I think it’s clear that there isn’t much yuri anime. Sure, there’s plenty of yuri subtext in anime, and I’m glad for that, but actual yuri series are few and far between. It’s getting better, especially if you include shows where the relationships are blatant and reciprocated even if they’re not quite textual, but still, there’s a long way to go. Given that, I think we need to look at why so little yuri anime gets produced, because I think it’s important to those who want to understand the genre as a whole.
The biggest hurdle for yuri is its odd demographics. Yuri fans are a diverse bunch; unlike BL, a genre aimed almost entirely at straight women, yuri targets men, women, and everyone else. Yuri manga are frequently bought by women, and I’m willing to bet that the majority of yuri mangaka are women as well. Unfortunately, this makes it harder for yuri anime, because yuri doesn’t appeal much to the demographics that buy anime. Fujoshi have no interest in it, idol otaku get enough from subtext, and there’s no particular inclination towards it from other buying groups. Yuri isn’t hated by any major groups either, so it probably won’t bring down a show, but it doesn’t have the base capable of supporting a show on its own in the way that BL does.
Additionally, yuri anime has a history of poor sales. Aoi Hana and Sasameki Koto, two well known yuri manga, both crashed and burned in their anime sales, and this has happened to other shows as well. I don’t know for sure whether these anime boosted manga sales, but I’m going to assume it wasn’t enough to matter, considering neither finished adapting their respective manga. The poor state of yuri anime would be odd if it had seen a ton of success, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.
These two factors combine, leading to little incentive for yuri anime. It’s a lot safer to make yuri manga since it’s cheaper, and the groups that could help produce yuri anime, such as Comic Yuri Hime’s publisher, Ichijinsha, aren’t going to fund anything unless they think it can significantly boost manga sales, which leads to a low rate of adaptations for anything outside a few select series.
And so, I encourage everyone to look elsewhere for yuri. I understand that anime is a favored medium for many; it is for me as well. But the simple fact is that anyone interested in the genre needs to go somewhere else for it, because while anime has a number of good yuri series, there just aren’t enough for it to be a viable place to search.
I understand that it can be hard for people focused on anime to know where to look when it comes to other mediums, and so I plan on working on a new series, Yearning for Yuri. This series will be focused on recommending yuri of any sort, with some light analysis of why it works in as spoiler-free a manner as possible. I’m interested in showing a diverse selection of yuri that goes beyond the schoolgirl works the genre is known for, and I’d love for anyone who’s interested in the genre to check it out. Anime might not be great for yuri fans, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of other places to get the content you deserve.
19 thoughts on “Why There Isn’t Enough Yuri Anime”
Both surprising and disheartening to hear the poor condition of the sales. Not the biggest Yuri fan (very much into the idea of it, just haven’t watched or read much of the genre), but look forward to your series and aim to check out the recommendations in the future!
Thanks, I hope you enjoy my recommendations. Yeah, the sales situation really is unfortunate, but as always, there’s 100 manga for every anime, so it’s not all bad. I’m just happy yuri has a community which is passionate enough to have dedicated scanlators, because if we didn’t we’d get nothing.
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From what I’ve observed, there’s definitely a lot more than there used to be, especially considering how rare it was for anything to go beyond subtext or just pure overtones (often played for comedy, and hardly ever taken seriously). Would love to see more, but understandably, as you pointed out, the history of sales will probably hurt the likelihood of more among the same lines coming from the genre, but at least there’s a more wider selection now. So while it’s not in an ideal state, it does have a better offering than years prior.
Yeah, it has certainly improved, though I’m unsure how much of that is due to wider appeal and how much is due to improving societal views of queer people. Though I suppose those are somewhat connected. Either way, I’m happy with how far it’s come, though I frequently find myself wanting the teasing in CGDCT shows to go all the way.
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It’s slim pickings for yuri anime. That’s why so many yuri blogs, including yours truly, feel forced to include shows that only include subtext at best.
That’s where visual novels or manga or douninshi come into play to satisfy the lack of diversity, but it doesn’t change the fact that “true” yuri series are hard to come by.
Anyways, I look forward to your posts! You’ve kind of inspired me to talk about various things, too, haha.
Yeah I definitely agree with that. I enjoy the subtext in Kirara shows and stuff, but I do want more than that. At least it’s going great on the manga front.
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Hello, just found your blog. You got yourself a follower and I shared some of your articles with some friends.
I read Japanese novels and find that even there I couldn’t find many works with lesbian relationships. While Class S novels and light novels like Marimite are popular, they are still relatively small. LGBTQ in Japanese literature seems fairly small, but the worst one is with gay relationships where I can’t find a damn thing. It’s both a relief and also sad that Wandering Son may be the only work I know that dives into trans issues well. I just get the feeling you can’t find much, even if there is an audience demand in Japan.
Anyway, because of this, yuri manga is probably the biggest abnormality I can think of in the field and it gives a unique avenue as a result for creative works like My Lesbian Experience to thrive. However, it is way too “niche” to expand beyond the market. The more popular yuri manga like Girlfriends appeals to men more than other demographics and that still has difficulty getting an adaptation up. I am honestly surprised Aoi Hana and Sasameki Koto have anime adaptations to begin with. It seems out of character for the anime industry (though the crazier one is Wandering Son but that’s another story). They are from a rich, sadly closed world of manga that do touch on important issues and play with the notions of love; it’d be cool if they were more mainstream and adapted into anime, but it is unfortunate that risks are not always embraced.
I’m looking forward to your series. I’m not too experienced in yuri manga, but I did read some chapters of Yuri Danshi — curious what you think of it — and will like to know more. At most, I’ve read yuri visual novels like Seabed. Definitely will like to expand my horizons. Thanks for writing this.
