Day 4 – Yuru Yuri’s Gateway to Girls’ Love

Going from K-On to Yuru Yuri was only a natural step. Like the previous work, it was beloved both on /a/ and in my specific friend circle. I watched a fair few shows purely due to the number of good reaction faces that they had on offer and this show fits within that questionable lineage, at least to some degree. Coming in, I expected it to be another toned-down slice-of-life a la K-On. After all, that show was the platonic ideal of CGDCT in my head. I had no idea what I was really in for.

When I first watched K-On, I was still very, well, how do I put this without sounding like a dipshit? Let’s go with “purity-focused”. What I mean by this is that I saw anime girls, particularly those in slice-of-life shows, as pure. As the saying goes, “don’t lewd the Keions”. This was an idea that held serious sway in my mind; it was no simple 4chan meme. Looking back on it, this attitude was deeply toxic and the product of an ultimately misogynist understanding of women, one that I had yet to shed. But that’s not all. As tends to be the case with these things, yuri, did not in fact, violate the ideas of “purity”. Well, it did with K-On, at least for the first few months after I watched it, but this show was named after the damn genre. These girls were free to be lewded, my compatriots would say, as long as it was only with each other and not men. Then, it was still pure.

Yeah, that idea is homophobic as shit, and while it seems to elevate lesbian relations above straight ones, it ultimately blankets them with a condescending attitude which removes their true variety, othering them all the same. And at the time I understood this, but only to some degree. Yuru Yuri did not cause me to shed my weird ideas about purity, that wouldn’t happen for quite some time. Even today, I feel hesitant when I see porn of slice-of-life characters in a way I don’t for those of other genres, even when I care about them just as much — Eva’s characters are younger than K-On’s but I’m far more skeeved out by the latter’s depiction in less-than-chaste settings.

More importantly, Yuru Yuri was really my introduction to the genre of Girls’ Love. I’d seen some porn before of course but in the realm of at least somewhat safe-for-work content that’s full of the trappings for which yuri is so well known, I had never consumed anything. As a comedic work, Yuru Yuri doesn’t exactly present all of the genre’s tropes in the most straightforward or positive light, but it did so well enough that I slowly came to understand what made it all tick. And this was really important to me at the time. As I said in the last video, I didn’t understand my affinity with girls in shows such as this in the first place. It was even harder to rationalize my interest in lesbianism, both pornographically and in a broader, emotional sense. And yeah, this is perfect pickings for the TERFs to psychoanalyze, go ahead you vultures.

It’s not odd then that I found Yuru Yuri as a gateway to girls’ love. This is totally normal, to the point that Yuri Hime’s readership ballooned after the anime’s first season, which is actually the reason why its audience has shifted to a narrow male-majority. To those who’d consumed cute-girl focused slice-of-life anime, the show presented and continues to present a safe entry to the land of lilies, lacking most of the heavy shoujo-influence that the genre tends to trade in and forgoing much in the way of narrative, the place where works like this tend to lose the most people. While this leads, in many ways, to a weaker work than some of its contemporaries — there’s certainly been much better manga running alongside it for all of its 10-year-run — it also makes it incredibly important as an entry point. And hell, it’s just a damn good show. While the, uh, issues with consent do mar it, the series is funny on a consistent basis and the production is outstanding, absolutely DogaKobo at its peak. When I first watched it, I couldn’t fully take in how impressive the animation is but man, this baby shines on a rewatch. I love season 3’s more relaxed tone even today, especially since the jokes began to grow stale by the end of season 2, but wew, look at all the pretty colors in DogaKobo’s seasons. And while it’s easy to criticize the show’s inability to decisively create couples, the lack of a narrative throughline had two major benefits to me.

First, it allowed me to fully come into an understanding of how frequently anime follows an episodic path. This would be vital, given that slice-of-life was quickly becoming my favorite genre by the time I watched the show. Many who come into anime on more serial series, such as myself, fail to transition into an appreciation for less focused endeavors, and Yuru Yuri helped me avoid that.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it helped me to rekindle my love of shipping. MLP was the first time I got seriously invested in the behavior, beyond a childhood interest in Sonic and Pokemon, and it was the show that introduced me to girl x girl ships, but that had sort of died after I began my transition. To anime. Yuru Yuri almost challenges you to ship its girls. Aside from Sakurako and Himawari, whose relationship is preordained by the Fates themselves, every character has enough fuel with the others that you can reasonably pair them off however you like. This also allowed me to begin poking my head into the doujin scene. It’s no accident that I started watching Madoka around the same time, with both giving me my first taste of strongly-held ships in well over a year, excluding the case of Oreimo. As will be seen in future videos, or as you could clearly glean from my channel, shipping remains important to me — though less so now that I’ve got a girlfriend — and I don’t know when I would’ve recovered that interest were it not for Yuru Yuri. In making me care about this behavior again, it fundamentally shifted my interaction with fandom, once again changing me as an otaku and a person more broadly. Yuri is a genre which has helped me rationalize my gender and build my youtube channel, so Yuru Yuri’s contributions to my life truly can not be understated and the show’s strong comedy and slice-of-life elements continue to resonate today.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s