In my last video, I covered 10 yuri manga that I think are excellent for beginners to the genre. In this one, I’ll be covering 20 that I believe are worthwhile to those who are already somewhat immersed in it. Here, I’ll be showcasing works which are lesser known, shorter, or just more out there. For those who want more tailored works, ones which are less likely to appeal to everyone but more likely to strike a specific person’s taste, this is the list for you. The ranking here is more for convenience than it is for quality or order, though the lowest ones are generally my favorites. Editing this will be a pain, so let’s stop wasting time and begin.
Number 20 is Nishio Yuuta’s After Hours. This is a manga for those of you who are after an adult-focused romance that’s neither totally comedic nor super-serious. If I were to use a specific phrase for it, I’d call it fairly chill, which is fitting given the heavy focus on music in the series. This manga stars Emi, a girl who technically hasn’t broken up with her boyfriend but is bored out of her mind after being dragged to a club by her friend, before she quickly meets Kei, a lesbian DJ who she eventually follows home, beginning some sort of relationship with her. From here, the story unfolds as Emi works out what kind of relationship she’s in, what she should do about the technically not yet ex-boyfriend, and what path she should take in her life given that she has no idea what she wants to do.
This probably sounds really similar to Octave if you watched my last video, but I can assure you that they’re very different works. After Hours doesn’t belittle its characters but a quick look at the designs in comparison to Octave should make it clear that this is a much lighter work. There’s drama here to be sure, but the general tone is fairly upbeat and there’s never any sense, to me at least, that things will work out poorly. Emi might not know what she wants to do but she clearly has a good head on her shoulders and is just having a hard time definitively making a decision. Her relationship with Kei is, while a bit messy, clearly mutually beneficial and worth supporting. Frankly, I’d compare this more to something like Girl Friends than Octave in terms of its atmosphere. If you want something with that tone while avoiding the schoolgirl tropes, then this is a manga to look at, though I can’t promise what direction it’ll go in since it isn’t done being published in the West yet.
Number 19 is Kurosada’s Husky and Medley. This one is particularly interesting because it didn’t begin as a manga, instead starting as a series of 2ch posts akin to Densha Otoko, which later got drawn by a pixiv user. It’s hard to imagine a more online-based yuri manga than that.
Naturally, this series stars Medley, a girl interested in discovering a weakness in her supposedly perfect classmate, Husky. To do this, she asks 2ch, which encourages her to get more and more forward with romantic advances. To her surprise, this works, and they clearly develop mutual crushes before they begin going out. The story doesn’t stop there, as we see how they progress once they actually begin dating and how they deal with problems like homophobia until the series ends in a fairly happy place.
Unlike many yuri manga, Husky and Medley is forced, by the nature of its truthfulness, to deal with things that most manga don’t. In many senses, I’d compare it to an even more realistic version of Prism, as the series tackles sex, orientation, homophobia, and more. Realistic and naturalistic are certainly the words to use. It’s hardly the most pretty manga, given that it was just illustrated for fun by a pixiv user, but it gets the job done and brings the story to life.
Husky and Medley are absurdly cute, and they’re made even better with the knowledge that this is not only a true story but one that hasn’t ever ended. They’re still together, they run a twitter which offers updates on their situation, and Husky has returned to 2ch before to describe what’s happened in the years since. They’re clearly in a happy and healthy relationship to this day. Knowing that makes the story itself even better. It’s hard to pass up a real-life love story where you know the couple is going to end up together and stay that way. Its premise might seem a bit far-fetched, but this is the real deal.
Number 18 is Kurata Uso’s Linkage. This is the first of a number of manga that I’ll be highlighting this time which are not singular stories but instead a collection of various one-shot chapters. As such, it’s a bit harder to describe the individual plots, so I’ll instead go into more detail about what makes it work so well as a collection. I also have to warn you that I can’t vouch for every story in here. Make sure to read the tags before you look at these because stuff like incest or age gaps often come up in a single story of these collections but not all of them.
As the name suggests, Linkage does a great job at showing the way people are connected through their romantic feelings. There are two stories in the anthology that I particularly want to highlight for this purpose. The first is the eponymous Linkage, which focuses on the connection between an android and her creator, as the creator’s influence slowly causes the android to develop feelings for her, before the creator’s superiors decide that this, as homosexual love, is a bug which needs to be fixed. The creator, of course, does not accept this and takes this romantic connection between them and uses it to save her beloved android.
