Sunday, January 31, 2010

Final Impressions (Pretty Much): Bakemonogatari

I really wanted to like Bakemonogatari.

This past year, it was SHAFT's most popular new offering (holy crap, have you seen the DVD sales?) and the buzz surrounding it was generally positive. The art looked fabulous and the story sounded good enough prior to watching it.

But while I can understand why many people enjoyed it, I couldn't really get into it, for the most part- even during the Suruga Monkey arc (a.k.a. "the yuri arc"). It just wasn't my cup of tea.

Bakemonogatari is about Araragi Koyomi, a third-year high school student who, prior to the series, was attacked by a vampire but (mostly) cured of his vampirism by an exorcist named Oshino Meme. The only lingering side effect is that any injury he sustains heals quickly. He meets another third-year student named Senjougahara Hitagi, who weighs almost nothing. She lost her weight after coming into contact with a crab god, and Araragi takes her to Oshino so she can regain her lost weight. The rest of the series is broken up into two to three episode chunks, each focusing on a different girl with a supernatural problem who Araragi helps out.

The first episode was interesting, and the second, which concluded the Hitagi Crab arc, was quite good. Depressing, but good. (I really felt for Senjougahara.)

The third episode (part 1 of the Mayoi Snail arc) was horribly boring, and I put the series on hiatus for a while as a result. Over the course of a few months, I got around to finishing the Mayoi Snail arc and watching the first episode of the Suruga Monkey arc. Edit on 02/01/2009: Even though it started off at a snail's pace (bad pun intended), the Mayoi Snail arc did have a satisfying (but again, kind of sad) ending and it marked some significant progress in Senjougahara and Araragi's relationship.

The entire point of this review Suruga Monkey arc was okay. In it, Araragi learns about Senjougahara's former-kouhai from middle school, Kanbaru Suruga, who has a demonic arm fused onto her own that will grant her any three wishes she wants in exchange for her soul. (Suruga doesn't learn about that one little drawback until Araragi takes her to see Oshino.) She's had a crush on Senjougahara since middle school,

and now she resents Araragi for being Senjougahara's boyfriend- causing her demonic arm to attack Araragi. Araragi still helps her even though Oshino advises him against it. This storyline ends surprisingly well. Senjougahara solves Suruga's problem, and while she isn't able to reciprocate Suruga's feelings, she tells her that she wants her to "stay by her side" and they remain friends. Senjougahara threatens that if Suruga kills Araragi, she'll kill Suruga,

and if Araragi behaves poorly towards Suruga, Suruga can choose one of two methods for Senjougahara to kill Araragi. A win-win deal all-around, no?

The Nadeko Snake arc was terrible. Sengoku Nadeko, who Araragi and Suruga help in breaking a curse placed on her by a classmate, has the least interesting personality in the entire series. Worse, she's used for some fan service. (She's 12.) This arc didn't simply bore me- it pissed me off.

The Tsubasa Cat arc has mostly been okay so far. The second episode of it (episode 12) was actually pretty nice. In it, Senjougahara takes Araragi out on a date to a spot where she and her parents used to go star-gazing before her family broke up. Araragi's conversation with Senjougahara's father, and later with Senjougahara, has a sincerity to it that most of the series lacks. Episode 13 marks a return to the "proper" Tsubasa Cat storyline. It has potential to be affecting, in a metaphorical, Buffy the Vampire Slayer kind of way (it's about a friend of Araragi's who vents the stress caused by her home situation by changing into a cat demon at night), but it isn't really.

Some of Bakemonogatari's dialogue is amusing (in a "wtf, did s/he really just say that?" way)- especially when it doesn't take itself too seriously.

But the primary attraction is SHAFT's art. There isn't much actual animation (although the quirky editing doesn't make it as noticeable as it might be), but what does get animated looks good- sometimes incredibly good. (Like Araragi and Suruga's one-on-one fight in episode 8.) The series also introduces a new OP in each story arc, sung by the seiyuu of whichever girl is being focused on. I especially liked Suruga's OP, sung by Sawashiro Miyuki. Wonder why.

