So, as decided by you guys, we ended up with three possible topics:
And as you can already tell from the title, we decided to go with the winner of the poll (and possibly the hardest to actually talk about).
Seeing as I’m a self-proclaimed master in the arts of Yuri, I think we have that part covered up pretty well. I also have the lesbian part down, though I fear that thanks to my still too few experiences (meaning that I’ve only been with one girl so far), I thought it would be best to get some help in that department. So I brought in NotATsun, a professional lesbian (:P), who will hopefully shine some light of wisdom on all the topics that I might simply not have the needed experience in.
We’ll divide this post in three parts:
- Big Topics – How are lesbians usually depicted in yuri media?
- Small Topics – Recurring yuri themes
- What works do we think depict lesbians the most realistically?
Though, before we start, please note the following: Lesbians in media like anime, manga, or visual novels have been portrayed in many, many different ways. There is, of course, no one way lesbian characters are always depicted, and thus, this makes the underlying question very hard to answer. So to make it at least a little easier, we decided to only focus on yuri combined with genres like romance and slice of life and totally disregard those works that pair it up with genres like fantasy, horror, or any supernatural setting. If we want to talk about how realistic this all is, it doesn’t make sense to take these into account anyway.
With that said, we tried to narrow down some themes and settings in this genre that seem to always reoccur or simply show up in many different works. This will hopefully clear up the question that we first have to answer in order to even start discussion this topic:
To start things off, we just have to talk about how, especially in anime, lesbian characters are often—if not most of the time—added to appeal to the male audience. They’re added to look good, often end up oversexualized, and thus, their sole purpose often lies in simply fooling around with girls in order to attract a larger (male) audience.
Needless to say, lesbians do not exist to entertain guys, and just as the “404NoMenFound” setting seen in Yuru Yuri, for example, there is no connection to reality here. For those who don’t know what 404NoMenFound means, it just stands for a setting in which no guys are involved or even exist, only girls. And while a lesbian relationship might be all about, in fact, having no guys involved, reality looks quite different. This one might be a more obvious one for most of us, but other than your brother, your dad, or male friends you might have, in our experience, guys will always play some kind of role, even when it comes to a lesbian relationship. Though, this might lead to a totally different discussion, so let’s drop it right here and just say that both the NoMen-setting, as well as the lesbian fanservice one, don’t make any sense, reality-wise.
Moving on, we can definitely say that especially in manga, but in anime as well, girls always seem to notice their preferences in high school, making this the stage for their first relationship with a girl, and in general, their first experiences together. To be honest, I can definitely see how this lines up with reality. I had my first experiences at around the age of 15 or 16, just the same as when I realized that I actually liked girls that way. Same goes for NotATsun, though we can both agree that at this age, you might just not be able to, let’s say, label yourself a lesbian already. We often see doubt represented in these relationships, especially in manga. Phrases like “but we’re both girls” or “this is not normal” pop up a lot of times, and I feel like it’s such a normal thing to question it all, especially when it’s still not fully accepted in society.
This leads to the next big thing that we oh so often find in yuri media: portraying high school girls in relationships just as practice for “the real deal”, meaning being with a guy after. There actually is a term for this, “Class S” yuri. From what I’ve read, in Japan, it’s an almost common thing and is kind of socially accepted for girls to practice for when they “grow out of it” and get with guys. Personally, I have never thought of it that way, though, seeing that it’s a thing in Japan, I guess it does come close to reality, even though it might not be anywhere other than in Japan.
In addition to that, in yuri media, a lot of relationships between girls in this age range are portrayed as very pure. Kissing is as far as it goes, touching is taboo, and it’s all simply a very pure and “non-dirty” experience. Seeing that this is mostly shown in the case of two girls experiencing their first relationship, I can see why it might be this pure, or maybe we might even call it tame. But I also see that pureness in Japan might have a different meaning or importance than in some other parts of the world. Being pure is something very positive, and actions like small kisses between girls might not change that. I guess it’s something very hard to understand, so I can’t decide if if comes close to reality or not. Especially if you’re young, you want to experience things—romance in particular—and for most of us, this comes with more than kissing. On the other hand, I think when it’s your first relationship, sex doesn’t quite matter as much. Well, let’s just say pureness would not be a thing to consider, but at least for the two of us, sex wasn’t an important factor either.