I’m happy you enjoy my content, and I’m especially happy that you liked it enough to share it. I’ve liked some of the stuff you’ve written, especially your piece on Nier: Automata, so I was excited when I saw that you followed me.
It is certainly unfortunate how little yuri gets made into anime. My Japanese is nowhere near the point where I could read novels yet, but it’s interesting to hear you say that there’s little-to-no LGBTQ works in that sphere. I would’ve thought that would at least be changing nowadays, but I don’t exactly have the best picture of LGBTQ life in Japan, as most of my info is either second-hand or cobbled together from various sources of varying trustworthiness.
The demographics of yuri are certainly interesting, and I want to cover them in the future. Yuri works that aren’t in explicitly yuri magazines tend to end up in male-aimed magazines(Bloom Into You, Kiss and a White Lily, and Milk Morinaga works) so they definitely have male viewers, but a lot of these works are written by women and still come across as somewhat shoujo-esque. It’s a bit hard to describe, but something like Girl Friends, while technically aimed at men, still has a lot of shoujo sensibilities to it, particularly when it comes to the art style. I tend to find that serious male fans of yuri(those who aren’t into it just to fulfill a fetish) tend to want somewhat similar stuff to what queer women want from the genre, if not the exact same thing, which is probably part of why yuri’s demographics are so interesting.
Anyways, I hope you enjoy the series as it continues, as well as my other content. This is disguised as a yuri series, but it’s more a focus on queer works, and I’m simply more interested in yuri than BL or other queer genres, and given the fact that only like 5 trans works exists I can’t cover those very much. So there will be some non-yuri stuff in this series, but yuri is the focus and I’m interested in showing works that differ from the genre’s tropes and ones that fit the genre well while avoiding the problematic, heteronormative elements.
Ah, a fan of the Automata article. My only real contribution to the Automata discussion besides being one of the jumpstarters is the gender part. I’m a huge fan of Yokoo’s progressivism — an intersex and canonically gay character in the same video game are way too cool — and wish more mainstream creators emulate that aspect of his. Otherwise, I am a lowly blogger who gets few pageviews thanks to what I refuse to write (hot take clickbait) and how I don’t advertise myself (a lack of branding and catering to audiences). It doesn’t help that I only write about niche, sometimes non-Japanese media in anime communities; I just want to write about the important stuff I care about. And from what I have read on your blog like the HeartCatch Precure post, it seems you share that value too.
Enough about me and my narcissism/self-pity. LGBTQ works in Japan are more likely to be written by straight men or women, some of them like Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto being a decent portrayal of a trans woman and others as exploitative as the worst of BL eromanga. But no matter how decent they can be, they aren’t as hardhitting as some yuri works I’ve found from friends and other blogs. It’s an exciting subculture I’d like to know more from your series, which I already got the impression that it would be from a queer perspective in the first place. Its peculiar demographic reach and the community it has fostered already should inspire more than curiosity from any serious consumer of media.
I’ve been trying to find works that go beyond heteronormativity and dig into the identity and relationship conflicts deeper than anything before them. However, I’ve only read so few and realized I was queer three years ago; I am still a newbie at this and don’t want to offend people with my lack of experience. A project like yours is something I’ve always wanted to read or write because it’s an important space of discussion for everyone who cares about other people.
Not to put pressure on you, but I am very confident that you’ll exceed my expectations somehow. Your blog posts are cool and you have some writing potential brimming in you. I can’t wait to read what’s next.
I wanted to fan out but I piss folks off lately when I do so, so I’ll just really, really, really… highly recommend this:
Maser, Verena: Beautiful and Innocent Female Same-Sex Intimacy in the Japanese Yuri Genre
Click to access Maser_Beautiful_and_Innocent.pdf
Yep, a PhD thesis. Skim through to the genre history and survey crunching chapters.
Very good, not an academic-s[peak overload. Some industry insight too.
Thanks and regards
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I’ll definitely be reading this soon, thanks for recommending it.
I don’t think this is very correct since there isn’t really much BL anime ether, in fact there might even be more yuri then BL anime. so for the very least part about demographic is likely incorrect.
I don’t if you have watch Yuri Kuma Arashi, it’s from the same director than Utena and it does return to the subject of love between women. It somewhat also critic the fact that today, these kind of relationship is somewhat misinterpret and a lot of these kind of sentiment are in fact plain Lust…
It does an even better description of what is the group effect. You know, conformity to public views, even if these views are very bad if not outright dangerous.
Well, it’s not as popular as the director other works, but I do think it’s better than Utena since it’s less repetitive and it’s is clearly in your face this time around.
Some day josei yuri will become more popular. That is what I’m waiting for.
I don’t see a large volume of Yuri anime but there is what I consider some very high quality: Aoi Hana, Asagao to Kase-san, Liz and the Blu Bird, Yagate Kimi ni Naru, a fair section of Kuzu no Honkai, Revolutionary Girl Utena. No subtext to plow through, just deep honest feelings. (Sorry but Sakura Trick bored me. Overboard with the fan service.)
You said, “Yuri isn’t hated by any major groups either.”
As someone who grew up in a far, far less forgiving environment than the last 20 years and in a far less forgiving area than where I now live, I can say that THAT is a spectacular achievement. It means it is a “safe” area for studios and there is no real reason why there can’t be a lot more.
*Quality* anime specifically about realistic gay male relationships is still spectacularly rare. There’s Given and maybe Yuri on Ice – but YoI is almost all subtext. Even the final kiss was implied.
And maybe Dou kyu Sei… Sorry, but IMHO most BL anime is lacking in quality and plagued by problematic tropes.