The significance of a kiss varies wildly within the context of yuri anime as well as within the minds of viewers.
That is to say, the implications regarding a kiss between two girls is dependent on the series, its corresponding thematics, and its presentation. In a similar vein, different viewers will obviously hold differing opinions on this subject matter, too.
In the following sections, I wish to address three separate scenarios in which a kiss, or a lack of a kiss, or an excessive amount of kisses can be considered either meaningful, meaningless, or somewhere in-between. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
It Was “Only” a Kiss
Also Known As “It’s Actually a Big Deal!”
For this particular scenario, in which the two girls share a single kiss, I would like to bring up Hina Logi: From Luck & Logic. For most of the show’s run, many viewers (including myself) were hesitant to consider watching this series since it was a spin-off of a mediocre and dissatisfying series, Luck & Logic.
Viewers were also quick to dismiss the series as a typical action school girl series, which is a genre that seems to pop up several times every year (Summer 2016 had Ange Vierge, Winter 2017 had Schoolgirl Strikers: Animation Channel, Summer 2017 had Battle Girl High School and the aforementioned Hina Logi, Winter 2018 has Toji no Miko, etc).
To its credit, Hina Logi successfully distinguished itself from Luck & Logic and proved to be a somewhat fun, albeit very average, action school girl series. The most memorable episode, however, would have to be episode 11 in which Lion kisses Nina on the lips.
Lion and Nina has had strong feelings toward one another for most of Hina Logi, but this kiss proves that their relationship goes beyond friendship since Lion explains that her country follows a custom in which they kiss the person they like the most right before the new year comes. Those would be strong words to direct towards someone who is just a friend.
Despite the obstructive curtain’s dastardly efforts, it’s evident that their shared kiss was on the lips since Nina barely holds back from touching her lips afterwards. She does, however, whisper that it was her first time and overall looks very flustered over Lion’s open and aggressive approach. Anime series like to infer that Americans and Europeans like to greet friends and family by kissing, which may or may not be true, but such greetings only involve platonic kisses planted on cheeks or foreheads. Kiss directed towards the lips are something different altogether.
That’s why this particular episode is noteworthy since it establishes the relationship between Nina and Lion to be romantic in nature. Since many of the viewers who watch these sort of series are also yuri fans, this specific moment is probably what made many of the target demographic believe Hina Logi, an otherwise ordinary series, was worth the time investment.
Lay Witness to the Kiss-less
Also Known As “Here Comes Controversy!”
Well, what if we consider the inverse? Since a single kiss confirms the romantic relationship between Nina and Lion, does a series in which no on-screen kisses occur between two girls mean there’s no canon lesbian relationship to be found?
Well, not necessarily.
A peer and a friend, Zeria, argues that NanoFate is the best yuri couple in anime history. Even though the two characters never share a kiss on-screen, nearly everyone around them have accepted that they’re more or less married and they adopt a child together. The fact that they’re together is canon and this was all done without a single kiss, which is rather amazing.
With that being said, there are a lot of other series that are more vague about canon pairings. From idol shows to Cute Girls Doing Cute Things shows to slice-of-life shows to magical girl shows, female characters will be shown straddling the thin line that separates friendship and romantic relationship, such as holding hands, giving each other compliments on physical appearance, and so on. The fact that they do not kiss seems to complicate matters, but there usually are more subtle signs to be found. The exchange of Valentine’s Day chocolates, an excessive amount of blushing, overly strong sentiments or motivations behind behaviours and actions, and so on.
Of course, this is still no unanimous decision to be had with these signals since different viewers will interpret the relationship between said characters differently. For instance, I know some individuals who believe that there is no romantic tension or lesbian relationships to be found in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. I happen to respectfully disagree but I can respect their opinions and beliefs.
I suppose that’s the best one can do when neither side can convince the other. It just gets frustrating when people discredit opinions based on their own personal preferences, which unfortunately happens quite regularly.
All the Kisses All the Time
Also Known As “Too Much of a Good Thing Isn’t Good!”
In recent times, I can point towards Netsuzou TRap and citrus if we’re talking about yuri series that features an excessive amount of kissing. If we go back even further, then it’s worth noting that Sakura Trick also featured plenty of smooching, too. And in all three of these series, I feel like the oversaturation of kisses make the act essentially become meaningless within the context of the series.
Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I’m of the opinion that kisses in fiction should be reserved for special occasions. For these three series, however, the viewer is constantly exposed to non-stop kisses for little reason.
Well, I’m being a bit facetious, admittedly. The girls in NTRap are making out because Hotaru is an emotionally manipulative brat who is unable to accept the fact that Yuma, her best friend, initially didn’t return her feelings whereas Yuma is in a constant state of denial. In citrus, Yuzu and Mei trade spit mostly because Mei initially sees kissing as a way to control others due to bad experiences. As for Sakura Trick, my point still stands since the series basically revolves around Haruka and Yuu going at it.
In theory (and according to what I’ve written earlier), I should enjoy these series which feature a lot of kisses that serves to turn the ambiguous (are they gay) to the readily apparent (oh, they totally are).
But I don’t. I believe that’s primarily because of the characters themselves. I despise at least one of the girls in each pairing. Thus the “benefit” of kissing is lessened and overshadowed by how detestable some of these girls truly are.
When I think of NTRap, I think of a brat who messes with her best friend’s head and who faces no consequences for her actions after all is said and done. Meanwhile, said best friend demonstrates an alarming lack of critical thinking skills for most of the series. When I think of citrus, I think of a poorly executed love story that features Mei, another brat who doesn’t even try to understand the concept of consent until the series is around halfway finished (Yuzu, on the other hand, is an excellent character). As for Sakura Trick, the way Haruka is so oblivious and leads Yuu (yet another brat – a bit of a pattern, perhaps, along with the fact that there always seems to be a female character whose name starts with “Yu” in these yuri series?) on is a turn-off.
Perhaps I value well-written characters too much, so that’s why I’m disgruntled by these official and canon ships in these yuri series that feature plenty of kissing. To me, (some of) these characters are simply not well-written. They’re not likable. That’s why I can’t truly support these ships since I don’t really care for them.
But that’s just me.