Yuri Talk: Western Animation’s Baby Steps

Pearl's feelings for RoseI was wondering why these random yuri images of Pearl and Rose (Steven’s Mom) showed up all of a sudden but apparently Pearl and Rose had a special relationship. Then there’s the episodes “Alone Together” and “Jailbreak” featuring Stevonnie and Ruby X Sapphire respectively. All I have to say is good for the writers stepping up and taking advantage of their Western mainstream opportunities to positively promote yuri and possibly other non-incest relationships considered (sadly still) taboo by many.

Ruby X Sapphire Steven Universe

Unfortunately the West is still in the “Take what you can get” stage of yaoi and yuri in mainstream cartoons and comics but it’s a step in the right direction. Baby steps to be exact. Japan are doing SOMEWHAT better (if we look past the Japanese’s general perception of lesbianism) but again manganime too, agree or not, are taking baby steps to expand yuridom with more Grade 1 shows/literature under their belt.

Bubbeline's chemistryKorrasami spirit world vacation

I don’t have much to say about this as I haven’t seen many Steven Universe episodes (though the few I have seen are pretty good) so check out the below link to read a very well written article about promoting all-ages “queer” representation. Also includes some other animated/drawn Western media aimed at the general audience.

After reading the below article I wonder what my fans have to say regarding Western animation/comics and the slowly growing appearance of lesbian couples. We know there’s still a ways to go but do you think it can go even further in future shows? Do you think future yuri pairings will be less subtle, not be treated like one-shot pairings, needing yuri goggles or the writers’ confirmation after the end credits for assurance and lastly be an integral part of a show’s cast?

Source:

http://www.autostraddle.com/steven-universe-and-the-importance-of-all-ages-queer-representation-281482/

Oh and special thanks to The Beautiful World‘s @FoxyLadyAyame for finding this article.

About OG-Man

Yuri and Slice of Life are my anime passion.
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22 Responses to Yuri Talk: Western Animation’s Baby Steps

  1. Chowkko says:

    I’ve never seen a cartoon empowering so much queer relationships. It’s really wonderful. We can all thank Rebecca for what she gave in the cartoon medium concerning queer’s representations, both in Adventure Time and Steven Universe!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. x says:

    little by little, little by little, but it will be awesome for more grade 1 shows and maybe some real hentai yuri for once.

    Like

  3. MarkS00N says:

    I think the problem with the west is that ‘cartoon’ is still regarded as ‘kid only’ show and that homosexual relationship is still regarded as ‘abnormal’…

    But I think it isn’t ‘the west’ problem, but ‘the conservatives’ problem because the reason Japan manganime can be more frontal in yuri and yaoi department is because their media or at least manganime isn’t a kid consumption…

    The restriction is simply commercial success which as several title like Utena and Kannazuki no Miko show us, as long as it is commercially successful, even if it is yuri, it will be ‘accepted’ by the anime industry…

    However, this is only possible if the media able to be independent from or ignored by the conservatives masses which unfortunately often vocals and have power on government (something that is kinda logical conservatives has because they represent the establishment)…

    And ‘kid’ is one of main issue for the conservatives so as long as ‘cartoon’ is still regarded as ‘kid only’ and the conservatives still have a strong voice in government and society, then it won’t be more progressive than it currently is…

    I am not from a western country but the problem of the homosexual representation is the same as the west, thus I can relate to it…

    There was a comic for kid here that promote tolerance toward homosexual in one of its panel, but it soon taken from distribution because of the vocal conservatives masses that treat it as ‘homosexual propaganda’, yet there is novel that have a lesbian MC kept being sold because said novel isn’t ‘for kid’ (and because it is a novel not a comic which means it is harder to read by the conservatives)…

    But the west at the very least has a strong liberal media that tolerate homosexual relationship as mainstream consumption, possibly teach the uniformed that homosexual isn’t abnormal…

    So from PoV of person who lives in a much more conservatives nation, I am kinda optimistic that western animation/comic can make a much better representation of homosexual relationship in the future, at least compared to where I live now…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Overlord-G says:

      The West is definitely one of the less hostile regions towards homosexuality. I have heard of how much harder it is in other countries to be of a sexuality other than hetero. Not pretty.
      For now all we can do is be optimistic.

