Outright yuri anime aren’t particularly common but anime with some degree of yuri in them certainly are. From light subtext to lesbian side-characters, the genre has at least a bit of representation in every season of anime, though not always in a positive sense. That said, it can be hard to know which shows have some amount of yuri without watching all of them and it can be even harder to know which works are actually good from that selection. So, I decided that in my role as the foremost yuri anituber, I may as well make a round-up of yuri this spring season. Given that I hardly had the time to watch and finish everything, I will be relying on knowledge from others for a few of the shows I’ll be talking about.
Before I actually begin, I encourage you to watch my most recent video, a full retrospective on Kunihiko Ikuhara. It took an entire year’s worth of work and given how important Ikuhara is to yuri, I think you should give it a shot if you’re watching this video. At the very least, you’ll end up watching the longest fully edited anime analysis video to date. Anyway, let’s dig into these shows, starting with the ones that I wouldn’t recommend watching if you’re interested in both yuri and well-made anime. There’ll be light spoilers of course, though I’ll try not to say too much. If a show will be significantly spoiled in the process of explaining what it does, I’ll splash something on the screen beforehand to make it clear.
Let’s start with Love To-Lie Angle. Adapted from a Comic Yuri Hime manga, it’s quite explicitly yuri. As an ecchi harem, it’s a sort of show that we don’t often get in this genre space, so it would be understandable to get excited for it. That said, it’s only 3-minutes, leaving the episodes with no time to breathe. As a result, the jokes almost never land, the show is unable to sell the fanservicey moments, and the characters end up less developed than a bit player in a 30 second PV. I’d love to say the art or animation could still make it worthwhile but unfortunately, that wouldn’t be truthful. The manga is pretty fun though, so if the base concept sounds interesting to you, that may be worth a look.
Crossing Time is another 3-minute short. This show is actually much more suited to that role and is honestly a pretty good time. That said, in terms of yuri, it’s not exactly stand-out. The first and final episodes focus on a cute schoolgirl almost-couple, with explicit confessions in both, though the other 10 episodes are either het or totally non-romantic. These two episodes are good, though nothing you’ve never read before in manga form. I’d at least suggest watching the pair of them if you just want to see any animated yuri but I couldn’t recommend the entire show on that basis.
Darling in the Franxx has been known for quite a while to have one lesbian character: Ikuno. Throughout the show, there’s been a ton of buildup, constantly hinting at her feelings towards Ichigo. It would be reasonable to expect that, given all the focus her queerness got, she’d get an episode personally dedicated to her or something of the sort. Unfortunately, the pay-off to this entire side arc was a short scene in an episode primarily centered on other characters. The scene was fine — though it is somewhat off-putting to imply that a heterosexual crush is on the same level as seeing yourself as abnormal due to being queer — but it wasn’t nearly enough given the amount of buildup. I guess I can see why, given how bad certain people are at detecting and accepting subtext but it is a shame, so I definitely can’t recommend this show on that basis, especially since the result of this decision is Ikuno having next-to-no personality.
Amanchu Advance is the second season to Amanchu, a show I easily would have recommended to yuri fans. It focused on the budding relationship between two girls, showing how they helped each other deal with their anxieties and issues with communication, eventually culminating in mutual confessions. Advance, unfortunately, succeeds at none of this. It’s a less focused narrative, without a clear throughline like that of the first season, which just makes it a less engaging watch. Teko and Pikari, the main characters, are still clearly into each other but it goes nowhere.
What really makes it bad though is the events of episode 11. In this season, a young kid named Kokoro is introduced, who Pikari quickly comes to like. Teko is jealous of them, so she constantly tries to ensure that Pikari will pay attention to her. A bit silly to be jealous of a kid, for sure, but it makes sense given how much Teko loves Pikari and how serious a problem her anxiety can be. At one point, Teko and Kokoro even compete to see who will get a kiss from Pikari. This wouldn’t be a great development if it stopped here but it would be fine. The real problem is that eventually, Kokoro is revealed to be a boy. Teko is immediately no longer jealous, as she sees Kokoro’s role as different from her own with his gender now revealed, declaring that his love is different from hers because he’s a boy.
