Through my time in the anime community, I’ve come to realize that yuri is an incredibly misunderstood genre. Many think of it as a parallel to BL, being made by men for men, while others see it as a field almost exclusively made up of women. Confused about this myself, I made an attempt to find serious, detailed information on the subject. Unfortunately, said information does not exist. While there is some data on the demographics of the yuri manga industry and on yuri fandom, said data is hard to find and deeply lacking. As such, I have done my best to summarize all of the information I have been able to find here, in an attempt to seriously look at the genre.
It’s a common sentiment that those outside the anime community see the entire medium as made for kids. I think it’s quite possible that this attitude is shifting alongside anime becoming more mainstream, but it’s not like there’s no truth to the idea. Animation has traditionally been seen as a medium made for children, with the sole exception of comedies. This perception has influenced anime, particularly in the West where the medium is much less popular.
Class S has become something of a pejorative, for understandable reasons. Its intense focus on intimate relationships without any clear romance or pay-off is quite outdated, and while its influence on yuri is massive, the genre is only now stepping out of its shadow. For a long time, the fact that yuri stories followed a Class S template was a very bad thing. I’m just as happy as anyone that the situation has changed, allowing for more openly queer works in the genre. But I do have a problem with people who act as if Class S is not only outdated but a total negative in every way.
The development of one’s identity is an important part of growing up. Individuals develop across their entire lives, but the foundation of one’s self is incredibly important. While details frequently change over the decades, deeply-held parts of one’s identity rarely shift. According to psychologist Erik Erikson, this identity formation occurs in adolescence during the stage of development known as identity vs. role confusion.
The West’s role in anime production is more discussed than ever. Companies like Amazon and Netflix are attempting to enter the anime streaming market, and Western corporations are showing up in the credits at an ever-increasing rate. The difficulty in finding accurate info on this topic means that misinformation is everywhere, so it can be hard to get a real sense of what role the West is playing. Fortunately, accurate info on the subject is out there, and I’ll do my best to deliver it here.
Yuri is obviously something I’m deeply interested in. I’m quite happy that the genre has undergone a shift over the last decade, leading to stories that more clearly portray their characters as queer, as well as an increase in stories that allow the characters to have sex. This is a great trend that you can see across yuri manga, but there are two recent series that really do a great job of showcasing sexuality in different ways: Flip Flappers and Kase-san.