Interactive Post – How Realistically Does The Yuri Genre Portray Lesbians?

So, as decided by you guys, we ended up with three possible topics:

polldaddy poll results

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:

What is typically yuri?

 

Or in other words, how does the genre typically portray lesbians?

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.

valkyrie drive fanservice

Valkyrie Drive is a perfect example of yuri that is targeted at a 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.

Kase-san 2018 announcement

Kase-san by Takashima Hiromi

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.

large

Kissing Mars by Kishi Torajirou

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…

softttt

Shine! NaoRei Blooms in the Early Summer!! by Kasumi

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.

sakura-trick-2-5

Sakura Trick

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. 😛

4GeY2Cl

Yuru Yuri

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.


Lastly, what works do we think depict lesbians the most realistically?

 

  • 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~

tomoko watamote

 

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~

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76 thoughts on “Interactive Post – How Realistically Does The Yuri Genre Portray Lesbians?

      • I think I may have misused my terminology – maybe militant lesbian? The super forward girls that don’t give up even if the object of their desire has stated she’s straight… Think Haruka in Sailor Moon (although it’s mostly teasing…) or Benio in Ouran. It’s an ok archetype but I find it overused, especially in anime where there’s only a few Yuri characters.

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        • Ohhh that’s what you meant 😀
          Yeah, to a certain extend I really enjoy seeing them, but my problem rather is that they are mostly added for comedy reasons and so they never end up actually getting what they want.

          Liked by 2 people

          • I agree with this. I hate how yuri characters get thrown into a story like that for nothing more than comedic relief since they are more than likely going to NOT get the girl in the end. Just feels cheap when they add a little bit of yuri into something but they wind up not really doing anything with it other than to have us laugh at said lesbian character because she fails in love.

            Liked by 1 person

  1. Very interesting post but, as is the case with Rock, I don’t really qualify to speak on it being not a lady and not a lesbian. I think the biggest thing to note is really that, as mentioned near the top, it’s fairly difficult to really pin down the way lesbians are portrayed in anime/manga given that they’re medium and not genre outside of some commonalities.

    I do wish there were more portrayals of lesbians in anime/manga that were more about the girls involved, whatever that means in the anime/manga in question, and less about just using lesbians (or maybe “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” lesbains) to appeal to a stereotypical male audience or generate buzz. That’s one reason why I do tend to prefer yuri with few or no male characters regardless of how unrealistic that scenario is but, as also said above, that’s another topic altogether.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Especially in anime, we just see way more of these “ecchi lesbian additions” to shows that are just there for one reason, so I also often end up thinking that what we really need is a show with just girls and no distractions from that at all, meaning exactly the 404NoMeanFound thingy. Though, then again, how boring would that be… well, after a while at least 😛

      Liked by 3 people

  2. It’s always amusing watching the gravity-defying sex positions in SonoHana. A lot of yuri seems to be done by men and often it’s obvious (LESBIANS = HOT or PURE). And when it’s done by a woman, well, it veers either towards realism (with extra drama) or fantasy. But can you blame them? I know I like to share in the fantasy. And, after all, it is fiction.

    It’s hard to relate to the ideas of realism as a trans girl that’s (probably sadly) not had any relationship experience, let alone high school ones, but I do feel I can relate to characters coming to terms with their sexuality. Especially Yuzu in Citrus.

    That said, as much as I enjoy realistic lesbians like Aoi Hana’s Fumi, I do tend to prefer when they’re a bit more over-exaggerated like Chikane/Hazuki (do they have a realistic gaynst? I feel it’s a little exaggerated but it’s not wrong) etc but that’s probably for more entertainment’s sake. Still, I tend to write off the “lesbians” from 404NoMenFound shows (I love that term) as actual lesbians (even though I do enjoy them).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh reading this now reminds me that I actually wanted to add some SonoHana pics and discuss the sex and exactly those “gravity-defying sex positions” among other things, but I think it was a good decision not to do that… maybe some of them would actually work, who knows 😛

      Also, for me I guess I mostly wish for fantasy works that have lesbian characters that have a realistic feel to them. I know I left this genre out completely since it’s hard to find the said realism in these works, though what they can have is a realistic lesbian character or couple, simply in an unrealistic setting.
      Funnily, I can’t name even one show that has that… maybe I need to think about this more.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I was going to say maybe Blue Drop, but one of them is an alien from an all female planet, so maybe not.
        The only other one that comes to mind is Always Human, but you might be looking for a title with a larger audience?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, to be honest, I don’t even remember Blue Drop anymore and Always Human… I think I read only a little of that. Though, of the couple or the characters are depicted realistically, then yeah. Still, I don’t remember enough of either of those … 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I was very glad to see that you posted this right after opening my mailbox. I was very impatient about seeing how our senpai will lead this interaction topic.

    Personally, I’m an aromantic asexual boy so there are lot of things I can’t understand. However, having known lot of straight, bi and gay people all around me for my life, I can kind of understand few things.

    You are awesome by the way! Be proud of who you are, dear Lena K. Not that many people will post something like this.That’s why I am proud to say that you are my idol.