      Oh and of course it’s less difficult to market yaoi and yuri to teenagers and adults than it is to children (though some would argue otherwise). After all I did tell a person that it is not safe to have a child watch an anime like Sakura Trick for example.

      Like

  4. Ibara Miko says:

    I like the evolution of western animation that finally working up the courage to show supposed “taboo” genres more and more.

    In Japan’s case, personally, I won’t be satisfied till it completely overcomes its class s syndrome in thinking all yuri relations in school are temp.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. cookape says:

    Most shows in the west are tageted because of this they are limited I mean such networks like CN not only entertain the west but are worldwide if most shows had Yuri or yoai in it ,it would be limited to how far and much it can Produce cause not all parts of the world will accept that ,some contrarys may even ban a show. so moving with the flow grade 1 GL is easier to accept than BL cause it’s mostly normal or unforeseen (but seen) behavior …

    Liked by 1 person

  6. jianuzzi says:

    I am actually in the process of watching “the legend of korra”. Its really good actually. No yuri yet, but there is a jealousy between korra and asami that i hear builds into a relationship. Im currently on season 2 and loving the show without even seeing the previous avatar show. Hell, it feels weird. I havent seen a nick show since ren and stimpy, but this show is pretty damn awesome.

    Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      Highly recommend checking out the first Avatar after Korra. Good stuff. Korra from what I’ve seen so far is good too.

      Like

  7. automaticimperfection says:

    I really like Bubblegum Princess and Marceline ❤ , western has a long way to go but oh well, one has to start somewhere right?

    Like

  8. mutopis says:

    While the world celebrates/condemns the steps that the west is taking into bringing gay/lesbian characters into their shows, even if it doesnt live up to our high expectations, I cant help but to look back and wonder how we got to “here”. It is said that to know where we are going, we must know where we came from. History are lessons that allow us to understand our future.

    Imagine that you are back to the year 2002, it is the month of October and the day is the 18th. You are watching a tv show from Cartoon Network and you are not expecting much about it. The cartoon is about a cowardly dog, who just met a masked stranger who beats him up because the stranger doesnt like dogs. You learn that the masked stranger is a cat (so obviously cats hate dogs) and the reason the cat hates dogs is because the cat’s best friends is in an abusive relationship with a dog (shocking, right?). So far nothing unusual about it. The dog decides to rescue the cat’s best friend from the bad dog so they can ran away together. Once the cat and the best friend is reunited they pledge and renew their friendship, and the episode ends. Doesnt sound unusual, right? Sounds like a regular episode and probably you wouldnt think much about it. I dont know what was my opinion when I saw the episode for the first time, it was long ago. Back then I was into Anime like “slayers” but I wasnt into yuri just yet, I dont think I gave much thought about gay/lesbians in general at the time in 2002. Did my younger self thought back then that it was weird and unusual for two people of the same gender to want to have sex or even love each other? Probably, maybe I felt confused about it, it wasnt part of the norm or how I perceived the world at the time. Yet I felt no hostility or revulsion, just confusion.

    Now I want you to ask your younger self (if you watched the show in the past) what was their thought when they saw it for the first time. Did they noticed anything unusual about it? Was there anything about the cat and the best friend character’s behavior and relationship to be odd, unusual, out of place, or strange about it? Is your younger-self aware of what they just saw? is your younger self aware of gays/lesbians during this period of time?

    Back in 2002, Courage the Cowardly Dog released an episode titled “The Mask”. It involved a female cat who loved her best friend, a female bunny, that was in an abusive relationship with a male dog. You can find a link about the episode exploring its content and its meaning, you are going to be surprised about it, pay attention to whatever you missed when you saw the episode for the first time. It is kind of amazing how was this episode able to air at the time given how much content there is in that episode, and yet no one noticed at the time or at least made a deal about it. And when I say no one, I mean it. It is possible that some people noticed something yet for some reason no one set the alarms on this show, there were no angry parents wanting to ban the show, no one complained about it. I tried looking for comments and opinions from 2002 and there is so little, perhaps there is something but one would have to go to the farther and darkest corner of the internet to find it. Reading the comments of that era, its amazing how little people noticed some of the details with the exception of very few. Maybe is because no one was looking for anything at the time. Maybe it is because the viewers were too young to know what they were watching.