Some have tried to play this off as Teko just humoring Kokoro and saying something inelegant in the moment, which would make sense given her anxious personality. Except it actually doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, as she’s very clearly no longer jealous. If she really was intended to have romantic feelings for Pikari, her jealousy would be the same whether Kokoro was male or female and learning his gender wouldn’t have had any effect on its presence. Furthermore, future manga developments make it pretty clear that Kokoro is meant to be seen as a serious romantic choice for Pikari. It’s unfortunate but the show really did shoot down the yuri with a statement that I can only describe as incredibly insensitive at best. This whole thing just compounds on the other elements that make this season a step down. Check out season 1, it’s still a great iyashikei with ample gay moments, but this season gets a hard pass from a yuri perspective.
Hisone to Maso-tan is definitely not a show I can recommend to yuri fans. It’s incredibly het and has what can best be described as a “poor” handling of sexual harassment. That said, it is worth mentioning, since one of the female characters is clearly shown to have loved another girl back in her youth. Unfortunately, this is an instance where “bury your gays” is in full effect and while it’s well-written, thematically appropriate, and emotionally poignant in the show, I can’t help but find it a shame given the broader pervasive trend it’s a part of. Still, worth mentioning.
Mahou Shoujo Ore is another show I can’t exactly recommend for the yuri. The main character Saki’s best friend, Sakuyo, has a massive crush on her that she openly admits to. However, this is mostly played for laughs and doesn’t really go anywhere. At the very least, it doesn’t have Sakuyo fall in love with a guy at any point, so that’s a plus but it’s quite a minor one.
Mahou Shoujo Site is a show I probably could recommend solely for the yuri, although given the fact that I dropped the series due to how strongly I disliked it, you probably shouldn’t take that from me. While I mostly find the show to be an annoying, boring edge-fest that says little of value — though you can check out Lachlan’s video for a different perspective — it is supremely gay. The main two characters, Aya and Yatsumura are quite romantic, engaging in activities that range from sleeping together, holding hands, and staring into each others’ eyes, to outright declaring their love by the end. Hell, in the manga they even kiss. Again, can’t say I recommend the show but if it seems at all up your alley then it’s a good watch for a yuri fan.
SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online is a show that’s definitely very easy to read yuri into, in addition to just being a fun time. Not only is there an explicitly bi girl at one point, the relationship between the main two characters, Llenn and Pitohui, definitely has a good bit of subtext beneath it. I wouldn’t say there’s quite enough there for me to explicitly recommend the show on that basis, even though I enjoy it quite a bit but if you don’t need your yuri to be all that blatant then I think it’s absolutely something you should check out.
Lastly, as far as shows I can’t recommend go, there’s two that I haven’t watched but still feel inclined to mention. The first is Lostorage Conflated Wixoss. I dropped the first season of Lostorage because it just wasn’t very good but the original Wixoss had plenty of yuri and given that the main characters of that returned for this season, I have reason to believe it’s at least somewhat gay. There’s also Toji no Miko, a show I’ve watched exactly 0 episodes of but which I know for a fact has yuri, fitting given its very mid-2000s style. Anyway, since I can’t really advise as to the quality or content of these two, watch them at your own risk.
And now, we can begin to look at the shows that I don’t just recommend but recommend for the yuri, if not unreservedly.
The OVA adaptation of Kase-san finally released just a bit ago and it is absolutely excellent. It does a fantastic job at using its nature as an anime to its advantage, not seeking to imitate the manga but instead creating a truly original work that can stand on its own merits. The awkward adaptation choices that plague so many anime, such as poorly transferred single-panel gags, are avoided here, bringing over the spirit of the manga rather than all of its tangible details. While it only adapts a small portion of chapters and still has to move through those fairly quickly, it gives room to its scenes, making heavy use of silence and sound in a way that many adaptations utterly fail at doing. It’s just fantastic as a piece of film and I’m glad to be able to say that.
Of course, it’s equally fantastic as a yuri anime. It manages to take the few chapters it uses and string a nice narrative out of them, focusing on the insecurity of the two girls after they’ve started dating, particularly centering Yamada’s worries about their future. It’s just as adorable, inspirational, and true-to-life as the manga. Kase-san really stands as the pinnacle of what you can do with a fluffy schoolgirl romance, exploring almost everything you can manage with that premise to the fullest extent possible. This easily stands as one of the best yuri anime ever made, even if we never get more of it and anyone who’d be watching this video has an obligation to check it out. Unfortunately, it isn’t out officially in the US yet, though there will be a showing at Anime Expo on July 8th, so I’d encourage you to attend if you’ll be at the con. I can promise that I’ll be there.