    Now, let’s talk business!
    Yuri… That genre is deep. I’ve only started watching it about five or so years ago. At first, it was because “girl on girl is hot”. However,watching Candy Boy, Kashimashi and Strawberry Panic has changed my opinion. I started realizing that lesbians aren’t just tool or eyecandy for the like of me and has started leading lot of research on Wikipedia. After few months, reading reviews written by homosexual people and watching lot of video,I have realized lot of things. That was when I have started respecting everyone’s choice, all kind of sexuality.

    In my country, same-sex relationship is very taboo and all. Most gay men are usually said to be gross while lesbians are seen as hot bitches who were hurt by men and are just finding comfort with each others. To be honest, I hate that way of thinking but it’s just life. It’s as someone once said. “Gay men: make it look gross! Lesbian: oversexualize it!”

    Talking about anime, they can be irealistic a lot. I originally watched them for fun. As for Yuri anime/manga, I’ve loved them because I thought it was nice for girls to be honest with themselves and admit attraction toward the same gender. To be honest, having spent a very troubled and sad childhood, I have always dreamed about the barrier separating people (gender) to fade away. Every problem for us humans are always because of gender so my craziest dream was to eradicate that. With that dream, my admiration toward the Yuri and Yaoi genre has bloomed as well as the respect toward everyone.

    All the Yuri anime are just big fake. At least, that’s what I am thinking until now. Most of them put lesbians as people who either just overfocus on the present and care less about the future or practical tool or just bait. I was tired of that at a certain time. I just wished that a good anime, focusing on real queer relationship, showing their beautiful ending and how they face the fact of coming out to their families and how they face homophobia, would air someday.

    The shows like Valkyrie Drive are just to emphasis the “girl on girl is hot” thing and it’s being a pain. I just wished they really air a Yuri anime that is not either just fanservice or subtext or “practical”.

    Talking about which, I really liked Wife and Wife (manga) but it’s a little too… (how do I say it…) fantasy-like, as if everything was always all right. Sure, it is a great manga but… life is not only made of sweetsand candies.

    Now, for the experiences, I have to admit, I might be asexual and can’t get attracted to anyone but boobs can feel great. Having a weak body, I usually played alone and only hung with girls. The problem is that they like to shove me in their “airbag” and I will be lying if I said they aren’t nice. However, playing with each other’s breast, in my country isn’t taboo but not to be done in public. You might get teased by adults but they show no sign of homophobia. At least, breast foundling between girls is okay here and so are kisses (everywhere on the face but the lips). The other day, I saw two girls kissing cheeks, forehead, hands and even chin in public and the passer-by just scoffed and walked away without any comment, meaning thay society has changed a lot compared to the 60s or 90s.

    The actual population is still mostly composed of lot of homophobic people but at least, more straight people are supporting us who are not straight. That can sometimes be portrayed in some anime with the “shipper on a deck” tropes. They support L and G relationship by shipping two characters and hope for them to end up together.

    For the others, I have nothing more to add.Just that you are awesome, senpai. Thank you for doing this post and wish you a very good day, to you and your girlfriend. Also, I wish everyone who support LGBTS (S straight) a good day as well.

    Good job as well, senpai!

    Salut internet !

    – YayaSamuko

    Liked by 1 person

    • First of all, thank you for opening up like this 🙂
      It’s so damn interesting to read about these things, your thoughts, your experiences and well you put a solution to the whole deal of, let’s call it differences and the resulting problems in the word.
      Where are you from if that’s okay to ask? I really can’t pinpoint or even guess even after all you said about your environment.

      In Germany, it’s kind of similar, though I can see that people are actually trying. I kissed in public before and well that was with a girl and people reacted to it in many different ways. Some just started, some actually said something like “oh look, lesbians” and some either smiled or one even gave us a thumbs up. It’s a mixed thing, but in here, we’re finally learning a little more about respecting everyone, though oh god, it will take waaaay more time until everyone has that down 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s fine! I’m from Madagascar. It’s not as popular as your country but it has its own story.

        I’m glad to hear that life is getting better for us LGBTQIAS. It is very different from 10 years ago. I wonder if our image will get better in 10 years.

        Hope I was of any help.

        Good day!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. As a young man, I always thought it would be great to “get caught between a couple of lesbians”. However, as I found out after serving on the university senate, being caught between a couple of lesbians is absolutely no fun at all …

    Liked by 1 person

      • Well, if you have to explain a joke it is not funny.
        But what I meant that like a lot of guys I always thought it would be great to have a 3-way with 2 willing ladies, and where everyone would be in love with each other.
        i.e. “caught between two lesbians.”

        I actually got caught in an argument between two unattractive man-hating lesbians at at a committee meeting once. So, no — getting “caught between two lesbians” in that case is not much fun …

        Liked by 1 person

  5. 1) I overall agree with your opinions, but I think there are some specific topics that’d need a more in-depth analysis. For example, the concept of “girls being pure”: it bothers me how women are not expected to talk openly about sex without that being frowned upon. Of course this sort of scenario changes depending on the country you’re from, but this is definitely a thing in conservative countries. It’s almost like women saying they enjoy sex and how they like it is a crime or something, and you’ll be labeled as a whore for saying that. Sex is not dirty, and I wish people understood this. I don’t really mind reading yuri with no sex for that is not what defines a relationship, but I think we need to question why the whole “girls being pure” thing is so reoccurring on the yuri genre. That aside, I also agree that boobs are awesome, but I don’t like it when there’s groping out of nowhere and no consent/intimacy for that whatsoever.

