My Thoughts on Yuri Anime – Fanservice

An opinion piece in which I explain my thoughts and opinions on fanservice in Yuri anime. This might be the start of another series of posts, too. We’ll see.

Before I get started, however, I have to acknowledge the posts that inspired me to share my mindset. That would be D’s post where they discuss their complicated relationship with fanservice and Zeria’s post where she gives a brief explanation for the relative dearth of yuri anime. Also, please look forward to Zeria’s upcoming series, Yearning for Yuri, where she will be recommending a selection of yuri that is not restricted to the schoolgirl genre.

Frankly, I’m a fan of slower, more chaste Yuri media. I’m currently working through Aoi Hana and greatly enjoying it. Nurse Love Addiction and Flowers -Le Volume sur Printemps are two of my favorite visual novels and both have a distinct lack of fanservice compared to other Yuri visual novels.

The thing is, Aoi Hana didn’t sell well. Neither did Nurse Love Addiction. I’m not sure about the numbers for Flowers, but I imagine they did relatively well considering they’re about to receive the fourth and final installment for the franchise later this year. Be that as it may, I started thinking about potential reasons for these repeat occurences. Perhaps such anime and visual novels are paced too slowly to secure widespread popularity. Or perhaps the lack of fanservice is what causes viewers / players to balk.

Similar to D, I also have a convoluted relationship with fanservice. Admittedly, my tastes have changed over the years. I remember being a teenager and becoming enthralled whenever there were gratuitous and racy camera angles. But that was several years ago.

These days, I find such titillating stimulations to be unnecessary and believe them to be a cheap way to seize viewers’ attention. Let me be clear: I mean no disrespect to people who enjoy such content. I am just saying such presentation simply isn’t to my taste. As seen in my review of the first episode of Sin: Nanatsu no Taizai, excessive fanservice can easily cause me to become disinterested in a series.

But despite my preferences, I find myself personally wanting a particular subset of fanservice to be more prominent in the shows I review. I’m talking about earnest depictions of girls displaying attraction to other girlsSubtext simply isn’t enough. Kissing or more intimate activities would be ideal. While added intimate moments in Yuri anime may serve to boost sales and enable growth of the genre in the process, this type of fanservice would have to be handled very carefully.

The type of fanservice I have in mind should be restricted to female characters who are of high school age or older out of moral obligations. Otherwise, instances of elementary school girls making out with each other would happen as seen in Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei!. While not as outrageous as the Fate/kaleid franchise, Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon would also be guilty of this with Riko and Kanna. It’s difficult to justify such moments, which is why I’m being stringent over this.


Furthermore, the fanservice in question shouldn’t consistently happen every episode. I know this may seem contradictory to what I stated earlier about wanting to see more “earnest depictions of girls loving other girls.” However, having the characters do the same actions on an episodic basis lessens the impact. Sakura Trick would be an example of this with Haruka and Yuu. The viewers are left feeling as though these intimate activities are meant to cater to an audience with fetishes for Yuri fanservice.

Honestly, I would prefer if the girls actually slowed down and thought things through. A major frustration I have with Sakura Trick is that the characters don’t really consider their feelings or situations. Haruka is convinced she’s just friends with Yuu, yet they are continuously shown sharing deep kisses whenever possible. Haruka’s unrealistic, infuriating obliviousness makes it almost seem like she’s leading Yuu on and playing with her feelings.

Kuzu no Honkai does a better job with this, admittedly. But the series is also reliant on the characters explaining everything via inner monologues. A series shouldn’t have to hold a viewer’s hand. It’s okay to let the viewer infer, hope that the viewer is paying attention, and be discrete enough to not spell everything out. Sometimes, less is more.

Most of all, there shouldn’t be any queerbaiting. Your mileage may vary, but Love Live! Sunshine!! could be considered guilty of this. Although Riko confesses her love to Chika at the end of episode 10, it is never addressed afterwards. It is as though the confession, essentially, never happened. Perhaps it’s only a “platonic love,” but this series of events can cause viewers to feel like they’re being toyed with.

In addition to what I said earlier about incorporating tasteful fanservice to help bolster popularity, I feel like doing so would also help distinguish genre lines. What I mean is that The Lily Garden (and other yuri blogs) feel forced to blog about shows that may not necessarily be Yuri, such as schoolgirl series. “Cute Girls Doing Cute Things” shows are scrutinized for shipping moments and thus are counted as Yuri whenever there’s subtext. But can those shows truly be considered Yuri? These sort of thoughts are on my mind whenever someone asks me to recommend Yuri shows for a beginner.

It really depends on an individual’s opinion, to be honest. Ano from Kindred Spirits on the Roof refers to Yuri to being “a more pure thing” and claims that even two girls holding hands to be “splendid Yuri.” In other words, your mileage may vary (again). But if shows within the CGDCT genre don’t “count” as Yuri, there’s a huge lack of Yuri anime as a result.

yuri with ano 2

Anyways, that’s my thoughts on the matter. Hopefully I was articulate to convey my thoughts in a manner that could be understood. I would love to read your thoughts in the comments section!