Comic Girls being here shouldn’t come as a shock. As I said in my actual video on the show, it’s great in all regards, and the yuri is included in that. While the series is a tad gayer in the first half of the show, Kaos never stops being the world’s largest disaster lesbian and Koyume never stops being hopelessly in love with Tsubasa. There’s a bit of development in regards to the yuri throughout the whole thing and while that may have declined a little in the final episodes, it accompanied a great end stretch that made the show feel remarkably complete in its arc in spite of it very obviously not being complete in terms of material. I can’t imagine a reason not to watch this show as a yuri fan.
Cutie Honey Universe, on the other hand, is an… odd case. I said in my video on it that it’s not really worth it because the directing is so boring that the yuri can’t save it. Which is true — for the first 5 episodes. But bizarrely, the directing, writing, and everything else magically got better from episode 6 onwards. I still wouldn’t call the show a masterpiece by any stretch but it was no longer a directorial snoozefest and the yuri certainly never disappeared so I do think I can recommend this, though I take a bit of reservation in doing so. Just make sure not to come in expecting a happy ending — this is a Go Nagai adaptation after all, even if the yuri has been increased to the point that it’s hard to imagine a single girl in the show is straight.
A few more series that deserve a mention are the little girl anime I’m watching: Aikatsu Friends, Kiratto Prichan, and Hugtto Precure. All three of these have a decent bit of high-quality girls-love content. Aikatsu Friends is fairly blatant in this, with the characters having to form incredibly close “Friends Units” with other girls. For our two leads, this is framed in a remarkably romantic light, complete with a confession on the top of a ferris wheel which is said to promise them eternal happiness. The most recent episode had one of them worried about asking the other to walk to school with her. Yeah, hard to argue this show is straight.
Prichan, on the other hand, has less yuri between our main two leads, who don’t show much sign of being anything more than friends. That said, we do have Sara, a boy prince-style character who’s adored by a number of girls around her. She appears to live with Anna, her partner as an idol and perhaps as more. Hell, she even successfully hits on Mirai in one episode, complete with a kabedon. It’s somewhat sad that shows aimed at kids are more willing to show open flirting between girls than shows aimed at adults but hey, at least the kids are getting a good message.
Lastly, Hugtto is no less explicit. While most Precure shows have some level of subtext between their leads, this one goes to another level. At first, it seems tame compared to last season’s pair of high school lovers but that changed recently, with the arrival of a new pair of Cures who are outright considered Precures of love. Their relationship was fairly romantic even before they became Cures, going so far as to include songs about their love for one another, and that hasn’t diminished now that they’ve achieved their goal, including what I can only interpret as a confession. The other three aren’t nearly as gay, though you can certainly read them that way if you so choose, at least for now.
And finally, we come to the ultimate show I’d like to talk about if you care about yuri: Uma Musume. For one, this is just a great sports anime that knows how to handle its arcs, imbuing a real tension to the challenges of its various characters, understanding that in their competition they can make each other better people. But it does all of this while being incredibly gay.
There’s almost too much yuri to count here. Boyish horse girls are fawned over by other women, as you’d expect given how good they look. Special Week has two moms, one of whom passed away after giving birth to her, and while the show never says it outright, the fact that her living mom has a small shrine dedicated to her even today makes it pretty clear that they weren’t exactly platonic friends. Many horse girls have relationships that seem to go beyond friendship in fact, from Gold Ship and Mejiro McQueen to Tokai Teio and Symboli Rudolf.
But gayest of all is the relationship between Special Week and Silence Suzuka. They’re incredibly close from the start, helping each other to new heights and determined to race one another as a demonstration of their feelings. Spe had a crush on Suzuka before she even started racing and they only grew more romantic as they spent time together. For a while, they almost become codependent before remembering that the best way they can honor one another and show their love is to compete with all their hearts. Their relationship is, simply put, absolutely adorable and the driving force behind almost all of the show’s emotional narrative so I feel totally confident in recommending the show to a yuri fan on that basis. Hopefully, we can get a season 2.
So, that’s my best attempt at looking at all the yuri content we got this season. I’m sure I missed something, so point that out in the comments if you feel I did so, but don’t spend too much time arguing with me that something is just subtext because I really don’t give a shit. If this sees success, I’d be totally open to doing it for every season from now on, especially since I don’t feel like I’ve made quite enough yuri content in the past couple months. That’s all for this season!