If you haven’t watched any of the shows I mention in these examples and are interested to check them out, don’t go past the red text. You’ve been warned.
I’ve been watching anime for more than 10 years and became a yuri fan 7 years ago. What started in a desire for the sexual aspects quickly grew into a passion and longing for the romantic side of a girl/girl relationship. It finally culminated in what I’d like to call the “genre based expectation ratio”. concept. What this refers to is the intensity of the yuri fan’s expectations of how strong the yuri vibes on the show are based on the show’s genres and themes. Does the fact that most of these relationships aren’t resolved on screen, detract from the viewing experience or lower the quality and vision of the show itself?
To explain it in short, members of the yuri nation like myself watch shows with yuri potential ranging from mild to red hot for fun. Whether it was intentional or not doesn’t detract from the show’s quality at all. We can still appreciate how good a show is even if the lesbian subtext wasn’t intentional. A yuri fan should never be ashamed to secretly desire seeing two girls who have the potential of getting together…get together. It makes the payoff worthwhile when we’re surprised to see that it DOES become a reality. More often than not in shows where yuri isn’t mentioned as an important genre (if mentioned at all), we’re not meant to expect much.
Last warning. Okay, here we go.
Let me bring up some examples to better explain my point. Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Most members of the nation have accepted the fact Madoka and Homura have feelings that go beyond friendship. They don’t deliberately say it out loud but actions speak louder than words as far as I’m concerned. An intelligent, non homophobic person who still can’t see the truth, will interpret it as Homura treasuring her friendship with Madoka and wanting to do whatever it takes to save the life of the only person she’s truly ever cared for outside her family…but since we never saw her family we can say Madoka’s the most important person to her at that time. Whether Homura’s feelings for Madoka become romantic or not over time isn’t the point, the point is her devotion to prevent her friend from being consumed by the darkness and losing her life, even if it costs Homura her own life. Madoka in The spark of true love or a strong bond of friendship, you decide.
A similar case can be for Kyouko and Sayaka. Kyouko eventually develops a desire to save Sayaka from going down a path of pain and misery. She doesn’t want to see Sayaka become consumed by the darkness due to her messed up emotions. Kyouko somehow managed to combat her past demons and fight for what she believes is right (which in her case are selfish reasons), but later sees something in Sayaka and wants to try and save her from a cursed fate. In the end, whichever side of the fan base you’re from, you can’t deny Madoka Magica is truly a spectacle to behold and will be remembered for years to come.
Next up is Sora no Woto: This is one of my all time favorite slice of life anime that I’ve seen. The character development and interactions, the soothing music, post war setting that could face another incoming war at any minute, knowing there’s a possibility this serene countryside is once again in danger of facing the terrors of war. It’s things like that that make this show so wonderful to me. Screw the haters who called this a K-ON ripoff. Just because it has a group of girls with musical instruments doesn’t automatically make it K-ON esque. Heck there’s only one instrument used. Going on with the yuri. Rio and Filicia obviously spark major subtext when they’re together. Princess Rio’s an heir to a kingdom and engaged to some unknown prince. But her one request was to be able to return to her platoon and friends…possibly Felicia as well.
Kanata and Rio? No, that’s merely admiration. Nothing more, nothing less. If you want to picture more, go for it dood. No one’s stopping you. It’s all good. It’s believed Kureha has feelings for Rio but it’s eventually confirmed to be nothing more than admiration as well. So that’s that.
Another subtext pairing in this show involves my beloved Noel Kannagi and a victim of her past experiments; An Roman girl, Aisha Aldola with shape shifting breasts (Seriously, those wonderful circles frequently change sizes). Anyway, this relationship involves Noel feeling really bad for what Aisha had gone through in her youth because of her and for a while the Italian had no intention of forgiving her, but after seeing Noel’s resolve at full force, she changed her mind and forgve her “in more ways than one”. Heck they even keep in touch from time to time. Make of it what you will but my yuri goggles immediately detected delicious yuri goodness from these two.