    2) I can’t really think of other tropes besides the ones you already mentioned right now… But man, some of these are really annoying.

    3) Since I’d go with Kase-san and Octave for Japanese stories, I’ll have to pick manhwas in this case. Korea has a lot to offer when it comes to GL, especially because most of the comics are centered around adults, so as a gay woman myself, it just feels more realistic to me, and there aren’t that many tropes (although love triangles are definitely a thing there as well). My favorite ones are What Does The Fox Say? and The Third Party. Pulse was good to a certain extent and there are a few others with fantasy stuff that I like as well, but as far as being realistic goes… These will be my picks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh I know… I also already knew why I didn’t go into detail with these things or else I’d make it a rant on how much I hate these types of let’s call it mindsets of probably unfortunately the majority of the world. It’s annoying and I kind of don’t see it changing too much in the future which sucks…

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  6. I don’t have much to add (Since i’m a straight male, with zero experiences on this). But this was certainly interesting to read, hearing what are your thoughts on the portrayals of lesbians in manga/anime. I’ve read everything except Octave from the list, Yuri is by far my favorite genre, especially the more pure ones. I feel much more invested in it than any romance I’ve read between a man and a woman.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It definitely conveys very special feelings, don’t you think? I mean I know a lot of straight girls for example who simply enjoy reading these more than a romance between a guy and a girl and it makes me think that there’s just something so special about so many yuri works~

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  7. Hey Lena, it’s Melanie. ^.^/
    Personally I understood about me liking girls way before highschool but I think it’s for many around there and many authors probably use that time frame because their readers age is from there and it’s important to make the readers connect with their characters.

    I think many yuri have realistic feeling characters I can conncect with. Many of Milk Morinaga’s works and also Kase san. There, girls fall in love with the opposite from how they are and I noticed that’s also true for me. You also feel if the series is written by a girl or guy pretty easily. At least I do and I feel much more comfy with someone who’s maybe felt the same as me or experienced these things for real.

    But I enjoy every kinds of yuri and not everything has to be realistic to me all the time. I also watched Valkyrie Drive and it didn’t gave me the impression it’s for guys. Sure it’s over the top but I never thinked that much about it to be honest. Sexualizing things is everywhere, and they also sexualize guys in yaoi so I don’t see them doing that in yuri is for boys but maybe I’m wrong. O.o There’s also artistic freedom and cultural differences, not everyone has the same kinds of what’s realistic. ^.^

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yaaaaay, you made it! Welcome to the realm of nice people here on YuriReviews 😀
      Also, I agree! Oversexualizing works both ways and it’s often disregarded when it comes to male characters getting that treatment. Well, to be honest, I think there are a lot of factors playing into this, just like you said anyway.

      In the end, I think it should all be about enjoying what you watch and not hating on the things you don’t like. Though, that’s something we will never learn and I’m certainly guilty of that too 😀

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  8. To reply to your second question, there’s one theme I keep seeing in yuri stories, and it’s one I struggle with a lot. I’m surprised you didn’t bring it up, but maybe you didn’t want to bum people out. I apologize in advance….

    It’s when a yuri couple separates. Not that they break up, but that they have to be apart.

    ***SPOILERS***

    I LOVED Sasameki Koto, but then Kazama had to leave to help her grandma, I think.
    I liked Girl Friends (Morinaga Milk), but they went to different schools.
    There was one called Blue Friend (Eban Fumi), where they went to different schools.
    I LOVED Madoka Magica, but Madoka left at the end of the TV series, and that movie totally ruined Homura for me…
    I know of your fondness for Kannazuki no Miko, but that was still hard for me to watch.
    Nights of Azure (video game) was really cute, but the upcoming sequel makes it look like the other girl is gone.

    ***END SPOILERS***

    You see what I mean? That’s 6 off the top of my head. I know some are just in long distance relationships, but I keep seeing this and it KILLS me.

    Why can’t more yuri stories just have perfectly happy endings? It bums me out, knowing the gay minority already struggles with equal representation in media.

    It’s gotten to the point where I get anxious whenever there’s a new series I really like that has even a hint of yuri. I have to pray to the gods it doesn’t get ruined for me.

    I would love more Little Witch Academia, but what if they ruin that Akko x Diana potential? I liked Princess Principal a lot, but if the day does come when Ange can smile for them all, does that mean Princess will leave her side?

    Sorry, I just really needed to get that off my chest. But getting back on topic, I care less about the balance we see in realistic representation – although I do think we need it – and personally I’m more concerned with a more endearing representation. That is, to say, I want more happy endings. I don’t want to have to cross my fingers and hope for a happy yuri ending every time there’s a new series.

    I liked Wife x Wife, that was simple and cute. Even Notes from the Garden of Lillies, as short as that was. Are there any other happy yuri endings out there you can recommend?

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    • I totally understand your anxiety! That happens to me everytime when I watch a new anime, hopping that the Yuri pairing with have a good ending.