The second story I want to highlight is Present, which stars a girl who’s feared for her appearance despite being soft and kind on the inside. She falls in love with a blind girl, the only person willing to treat her fairly, as she can’t see her. As the girl gets a chance to have her vision restored — in a somewhat hard-to-believe fashion — our lead is conflicted between her desire to see her beloved happy and her feelings that she’ll be cast away once the girl’s sight is regained. The conclusion to this one is excellent and it’s just a really sweet story about recognizing your own self-worth.
The other chapters in this collection are a fun read as well. Like the two I focused on, they all do a good job at highlighting the way our connections and love can make us better people, more able to see both ourselves and the world at large for what it truly is. It’s a very feelings-focused collection, so if that’s your kind of thing then it’s a pretty great read.
Number 17 is Fujieda Miyabi’s Chatting at the Amber Teahouse. This is an adorable iyashikei-esque yuri romance, though it’s worth noting before you go into it that the main couple has an age gap.
Its main character of sorts, Sarasa, is a high school girl who frequented the titular cafe before beginning to work there in an effort to get closer to its owner, Seriho, who she’s in love with. In the process, Sarasa begins to make the cafe an actually profitable shop while progressing in her goal to eventually confess to Seriho.
As I said, this is a very iyashikei-esque manga. Not much happens in the average chapter; it’s mostly just cute and soothing. The only reason I wouldn’t call it an iyashikei outright is the fact that the leads’ feelings toward each other are always somewhat relevant and do progress as the series goes along. But if you want some serious age gap drama, this is not the manga to look for. I’d more highly recommend this to fans of slice-of-life anime, especially works like Gochiusa or Flying Witch, as its mood most often feels like a cross between those two.
Of course, Sarasa and Seriho aren’t the only couple in the series. Numerous girls come to visit the teahouse and as far as I can remember, all of them are gay. Characters from Fujieda’s other manga sometimes show up, as do other couples. For instance, at one point a couple of elderly women visit the shop. It’s all very nice and contributes to the warm and healing atmosphere that the series is clearly meant to evoke. This is no masterpiece of writing, but the romance is well-done and cute, so if you’re a fan of slice-of-life and not opposed to age gaps, then this is a worthwhile read. Fujieda’s other manga are also worth checking out. I particularly recommend Iono the Fanatics which I was very tempted to put in this spot instead, only just avoiding that because I was in more of a slice-of-life mood at the time of writing.
Number 16 is Otsu Hiyori’s Your Cuteness, or, Kawaii Anata. Another collection, this is a somewhat bittersweet anthology with a number of tragic stories, though it has one which stands out as one of my favorite yuri one-shots of all time. Said story is the titular ‘Your Cuteness’, where the main character feels upset over the fact that she isn’t traditionally cute, while her girlfriend does her best to convince her that she is in her eyes.
The other stories in the book are worth reading, but it’s that story which stands out to me. As a trans girl, the idea of feeling like I’m just not cute enough is not foreign to me. Validation from those I care about can be very important at times, so the final shot of the main character dressed as a princess instead of as a prince with the help of her girlfriend was fantastic and easily stands as one of my absolute favorite moments in any one-shot.
However, the ultimate reason I picked this manga for number 16 is not because of the manga itself but more because of its author. Otsu Hiyori is excellent but I had no idea which of her collections I wanted to go with so I settled on this one. It was a hard decision. All of her collections are great and I’d recommend every one of them.
Aqua Blue Cinema is one of her few yuri manga which has a singular narrative. It focuses on an actress and the girl she falls in love with after breaking up with her former girlfriend. It’s a very sweet one-volume manga which is fairly tropey but has the solid writing necessary to back it up. Notably, it deals with cohabitation, something I always like to see.
Clover is an anthology focusing on the relationships of four sisters. These relationships vary in how romantic they are and in how happily they end, but it’s certainly worth reading, especially because the connected nature of the work means it’s worth coming back to.
Orange & Yellow alongside some of her other one-shots and Othello are also worth looking at if you’re a fan of her work. Othello is particularly interesting since it deals with college students and meaningfully coming to terms with your sexual orientation.
Number 15 is walkingnorth’s Always Human. Now, this is cheating. Always Human is a western webcomic, not a manga. That said, it’s focused on the relationship between two girls and is so good that I had to include it anyway, as otherwise, I’d never really get a chance to talk about it on my channel.
