Yuri 101: One Hundred Years of Girls’ Love

It’s hard to say exactly when the yuri genre was first conceived, but if you had to pick a date, then 1919 is a perfectly good one. In that year, yuri’s godmother, Yoshiya Nobuko, published Yaneura no Nishojo, arguably the first lesbian novel with a happy ending and one which set the groundwork for the century of development we’ve seen in the time since. Yuri would not have truly been born in the 70s without it. Our beloved genre has gone through so much in that time, and it would be remiss of someone such as me not to celebrate its anniversary.

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Let’s Talk About Sister Krone

Sister Krone’s design in The Promised Neverland is inundated with racist implications, calling to mind the image of black Americans popularized by minstrel shows. This is something a lot of people don’t like to hear, but it’s objectively true. A mere side-by-side of Sister Krone and, say, an old drawing of Aunt Jemima will confirm this to be the case: the massive lips, huge nose, stronger musculature, and general servant-like aesthetic all contribute to an image of that oh-so-pernicious depiction of black women, one that has not entirely faded from cultural consciousness. Throughout the show, the reasons to be afraid of her are not her quiet, unnerving cunning as in Isabella’s case, but her monstrous power, the sheer strength and speed she possesses in her massive body. And yet, she’s a great, sympathetic character, morally disgusting but no moreso than Isabella, grounded in a system of oppression that made her this way. Sure, she has a servant-like outfit, but so does Isabella—it’s clearly not intentional stereotyping. To simply call her racist and write her off would be a mistake and yet, it would be equally troublesome to ignore the racist implications. Discussing the way American racial issues affect a Japanese work isn’t something that’s easy to do, but we need to do it. So let’s dive right in to Sister Krone and the complexities of criticism.

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