      To be honest, [spoiler] the ending of Blue Drop and Kannazuki no Miko left me crying so much. But now that I think about it, most Yuru anime (even of 21st century) has either ambiguous or bad ending. Here; take a look at Sakura Trick; it’s so obvious their “romance” will end as they will graduate. Strawberry Panic’s ending was nice but too ambiguous. We don’t know how Tamao, Suzuma and Nagisa’s life are after they graduate. For Miyuki, she is going to get married, at least, that was her guaranteed ending… but what about Chitaru? About Yaya, Tsubomi, Chyou, Remon, Kagome and the others? Did they end up as happily married couple or forced apart?
      [end of the spoilers]

      If you’re really looking for an anime with a liveable nice Yuri ending, I don’t know that much. Most of them has ambiguous ending and it’s just annoying me. But if you really insist, then try Kuttsukiboshi (a ecchi anime of 2 episodes but has the two together at the end) and if you cringe and don’t blink, a very slim case can be seen at the end of Hourou Musuko.

      That’s all I can advise since most Yuri anime like Yuri Kuma Arashi whose end made me cry bittersweet tears, Yuru Yuri that never ends, Shingeki no Kyojin that made me cry like a baby, Ange Vierge (who has a nice plot and ending and would have been better if it wasn’t for the “I love you! I really love you as a friend” line that broke everything).

      So, yeah! Good day to you!

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      • Bittersweet is definitely the word I was looking for. I still really like all of the works I listed, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t want bittersweet anymore.

        Kase-san gives me hope, since they’re already attending college and they’re still together, but that’s not finished yet.

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      • Also, if I may attempt to assuage your worries over Sakura Trick…

        ***SPOILER***
        Although I don’t know where the manga will take it, I actually really like what I’m seeing so far. Taking evidence from the text, I don’t think graduation will necessarily end Haruka and Yuu’s relationship, since Mitsuki had already graduated in the last episode of the anime and she still actively pursued a Haruka romance.

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        • I actually never thought about this, thanks for bringing this up!
          This surely is a recurring thing now that I think about it. It’s more often than not only hinted at that this kind of separation might actually ruin the relationship so even if they have to separate, they might still be together.

          Let’s actually take Sakura Trick as an example. Even though, it took them the whole run of the show to understand that what they are feeling is love, their bond feels really strong. In one or two episodes we even see Haruka dreaming about living with Yuu, being married and having a child together. I think these scenes alone just make me think that even if they have to separate, they will find their way back to each other and possibly not even split up at all.

          Then again, this might just be me.
          Though, we have to keep in mind that while in yuri media the couples might end up having to (temporarily) be apart, but in way too many TV shows the lesbian characters end up actually dying, so I think we might still have it good 😛

          Liked by 1 person

  9. This was so awesome! It was really cool for you to bring in someone who knows Yuri quite well. 😉 I loved this so much and you guys are officially my favorite blog of all time. ✋ High five!

    (And Kase-san is my favorite, so it was awesome that it’s on the list. I totally agree!)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. >lesbian characters are often—if not most of the time—added to appeal to the male audience.

    While I like this discussion in general (seeing that I am not a female, so this kind of discussion always help me understand female [and lesbian in particular] better), I think it is unfair to open it this way.

    First, outside series that specifically oversexualize its character (like Queen’s Blade or Ikkitousen), I haven’t seen lesbian being oversexualize. Maybe in a harem series, but they are usually bisexual instead of a lesbian. And as these series (where female is being oversexualized) main selling point is the female oversexualization itself, saying a lesbian being oversexualized is redundant because all females there are oversexualize.

    Second, as far as I can see, adding lesbian doesn’t make a series more successful for male audience. Manyuu Hikenchou doesn’t sell a lot even though the anime is more yuri friendly than the manga. Anime like Girlfriends Beta still flop even though no female has male love interest. And as much as it hurts me, Ange Vierge flop hard, despite having two lesbian couples, and one yuri harem. “Girl on girl is hot” is a trope, and might be successful for porn, but they sure don’t make more male want to buy a series.

    Which lead to third point, “yuri anime doesn’t sale”. Or to say what actually happened, drama-centric yuri didn’t sell. I think it is fair to say that yuri centric anime is dead in 2009, with the failure of both Sasameki Koto and Aoi Hana. Yuri centric anime is revived again in 2011 with the success of yuru yuri (and maybe Madoka), but until Yuri Kuma Arashi in 2015 (or if you don’t want fantasy, Netsuzuo Trap this year), there has been no drama-centric yuri anime since 2009. And YKA didn’t sell well (or NTR, as far as stalker’s numbers go).

    And this lead to why I disagree on your point on oversexualized lesbian in anime. Instead of “lesbian added to appeal to male audience”, the way I see it is, “Because the only two kind of series where anime with lesbian can still be relatively successful is in anime where female is oversexualized”, which lead to the lesbian being oversexualized by virtue of being a female. The other kind of anime is Slice of Life genre where 404NoMenFound applied (which only become a real trend since K-ON! and most of it comes from one set of magazines, Manga Time Kirara).

    Sure, “lesbian act” aroused male, but I never seen lesbian added to appeal to male. Unless by male we talk about yuri fan here, but that isn’t restricted to male, or by lesbian we talk about “lesbian” who later convert to be male’s love interest, but I am sure we don’t talk about that here.