Story: Eps 1-2 = B+, Ep 3 = D, Eps 4-5 = C, eps 6-8 = C+, eps 9-10 = D-, ep 11 = C-, ep 12 = B, ep 13 = C, with more to come. (I'll only post an update if there's anything else worth mentioning, yuri-wise.)
Art: A
Overall: C-

My opinion of any given anime/manga/manhwa title isn't normally substantively influenced by the title's artwork- unless the art is exceptionally poor. Another good example is Yun Mi-Kyung's Bride of the Water God- luscious art, but the story didn't do much for me.

BGM- "Koibito" by Kishidan

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Yuruyuri update, the final hours of vacation (o____O;;;), and pimping Conbust

It looks like a Yuruyuri anime adaptation isn't as definite as it first appeared to be- although it's still something to keep an eye out for. It's irritating to be mistaken, but I can't say that I'm heartbroken over it. (My secret delusion hope is that some prospective sponsor thought, "Hmmm...Yuruyuri might sell, but we should really consider taking a chance on /better series/." ^^;)

I'm flying back to college later today, too, which will (of course) entail a return to college food, the student newspaper, the Japan enthusiasts' club, a new schedule, new events, etc.

Speaking of which- my college's annual all-inclusive geekdom con, Conbust, will be on March 26-28 this year. I did a yuri panel there last year and, since the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society's president invited me to do the panel again last spring, I've e-mailed them to give them a little reminder. I'll do a yuri panel at Yasumicon in Miami this summer also, although I won't know the time and date for that one for quite a while.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Final Impressions: Sasameki Koto

 Whispered words.

The Sasameki Koto anime isn't a perfect, or even "great" series. One could never mistake it as such. It doesn't have the same level of comic "snap" as the original manga (indeed, it made me appreciate Ikeda Takashi-sensei's knack for threading together laugh-out-loud-worthy comedy and romantic drama as seamlessly as he does all the more), sunsets abound to the point of almost seeming comedic (mostly in the early episodes, though; it isn't a negative, just a weird little quirk that makes me think "goodness, aren't there a lot of sunsets in that it supposed to be symbolic?"), a few other artistic decisions left me scratching my head (like the crowds of people who weren't colored or otherwise filled in- it's okay in the manga, but it looks cheap in animation), and, as with the Aoi Hana anime, we never see the two leads actually get together, even though we know that they will eventually. (Admittedly, Aoi Hana's ending isn't as obvious- especially for those who aren't following the manga or haven't seen the Aoi Hana fanbook cover. :) )


It was a good series and I enjoyed it. Some of the middle episodes dragged a bit (as in the manga, the "Akemiya date" story was the weakest link, albeit largely because I don't like Manaka and Akemiya is one of the less interesting characters), but the overall package was satisfying and heartfelt. I loved the ending, and how it evoked the series' title ("whispered words") while reinforcing the general theme of the series- communication and the opportunities and connections that one can gain (or miss) via communication (or a lack thereof). The anime adapted the first two volumes of the manga, ending with the story in which Sumi visits her extended family and isn't able to call Ushio, as she had promised. Ushio grows increasingly anxious, to the point of worrying that Sumi might have gotten in an accident. The series ends just on the cusp of Ushio realizing how much her besotted best friend Sumika means to her.

There were a few other things that I especially liked:
  • While I pretty much liked all of the characters (gosh, I hope poor Akemiya gets a crush on a girl who does like him back at some point in the manga ^^;), I love Sumi as the lead character. Sasameki Koto could be a series about wood-whittling, and if Sumi were involved, I would probably still watch it. Some of my favorite bits were her fangirling moments over Kazama. (Ushio's awfully dense. Can't recognize her own squealing, crushy behavior when somebody else is doing it.)
  • The yuri-otaku humor, mostly courtesy of Aoi. Unlike a fair amount of SK fans, I like her quite a bit- because she's a geek. (Solidarity!) Seeing Utopia Yuri-Fes animated was fun, too. In the interest of transparency, I'll admit that wink-wink-nudge-nudge self-referential otaku humor (a la Genshiken or Ouran) is to me what catnip is to cats.
  • The random Engrish. (Most noteably in episodes 5 and 11.)
The one episode not based on the original manga was enjoyable as well- the characters remained in-character and it felt like a nice final hurrah for seeing the entire cast together before the end of the show.

The final episode had a largely introspective, somewhat melancholic feel (like much of SK), but in the end it was sweet. A good ending for a good series. (Although a second season would still be quite nice.)