Next up, we have love triangles. Takemiya Jin is the first name that pops up when thinking about that, but other than in manga, yuri love triangles pop up a lot in all types of media. Sometimes it’s with a guy involved, and sometimes it’s just between girls, but it will all, one way or another, simply lead to one thing – a lot of drama. While this is just an interesting way to add the drama needed, I can definitely see where we can find this in reality. Only between girls? Well, that’s a little more rare, especially for someone like me, who just doesn’t know that many other lesbians, though with another guy involved – that just happens. However, in contrast to how it is often portrayed in many yuri works, lesbians unfortunately don’t often come out of this love triangle as the resulting couple…
As the final big topic, I’d like to talk about how first experiences between girls are almost always described by one or even both of the girls with one word – soft. If it’s about the lips, their skin, or their in body in general, this word is dropped a lot. While I’ve never had a boyfriend to actually see or rather feel the difference here, we’ve heard and read a lot that girls just feel soft. To that, I can at least agree, though let’s have NotATsun add her thoughts here by quoting her: “Well, I’ve never fallen for a guy so I might be biased, but be careful of beards. They can be scratchy. Girl kisses, in my experience, are generally softer.”
Well, even if I never kissed a guy, I can agree that girls do have a lot of very soft spots. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
With that, let’s just move on to some one-liners or rather themes we see a lot in yuri media:
Knee in between the legs – That seems to be such a forward move. I’ve personally never experienced anything like that outside of, let’s say, the bedroom, and we both think that randomly putting your knee in between your (possible) partner’s legs might mostly be another ecchi theme to simply make things look good, or well, steamy.
Making out in school – This would personally scare the hell out of me. Especially when your at that age, I think most people would rather hide the fact that they are interested in a girl than possibly reveal it to the whole school. It can sadly be a quite dangerous thing in our society, so I don’t think that’s something you’d do all the time.
Incest – Quick one, that’s just a nope. 😛
Groping – I think the one thing all lesbians and probably all of humanity can agree on is the fact that boobs are awesome. They look awesome, they feel awesome, and I could basically go on with this forever and make myself look like a boob loving freak, so I’ll just stop right here. I think I don’t even have to add that this is in fact a theme that works just the same way in reality.
- Aoi Hana – Anime and Manga
- Sasameki Koto – Anime and Manga
- Girl Friends by Milk Morinaga
- Candy Boy (minus the twincest…)
- Kase-san by Takashima Hiromi
- Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossom Pink by Milk Morinaga
- Octave by Akiyama Haru
There are probably many, many more, though, let’s stick with these for now, and let’s see what else you might want to add to the list.
Now to make this interactive, I’d like to ask you three questions that basically line up with the three major topics we covered in this one:
Do you agree with our opinions or do you wanna add/remove something or maybe just add your own thoughts on some topics?
What other themes are there that are simply being added to yuri media all the time?
What other yuri shows/games/manga are there that you think are or portray lesbians realistically?
With that said, let’s finish this post and start the conversations posting some final words by none other than Rock The Vogt~
Jamesy: For me, this is probably an impossible question to answer, and it’s not made any easier by the fact that so many yuri artists/mankagas aren’t actually lesbians. Not having experienced these things for themselves, they’re probably not going to be able to accurately depict all the intricacies of certain scenarios that actual lesbians experience (like coming out, dealing with homophobia, etc.) Of course, there are things in all types of relationships that they could draw upon (love is love after all), but maybe that’s why those sensitive topics aren’t as widespread as people might hope for, and instead, a lot of yuri stories generally seem to take on lighter, more fluffy fare. And don’t forget that, at the end of the day, this is all meant to be entertainment, so realism might not be what gets people interested in yuri stories. If people can’t seem to get enough of idealized high school romance or sensationalized objectification, then I guess that’s what we’ll continue to see more of~