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.