Sweet Blue Flowers (English)
Genres: drama, romance
Themes: coming of age, high school, yuri
Number of episodes: 11
Plot Summary: Fumi Manjoume, an introverted, bookish teenage girl, is beginning her first year of high school at Matsuoka Girls’ High School. She enters the school year with her heart broken by a previous relationship. At about the same time, she reconnects with her best friend from ten years ago, Akira Okudaira, who is now attending Fujigatani Girls’ Academy as a first-year high school student. As they reconnect, they both deal with their own respective romantic problems, and help each other get through them.
For all who love yuri, the number of shows that examine women-loving women seriously are far and few. The number of such shows that manage to make lasting contributions toward positive depictions of them is even more few. The number of those that are also able to stand as superior examples of storytelling in general is fewer still. Like Utena in its time, Aoi Hana does all of these things.
Fumi’s quiet strength, Akira’s dependable friendship, Yasuko’s conflicted immaturity, Kyouko’s desperate desire, Kou’s patient devotion, and many other facets of humanity meet in this simple but beautifully crafted portrait of young life and love.
The music…well, shoujo-ai and classical music have been a powerful pair since Utena. Basically, if you’re a fan of classical music, then you’ll have no trouble at all here.
The animation is a different style from the usual stuff that I watch, but in a good way. It’s both cute and marvelous at the same time. I see it as somewhat of a mix between Haibane Renmei and Saki.
Next up, Sasameki Koto:
Genres: comedy, psychological, romance
Number of episodes: 13
Plot Summary: Sumika Murasame is deeply in love with her cheerful classmate and friend Ushio Kazama. Ushio is openly lesbian but… she’s likes cute girls, and Sumika, top student, class representative, black belt in karate, is all but cute. Even worse, Sumika herself is terrified of endangering her friendship with Ushio and chooses to maintain the status quo, as much as it pains her to hide her feelings…
The Little Yuri Series That Could. It wasn’t the flashiest anime ever, or the most exciting, but it flowed along in a warm, gentle, and funny way, bringing smiles both happy and sympathetic. It captured the manga perfectly, and maintained a fantastic balance of humorous and dramatic moments.
If I have a regret, it’s one that there’s just no avoiding for this show: with the sole exception of Tomoe/Miyako (who don’t really get a lot of couple moments), the yuri of Sasameki Koto is thoroughly unrequited.
Even more so than Aoi Hana, the final episode of Sasameki Koto left no doubt that it’s an unfinished story. The manga continues on with no real end in sight. This is a good thing and I don’t begrudge it, but I can’t deny it’s frustrating to have the anime come to an end this way. All we can do is hope for a second season
…that did not happen even after the manga ended. Who knows? Maybe it will one day.
Music: Similar rating as Aoi Hana, except this one has more humorous melodies in it, mixed with classical music goodness.
Animation: Fluffier than Aoi Hana, but of course since it’s a comedy.
Oh, one important note: Although this is a great comedy, it has a slow start. I think it was supposed to star off slowly to show that it’s not just a laugh out loud fest. Be patient and I assure you that your patience will pay off.
2009 was a great year for the yuri nation. We had about 6-7 anime last year with yuri themes in it, which were both pretty good and didn’t make a mockery of the genre. All these shows were very well done and in my opinion, accessible to both yuri fans and non yuri fans alike. You could enjoy these shows and not get upset at all, because they’re that darn good. 2010 so far, isn’t as epic as last year, but it’s coming along nicely, even if it did have some low blows., the good far outweigh the bad this year.
In conclusion: The reason why I feel so optimistic about these two shows in particular, is that they’re accessible to both Y and non-Y fans. Both have their attraction to them. Both have great storytelling and follow their excellent manga counterparts very well, both will entertain you in either the dramatic aspect, or the humorous one. I GUARANDAMNTEE that both these shows are accessible to any fan.