    All these long paragraphs are really to say that I don’t think from the proportion of lesbian (and not “lesbian”) that get oversexualized in anime (and especially if we include manga) with lesbian character in it is enough to warrant the phrase “often—if not most of the time—added to appeal to the male audience”.

    And I also disagree with the implication that male is the one that ultimately support yuri (yuri exist because the characters are lesbians, so if lesbian is added to appeal to male, yuri exist to appeal to male), instead of this genre being a more even handed. One can simply see the example of Yuri Hime that tried to branch off with Yuri Hime S (Yuri magazine targeted to male audience), which ultimately re-absorbed as there is not enough male audience to support it. There is also the fact that Valkyrie Drive reportedly has a sizeable female fans despite targeted toward male audience.

    Again, historically speaking, male has been a bad fan base to support a yuri series. Sono Hana’s success is an exception that proof the rule, because Sono Hana (as far as I know) is the first yuri VN to exclusively target male audience. I don’t think there is any other yuri VN that end up successful by solely targeting male audience.

    That is not to say that none of those lesbians added aren’t appealing to male who like them or that lesbian being added to a series comes with no intention to show some “skinship” that interest male, I just don’t think the numbers of it (especially when count in the kind of the show where said lesbian exist) warrants the phrase “often” or “most of the time”.

    I am sorry for this long comment for a simple sentence, but it honestly troubles me because I think it reeks conflating “lesbian” in harem genre (and het porn, and other non-anime stuff [like western show]) with characters who are actually lesbian (especially in answering the question on “how does yuri genre portray lesbians”).

    Like

    • I suppose I’m half-and-half agreeing with you and Lena. I disagree that most lesbians in anime/manga are made to appeal to men since the yuri demographic is actually close to 50:50 in terms of m:f. However, I do definitely agree that there is a lot of male-gaze centric yuri in production.

      If you see art where there are two girls in-the-act yet looking at the audience, this is inherently for the male-gaze, at least most of the time. If you don’t realise, it’s making the art an invitational to a threesome; it reduces lesbian sexual acts down to pure voyeurism or male-centric.

      Other times, as I suppose I alluded to in my original post a few comments up though didn’t expand upon, the 404NoMenFound works are often, though ambiguously, male-centric. The idea of Class-S relationships being greenlit by Japanese society as “normal” means that girls can be close, but only as a sort-of “practice” period for when they will eventually be made into wives. It’s a little stomach-churning to me, but the Class S genre has, since the Year 48ers (or is it 49ers? I can never remember) took back this concept and retargeted it for women in an act of feminism. Still, I would argue that quite a bit of yuri subtext works are trying to revert the Class-S relationship back to a male design, and it usually comes across as a male-driven piece when it happens. I can’t think of any of these off the top of my head for examples since I tend to avoid them, but I’ve definitely read about quite a few.

      Further, if you haven’t been keeping up with Kaishaku’s work since Kyoushiro To Towa no Sora, they essentially decided that they stopped wanting to have Chikane (or Kaon) fuck Himeko and instead they just wanted to fuck (or molest or rape) the hot lesbian themselves. It would be amusing if not so harrowing, seeing the sexual degradation of their own character – simply because they’re sexually attracted to them. Yes, this killed the success they had (amongst other things I’m sure), but Zettai Amnesian was 100% a male-target manga. Kannazuki no Miko, on the other hand, managed to be a lot more all-encompassing of demographic.

      I suppose to finish my counter-argument – or perhaps, a counter-agreement – is to reference the “lesbian” in the Monogatari series. Congratulations are in order for writing a self-identified lesbian into a non-yuri work, but why on earth sexualise them like that? Why make them part of the male MC’s growing harem? Ugh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love where this is going, seeing discussions like this is absolutely what this post should be all about~

        Well anyway, I think B-M covered like almost everything I might have wanted to say, though let me just add a a few things. While I think you can say this about pure yuri shows, or well shows with yuri characters as the protagonists, I was mostly talking about shows where lesbian characters are just thrown into the mix, meaning they are not the main focus of the show or the protagonists, just side characters. I guess this makes most sense when we focus on ecchi or harem shows where it’s very obvious what the target group is. While I do agree that yuri characters are not always added to attract more male viewers, I can still see that especially in ecchi shows, this is a tool used to gain just that and I think it might as well work or else they wouldn’t do it anymore.
        Or better even, add lesbians to a harem show and by the end of it, have them lust over the male protagonist just like stated above…
        Though, that’s a different topic and I should better not start talking about this 😛

        Liked by 2 people

        • I agree with MarkS00N in that while it may seem like yuri is added to an anime or manga or a full yuri series is made just to attract a male audience I feel it just comes down to who likes yuri. I think yuri is added to appeal to just about anyone that likes it is all, be they man or woman and such. I know girls who enjoy ecchi shows with yuri like Queen’s Blade and raunchy yuri franchises like Valkyrie Drive and Shoujo Sect. It all comes down to how each person feels about yuri in particular. I do agree with Lena though on calling out shows and manga that are harem stories with a male protagonist and a yuri character is thrown in just for laughs and titillation where she never gets the object of her desires and is usually left out with nothing positive happening for her. It’s one of my many problems with franchises that use the harem trope. Though I am sure we can all agree, a harem story with a girl at the center of other girls trying to be with her are a-ok in our books! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  11. I totally agree that the prevalence of incest in Yuri stories, even between Twins or step-siblings, feels vastly unrealistic. There’s something like 22 pages of incest stories in scanlation on Dynasty. Is it really that provocative? My ex-girlfriend and I once did a photo montage of “twincest” imagery where we appear in the photo twice “making out with our twin”. It was highly absurd looking.