Story: B
Art: B-
Overall: B+

After wondering earlier today about when we'll see another yuri manga green-lit, I decided to create two polls on the top-right area of this blog. I hope you vote. ^^

Monday, January 18, 2010

Yuruyuri Yuri Anime Green-Lit

Wow, I didn't think that I'd see a title from either Yuri Hime magazine green-lit for an anime adaptation anytime soon.

Yuruyuri is a series currently running in Yuri Hime S, in which three middle school students, Akari, Yui, and Kyouko, take over the room formerly used by their school's now-defunct tea ceremony club so that they can form an "Amusement Club." A fourth girl, Chinatsu, soon joins the club also. The girls spend their time talking, eating snacks, interacting with the student council (largely because the student council president Ayano has a thing for Kyouko), and visiting each other's homes.

Honestly...I'm not a fan of Yuruyuri. I don't like the character designs and the story bored me. But you can check out Ichijinsha's website for it (or read it) and decide for yourself. ^^ I'm reaaally hopeful that this will pave the way for other Yuri Hime titles to get anime adaptations.

If I could have any other Yuri Hime S title green-lit, it would be Otome-iro Stay Tune (yuri + seiyuu in-jokes!) or Otome Kikan Gretel (yuri + superpowers! For some reason, I can see Nagi being voiced by Shindou Naomi...), and if I could have any title from Yuri Hime green-lit, it would be Strawberry Shake Sweet (Julia + Ran ftw!), anything by Morishima Akiko (even though, aside from Hanjuku Joshi- which probably wouldn't be able to be broadcast on TV-, none of her continuous stories would really be long enough for a TV series...but still!) or Miyabi Fujieda (Ameiro Kouchakan Kandan would make a sweet iyashikei series). It would be great to see Natsuneko's stories animated too (although they would be more adaptable to OVA format, imo)- her funky art style alone would be great to see animated. Can't forget Morinaga Milk's Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo, either. (Although it would be more suited to an OVA adaptation also, by virtue of its length and largely non-continuous narrative structure.) But there are several other titles that would make enjoyable anime adaptations as well.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how the Yuruyuri anime is when it airs. With the right director and studio, it could turn out to be better than expected. ^^

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Final Impressions: Queen's Blade seasons 1 and 2

I'm finally getting around to reviewing this- Sasameki Koto will be reviewed soon also.

Have you ever seen anything so horrid that it was strangely magnetic? Something so weird, stupid, and hilariously screwed up that it was kind of amazing? Queen's Blade is like that.

Queen's Blade is a classic hero's quest, following Reina Vance, the second daughter and heir of Count Vance, who wishes to participate in the Queen's Blade. The Queen's Blade is a great big battle royale held every four years in Gainos, the capital city of a fictitious continent, in which warrior women in hideous, itty-bitty outfits beat the stuffing out of each other in order to become Queen.

Season 1 covers Reina's journey to Gainos, during which she encounters a motley assortment of Queen's Blade contestants- like the warrior-priestess Tomoe and her ninja partner (heh) Shizuka, who wish to save the Heian Japan-like land of Hinomoto; a bandit named Listy who helps Reina escape castle Vance, where she is kept under a tight watch by her older sister Claudette and creepy little sister Elina; an evil bunnygirl who shoots acid from her boobs; an evil flying maid; the evil undead princess of a lost kingdom; the utterly non-angelic Angel of Hope Nanael; the famed weaponsmith Cattleya who is searching for her missing husband (and will no doubt have crazy back problems when she gets old); dwarf princess Ymir; and two badass elves, Allean and Echidna (and one infallibly chipper one named Nowa), who don't wear any underwear- just leaves and snakes. Sounds pretty great, doesn't it. There's also the assassin Irma, who wants to kill the current Queen. Season 2 covers the actual Queen's Blade, introducing two more contestants: Nyx, a former servant of the Vance family who wants revenge for Elina's past mistreatment of her, but can't really do anything without her demonic tentacle rape staff, and Melpha, a priestess who could give Cattleya a run for her money. As expected from the beginning, Reina jiggles her way to the top and defeats Queen Aldra (and her mighty dildo of doom)

 with help from Nanael's (cough) holy milk.