Always Human is set in a far future where humans have gained the ability to alter themselves through technology known as ‘mods’. With this premise, it stars Sunati, a VR developer, who falls in love with Austen, a university student who stands out for her lack of mod usage. We quickly learn that this is because Austen is biologically incapable of using them in the first place, and the ways this influences her and how she’s seen contributes to some of the many things we observe as their relationship progresses.
Always Human is wonderful in every way. The art is fantastic and colorful, something you’re obviously not going to be seeing in actual manga. Almost every chapter comes with music alongside it, which makes it way easier to get into the right mood. It’s got a great diversity of characters, both in the sense that it has all sorts of people and in the sense that its characters belong to diverse ethnicities and gender identities given the increased freedom to alter one’s body in this setting.
But what stands out the most about this comic is just how good of a job it does at handling its central plot. Sunati and Austen’s relationship is not always easy-going. At times, they get into very serious fights, and their personalities actually clash as well. They have disagreements, not over silly misunderstandings but because they both feel strongly about the choices they want to make and that can lead to legitimate problems. At the same time, they work well together and, in the end, always manage to work things out in a way which works the best for their own lives. This is a story that’s very focused on how being in a relationship is important, but being yourself and expressing your individuality is equally so. I’d recommend this to absolutely anyone who’s willing to read a Western webcomic. Every yuri fan I’ve shown it to has loved it, and while I don’t know if that’ll hold up from here onwards, it’s certainly worth a look.
Number 14 is Matsushita Mai’s Rainbow Secret. This is another collection. I picked this one because it does an absolutely excellent job of fleshing out its characters in each one-shot and having them act like intelligent people who care about the relationships they’re in.
Once again, there are two stories I particularly want to highlight. The first is Fizzing Soda, a Summer Motif. As the title indicates, it focuses on a pair of girlfriends during their summer break, primarily being set at a pool where they’re spending their time together. This one’s pretty cute but it stands out because of the great communication between the two. One of the girls is somewhat nervous about the two of them having sex, so fortunately, like a good person, her girlfriend is understanding of this and encourages her to express herself while also comforting her and making it clear that she can decide on her own time. This isn’t that uncommon for longer works, but the way it’s done here is excellent. The titular fizzing soda motif works well to emphasize the youthful love of summer and the sense of body language and sexual tension gets close to Kase-san levels of amazing.
The other I’d like to talk about is I Don’t Know the Melting Point of Sugar Glass. In this story, a girl worries that her friend only started to go out with her in order to maintain their relationship and not out of a genuinely mutual romantic attraction to her. This is quite an understandable worry, especially given the fact that she had no reason to believe her friend liked girls, but like the previous story, it ends happily due to some healthy communication. Seriously, you don’t know how often I want to have communication solve a couple’s problems.
The other stories are great too and generally have the same positive points. The sole exception to this is You Are Mine which focuses on a relationship with a lack of healthy communication, and thus is my least favorite out of the anthology. It’s still worth reading all of them though, especially given how fantastic the art is. Matsushita’s other one-shots are also worth a look.
Number 13 is Tamamusi’s Bright and Cheery Amnesia, or, Akarui Kioku Soushitsu. In this manga, Arisa wakes up having lost her memories of the last three years, a period over which she fell in love with and began dating her girlfriend, Mari. Mari is worried that, with that amnesia, she’ll have lost her love for her, though it turns out that’s not the case and her feelings are just as strong from the first moment she lays her eyes on her.
Primarily, this series is a comedy. It is a 4-koma after all. And in that role, it does a good job. It’s quite funny, using Arisa’s amnesia to turn her from a clear top who lead their relationship to a bumbling disaster lesbian who has no idea what she’s doing at all. From here, you get a lot of situational comedy, like Arisa having no clue what she’s supposed to be doing in regards to any vaguely sexual experience, or the fact that she totally forgot certain people in her life. Mari is also a strong part of the series, as she initially comes across as a somewhat stoic character before it’s more and more clearly revealed that she’s fairly needy, though in a pretty cute way.
That said, what makes the series really work is that it manages to deal with some serious stuff despite being a comedy. For instance, coming out is a real problem here and it’s treated the way it would be in real life. Arisa and Mari are out to some people, but not everyone, and Arisa’s amnesia causes some serious problems in her ability to recognize whether or not she’s supposed to reveal their relationship in a given scenario. A problem with a lot of media, both Western and Japanese, is that it treats being out as binary. The truth, of course, is that people are out to those around them on a varying basis, and it’s good to see that in a manga, especially one as focused on comedy as this. The whole series is like this, dealing with serious problems but also staying light and funny.