    Similarly, I’ve always found the prevalence of girl-on-girl rape in Yuri to be unrealistic and problematic. Rape is too often used in storytelling to denote a character is particularly unbalanced/complete lack of moral compass, etc. and Yuri is no exception. Rape perpetrated by women is sadly a reality in the West. “Sexual victimization by women perpetrators occurs mostly against men and occasionally against women” (qtd. in “Research Finds Sexual Victimization Perpetrated by Women More Common than Previously Known”), a Williams Institute study from last year found. Is the issue just as common in Japan? I wonder to what extent rape is used in Yuri as a slipperly slope (illogical assumption of inevitability) to connote lesbianism as deviant behavior to be shunned. As a plot tool it also feels overused and the idea of how desensitized we’ve become to its use in storytelling is problematic. It bothers me that they’re five pages of Yuri stories in scanlation on Dynasty tagged as having rape and none as having “questionable consent” or “positive consent”. I’m not sure I want to know the statistics for how common an occurrence it is in anime.

    I think the most realistic Yuri story I know of that hasn’t been mentioned is Maria-sama ga Miteru. The anime only describes a fraction of the content of the novels (which tend to read as occasionally autobiographical), but even from just watching the first season it’s difficult to point to scenes that aren’t completely believable/relateable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When discussing rape in anime/manga it’s hard to specifically talk about yuri, because it’s even somewhat popular in het/yaoi works too. However, the degree to which it is present could definitely be concerning, though I’d have to look at the rates of which occur. Still, in terms of feel, you’re right, it definitely feels it’s too much and is probably harmful.

      There’s a similar thing to say about incest, too. It’s strangely common in all anime/manga regardless of orientation. This one I’m fairly sure, going by feel alone, isn’t particularly exaggerated in yuri. Also, while I object to rape 100% of the time, I am not opposed to incest, and I think you will find there’s a similar acceptance throughout the community to incest while rape is much less accepted (although I need to stress that although, personally, I wouldn’t partake in incest, I wouldn’t criticise somebody else for partaking in it)

      Liked by 1 person

      • “Also, while I object to rape 100% of the time, I am not opposed to incest”
        Exactly. I also think that especially this whole incest thing is something we might only find that often in Japanese media. Though, I’m totally not sure about this, seeing that I usually don’t research topics like these 😛

        Liked by 2 people

  12. So this isn’t really a genre per se, but there are a few autobiographical manga out there. “The Private Report on My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness” is the first one that comes to mind. Another is “Our Journey to Lesbian Motherhood”. They certainly have a realism to them by nature.

    PS
    I really like the Kissing Mars pic you used. I really like that author and think he writes pretty compelling characters. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kissing Mars is an extraordinary manga, principally because of the complexity and credibility of the characters. I think of it as a yuri manga, and first discovered it on Dynasty scans, and yet one of the characters has expressed only a het sexual orientation and the other leaves a het relationship (an exploitative one, at that) due to a budding infatuation with her dignified, gracious and inexperienced het female friend. One of the things I find most captivating about the story is the positive change in Yukari’s self-perception and the resulting changes in her demeanor as she becomes aware of her attraction to Sayami. The “transformative effect of love” trope is a common one in yuri manga, but its application is fleshed out particularly well in this manga.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Hey KP!! Long time no see! *waves*

        Yeah, I totally agree with you there. It’s a great story, and I guess it’s like Lena was mentioning about how a realistic story will invariably involve a certain amount of het.
        I really enjoy reading that kind of trope too. 😀

        Liked by 3 people

            • I understand, no need to hide… manga is a very personal thing, and I already knew our tastes were a bit different. I like some aspects of the art, and dislike others. I agree with Shade about the legs – the legs are drawn to look like real, often somewhat chubby legs. I think this is but one manifestation of this mangaka’s intention to tell stories about people the way they really are, with myriad faults and weaknesses along with strengths. I think the mangaka likes to tell stories that involve “uglier” emotions like anger, jealousy, vanity, and arrogance, and does an excellent job capturing facial expressions and body language associated with those emotions, but the depictions are sometimes difficult for me to look at because I react to the ugly emotions depicted. I’m not crazy about the overly plump lips and pronounced false eyelashes on most females. In my opinion, these characteristics are even more pronounced in Virgins’ Empire, the mangaka’s current series, a series that includes a few very interesting characters but a bit too much ecchi for me and less fondness for many of the characters than I’d like. I’m not sure, but the mangaka may be transforming, or making a statement about, CGDCT, just as Puella Magi Madoka Magica transformed or made a statement about mahou shoujo.

              p.s. I liked your comment because you told me how you really feel, not because you ran away and hid. Please come back! d=(´▽`)=b

              Liked by 3 people

              • *crawls back out of my hiding place* Phew, I like that I can be honest here even with these things. Reminds me of the positive feedback I got even for my NTR rant, it’s nice~
                On the other hand, not gonna lie, you made it sound like an awesome work and I’m close to at least reading some more to see how I like it.

