2009: Obama was sworn in as president, The King of Pop died, and yuri anime had its best year ever. Looking at the current slate of airing anime is usually a depressing affair that involves hoping and praying that a show will have something, anything for us to pin our yuri hopes to. More often than not, that results in disappointment and an early look towards what the next season might bring. But once upon a time, there was no need for any of that. Regardless of the season, there was a little something for every type of yuri fan~
To get a better idea of what exactly I’m talking about, let’s take a season-by-season look at some of the highlights of that year.
Starting off in the winter, the new year got off to a great start with the premiere of the fourth season of MariMite. Now, we haven’t actually reviewed MariMite yet, but this is perhaps the series that kicked off the modern yuri era, so I’m sure it’ll happen at some point. Nevertheless, it doesn’t get much better than getting another new season of a legendary yuri anime series, so this was the perfect way to begin the year. Winter also saw the continuation of 2008’s yuri anime of the year, Candy Boy. Only the final three episodes (as well as the EX02 special) made it into 2009, but each of the remaining episodes aired every other month, so it wasn’t until June that the series finally drew to its conclusion. Lastly, the parody series that everyone seems to hate, Maria†Holic, also began airing in January. It’s not really a yuri anime, and it’s pretty easy to take offense to its various jabs, but it did bring us one of our Yuri Anime Legends, ♫Miyamae Kanako♫, so it has to be mentioned as well. I’d argue that either the spring or summer of 2006 be considered the single best season in yuri anime history—largely thanks to the combo of Simoun and Strawberry Panic—but winter 2009 wasn’t too shabby either~
Moving on the spring, Candy Boy‘s bimonthly schedule saw it creep into this season as well, but overall, the spring couldn’t match the winter’s pure yuri goodness. However, what this season did bring us was yuri subtext, highlighted by K-On! and Saki. Admittedly, this is the weakest of the four seasons, but both K-On! and Saki turned out to be huge hits that spawned subsequent seasons, and in K-On!‘s case, a movie as well. I haven’t seen Saki yet, but I do know that K-On! was really good, and it’s another contributor to our Yuri Anime Legends post, so even though this season probably can’t even stand up to the recent winter season that saw Kobayashi-san, Kuzu no Honkai, and Urara Meirochou, it’s far better than nothing. Also, for the ecchi fans out there, the spring also gave us the first of two Queen’s Blade seasons. I’m sure no one would synonymize that series with high-quality, but for the T&A lovers, it’s a godsend. Overall, the spring was a decent season for yuri fans, but the remaining two seasons were a major improvement, and not only because pure yuri anime made a triumphant return.
After the modest yuri offerings of spring, summer turned out to be a completely different story. In addition to the second cour of Saki, one of my favorite girls with guns anime series started airing. I’m talking about Canaan, which not only had Liang Qi (another Yuri Anime Legend btw) and her twisted love for her onee-sama, Alphard, it balanced that out by having a much more sweet “friendship” between Canaan and Maria. Don’t get me wrong, Canaan x Maria was great and all, but the supernova of sexiness that is Canaan x Alphard is just too steamy not to mention. Those two might not be canon, but it doesn’t make the pairing any less awesome. Moving on, in stark contrast to the badassery of Canaan is the cute and crazy comedy Kanamemo. All right, I’ll admit that this anime is another one that I haven’t watched (I know! What the hell is wrong with me?!), but Lena loved it, so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say that this was another gem of a show that aired in the summer. But wait, there’s more! The pure yuri anime I mentioned in the previous paragraph was partially referring to Aoi Hana, which I think is one of the most realistic and relatable yuri anime that I’ve seen. Some people don’t love it for just those qualities—in addition to the overly serious nature of the show—but I’m not one of them. This is still one of my personal favorites, and even though the ending left a lot to be desired, I think yuri anime needs more shows like this. And we’re still not done with summer, because the final anime worth mentioning has a very familiar name attached. Of course, I’m talking about SonoHana, specifically, Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo: Reo x Mai Diaries. Yeah, this show pales in comparison to 2010’s full-fledged SonoHana hentai, Anata to Koibito Tsunagi, but for fans of the series, this is still a nice little treat. Pure yuri, girls with guns, yuri-heavy slice of life, and some SonoHana. What’s not to like about this season?!
