This is a list of things that personally cause me some issues as a yuri anime fan.
This probably doesn’t need to be pointed out, but I don’t mean to imply that all yuri anime fans have to deal with the topics addressed in this post. I’m not some authority figure, after all. But I do hope that other fans can understand what I’m talking about.
1. Neglecting to consider how a potential ship could play out
I have a bad habit of almost instantly shipping two girls with one another if they share any suspiciously intimate moments early on in a series. That can include excessive blushing, frequently holding hands, adopting nicknames or dropping honorifics, and so on. It’s hard to give up, but I’m working on it.
The problem lies in that the practice is haphazardly careless shipping. By being too eager to ship, I’m forgetting to consider whether or not the two actually make a good couple, whether or not the two truly have chemistry, whether or not the two can grow as individuals should they be together, etc. The last one probably isn’t as important considering how some characters (and people) don’t really change all that much even after entering a relationship with someone else, but it’s certainly nice to see an individual develop (partially) due to love.
In other words, it’s important to contemplate whether you’re shipping these characters together for solid reasons or whether you’re doing so out of wanting to just see them together.
Speaking of intimate moments…
2. Accepting the controversial nature of subtext
Subtext refers to instances that can be interpreted as being erotic or romantic in nature happening between two (or more!) characters. The thing is that it’s really up to interpretation – subtext is inherently unclear and ambiguous, which allows for “messages to slip in that audiences or execs may be unwilling to deal with directly.“
From what I can tell, two major conflicts tend to arise whenever subtext is involved.
Firstly, the audience often claim that the producers are being cowardly and that they’re “queerbaiting” by using subtext because they lack the bravery to show two same-sex characters being in a relationship. It’s disingenuous to label every show that features subtext as queerbaiting, however – that should only apply to specific series. Hibike! Euphonium, due to the behavior between Kumiko and Reina despite the fact that Reina is in love with their music teacher while Kumiko supposedly gets with her male childhood friend according to the original source material, could be considered to be one such example. Meanwhile, Princess Princess, Kuzu no Honkai, and Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon should not be considered guilty of queerbaiting. At any rate, it’s always frustrating whenever such instances pop up because the audience ends up feeling like the producers are toying with them in order to improve viewership.
Secondly, the audience may fail to collectively agree upon if the chemistry between two characters is subtext or is actually text. Different people have different interpretations, after all.
3. Being forced to accept subtext due to scarcity
2017 has actually been rather generous in regards to giving the people shows that could be considered yuri, to be fair, but yuri anime fans typically have to watch several series in hopes that there’s at least yuri subtext. It ends up being like a guessing game, really, and the result has said fans watching specific genres (such as Girls’ Club shows, Cute Girls Doing Cute Things shows, etc) while keeping fingers crossed.
Yuri anime fans are forced into this position because of the general lack of series that specifically mention or depict yuri in its summary or premiere PVs. While there might be around one or two anime series per year that is universally accepted as yuri or as a queer story with no questions asked, yuri anime fans would run out of series to discuss really quickly if they limited themselves to such specifications. As stated earlier, this is where yuri subtext comes in since many of these Girls’ Club series and other such shows feature a considerable amount of that. As a result, yuri anime fans have a lot more to watch if they relax their standards slightly.
4. Preparing for shipping wars due to subtext
With shows that aren’t specified as yuri but contain subtext, multiple ships tend to form due to personal preferences in character dynamics. The fact that the same girl can experience moments of ship tease between several different girls depending on the occasion or episode certainly doesn’t help (or does help, depending on your perspective).
Fans may disagree about ships and OTPs, but I do hope people can try to keep things respectful. It’s fine if they think Kyouko should be with Yui while you think Kyouko should be with Ayano, for instance. There are enough instance subtext for both ships in Yuru Yuri!
5. Realizing that being forever alone is okay, too
With all this talk about ships and this glorification of relationships, I’d like to point out that being alone is fine, too. Being in a relationship with someone doesn’t guarantee happiness and some individuals are genuinely content as single people.
Receiving a happy ending by getting together with someone you love is certainly a good thing, but not every character has to be paired off like that. Don’t force a ship simply out of whimsical desire.
6. Not receiving a happy ending if the characters do get together
I’m of the opinion that Class S still (at least slightly) influences the modern yuri genre to this day. For those of you who are unaware, Class S predates yuri and stories within the Class S genre featured two females having a temporal relationship before one woman or both women decide that they should move on to heterosexual relationships that are considered to be “real.”
That sort of faulty reasoning is both heteronormative as well as incredibly dismissive of LGBTQ relationships. Yet such a notion lives on with a few characters claiming they’re just experimenting or that they’re only “gay until graduation.”