Number 12 is Hakamada Mera’s Salomelic. In this story, a girl named Salome frequently moves with her mother. Because of this, and the fact that she’s a witch, she’s learned not to get too close to other students, as they can never be trusted. That is, until a girl named Hikari tries to befriend her. Salome remains suspicious, but she begins to fall in love with Hikari, which has a serious effect on her life.
This is a cute story about opening up to others, not being afraid of your differences and growing up. That said, the real reason I’m highlighting it is, once again, to shine a spotlight on the mangaka. This is the least trope-heavy of her manga, so I figured it deserved this spot, but I’m going to highlight some of her other manga because, if you can get used to her art style, she’s got a bunch of great stories.
The Last Uniform, at 3 volumes, is her longest and strongest work. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to call it a love dodecahedron schoolgirl yuri manga. Like many works, it takes place at an all-girls school and focuses on the many girls who have feelings for one another. Notably, though, it consciously avoids getting too Class S-heavy by introducing male characters and having them be considered as serious options by some of the girls. Like all series with a massive number of love triangles, it won’t end happily for everyone, but the characters are pretty well fleshed out and I was happy with the final couples.
President and Vice-President is, as the name suggests, a cute but dramatic romance about the heads of the student council. They fall in love with one another but neither believes that said love can be reciprocated. Of course, it eventually is, and they manage to make each others’ lives better.
Her other works are worth checking out as well, though it’s probably worth pointing out that Her World has some sexual assault in it, so just be aware of that before you go in. Her art might take a bit of adjusting to, but I definitely believe it’s worth it.
Number 11 is Yoshimura Kana’s Murcielago. I’m going to be incredibly up-front on this: Murcielago is, in many ways, a disgusting manga. The main character, Kuroko, is a mass murderer, someone who’s likely to have gotten the death penalty by now if she weren’t working for the government to take down other dangerous threats. She’s a bit of a pedophile who’s constantly fucking other women despite the protests of the closest thing she has to a girlfriend. In other words, she’s not a great person. The art works alongside this, as it’s very grotesque and communicates the nastiness of the world this manga is set in. There’s plenty of gore and rape abound and it’s all treated in a very casual manner that would understandably upset a lot of people. Even I’m disgusted at times and I have a fairly high tolerance for this kind of thing. If you’re at all sensitive to those things, to any degree, do not read this manga.
But damn if it isn’t a fun read most of the time. The manga basically takes a battle shounen structure, where each arc Kuroko has to deal with a new case and new opponents with it. Some of these are really interesting, some of them not so much, but I can’t say I’m ever truly bored when reading it.
Now, it’s obviously an action manga above a yuri one. That said, Kuroko is a lesbian who has sex with almost every woman she can. This is often portrayed quite openly on the page, which is another thing to be aware of. At times, this is just a side-thing, though, at others, her various lovers can become quite relevant to the plot, so I’m comfortable calling this a yuri manga. That said, and I have to reiterate this once again just so it’s clear, do not read this for the romance. It’s not totally absent, but it’s not worth it. If you don’t like or at the very least aren’t able to tolerate everything I’ve mentioned, then this isn’t the work for you. But if you just wanna see a badass lesbian go around killing people, then this is a pretty great work.
Another manga to check out if you like this is Gamma, which is a lot more optimistic and a lot less grotesque, but still very problematic and action-oriented for a yuri series. I can’t say which I prefer but I have a feeling they’d have similar fanbases.
Number 10 is Kumichou’s Out of the Blue, or, I Love You Yori Aishiteru. This is a really cute and funny one. When the recently transferred honor student Risa is being bullied by some of her classmates for being too popular, a delinquent named Kazumi forces the bullies to run off. Kazumi later asks Risa for help with studying and reveals herself to be a cute and kind girl who wants to make friends. Risa falls in love with her due to this and quickly decides that if their relationship is going to go anywhere, she’s going to have to go against her archetype and become the aggressive one in this relationship.
Like I said, this manga is both cute and funny. It’s cute in its subversion of tropes, common as it may be. I always love when the delinquent girl is a lot kinder than you’d first assume. Kazumi isn’t a bad person in any way, she just gets into a lot of fights and presents herself in a manner that makes others afraid of her. The willingness of the intelligent honor student to not just be aggressive in a relationship with her but to actively pursue her at every moment makes for a very fun dynamic. Their progression is especially great, mostly because Kazumi’s lack of friendship over the years makes it hard for her to tell how she’s supposed to handle any sort of relationship.
