language and pretty women in Showdown! Kuniyoshi vs Kunisada. It probably comes as no surprise that I favored manga-like Kuniyoshi, but really think Kunisada’s work is stellar.

Thanks to everyone who came to the talk and thanks again to Kerry for the invitation and Jude for junketing us around. It was lovely to see you. (And also Brigid and Kate, who met up with us for dinner the night before.)

I hope you all enjoy the lecture!

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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 City 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 2004.)

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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