 My two chief reasons for following this series were A) the shock/crack-entertainment factor (where else can you regularly hear lines like "In terms of strength, that maid with the giant scythe clearly has the upper hand!") and B) the seiyuu. The creators of Queen's Blade managed to round up some of the biggest fan-favorites working in the industry right now, like Kawasumi Ayako (Reina), Noto Mamiko (Tomoe), Nabatame Hitomi (Shizuka), Tanaka Rie (Nyx), Hirano Aya (Nanael), and Kugimiya Rie (Melona). And yes, I'm a seiyuu-nerd.

Queen's Blade never ever allows an opportunity for service to pass by without seizing on it with gusto. There is a plot, but most of it is conveyed like this

and this

and this.

I grew more accustomed to it after awhile (pretty scary, eh?), although the second season still had its fair share of sputter-inducing moments (like the new ED animation sequences). If you took a shot of alcohol each time a topless woman appeared on screen, you would be hammered halfway through just about any given episode. Justified or not, though, I liked the second season better than the first. It was still trashy and laughable, but it had more action, some character development, and (dare I say) some improved writing. I like battle royale-style action stories, a la Mai-Hime, so I would probably like this more if it weren't so softcore.

Despite Queen's Blade's dubious improvements, numerous questions are still left unresolved by the end: How did Melona's acid burn through Reina's clothing and metal sword, but not her skin? (A friend of mine helpfully calls it "otaku acid.") Why doesn't Nanael just buy a cork to keep her holy "milk" from spilling? And why bother holding Queen's Blade fights on the way to the capital, when all of the losers were able to fight again in season 2?

As for the yuri content- aside from Elina's crush on Reina and Echidna's random come-ons to women (mostly Reina and Irma), the yuri in Queen's Blade is subtext only.

That's an awful lot of trouble to go through just to "thank" someone and give them back a coin- just saying.

The most prominent "pairings" are Tomoe and Shizuka, Reina and Listy, Allean and Nowa, and Irma and Echidna. My favorite pair is Tomoe and Shizuka (even if it, uh, didn't really work out) and the characters who I liked the most were Tomoe and Allean- not that it matters.

The art's average, although it seems to get a small boost in season 2. (Could just be me?) Character designs are distinctive from one another (not merely in terms of varying hairstyles and eye color), but largely look like they belong in a hentai title. Of course, that's right on the money for what this series is intended for.

Story: Season 1 = D, Season 2 = C
Art: Season 1 = C+, Season 2 = B-
Overall: See Story.

The series that I'm following this season are:
  • So-Ra-No-Wo-To: The first episode was good, but the second episode was extremely good- with a small uptick in the yuri.
  • Durarara!!: The first episode was good, but the second episode was sublime.
  • Nodame Cantabile Finale: More Nodame goodness. It'll be interesting to see how the final season plays out. :)
  • Kimi ni Todoke: If you haven't started this excellent romantic-drama yet, do so NOW.
  • And of course, more To Aru Kagaku no Railgun: It seems to be going in a different direction than the original manga did after the Level-Upper arc, which is completely fine by me since the "original" material has been good so far (episode 15 was hysterical) and, judging by the awesome new OP, Kiyama's coming back (which doesn't happen in the manga)! Yes!! ^__^ (A friend of mine- the "otaku acid" one- recently perspicaciously commented, "You always like the crazy villain ladies, don't you?" Muahaha. :-) )
BGM- "futuristic imagination" by school food punishment

Friday, January 8, 2010

So-Ra-No-Wo-To Being Simulcast On Crunchyroll!!'s not really yuri, but I think So-Ra-No-Wo-To's as good as we're going to get (yuri-wise) out of the new shows premiering this season. ^^; (At least Railgun's still keeping the flame alive.) You know the drill: a group of sexually ambiguous female characters forming close, ambiguous relationships with one another- read into them as you will. Better still if they're sempai and kouhai (like Kanata and Rio?). (Or what I like to call the "Onee-sama Effect." I know it is sounds delusional, but it works in times of scarcity...or any time, really. :P)

I've mentioned this series before, but here's the description again from ANN:

    Model and actress Juri Aikawa plays Kanata Kumika, a 15-year-old girl who fulfills her dream of enlisting in the army and joins a unit of five girls who protect a fortress. The girls also play music that reverberate across the skies over towns without people and seas without fish.

This simulcast will be available in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. (My condolences for fans living outside of those areas. Hopefully more areas will be included in future CR licenses.)