It’s also very funny, in that the manga knows how to use its relationship dynamic to good effect. Risa’s willingness to be forward is frequently played for laughs. For instance, in the second chapter, Kazumi is lead to believe that Risa kissed her in her sleep, which leaves her quite confused. The joke, of course, is that Risa never did such a thing at all, as she’s far too interested in being honest with her feelings to do something as cowardly and unbecoming as kissing someone in their sleep.
But this never distracts from the strength of the characters. Risa, despite being aggressive, makes it clear that it’s Kazumi’s open acceptance of her that lets her truly be herself in this relationship. Basically, it’s adorable and mutually beneficial, which I’d think is quite obviously my thing at this point.
Number 9 is Nishi Uko’s Tonari no Robot. This is another story about an android loving a human, though this one takes an approach I’m not sure I’ve seen before. Unlike most stories of its type, it isn’t necessarily about an android falling in love. No, our android protagonist Hiro has loved her potential partner, Chika, for quite a while. Instead, this manga tries to explore in depth the difference between love from a human standpoint and love from an android standpoint. Hiro’s growth comes in the form of better understanding her own feelings and asserting them more strongly, while Chika tries to work out how she should feel about being in love with an android who experiences things in such a different way.
This is probably the most interesting an android x human story can get, at least one that’s only a volume in length. By totally doing away with the question of “can an android experience love?” and instead asking “what does it mean for an android to experience love?” we get to explore some much more interesting ideas. For instance, Hiro’s love is definitively different from a human’s and stays that way through the ending. But there are commonalities as well, ones worth paying attention to, to the point that what she feels for Chika can still be called love. If love is based on attachment, on wanting to spend time with someone, on caring about their well-being, then surely, Hiro is in love with Chika.
As I said, the story is also very much about Chika. For a long while, she’s hesitant, because while she loves Hiro she also worries that her feelings can’t truly be reciprocated. When you mix in the fact that Hiro is an experimental subject, not a person with full autonomy, things get very complicated. She’s eventually able to accept that Hiro loves her, but it takes a lot of work to get there.
This manga is absolutely worth reading if you want a romance of a sort that you’ve never read before, or if you want a okmanga that seriously deals with sci-fi ideas while also being a great yuri romance. And if you like this, check out Nishi Uko’s other works, as she’s writing some of the most interesting yuri out right now, with a heavy focus on adult characters. I particularly recommend her manga Collectors.
Number 8 is Sato’s Fragtime. In this story, our lead Moriya has the ability to stop time, which she uses to make her life a bit more interesting and to somewhat voyeuristically look at what those around her are doing. One day, she uses her power to peek up the skirt of the beautiful and popular Murakami, only to discover that Murakami is the only one unaffected by her power. Moriya is suddenly put in a very compromising situation, one in which she has to act according to Murakami’s wishes lest she be outed.
Of course, this is just the setup. The real meat of the manga is how it handles adolescent social dynamics, the way we hide our true selves to the point we don’t even recognize them, and as is so common in the series I’ve been highlighting, the power that offering your love to someone can have. Murakami is, to the class at large, a popular and near-perfect girl, but she’s not representing her true self in the slightest and is absolutely miserable in her position. She idolizes Moriya because Moriya is capable of acting out her true desires even when it leaves her isolated and lonely, though even she needs powers to truly express parts of herself, such as her lesbianism.
Their relationship starts from a pretty unhealthy place, with Murakami mostly using Moriya so that she can act as she wishes without having to pay close attention to her social standing. As the series progresses, she comes to appreciate Moriya to a greater extent, finding more and more power within herself to actively resist peer pressure and behave as she wants. At the same time, Murakami begins to lose her powers and has to confront the fact that she’s going to need to get better at expressing herself openly without the fallback of stopping time. This is a series that really understands how harmful adolescent social dynamics can be, especially to queer people. For another work along these lines, check out Inside Mari, which might not look like yuri at first but trust me, that manga is worth it as well.
Number 7 is Amano Shuninta’s The Feelings We All Must Endure. Set at a college, this is another adult-focused series along the lines of something like Octave. However, this is definitely the most serious and mature of all the manga I’m going to be recommending. Its relationships are all absurdly messy, none of them work out the way you’d hope, people cheat multiple times, and it’s just not all that happy.