3rd example: Chu-Bra! For more info check out my review on the show. In short, it’s an educational show that doubles as an excuse to have lolis wearing lingerie. Since my anti-ecchi jutsu is very powerful I could take the mild fanservice. Heck the only times it overloaded was when Nayu and Haruka were together. Speaking of these two, they’re the chosen ones for this one, Haruka in particular. Haruka slowly develops feelings for Nayu. We see them grow from a crush to downright love. She has a very difficult time both confessing and accepting these feelings in fear of both Nayu’s reaction and societies views on lesbians. It’s a much more interesting story than the supposed main pairing being Nayu and Komachi (Pfft, YEAH RIGHT) for the few of you who also watched this show, Komachi clearly has no defining attributes that would make him worthy of dating Nayu. All he does is bonk her head whenever she does something he deems perverted or the obligatory nice guy routine. Whatever, I just don’t see Nayu and Komachi click.
Hidamari Sketch: I’ll keep this show. Hiro and Sae, most definitely.Nori and Nazuna, very possible. Yuno and Miyako on the other hand…no. Oh and of course Natsume wants some Sae flavored pie. Mainly because Miyako’s still too carefree to even bother with romance right now and Yuno’s even more innocent. There’s also the possibility of the extremely sexy Yoshinoya-sensei and her nurse colleague but that’s up to how strong the nation member’s goggles are.
Other than that, HS is an awesome slice of life series that’s all about a group of girls who attend a sort of art school, and their daily lives doing random things. Basic stuff whose quality isn’t lowered even if the pairings are canon or not.
Hanasaku Iroha: Yes, we were all blasting off into the outer atmosphere when a particular imaginary scene was shown between Ohana, Minko and Nako was shown. Heck I have no problem admitting that I shipped an OhaNako pairing but I was fully aware that even though I also wished to see Ohana “sparkle” it wasn’t going anywhere; not with Ko-chan in the picture. Despite that, HI is another one of my fav anime this year.
Last but not least, K-ON!: Oh boy, K-ON! In my opinion, the most controversial slife of life anime series in a long time. The fine line between love and hate for this show is as thin as that of the Twilight Saga’s. Anyway, I’ll say this one last time. Behind the over 9000 level of moe goodness, lies a show about growing up in High School with your buddies, enjoying your youth as much as humanly possible because once you’ve reached College, kiss 90% of your free time goodbye (Depending on your motivation that is). SoL fans such as myself already know that “Glenn” Beck is where your hunger for music should be directed towards.
K-ON! is just another one of the many shows about going to High School (Ups and downs, sort of), all the way to college. The joys and sorrows of graduation, starting a new life, etc. etc. etc. People who say they are inbetween are fooling themselves. You either love K-ON or hate it. That simple. Anyway I went way off track. the yuri subtext here is all in good fun. Mio and Ritsu are obviously the strongest candidates here for a possible pairing. Mugi may have a harem in her hands because all the girls want to hang out with her and she’s a yuri fan, though sadly this fandom isn’t expanded upon. It’s shown once then never again.
As for Yui and Azusa, this one’s entirely up for debate as both their feelings for each other can be interpreted in both ways, either romantic or just enjoy hanging out with each other. Uis love for her sister is sisterly but no problem interpreting it as incest.
There you have it. My best attempts at explaining this concept I made. If your friends know you’re a yuriholic and will still mock you for having your yuri goggles on with each show that has potential, then I say ignore them. In a world where homosexuality is slowly being accepted (Personal religious beliefs aside) and where the biggest sexual crimes are molestation, pedophilia and bestiality, why should you be ashamed of being a fan of girl’s love media when that’s your thing. It all depends on what you want from said show. If you know the show isn’t taking its lesbian character(s) seriously and the lesbian is a very entertaining character, what’s stopping you from cheering her on?
There are times however, where mistreatment of yuri element on the show can have dire consequences. Such is the case in Yamibou. To cut a long story short, the very controversial ending left a bitter taste in yuri fans’ mouths (mine included) but thinking about it now, the existence of such a show should be seen as a hallmark or rather an example of how NOT to end a yuri story.
In conclusion: Unless all you want from the girls is to see them get “jiggy with it” and nothing else, then you shouldn’t be ashamed to be wearing yuri goggles when there’s noticeable potential on screen. Also we must remember that just because we’re teased with a yuri character/couple and it wasn’t followed up appriopriately, doesn’t mean the show sucked, not all the time. It’s merely a minor setback.