I enjoyed the first episode (which, yes, I watched before the simulcast was announced). I only expected it to be aimless but cute fluff with a dystopian fantasy setting for window-dressing (blame the K-ON! character designs), but it did a solid job at building its own world and mythology and telling a good introductory story (while not being very dystopian; the world the characters inhabit comes across as charming and fairly relaxed, rather than especially decrepit or miserable. Edit: Whoops- forgot the flashback to Kanata's childhood...hopefully it'll be fleshed out more in future episodes...). The music was pleasant to listen to, especially the song that Kalafina (who sang all of the ending themes for Kara no Kyoukai and the second ending theme for Kuroshitsuji) sang at the beginning. The bland, bouncy pop song at the end, not so much... The background art was very good (I would bet a million bucks that someone on the animation staff is a fan of Gustav Klimt), although the animation was mostly average and occasionally suffered from "minor characters frozen in mid-movement"-syndrome. And the character designs are appealing, but I have mixed feelings about the obvious K-ON! influence on them. Pro side: I like K-ON! And the protagonists each have distinctive, appealing looks. Con side: The character designs could hamper the show from forming its own distinctive identity. No matter where the show goes, I'll still think of After School Teatime (at least subconsciously) when I watch it. But enough of my ramblings. It's a good show (as critical as my write-up here was), and if you haven't seen it, I would definitely recommend it. ^^

As an extra note, my Canaan Nendo arrived yesterday! ^^ It's my first Nendo- it's on one of my manga shelves, in all of its chibi, gun-totting glory.

Any Japanophiles in the south Florida area this weekend might also be interested in this. Morikami holds festivals for Japanese holidays year-round (like Obon and Children's Day), and it always has great exhibits, so it's a fun place to visit at any time of the year, if you're in the area. The gardens are really cool too, especially the bamboo grove and the area where they have different mini-sections organized by styles that were developed during different time periods. I know it's geeky, but I love it. XD

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Working!! Trailer: おいしい Yuri for Spring 2010

 The official website for the Working!! anime premiering this April has posted a 107-second trailer. As mentioned previously, the Working!! anime, based on Takatsu Karino's 4-koma manga, follows the lives of the staff working at a family-style restaurant in Hokkaido, called Wagnaria. The trailer confirms that Todoroki Yachiyo (the bubbly blonde carrying the sword) has feelings for Shirafuji Kyouko, the manager of the restaurant. Will anything come of it? We'll see when it premieres this April. ^^

Yuri Anime Final Impressions: Koihime Musou seasons 1 and 2

 When I picked up Koihime Musou to finish watching it (after episode 6, where I originally dropped it), I expected to watch it with a combination of antipathy and boredom. Now that I've finished both seasons, I don't especially like it, but I don't strongly dislike it either. It wasn't good, but it didn't bore me to tears or make me feel like typing a ranting diatribe. Even though it had some brief "ick" moments, it was mostly harmless, stupid sex comedy fluff.

Koihime Musou is based on an erogame of the same title, which is loosely (haha) based on Luo Guanzhong's Romance of the Three Kingdoms- but with the male characters replaced by busty women and girls in silly-looking outfits. Koihime Musou's China should just be considered an alternate universe-China- they have maid cafés, 'shroom-induced Mickey Mouse hallucinations (don't ask), idol otaku (yep, the Yellow Turban Rebellion was fought by a horde of angry nerds), microphones, and sumo wrestling, for starters.

The story follows Kan'u Unchou (originally Guan Yu; nicknamed Aisha in Koihime Musou), a famed bandit-hunter who travels from village to village, hunting, well, bandits (it's always the same three, too) while picking up traveling companions, like Chouhi Yokutoku (originally Yang Fei; nicknamed Rin Rin), a squeaky-voiced girl who Kan'u pledges sisterhood with (Rin Rin doesn't turn out to be as annoying as she could have been, thankfully); Choun Shiryuu (originally Zhao Yun; nicknamed Sei), a traveling warrior who disappears halfway through season 1 and sporadically reappears as a sentai-style "hero of justice" named "Butterfly Mask" (yes, the other characters think it's lame, too- aside from one noteable exception), until she re-joins the group at the end of the season; and Shokatsuryou Koumei (originally Zhuge Liang; nicknamed Shuri), a reserved girl around Rin Rin's age who acts as the brains of the group. Two other fairly major characters also figure into the story: Bachou Mouki (originally Ma Chao; nicknamed Sui), a roughnecked warrior who first befriends Rin Rin (I don't really mind Bachou; just her voice), and Kouchuu Kanshou (originally Huang Zhong; nicknamed Shion), a warrior with mad archery skills who has a small daughter named Riri.