That said, it does a great job at what it’s trying to do, and whether or not you enjoy it will probably come down to whether or not you appreciate what it’s going for in the first place. This is a series about how love isn’t always enough to make you power through and have a healthy relationship, about how our conflicting feelings can lead to morally objectionable decisions that just aren’t good for us. It makes it clear why people might cheat on their partners without ever justifying that. This isn’t a manga I’d want to read in most moods, and I’m not likely to re-read it just because I tend to prefer fiction which is more optimistic. But it’s not totally pessimistic and it manages to tackle some really interesting stuff. For instance, there’s an ace character, a character who not only has body image issues but an actual eating disorder, and a playgirl who is used by other characters to cheat on their partners while never being explicitly vilified or congratulated for this.
Shuninta’s other works are also worth a look. Philosophia is perhaps even darker than this, but the rest of her manga are much lighter fare. Ayame 14 is a fun book about an adolescent girl coming to terms with her sexuality, though it might show her masturbation just a bit too much for some people’s comfort. Sweet Guilty Love Bites is a great collection about a number of girls who work at a hostess club. And Yumekui Sanctuary is a fun, somewhat pornographic collection of various women getting involved in different sexual scenarios at a singular bathhouse. Her works are often challenging but just as often funny. It’s her focus on adults that stand out the most clearly and that’s likely the biggest selling point to a number of people, though she doesn’t totally avoid schoolgirls either.
Number 6 is Imamura Youko’s The Real Her, or, Honto no Kanojo. In this rom-com manga, Moe confesses to her popular friend Yuuka. Yuuka turns her down, but contrary to what she expected, Moe is a massive masochist who enjoys being berated by her. Not only that, but Moe is aware that Yuuka’s true personality is hardly the popular and kind persona she puts on for the rest of her classmates. As the series goes on, she comes to love Moe’s acceptance of her true self and eventually realizes that she doesn’t mind being a bit sadistic to her either.
Like I said, this is a rom-com, perhaps more than any other manga I’ve recommended. It’s very focused on developing the romance each chapter but it’s also devoted to making the reader laugh. Their contrasting characters are mostly used for comedy, especially whenever Moe’s masochism becomes over-the-top, and even moments of development like Yuuka falling more and more in love with Moe are often used to generate some humor.
But at the same time, it doesn’t slack on the romance. In chapter one, Moe says that the point about Yuuka she loves the most is that, when she got turned down, it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she’s a girl. Yuuka isn’t against dating her on principle, but merely because she initially doesn’t believe herself to be in love and, as time goes on, feels some resistance to being in such an openly weird relationship. As that hesitance breaks down, she allows herself to more openly care about Moe, though often in ways that Moe would find appealing. Because of this, their romance is consistently cute even to someone who’s not remotely interested in a sadomasochistic relationship. These two leads somehow ended up making this one of my favorite yuri manga, despite the fact that it doesn’t seem to do anything special from the outside, so it’s definitely worth a look for you if the premise isn’t inherently off-putting.
Number 5 is Tan Jiu’s Their Story. Once again, this is cheating, since it’s Chinese and not Japanese, but I’d be remiss to exclude it. I haven’t gotten that deep into Chinese or Korean yuri yet, only having read a few such works, but even among Japanese series, Their Story is one of my absolute favorites. It stars Sun Jing, a very attractive butch girl who falls in love with the beautiful Qiu Tong at first sight. From here, it slowly chronicles their relationship, with their eventual getting together being a foregone conclusion that many of the artist’s side drawings back up.
This is a very slow series. I’ve been reading it for at least 2 years now, probably 3, and only so much progress has been made. Many chapters focus on side characters, the release rate can be inconsistent, and even when it’s focused on the two leads, we don’t always see any actual progress. I’d be willing to guess that a good half of chapters are just focused on cute or funny moments in their lives. That said, I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. When you have to wait 2 weeks and you don’t get a real continuation of the plot, it can be a bit annoying, but in the long-term, it helps to make the entire cast more interesting. This is a very down-to-earth romance, something I appreciate. I’ll always value a nice journey more than a quick arrival at the destination.
Sun Jing and Qiu Tong are amazing together. Their interactions are often funny, as Sun Jing does her best to impress Qiu Tong or softly manipulate her into a romantic moment, while Qiu Tong is hardly the incredibly naive girl you’d expect given her very ‘proper’ looking design. Not to say she isn’t dense in regards to love, she definitely is, but somewhat believably so. Sun Jing pretty clearly knew she was gay before falling for Qiu Tong, while Qiu Tong herself had no idea.