20 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Yuri Anime – Fanservice

  1. Ah yes, the Aqours thing. So much potential in S1…only for the writers to squander it by being all “Hey. Let’s please as many shippers as possible!” in S2! I’m looking at you YohaRiko.

    Still love Sakura Trick despite Haruka’s denseness (or maybe it was indecisiveness) but I get some having been frustrated by it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Went overboard is all I’m saying. At least KanaMari remained intact and became stronger than before. Hopefully the movie will keep it up or TRY to restore some ships from S1 along with strengthen new ones from S2.
        That or make the ChiRiYou polyamory come true as many of us know it’s there.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m actually not a big fan of KanaMari, but to each their own.

          I guess we just have to wait and see!

          That would solve a lot of shipping wars regarding the second-years, yeah.


  2. Great job on this blog! It was very interesting to see what you had to say about fanservice, real emotional experiences, and how the genre handles these scenes. I’m a fan of yaoi and BL, which is often seen as yuri’s paired genre. However, based on what you shared in this post, it sounds like the genres are quite a bit different! In my experience with yaoi, there are a lot of scenes exploring characters’ feelings, especially as characters battle with confessing in the face of possible rejection. Granted, this is not true for every title the genre has to offer, but I’ve never felt like yaoi had too much fan service and not enough development.

    I wonder what might account for this disparity? The perceived intended audience, perhaps? I know that the stereotype is that women watch yaoi, so I can guess that the same is the case in reverse for yuri, that men prefer it (I’ve never looked that up, though, so it might not be a norm at all. Maybe more women watch yuri than men). It would be interesting to research and find out what factors might lead yuri to possibly being more fan-service-oriented than yaoi (of course, I might just be picking all of the right titles and miraculously missing the poorly crafted ones).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!

      I’m glad to hear that yaoi and BL do not seem to have this issue. Perhaps this disparity arises because Cute Girls Doing Cute Things shows often get lumped in with yuri. Said series offer subtext or fanservice primarily. Any insights into a character’s mindset often revolve around anything but lesbian love in CGDCT shows. This isn’t the case of “actual yuri anime,” but said shows seem much more rare compared to CGDCT titles. Yuri manga fares much better in regards to exploring characters’ feelings, I feel.

      I believe the bulk of the audience for yuri consists of men. It initially started off intended for women, but things have changed, it seems. Still, it could be interesting to look more into it, I agree.

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with this post whole-heartedly on the points you made in this post. There are far too many slice of life romance that take the entire season for a single kiss. So your point about Yuri characters slowing down and thinking things through is not an unreasonable expectation. Also, blatant fanservice for the sake of increasing viewership cheapens my overall opinion of the anime. Well thought out, as always, Remy. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you agree with what I was trying to say! And now that you mention it, a lot of what I said does apply to SoL romcoms that aren’t yuri. So this post turned out much more universal than I had originally planned, haha.

      No, thank YOU, Kimmie.


  4. I’m so happy you totally understand where I’m coming from, D. Shiptease is great but sometimes we want a little more. And queerbaiting isnt very welcome, to be honest. Less of that, please!

    Mmm solid relationship development would be ideal and is what we actually need. It all comes back to us agreeing that romance portrayed in anime typically SUCK.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pssh, this is a reply to the post rather than my comment. I’ve made the same mistake too so I thought I’d check when no response showed up.

      And hell yes, anime romance usually sucks. Actually, I’m wary of romance in all visual media. I seem to have better luck with written material. It doesn’t help that I’m really picky about my romance too. For instance, all the het story tropes have tired me out to the point that I tend towards lesbian and gay fiction these days.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m so baaaad. Thanks ;__;

        Mmm fair enough. Kind of amusing that what I said in the post also applies to het romance. Sometimes I feel like there’s a lack of writers who can write good romance, 😥 how? And that’s a crisis.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great and very well written post. I really don’t like in your face fan service either. Series like Highschool of the Dead, pretty much sucked the fun out of an anime that might otherwise have been pretty interesting if I am bring honest. Tasteful fanservice is much better. Brynhildr in the Darkness featured some mild fanservice, but it did not distract from the series itself which was a good thing. As long as it is done right and in a functional way, I don’t mind fanservice at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mmm HOTD exemplifies meaningless fansevice to the extreme. I will have to give Brynhildr a shot! You’ve certainly made if sound great.

      Mmm that’s fair. A shame that’s so hard to find.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I can totally see why you want more explicit girl/girl content in anime despite your general distaste for explicit content. Subtext is good, it’s great but it’s so very easy to tip past an invisible line and become queerbaiting. I haven’t seen that term used a lot within anime community but a lot among Western TV fandoms like Once Upon A Time, Sherlock, Supernatural etc. It does happen in anime though and as I said, I do love subtext but baiting feels like the show is trying to make fools out of us.
    So yeah, I get why you want more of girls loving each other shown properly, preferably with some solid relationship development.

    Liked by 1 person

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