So it is safe to say if you are a fan of mine, are remotely interested in the yuri genre and stalk yuri forum sites and the like the first episode of Mikagura School Suite (that aired on January 6th, 2015) and heard of the debate regarding protagonist Eruna Ichinomiya and the extent of her sexual preference. The following post will address this situation, specifically how I will approach her character from now on.
Episode 1 gave nation members plenty of reasons to support the theory that Eruna is both a yuri fangirl and a lesbian. Previews of episode 2 shows no signs of this dwindling. However, researchers who have delved deep into the recesses of the yuri forums, wikis and boards suggest that in the Mikagura manga and novel Eruna is either a heterosexual girl who likes cute girls for their cuteness or just a dreamer. This had alarmed some yuri fans into saying “Not again!” while others remained optimistic about Eruna being a shining beacon of hope.
I summed up my coverage of episode 1 with the following line: This show could either be a sacred yuri treasure or another Nobunagun. Basically queerbaiting in a negative sense. Gettting yuri fans’ hopes but later dashing them. Thankfully this does not look as bad as Cross Trash which blatantly screwed with yuri fans over and over again after the last minute bullcrap pulled in the OP.
Someone brought up Love Lab as an example of negative queerbaiting. No. This show from the get-go made it clear the girls were researching how to pick up boys. Some fans foolishly got delusional and believed Riko and Maki would somehow fall for each other in the end. Having said that, LL’s highlights are its massive shipping potential during the show and its inconclusive epilogue and it being a really good show overall.
For those wondering why Riko’s in the Yuri Hall of Fame and not Yu Kashima despite both being “chick magnets”? Because unlike Yu Riko remained neutral and very much feminine, even after the obligatory yet still stupid addition of the male characters not named “Huggy”.
The anime version at least gave us hope compared to the manga.
I could mention other examples of shows accused of negative queerbaiting like Gakuen Alice but that’s going a bit off track. Back to Eruna. One of my peeps brought up her similarity to another Yuri Hall of Fame inductee with a very similar name, way of expressing her desires and has her own “One”, Erena Mochizuki. Currently Eruna is in the Erena level of expressing her desires. Erena too likes girls but what made Erena special is that she never turned back. Lesbian or not she remained a girl who “likes girls”. Eruna could also remain this way but maybe, just maybe she could cross the line and go beyond lust and admiration for her “One”.
As it stands, Eruna has potential. Keyword being “potential”. She could either be an inspirational heroine who brings change to the landscape and be a lesbian protagonist from the start in an anime not about lesbians and one who MIGHT succeed…or she will be a “what could have been”. Too soon to tell as anime adaptations tend to differ from their source material somewhat.
Having said all this, I have come to the following conclusion regarding how I will approach from now on. Instead of contemplating whether Eruna’s quest to reserve two tickets for Holland will be a promise rather than delusional thinking, Instead of being worriedI will instead remain neutral, not get my hopes up but not stress about what could happen. Whatever happens, happens. This is not the first time the yuri nation had been in this kind of situation regarding potentially blissful yuri in a show that’s not dominated by a female cast. For now, all we can do is wait and see. No matter what happens in between, it ain’t over till it’s over.
I will make sure to remember this should another anime similar to this one pop up in the future.
Oh and since I brought up negative queerbaiting, here’s a perfect example from personal experience. I love NANA. It is one of my favorite soap-opera-ey anime of all time, possibly one of my favorite anime period…but DAMN IT ALL did the Nana X Nana teasing piss me off! Some would bring up how this situation is similar to Love Lab but for viewers who saw it, they know in this one the teasing was FAR MORE BLATANT!
Difference between negative queerbaiting and subtext, subtext has almost nothing standing in its way from deterring supporters.