At a certain point, after Sun Jing confesses, the dynamics change. Here, I believe, is where the series gets even better. Qiu Tong, now aware of Sun Jing’s feelings, has to start considering the meaning of her own feelings while also remaining friends with Sun Jing. It’s nothing you’ve never seen before, hell, it’s nothing that hasn’t been on this list already, but it’s just done so well. When you mix that with the great art, you get a series that deserves to be on this list even if it technically doesn’t qualify as a manga.
Number 4 is Dowman Sayman’s Oddman 11. Dowman Sayman is best known for his work on The Voynich Hotel, but all of his works are both weird as fuck and absolutely fantastic. Oddman 11 stars Setsu, a girl who theoretically has a crush on a boy named Itami, one of 11 Oddmen at the school. To date him, she has to act as Scott Pilgrim and challenge the other 10, all of whom were Itami’s girlfriend at one point or another. Now, this may not seem like a yuri series from how I describe it, but that’s where you’d be wrong. Setsu is, as I said, theoretically into Itami, but her attraction to him is basically totally ignored beyond its ability to move the plot forward. She shows no serious interest in him for any actual traits and I’d be blown away if that actually went anywhere. And when Setsu defeats one of the other Oddmen, they almost always fall in love with her.
I mentioned that Sayman’s works are weird and damn if this isn’t weird. All of the Oddmen have unique traits about themselves which generally seem to be a massive hindrance but which certainly make them interesting and fun characters. The two Oddmen who are most in love with Setsu and have the biggest actual chances of winning, Shiraishi and Fujou, have the traits of being absurdly into sex and being totally unclean at all times, respectively. These two are by far the ones who most often challenge each other for the top spot in Setsu’s harem, a harem she doesn’t have any real problem with keeping around. While she’s as of yet unwilling to have sex with any of them, the main two have kissed her and more at various points.
Frankly, I’m not sure how well I can actually recommend this manga. It’s just too out there for the general audience and I’m not sure that most yuri fans would enjoy it due to the fact that Setsu’s goal is theoretically a het relationship. But through its bizarreness, it manages to actually be very sincere at times. Setsu is the first person since Itami to accept some of these Oddmen, and that means a lot to them. I have no idea how this series is going to end, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Setsu’s harem became an actual harem very soon, given that most of the members don’t seem too opposed to the idea. Either way, just try it out if it sounds up your alley.
Number 3 is Ueo Hisamitsu’s Qualia the Purple. This one is hard to describe without spoiling the whole thing, because so much of why I love it comes down to the directions it goes, but given that those directions are totally unexpected in every way, I can’t exactly talk about them in depth. To do my best, this series stars Gaku, a girl who befriended her classmate Yukari after accidentally bumping into her and kissing her. Yukari has beautiful purple eyes and those eyes happen to see all living things as robots. Not in some metaphorical sense, no, she literally does not see human beings as humans, but instead as mecha with various components. If someone’s a fast runner, she can see the boosters on their legs. If someone’s good at predicting the weather, she can see a sensor for that on them. Gaku has a hard time believing this at first, but she accepts it from the girl she cares so much about.
From here, the plot really starts going. I’ve got to warn that it gets very violent at multiple places, so if some moderate gore is a turn-off for you, then don’t read this manga. As the first volume goes on the series gets quite philosophical and actually asks the necessary questions about how Yukari’s powers work and what that would mean for the world at large. Once that volume ends, things take a massive turn, and we begin to go in-depth with some serious sci-fi concepts that to me, as someone who knows nothing about quantum physics, sounded legitimate enough to believe are at least vaguely based in reality, even if the series does things with those concepts which wouldn’t actually work.
Eventually, the manga becomes a truly epic love story, one which drives some of its characters to commit disgusting acts in order to achieve their goals. Again, I’m sorry for being vague here, but unlike many series on this list, even light spoilers could really influence how you perceive the work because the direction it goes in is so incredibly unexpected and unlike anything else I’ve really read. The best thing I can compare it to is Serial Experiments Lain mixed with more quantum physics and an increase in the amount of yuri. I can’t say much more than that, but please, just go read this manga. The only reason I didn’t put it as number 1 is that I can’t adequately describe the work. It’s an absolute masterpiece and is easily one of my favorite manga overall. Everything ties together perfectly and I knocked out its three volumes in one afternoon, something I rarely do, especially with text-heavy works. It’s absolutely worth it.