Throughout the first season, the lead characters travel to different places, encountering more minor characters than you can shake a stick at, until they encounter Ryuubi Gentoku (originally...ugh, screw it), the charismatic leader of a ragtag bandit-fighting army. In a nutshell: he turns out be a fake, and in season two, the group encounters the real Ryuubi, a naïve but likeable young woman with no special fighting skills who is searching for the sword that fake-Ryuubi stole from her so he could assume her identity. Kan'u and company help Ryuubi reclaim her sword, and they all decide to keep traveling together, until they need to help General Sou Sou quell the, err, Yellow Turban Rebellion. All's well that ends well.

Most of the series in both seasons is pretty episodic. The individual mini-stories, while never particularly strong, still vary according to which characters (and side characters) play the biggest role. I like Kouchuu, so I mostly liked her intro episode. (Even though the "bandit-distracting" scene pissed me off massively. Who finds crap like that entertaining?) I didn't like Bachou (again, that voice), Enshou, Toutaku's court (they were just boring), or Princess Shaoren, so episodes/scenes that focused on them were pretty "meh" for me. And Sou Sou grew on me over the second season.

The yuri in Koihime Musou consists of: Sei (more in the first season, though), Sou Sou and her entire military command, Ryuubi's thing for "Butterfly Mask" at the beginning of season 2, Rin Rin's small crush on Kan'u, and Queen Sonsaku (who doesn't appear as much as I'd like) and her adviser Shuyu. I think that's it... @__@

And the art: typical moe, but not as bad as it could have been. Kudos to the character designer for giving distinctive looks to such a huge cast. The action scenes are pretty lacking, though. Animation shortcuts abound, and the execution lacks any real tension. Most of the confrontations feel like something out of a Saturday morning cartoon, which the background music doesn't do anything to remedy.'s colorful, at least.

Story: lol
Art: C+
Overall: C

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010!

Yay, it's 2010! ^^ Whether you kicked off the new year with a jump-start on one of your resolutions (if you made resolutions), a hangover, a hatsumode, or all three, I hope everybody's having a good start to the new year/decade.

Here's a list of my top 10 yuri anime of 2009, followed by a list of my top 10 yuri anime of the past decade.

My Top 10 of 2009:

10) A tie between Ikki Tousen (Funi's re-release of the first season and Media Blasters' release of Dragon Destiny) and Nanoha (Funi's release): Once I gave Ikki Tousen a shot, it turned out to be stupid fun (with yuri!). Nanoha season 1 (that's all that I've watched up to this point) deserves mention for how much it improved by the end, with some cute subtext to boot.

9) Saki (streaming on Crunchyroll)- What began as a dull high school comedy/drama quickly developed into a fun tournament-style title with a likeable, yuri-riffic cast of characters. My top couples are still Momo x Yumi, Nodoka x Saki, and Hisa x...uhh, Mako or Mihoko (whichever ^^;;).

8) Maria-sama ga Miteru Season 3 (RightStuf's release): I absolutely love Marimite. And RightStuf, for licensing it. :-)

7) Blue Drop- A very good, low-key sci-fi romantic drama that I didn't expect to see released in English on DVD. Go, go Sentai!

6) CANAAN: I know, I know. Besides Liang, the only yuri in this series is subtext/wishful thinking. But what delicious subtext it is. ^___^ Plus, yay for having another really good seinen action series revolving around a non-school-aged, primarily female cast that doesn't moe-fy or Queen's Blade-out its characters (while still including some yuri).

5) Maria-sama ga Miteru Season 4- The fourth, possibly (imo, probably) final season for one of my all-time favorite shows. More wonderful subtext (and friendships) between wonderful characters in a wonderful story.

4) To Aru Kagaku no Railgun: For simply being a fun sci-fi action title with a canon yuri lead. (Although Saten's skirt-flipping ways and Uiharu's fascination with Tokiwadai have both pinged my gaydar as well.)