It’s why I get excited when female characters insist that they’re not playing around, that they’re explicitly lesbian, and that they plan on keeping their relationship long-term by discussing future plans. Class S had its moment to shine in a different world and time frame, but tragic endings for yuri stories are out-of-fashion.
Unfortunately, positive resolutions can be hard to come by at times. Not every series opts for such resolutions.
7. Dealing with vagueness of relationships compared to other mediums
As mentioned earlier, some anime series can be considered to be yuri on account of subtext. A series may take the plunge so a relationship goes from implied subtext to in-your-face text later on, but some viewers will decline to acknowledge the transition or even the elements within said relationship as being possibly romantic. That’s fine, I suppose, since I try my best appreciate other people’s opinions.
That’s due to the nature of subtext and yuri anime’s reliance on said narrative devices. Things are intentionally kept vague (see point #2).
Such ambiguity isn’t as prevalent when you turn to yuri manga, yuri light novels, or yuri visual novels, however. I believe it’s due to how these other mediums are more text-heavy so feelings can be expressed more easily. Anime that features too many speeches risk being labeled as preachy, so they’re more reliant on actions that often can be interpreted differently (i.e. are they holding hands as friends or as lovers? That is the question).
This isn’t a full anime adaptation (yet), but I remember linking the Kase-san and Morning Glories video to a self-proclaimed yuri fan a few months ago.
His response was: “…Is that it?”
To him, the video wasn’t yuri enough. Apparently, he was more of a fan of the dramatic soap operas seen in Netsuzou TRap and Strawberry Panic! From his choices in favorites, I think it’s fair to suggest that he wants the yuri to be more blatant and more overt and that he considers subtext or more subtle, gentle yuri to be “boring.”
To each their own!
8. Fetishizing yuri
During my final year of undergraduate, I had to take one last writing class. I decided to try to write a paper about yuri because I was playing through Kindred Spirits on the Roof at the time and was enjoying it immensely. We had to present our topics to the class while my peers provided suggestions and different angles I could adopt in an online document. After my presentation, I saw that several individuals wrote down that I could talk about yuri as a fetish.
What I learned from that experience is that some individuals believe that yuri is something to be fantasized about, that two girls kissing and groping each other is a turn-on. Well, it certainly can be, but I can’t say I’m a fan of series that explicitly and shamelessly milk such interactions for viewership.
I’m well aware I’m in the minority here since many male yuri fans seem to love Sakura Trick while I consider it to be trashy according to Zeria’s survey. I’ve talked about my misgivings regarding Haruka’s obliviousness in previous posts (here and over here), so I won’t elaborate on my thoughts in this particular article.
And to me, that’s a shame. Like what one wise yuri fanatic once said (paraphrased), “two girls holding hands can be considered to be splendid yuri, too!” Sometimes the audience should be expected to read between the lines is what I think.
In other words, the guy I mentioned in point #7 needs to check himself. Yeah, I said it.
9. Finding it difficult to recommend/talk about shows
There are several reasons why I started this blog (that is supposed to be about yuri). One such reason is due to how there are simply a lack of people interested in yuri within my immediate surroundings.
Even though I have a twin brother who shares many of my interests, he has little interest in yuri. Apparently he can’t enjoy a series unless there’s a male character for him to project onto.
When his friend came over and we were talking about anime, my brother brought up that I blog about anime (et tu, Brute?), which caused his friend to ask me about what sort of anime I watch. Before I could formulate my thoughts, my brother said that I prefer shows with a lot of girls in ’em. Technically that’s true, I guess. In any case, his friend said, “Oh, you’re that kind of anime fan.” Apparently he was more into shounen and sci-fi series, as a side note.
What I learned from these experiences is that
you can’t trust family some people are simply not interested in yuri and that other people have preconceived notions about what yuri shows may entail. Well, to be fair, my brother misrepresented the type of shows I typically watch which led his friend to assume things about me, but I digress.
10. Coming to terms with why you’re a yuri fan
I’m still struggling with this one, to be honest.
After I pestered her to be honest, a friend has pointed out that I’m technically an outsider when it comes to yuri since I’m not a lesbian. So why am I interested in yuri?
Another friend said, a few months back, that she was under the impression that I identify with being a girl and that throwing myself into yuri is my way of coping with that desire. That possibility holds some merit, I’ll admit, but I won’t go into details.
In the end, I’m not sure if I can state the reasons behind my passion for yuri. It’s probably something emotional rather than logical. Maybe it’s just enough to say I just prefer yuri.