Number 2 is Ohana Holoholo. I’ve got to be honest with you. This one would be number 1 if it were fully translated into English. I couldn’t wait, so I bought and read the Japanese releases, and I can promise you that someday, when it’s fully translated, this’ll be a work that absolutely no yuri fan can miss. It focuses on two bisexual women, Saya and Michiru, who were once dating before Michiru disappeared. When she met Saya again after having a kid and becoming a widow, they decided to once again move in together, while specifically not re-entering their relationship. This obviously creates a somewhat tense and awkward situation but their love for Michiru’s son, Yuuta, is the element which stands out the most through the entire series.
Michiru begins this manga as a bad person. She frequently runs away, makes little-to-no attempt to contribute, and frankly has Saya acting as more of a mother than she is despite the fact that she has far fewer responsibilities. This could be a dealbreaker and I’d totally get that. Michiru would upset even the staunchest defenders of Octave’s Yukino. She’s just an outright toxic person to be around at the start of the manga. But as time goes on, Michiru realizes that she needs to begin taking responsibility in her life, that not only Yuuta but Saya deserves a better family member. This is a series about them becoming a functional family, working beyond their traumatic pasts and building a future together as best they can, for all of their sakes.
Something that constantly struck me as I read this is that it has to be manga. The paneling is very precise and goes far beyond the ordinary grid layouts that most series use. The art is delicate and detailed. Certain pages work well entirely because of their ability to use black space and would be totally ruined by the presence of color. I love reading works like this, as they make it apparent to me why I’m reading a manga and not a novel. A series that doesn’t do this can still be worthwhile, but one that does can be a masterpiece. And that’s exactly what Ohana Holoholo is. Plus, there’s enough evidence to believe that Saya might be a trans woman, so that’s cool too. Though be aware that the characters are bi and express attraction to both men and women throughout the work.
And lastly, number 1 is Amagakure Gido’s I’ll Send Her Home on the Last Train, or, Shuuden ni wa Kaeshimasu. This is another collection but it absolutely deserves this top spot. It’s schoolgirl yuri to be sure, nothing you haven’t seen if you care enough about the genre to have made it all the way through this video. But it nails absolutely everything and has at least three of my favorite stories in yuri that are less than a volume in length.
The titular story is actually a two-shot, though that obviously doesn’t diminish it in any way. Our main character, Seto, has a plan for becoming absurdly successful in life and thus not having to do anything in the future. Funnily enough, she does this by putting in massive amounts of effort, but she never shows any lack of confidence in her ideas. When a kouhai, Tsune, warns her that a guy was trying to look up her skirt on the train, she finds herself unable to express her gratitude, which she promptly does the next time they meet. They grow closer and closer, both physically and emotionally, and Seto’s relationship with her becomes increasingly based on a real fondness, becoming on equal footing. By the end of the first chapter, she’s seriously in love. The next chapter has them actually work this out. It’s magnificent and I’d rank this story alone as better than the vast majority of full-length schoolgirl yuri manga.
But that’s not even the best story in the anthology. No, it gets better. Ephemeral Asterism is a pretty traditional love triangle but it’s one of my favorites that I’ve ever read. It treats all of their feelings seriously, doesn’t belittle anyone, and accepts the fact that they can actually be friends with one another even if they are in an impossible to resolve romantic situation. I’m not saying a situation like this couldn’t ruin their friendship, but it’s fantastic to see it not do so. I’m so starved for healthy relationships even when there’s complex feelings abound and this one-shot delivers.
And then there’s Forever Girls. What a fucking masterpiece this is. Do I have a single yuri one-shot I like more than this? I can’t be sure, but I don’t think so. This story of a ghost girl falling in love with the one girl who can see her is brilliant and the paths it takes in its short 24 pages is amazing. In a span of 4 pages, I went from bawling at how sad the events were to bawling at how happy the ending was. I don’t want to say too much because I feel like you can get spoiled despite its short length but jeez. This thing is perfect. And this anthology is one of my absolute favorites, rare as that is for me to say. I tend to think length will help most works which are actually good, but this one didn’t need that. All of its stories are brilliant in their compactness. It’s not that you should read this manga. You must read this manga. And also, read the mangaka’s other yuri one-shot, I’m A Fool. You can basically view it as a part of this collection, given that it easily stands up to any of the other stories in here.
Well, that was a lot of work. It took me a good 6 hours to write this and even longer to edit it. But I hope you enjoyed all these recommendations. It’s unlikely that there’s enough yuri I care about to write another one of these, but my yuri videos obviously aren’t going to stop in general. I’d be glad if you read even a few of these works thanks to this video.