3) El Cazador de la Bruja (Funi's English DVD release): The final, most yuriful series in Bee Train's "girls-with-guns" trilogy, finally available in English! XD Yay, Nadie x Ellis!

2) Sasameki Koto (streaming on Crunchyroll): It didn't have the budget or, frankly, the same level of direction as Aoi Hana's adaptation, but it was a joy to see Sumi, Ushio, and the rest of the Joshibu finally animated, and it was simply a fun show. Plus, it was cool to not only see this series stream on AE, but also get picked up by other lesbian media sites.

1) Aoi Hana (streaming on Crunchyroll): Surprise. ^^; From the opening episode, I loved this series. The characters, the story, the art, the music, everything, pulled together by Kenichi Kasai's brilliant direction, with Ikuhara Kunihiko's beautiful OP as the cherry on top. I couldn't have been happier with this adaptation- aside from the fact that it needs a second season (like so many other shows on this list). Plus, it was very cool to see a yuri anime streamed on Afterellen for the first time.

Honorable mention goes to Shin Koihime Musou (for the sheer number of yuri characters) and Kanamemo (for Yume and Yuuki, even if Haruka...well, everybody who reads this blog already knows how I feel about Haruka).

My Top 10 of the Past Decade:

10) Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito: This is a crappy title with a crappy, tear-your-heart-out-and-stomp-on-it ending (although I've heard that the manga and game both have yuri-friendly endings). But it was the earliest yuri-centric title to air during the past decade. For helping to get the yuri ball rolling, Yamibou deserves a spot here. (Plus, I like Hazuki. She deserves a better series.)

9) Magical Girl Lyrical  Nanoha- I've only seen the first season, but since I know that StrikerS features Nanoha and Fate living together as adults, sharing a bed (when they could easily sleep in separate beds), and raising a kid who calls them both "mama", I'm listing it.

8) Mai-Hime- For being a popular action title that gave rise to a popular yuri couple, among numerous other potential pairs. It spawned even more yuri in its spin-off, Mai-Otome, and in the two OVAs that branched from Mai-Otome. Not to mention Mai-Hime Destiny, Mao-Hime (I think that's what it's called...I haven't really bothered with reading it), and the upcoming Mai-Hime EXA. (I'm trying to forget the first Mai-Hime manga.)

7) Strawberry Panic- For further cementing Marimite's influence and the pervasive "all-girls' school" trope in yuri, for better or for worse. Plus, it's a fun show.

6) Simoun: An absolutely excellent fantasy title from beginning to end that any anime fan would do well to try. Plus, the plot is wrapped up very satisfyingly (but not too neatly or happily) within its 26(!) episode span.

5) Noir: Aside from Chloe, subtext only, but worth listing for its influence on the subtext-rich "girl-with-guns" subgenre, including Madlax, El Cazador, and (likely) CANAAN, among other titles.

4) Sasameki Koto- Just an enjoyable yuri-centric title that gently pokes fun at (and at times, subverts) yuri tropes and stars a likeable cast. Mega-points for not taking place at an all-girls' school (and for pointing out that Ushio tried her darndest to get into one), and continuing the trend of featuring characters who aren't simply "in love with this particular, exceptional person who happens to be a girl."

3) Kannazuki no Miko- First anime title centered around a canon yuri couple with a happy ending. (At least, I see it as a happy ending.) I'll admit my bias- even though I'm not fond of the angsty moping that makes up a sizeable chunk of this series anymore, this was the first title that I recognized as "yuri", and I was head-over-heels in love with it for quite a while. Plus, thanks to the enduring popularity of Chimeko (and Kaishaku's perennial fondness for them), we can likely expect a new yuri action anime- an adaptation of Kaishaku's Zettai Shoujo Seiiki Amnesian- within the next few years. :-)

2) Aoi Hana- Simultaneously the best and most realistic title centered around a canon yuri protagonist in the past decade.

1) Maria-sama ga Miteru: Because no other yuri title that aired from 2000 through 2009 has been as influential or as heavily-referenced as Marimite.

And that's it. ^^ Whatever you agree or disagree with, hopefully you got something (entertainment? befuddlement? irritation?) out of it. I took into account: A) what I liked, B) what was good (which is still subjective), C) what was influential, and D) what marked noteworthy shifts/trends in yuri anime. (The latter two factors aren't immune to subjectivity either, of course.)