                Liked by 2 people

                • Everyone has there own preferences Lena no need to be afraid to speak your mind 🙂 I myself like the artwork of the author behind Maka Maka and Otome No Teikoku but for me I didnt really care for Kissing Mars as much as those other works of his.

                  Liked by 2 people

  13. Hello, long time fan of the blog but I’ve never commented before. I just wanted to share my perspective as an older (late 30s) lesbian yuri fan.

    I think yuri in general does a pretty poor job of representing real lesbian relationships… and while I would love to see some better representation, I don’t really see that happening anytime soon mostly for the reasons in the article above.

    If lesbians exist (at least in the stories that get turned into anime from manga) only for their sexual appeal and/or at a young age where it could still be a phase, none of it has to be considered “real”. I can’t think of an anime that has a committed romantic relationship between adult women who are together despite the difficulties of being a minority and the availability of male partners. I think stories that get made into anime always have some kind of way to back away from that (e.g. “I love you… as my best friend!”).

    That being said, we can still all enjoy the escapism and fantasy. It’s simple fluff, and quite entertaining (or else why would be all be fans of it!?)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hello there, good to see some new faces here (finally commenting) 😛

      When it comes to anime, we admittedly don’t have that much. It’s either fanservice yuri, or high school love stories. The latter we also don’t get too often, but if anything, that’s what it is.

      After both Sasameki Koto and Aoi Hana didn’t do that well, I think they just didn’t try with more realistic stories like this anymore. Well okay, let’s focus on Aoi Hana here rather than Sasameki Koto. It’s of course a High School story again, but in my eyes the most realistic depiction of lesbians in yuri anime so far. Maybe I just can’t think of any at the spot, but it seems you’re right and we unfortunately really didn’t get much or any yuri between adult women (that we can at least to some point call realistic). A pity in my eyes…

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well, there is always books for better depictions of adult life.

        Still, I have hopes that one day an anime will get it right. I think the best I’m looking for right now in anime is secondary characters already in a relationship. There have been a few of those that are pretty nice (like Margot and Malga in Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere).

        I totally loved Aoi Hana when it came out… it’s been so long I think I’ll go re-watch it 😀

        Liked by 3 people

    • COOL! May I say that I am actually kinda relieved that there’s someone else here that is also in their late 30s! When Lena had that demographics survey many moons ago, I think I was the oldest one that responded. It feels kinda like I’m that creepy looking geezer at the party, you know? 😛

      I mean, I remember when the Berlin wall came down, or when the latest fashion trends were shoulder pads and corduroy pants (the 80s *shudder*).

      Basically, It’s good to hear from you! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aw come on, don’t you worry about that, seriously.
        With age comes wisdom right? Or is that the wrong thing to say right now….? 😛

        Though, in all seriousness, I’m quite happy to see people of all ages coming and loving the genre, it’s super awesome~
        (Also, late 30s is so not old, come on :P)

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Took me a while to finally get a chance to respond to this post, life has been hectic right now. But I want to say this is a great first post for interactive discussions! 🙂 you guys are awesome.

    As for how realistically lesbians are portrayed in anime and manga that’s hard for me to respond to as I am a straight male 😛 In terms of how I feel some of these works portray real life overall id say a lot of stuff from authors like Morishima Akiko, Amano Shuninta, Morinaga Milk and Kishi Torajirou fit the bill nicely in terms of realism. I think it all comes down to how everyone experiences life and how sometimes some of these yuri anime and manga have situations or themes certain people can relate to, even in more outlandish, crazy, fanciful stuff like Valkyrie Drive, Shoujo Sect and Sono Hanabira. I will say though that for me, a LOT of yuri stuff out there tends to remind me of my real life yuri friends, to the point I wonder if some of these creators are following my friends around for ideas and inspiration 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah Chimeko, I was already getting worried since you didn’t comment here and I haven’t heard from you on the blog in a week. Don’t you worry me like that 😛

      Now reading that makes me kinda interested… can I meet your friends please? Maybe they inspire me to write my own stories too 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • oh Lena so sorry for worrying you 😀 but moving to a new house is very time consuming and very annoying. but things are getting settled now 🙂 thanks for the concern.

        Haha I wish you could meet them! they are truly special to me and the stories they have would amaze you. 😀 perhaps someday I can introduce you to them 🙂

        As for tropes and elements in yuri I tend to like most anything in anime and manga. One thing I do wish to see more of are yuri stories that show the characters getting together early on in a story or series and the rest showing part of there lives together instead of the story coming to an end right after a confession and the girls becoming a couple. I liked series like Girl Friends, and Hanjuku Joshi for that.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Oh you’re moving? Sounds busy but awesome, hope your new home is nice 🙂

          As for the last part, I couldn’t agree more! I love myself a good slow romance, but oh man would I love to see a story (especially in anime) progressing from the point of them actually being together instead of only focusing on how they got together. Now combine this with a set of more mature characters and it would be super duper awesome!