    I remember rewatching the episode a few years later, not sure when, maybe 2004. When I saw the episode a second time, something was nagging me, it suddenly occurred to me that Kitty and Bunny, were a bit gay. I didnt think too much about it, I suspected something but I never investigated the matter further. Then when I read the yurination blog about how western animation was embracing gay characters, my mind suddenly reminded me of “Courage the Cowardly Dog” and “The Mask” episode with Kitty and Bunny. So I decided to rewatch the episode a 3rd time and HOLY SH#T how blatantly gay it is!! What happened? What changed?! When I saw the show for the first time I wasnt looking for lesbianism or anything like that, the second time I didnt have yuri goggles, but by the third time is like my yuri goggles were set to maximum.

    How is it that when this episode aired back in 2002 no one said anything about it? How was it possible for this show to fly under the radar of the censors for this long? Maybe is because the relationship between Kitty and Bunny is still subtext and subtle, but when you see the episode with current eyes one cant help but point out how blatant it is. Is the relationship implied? yes, but it is still so blatant that is hard to believe only very few noticed at the time. and when you think about it the majority of viewers at the time where little kids. Did they know what they were watching? I am sure there were younger teenagers and maybe some adults watching too when it aired, and surprisingly after the airing of the episode nothing happened. If we take into consideration that this episode is a clear social commentary about abusive relationships (and hidden lesbianism) you would think someone would say something. Nothing happened during 12 years. The episode went under the radar.

    And yet apparently it was only two years ago that some people started to point out the obvious, but by then ten years have passed since the original airing and it made very little waves around. Why? Because of what happened the year before, back in 2011. The episode that would send shockwaves around cartoon fandom, something so shocking that it came out of the blue. The show is Adventure Times and the episode was “What was missing”. I cant really say for sure what were the creators of the show thinking or why they did what they did. Suffice to say once the obvious came out, it spread out like a wildfire and surprised everyone involved in it. What is more surprising and shocking was the fact that the creators were aware of fan conjecture and fanart. Somewhere along the way something broke. When I say something broke I mean there used to be a wall to separate the creators with their original content, and its fans and their fanart/fan creation from each. And yet some accidental cross-pollination happened, there is no way to prove it but it clearly happened at least to me. I dont know if the creators of the show originally aimed to make marcelinexbubblegum canon, they probably would deny it, or if they were just trying to tease fans and allow to indulge them in their fantasy, nor is hard to say when fans started to influence the creators to follow that path once they became aware of it, but aware they were and they opened a pandora box that could not be closed once it was opened.

    What happened? or why it happened? when “The Mask” aired back in 2002 no one said much, when Adventure Time started to air their episode, people started to ship Marceline and bubblegum together, whatever that was the original intent of the creator it didnt matter. What mattered was that once the creators admitted their intention it was clear a line was crossed that it used to be avoided like a plague.

    Think back about 2002 and recount if there is something about that period that you feel there is something missing. What was missing in 2002 that was present in 2011 was perhaps essential to what is happening now. The answer, and this is just my theory since I cant prove it, is social media: Twitter, facebook, tumblr, youtube, etc. Back in 2002 we have the internet, and it was still in its developing stage, but social media was almost non-existant with the exception of blogs and forums. The fandom of the time was more spread out and decentralized, and if you wanted to share opinions or views, you had to go to the dark corners of the internet to be able share those ideas. That section of the internet was isolated from the general public, there was no way for those ideas to spread out efficiently because there was no central hub for the general public to latch to it. Sure, there were places like 4chan, fandom websites and forums, but the majority of the public at the time were not even aware of such places, or where to go to find them. And even if you were aware of it yourself, it was too spread out to affect one another. What happened in the internet, staid in the internet, it didnt affect the real world at the time.

    Social Media eroded the wall that used to exist between the original content creator/creation and fanart/fanfiction, somehow along the way, instead of the creators influencing the fans, the fans started to influence the creators, consciously or unconscionably. What happened in 2011 was an accidental stumble by the creators of the show and the industry, they never meant to become pioneers in regard to gay characters and their attempt to backtrack only made some fans mad. I cant speak for the industry but I get the feeling they were caught by surprise in two fronts. #1 was the fact they got caught red handed that they were watching fans and reading their fanfic to figure out how to tease them to give them more, and #2 the fact that the number of yurifans grew louder when they started to backpedal away from the controversy only to be caught in the middle of a storm making it hard to avoid offending supporters/detractors of the show. I dont think they expected that, because there was no precedent on how to handle angry yurifans who wish to see more gay content. But here is the thing, there is no doubt people were watching the reaction of the industry along with the fan reaction to the bombshell they just unleashed, and they were taking note.