And finally, we’ve come to fall. The fourth (yes, fourth!) and final pure yuri anime of the year is another one of my favorites, Sasameki Koto. Due in part to the names of the protagonists (Sumi and Fumi) as well as their similar appearance, I’ve always viewed Aoi Hana and Sasameki Koto as yuri anime siblings, but where the latter separates itself is in the surprisingly effective comedy. I don’t normally associate yuri anime with comedy, yet I found this show funnier than many other “traditional” comedy anime, and that can be attributed to Sumi, my all-time favorite yuri character. As funny as this show was at times, I feel the serious side of Sumi’s unrequited love for Kazama really gave this anime a well-roundedness that you don’t see too often in yuri anime. I’m all for romance, but who says you can’t have comedy also play a major role in a yuri anime? Going from one anime that I thoroughly enjoyed to one that I’ve never actually seen, the fall season also brought us Kämpfer. I’m probably not the biggest fan of gender-benders, but this quote from Lena paints the show in a pretty positive light: “It’s pure entertainment, with a lot of action, great animation and background music, and quite a few very funny moments.” Yet another season of Queen’s
Boobs Blade began airing this season, as did a show I’m not sure we’ve ever actually mentioned on YuriReviews, Kiddy GiRL-AND. I honestly don’t know much about it, but it has a decent score on MAL, not to mention the fact that several yuri clubs are attached to it, so at the very least, it seems like it might be worth giving it a shot.
There have been other years that have had strong yuri anime line-ups—with 2006 immediately coming to mind—what with Kashimashi, the second cour of Mai-Otome, and two cours of both of Simoun and Strawberry Panic, but from top to bottom, it’s pretty hard to top the depth and variety that 2009 had to offer.
With the news that Citrus and Netsuzou TRap are officially getting anime adaptations, the outlook on the future of yuri anime looks somewhat promising, but there’s still the disturbing trend of floundering sales for yuri anime in Japan. Someanithing is an extremely resourceful site that sheds some light on anime DVD and Blu-ray sales in Japan, and taking a look at the sales of some relatively recent yuri anime releases is discouraging, to say the least. Two that immediately come to mind from recent years are Sakura Trick, and more recently, Flip Flappers, and from the sound of it, the first week sales of each were pretty terrible. Here’s what was written about Sakura Trick way back in 2014 on the March 17th – March 23rd Weekly Sales List:
“Sakura Trick v1 sells 2238/317, total 2,555. That with DVDs inexplicably ranking, massive storefront domination at Gamers, and an event ticket. RIP Sakura Trick, RIP yuri anime, RIP every goddamn thing in this goddamn world.”
As for Flip Flappers, this comment in the January 2nd – January 8th Weekly Sales List makes it seem like it didn’t fare any better:
“Flip Flappers v1 sells 883 BDs, DVDs do not rank. 41.4% overestimated, presumably due to the Amazon exclusive box. It sold a literal fucking fractal. This market disgusts me.”
Okay, I’m not going to pretend I understand the intricacies of all that goes into this reporting, but it’s obvious that that’s not good. Say what you will about the constantly changing landscape of anime, with Crunchyroll, Funimation, Netflix, Anime Strike, and other, less legal streaming sites making things more difficult to fully understand, but outside of this little yuri bubble we live in, the fact remains that matters might not be quite as rosy as we’re making them out to be.
Regardless, 2017 has been a pretty good year thus far for us yuri fans, and with more shows coming down the pike, we’re in store for some very entertaining times. So who knows, if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll end up with a lineup that can possibly challenge 2009, the greatest year in yuri anime history~