The Rising Pace of Yuri Anime

Yuri – A genre of anime, manga, light novels, and more, which focuses on the relationship between two female characters in love. Some recent examples of anime which contain yuri themes are YuruYuri, Sakura Trick, and most recently, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. What do these three titles all have in common?

Well, all three of them are comedies, and contain moe (cute) elements, but that doesn’t stand out to me as much as the fact that they are all aimed at a male demographic. While many people might think that a theme such as yuri would naturally be aimed at guys all the time, yuri actually didn’t start that way.

The first yuri title in history was called Shiroi Heya no Futari. It was a 1971 shoujo manga which was not only aimed at girls, but it was written by a woman named Ryoko Yamagishi. Why do you suppose a title like this was aimed at girls? Wouldn’t it be more attractive for men and make a larger profit if it were targeted for them? The truth is, that’s not the case at all.

Early yuri manga and anime were aimed at girls for a reason, and it was not only Shiroi Heya no Futari which was made this way. Similar shoujo titles with yuri themes included Maria-sama ga Miteru (1998 light novel), and Revolutionary Girl Utena (1996 manga). These titles were not just made for a fetish; they were made to be elegant and proper in theme.

Maria-sama ga Miteru MariMite Anime Yuri Visual

In Japan, it is often believed that homosexuality is a trait that appears in some young women in their early teen years, or pre-teens. It is considered to be a completely natural phase which women will slip out of at some point in their life. It’s like a step in growing up. As a result, these titles are aimed at girls in those age groups, hoping that they will appeal to girls going through those “phases”. Even the well-known children’s anime Sailor Moon had some yuri elements in it, although its intended audience had a different age group in Japan than it did overseas.

Due to the elegant and proper themes which the authors were going for in these titles, it usually resulted in an incredibly slow-paced anime adaption, which was further unappealing for men who tend to prefer fast-paced action. The type of slow-paced elegance portrayed in these titles continued for many years, long after Shiroi Heya no Futari. Even when yuri transcended over to male audiences, early titles such as Strawberry Panic! and Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito continued to have a slow pace.

It was not until I watched YuruYuri in 2011 that I realized yuri was becoming more modernized for the male demographic. Yuri had always previously been something very serious and beautiful, which girls would hope to live up to, but YuruYuri portrayed none of that. It was a silly comedy that took itself lightly. Finally, I had realized, yuri was no longer something that was reserved for serious opinions only.

The old style of yuri is still embraced by many fans, and is still implemented in a lot of media for both female and male demographics. A Kiss for the Petals, more commonly known as Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo, is an ongoing yuri visual novel series which borrows elements such as “elegant” or “proper” expectations of young women, even though the title itself is aimed at men.

SonoHana Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo A Kiss on the Petals Visual Novel Yuri

Even though the genre is keeping some of its old traditions in some titles, the majority of successful newer yuri titles are fast-paced comedy. What could be influencing this change? The truth is, anime in general is becoming broader in terms of its subjects. For example, Chihayafuru is about competitive karuta, Yuri!!! on ICE features figure skating, and Kabukibu is about traditional Japanese theatre. Anime is spreading its wings right now, reaching out for as many different types of audiences as possible, no matter what they are interested in.

Yuri does not have to be reserved for female eyes only. If anime is to expand, then one of the first areas to be looked at is one which they already have. For decades, yuri was designed mainly for young women. Now, yuri is becoming open on a much larger scale. There are less limits, and more viewers. While I’m sure some women may be disgusted with the huge increase in male audience, I really feel that yuri will be more successful this way. It won’t die out as fast now that there is a much wider variety of ways to portray the content. Overall, the anime industry will benefit from this as well.

Miss Kobayashi-san no Dragon Maid Yuri Manga

Your Opinion

What are your thoughts on the increase in male demographics for yuri titles? What is your favorite yuri title? Do you prefer fast-paced comedy yuri or slow-paced serious yuri? Please note that I discourage discriminatory comments and will be moderating responses to this post.

5 thoughts on “The Rising Pace of Yuri Anime

  1. It’s fine that the male demographic is becoming more interested in yuri, in my opinion. The genre is already considered niche and I think appealing to a wiser audience would be beneficial.

    That being said, I am also not that fond of the elements that signifies this change, such as an overdose of fanservice. Sakura Trick definitely is targeted at male audiences, but I considered the series excessive in regards to its rampant kissing scenes. It might be due to how I personally find myself more interested in serious, slower-paced yuri anime (and visual novels). Be that as it may, I do enjoy comedic slice-of-life shows like Yuri Yuri or GochiUsa.

    I am not sure I can totally agree with you assessment that more modern yuri shows are fast-paced by default if they are comedic in tone. Yuri Yuri in particular is slower-paced compared to other similar shows (and even has the word “easygoing” in the title.) The pacing for modern yuri shows have definitely increased over time, however.

    The upcoming adaptations for Citrus and Netsuzou Trap suggest an incoming trend for more dramatic, risque soap operas that are inherently slower in pace (similar to Kuzu no Honkai which portrays yuri in a serious manner).

    Sorry for the wall of text.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sakura Trick certainly was full of kissing. @.@ I mean, I personally thought they were adorable and loved it, but I agree, they were more than they needed. Hmm, you’re right that comedy doesn’t equal fast-paced, but I found YuruYuri was much more fast-paced than the serious type. I suppose fast-paced was not the correct wording, though. Perhaps “lively” would have been better. Sorry about that. ^^; As for Citrus and Netsuzou Trap, I have to admit I’m unfamiliar with them. I’ve heard their names since they’ve been recently announced, but I’m too busy catching up with Winter and upcoming Spring anime to pay much attention to those titles yet. OTL That is interesting, though, that there could be a new incoming trend for yuri anime. Don’t worry about the wall of text; I’m used to it. XD

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, they were okay at times but I personally disliked the main couple. But at least we agree on the frequency being a bit much.
        I can totally support that YuruYuri and other comedic yuri shows are lively!

        Mmm I read both of their original manga sources and they are basically soap operas. It would be cool if a new trend emerged, but Asago to Kase-san was also recently announced and it’s a lot more lighthearted (but doesn’t exactly dip into full blown comedic territory since it’s a love story between two girls). We shall see? I’m busy catching up, too, so I know how you feel.

        Wahaha I see.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, yeah, I’ve heard of that title as well. I guess we will see then. I think every anime blogger suffers the same problem of constantly catching up. @_@ It’s the best problem to have. XD

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Source: I am a woman

    Personally, I don’t really care if about yuri aimed at men. As long the story is not terribly offensive, then I can enjoy it. Plus many yuri aimed at men still written by women (Sakura Trick author is a woman). But I would love to see yuri that’s far from high school setting like fantasy, action, horror, etc etc

    Liked by 1 person

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