    Is hard to say if The Legend of Korra would had taken the path that it did eventually if the events in 2011 hadnt happened. Maybe it was inevitable, after all people’s perception about gay people and gay marriage didnt change until 2013, or at least altered the reality of what we think we know. At the time people thought that the issue regarding gay marriage was going to be contained within a few states and that progress will be slow, fast forward to 2014 and the change is remarkable. What happened is that we were mistaken, maybe 10 or 20 years ago gay marriage was a too much of a controversial topic at the time. But since then something changed inside of us during that period, we became more aware of our world and as a result it changed views and perceptions, but we were still trapped within the framework of perception that others were not ready to change or willing to embrace change and yet we were wrong. Progress has been made, but there is still work to be done, the issue is not over. Which is why the sudden speed and progress is remarkable, perhaps we have underestimated something along the way about ourselves and society. It seems like the issue has moved so fast that it is hard to believe it wasnt long ago that people thought the issue regarding gay marriage would take decades, not years or even months to change and to progress the way it did. Not only that, but if you had told people back in 2011 while the controversy regarding Adventure Time was unfolding, that it wouldnt be long before other studios would purposely embrace or at least play with the idea of gay and lesbian characters in the open, they would had been shocked considering the debate happening at the time.

    We are clearly living a transitional period, something is happening, something is changing. I believe art is a mirror of society. Is hard to say how much art affects society, or how much society affects art. But it is clear along the way attitudes have changed.

    And yet there is something I want to add, prior to “the mask” I cannot think of any other gay cartoon characters from a kid show from that period or prior to that era. And when I think about lesbian cartoon characters from the west, I think about Kitty and Bunny. Why? After 12 years one would say they didnt leave much of an impact, but maybe I am wrong. Maybe they did had an impact. Perhaps their impact was too subtle and too spread out to notice, I am sure that the episode affected people without realizing, perhaps it was its subtlety and its masterful storytelling that leaves its mark on the viewer. I dont know what place in cartoon history “The Mask” belongs, but to me it was a rare moment when the west introduce me to the world of Yuri when I wasnt looking for it.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/FanTheories/comments/2ekxxh/

    http://www.toonzone.net/forums/cartoon-network-boomerang-cartoon-forum/52768-talkback-courage-cowardly-dog-47-a.html

    http://ruf1oh-n1tram.tumblr.com/post/62390341860/remember-that-episode-of-courage-the-cowardly-dog

    http://redevildevil.tumblr.com/post/113784245017/anthonyblaze-i-never-realized-how-obviously-in

    Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      Ah yes, “The Mask”. Like many I too did not notice the yuri subtext when I first saw it. That was also because my mind had not fully developed a passion for yuri yet. I liked lesbian media but not to the extent I do today.

      I agree with you on the argument that social media made a huge impact and brought change to how homosexuality is perceived not only in the world but on television.

      As for your theory on the yuri fanbase influencing Bubbeline’s relationship status, I think that is true. I highly doubt the writers had any intention of officially hooking them up or announcing that they once dated.

      Regarding KorraSami I’m not sure if the writers intended on hooking the two up by show’s end or if they were merely capitalizing on Bubbeline and outdoing them by having KorraSami go a weeeee bit further during season 3 and onward culminating with their canon status at the end. I think it’s both.

      As for other cartoon lesbian pairings in the West before Kitty and Bunny that we were aware of? I don’t know any. My discovery of the lesbian couples/characters in the DC universe, the pairing in “Jem and the Holograms” (canon in the comics anyway) and any others I have only discovered recently.

      Like

  9. yuriscout says:

    In terms of yuri there is great progress and this article is really heart warming. I know you aren’t a yaoi fan yourself but it needs to be made clear that Yaoi is not aimed towards gay men but straight women. The genre that is aimed towards homosexual men is bara and that isn’t making any progress at all.

    Liked by 1 person

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