          Liked by 1 person

  15. Sorry I’m late to the party but work has been keeping me busy. I dunno how much I can contribute to the conversation since I am not female and not a lesbian, but I have had encounters with lesbian relationships from an early age. See, it sort of runs in my family. two of my aunts, a cousin and (as far as I could tell) my sister were/are in relationships with women.

    My view of lesbian relationships is that they are just like a lot of other relationships: very messy. Allow me to elaborate: like most other families, we would have holidays or events where the whole family would get together: anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, etc.. At these events there was always Ta Bob. — Oh, I should explain: the Philippines, like Japan, has honorifics and titles in the language. An aunt or an older woman who you wish to show respect to would ALWAYS be called “Tita” (analogous to Obasan in Japanese). Because we couldn’t pronounce “Tita” as 4 year olds we called her Ta Bob. We loved Ta Bob. She was family. So one day when I was like 10, I asked my mom how we were related to Ta Bob (like, was she grandpa’s second cousin’s niece or something), and she said that we weren’t related to her and that she was the girlfriend of dad’s youngest sister. *mind blown sound effect here* 10 year old me quickly figured that it was cool since mom really wasn’t related to dad’s sisters either. Nine or ten years later however, the unthinkable happened, my aunt broke up with Ta Bob. Me, my sister and my cousins were devastated. Suddenly Ta Bob wasn’t there when we celebrated a cousin’s graduation, or my grandmother’s birthday. You’ll be happy to know however I’ve since reconnected with Ta Bob and we go have dinner on occasion, so really, we’re still family.

    Back to the question: I don’t think that most anime or manga show lesbian relationships in their totality (partially because that would be difficult or possibly not entertaining to watch/read). That being said though, I think I’m okay with that. I like the escapism and the idealized version of it we see on the page or on screen. Though drama is nice too, I’m kinda glad it’s idealized because if I wanted real drama, I could call up one of my aunts. 😛 (speaking of which, that yuri love triangle thing? I’ve seen it in real life – with two of my aunts. Not fun, lemmie tell you.)

    There you go. Sorry for the long post.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Don’t you dare feel sorry for the long post, this was quite interesting!

      To be honest, this is such a rare thing here. I always think that the older the people are, the less likely it is to actually see them in a relationship with the same gender. Hearing that you experienced that in your family a few times already kind of blows my mind.
      In my family, it’s rather that people start spreading rumors when someone, or well one of my aunts for example won’t get a boyfriend or well husband. This has actually happened twice before, though they always ended up with a boyfriend in the end 😛
      I love hearing that it seems to be something so normal for your family and I also love hearing that you’re still meeting up with your aunts ex girlfriend, that’s kinda awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think I know what you mean. Given the kind of stories we have on offer for Yuri, it may seem a bit strange for anyone other than a high schooler or young professional to have a relationship with someone of the same gender. But then again, Ta Bob was a part of our family life for nearly 20 years. My cousins and I secretly hope that our Aunt will get back together with Ta Bob because we don’t like her current girlfriend. 😦

        Wait, so in your family, people sort of peer-pressure you into a heterosexual relationship? Out of curiosity, what are people’s attitudes toward homosexuality in your part of Germany? It feels freaking weird here. The Philippines is a VERY conservative country where I think majority of the populace isn’t accepting of it, and yet we have flamboyantly gay actors who have quite the fan base or a child actress turned pop singer who still has a following even though she’s openly gay and has married her long time girlfriend (in another country of course).

        As for normal in my family, it actually took a while. Well, for family of my generation, lesbian relationships are pretty well accepted (my cousin gives me updates about this girl she likes from time to time… I must confess that it feels like a manga with a new chapter every 3 or 4 months. :-P). My parents’ generation though can be a bit pig headed. My mom is very cool with it now, but from what she tells me, in the 80s my dad and his siblings would always talk about my aunt behind her back, even while being accepting of Ta Bob (perhaps they all just liked Ta Bob or saw that she made my aunt happy). All of my aunts and uncles are accepting of it now with the exception of my dad’s older brother who is seriously homophobic. He tells crass 1950s gay jokes (even in front of my kid :mad:, who I have to debrief afterwards to give perspective) and everyone kind of looks at each other, chuckles nervously and then pulls hard-a-starboard to steer the conversation to something else real quick. I suppose there’s one in every family.

        Ta Bob is awesome. When we get together she’ll attempt to pay for dinner as if we were still 12 years old and dipping into our meager allowances, but we figure she’s treated us out waaay to many times in the past for us to keep letting her do that. 😛

        Like

        • Actually, someone suggested I should do a “Coming Out Story” type of post. If I decide to do that, I’m sure I could go a little deeper into how I think Germany, or well rather the people in my environment seem to think about this topic.

          In short, everyone accepts it, but at the same time a lot of people are still very, let’s call it traditional, meaning that it might as well rather be tolerance and not acceptance. We’re moving into the right direction though.

          I’m glad to hear that your family is so accepting now… well, it seems some of the members took a while to get there, but still. It’s how I think things will develop in general. We’ll all move on from hating on what we don’t know and hopefully learn to accept it all.

          That part sounded like part of a speech… 😛

          Anyway, I now wish that your aunt would get back with “Ta Bob” too. Saying that name now feels weird to me 😛

          Liked by 1 person

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