Saturday, January 1, 2011

Best Yuri Manga of 2010

I've decided to do a "Best of 2010" list for yuri manga, after all. I was gun-shy about compiling one earlier because I still haven't read a few titles that sound like strong list candidates. But I'll do it anyway.

Top Yuri Manga of 2010:

In English:

 3. Yen Press' release of K-ON! by kakifly:
The only yuri is in Mugi's head, but it's good enough for me to list it. This is a fun, funny slice-of-life series that makes a great pick-me-up.

2. Dark Horse's release of Cardcaptor Sakura by CLAMP:
A wonderfully re-translated, re-released classic with one of the earliest yuri characters known to English-speaking manga and anime fans.

1. Seven Seas' release of Hayate x Blade by Hayashiya Shizuru:
Because it's a great action-comedy with a liberal infusion of yuri by one of my favorite mangaka.

In Japanese:

7. Fu~Fu by Minamoto Hisanari: Don't pelt me with tomatoes. > < This adorable story about two women who are living (and identifying themselves as) wife and wife (or 婦婦, pronounced "fufu") is a heart-warming love letter to love, but it hasn't been published in tankoubon form yet. Now that it's survived Yuri Hime's absorption of Yuri Hime S, I'm anticipating much, much more of Kina and Suu pointing out the obvious for the clueless and making everyone with a beating heart go, "Awww."

6. Sasameki Koto by Ikeda Takashi:
I love how Ikeda Takashi mixes silly, goofy comedy with issues that real queer teens face (like internal and external homophobia, coming out), without it feeling jarring. The characters are loveable and I can't wait to see how things turn out for Sumika and Ushio.

5. Octave by Akiyama Haru:
Octave is hardly the first realistic story about an adult yuri couple we've gotten, but it's the first to last as long as it has. It also brought mature josei-style yuri to a lot of folks who probably don't usually read josei yuri.

4. Gunjo by Nakamura Ching:
There isn't really anything else like this, especially in yuri. Gunjo has romance without being romantic and tragedy without quite feeling hopeless. The characters are complex and the art is...well, look at the picture above. This is a title that I would hand to folks who aren't normally interested in manga, if it were licensed in English.

Am I cheating by making the next two titles a tie?

Girl Friends by Morinaga Milk:
Girl Friends has been Morinaga Milk's baby these past few years and no matter how much of a hard-ass I've been in critiquing it (consider it tough love), I've been following it closely (and for most of its serialization, anxiously) throughout its entire run. Now it's over. Wow.

Renai Joshika by Morishima Akiko:
This yummy, fizzy treat of a story about a group of women who find love working at a bridal planning company overflows with how much fun Morishima is having drawing exactly the kind of story she wants- it's infectious!

And my choice for #1... (Which will absolutely shock you.)

1. Aoi Hana by Shimura Takako:
This is my favorite manga running right now. After years of build up, Fumi and Ah-chan have finally started dating, and I'm on pins and needles waiting to see where it goes from there.


Sheldor said...

So yuri anime might have been disappointing but yuri manga did really strong last year! I like your list but mine plays out a little different.

…If I may hahaha.

As strongest ongoing Aoi Hana owns its category by a long shot. Octave did really well this year too (chapter 23 nuff said?) but has on occasion disappointed me. Sasameki Koto really fell from my good graces unfortunately, which is sad because it was going so strong and Ikeda’s impressive writing was really shown in chapter 27 which was phenomenal. Hopefully it’ll make it’s way bad to that place. Girl Friends I had problems with also, couple that with a somewhat weak ending to the series has left me feeling less than positive about series - meaning Aoi Hana almost wins by default but lets face it Aoi Hana would have won anyway. 2010 gave me chapter 30 which I still rate as the series’ best chapter but beyond that there’s not a single decline in quality that I can detect, which cannot be said of the other titles. But then it’s not fair to compare other mangaka to Shimura really.

As for new yuri manga Gunjo wins for me. Gunjo is extraordinary, the complex characters, its grotesque beauty - everything I just love it! I also love how I find that the 3rd or 4th reading of any given chapter to be the most enjoyable. It’s just so layered and the facial features so expressive and full of emotion that every reading you get something new or different that you didn‘t pick up on. I just absolutely love it to bits. I also have a funny memory of running home from work to read it when it’s first chapter was release, I was very excited lol.

Also, Gunjo chapter 5 has to be the gayest chapter of yuri manga I have ever read. It makes Aoi Hana feel lesbian lite! Well maybe not lesbian lite but you get my point.

Other titles I loved where Ebisu-san and Hotei-san (which I know you don’t rate that high) and Husky and Medley which all but killed me with its cuteness, Aqua Blue Cinema, Wife and Wife and Kimochi no Katachi was surprisingly decent too. There’d be more but they’re not coming to me at the moment.

Of course this year will be famous for many things but probably most for The Great Drought and Girl Friends ending. By me it’ll also be remembered for the year I had to catch-up and watch a crap load of yuri and “yuri” anime - some good, some so very very bad lol. Getting to watch series like Revolutionary Girl Utena, Devilman Lady and Noir have made it all worth it!

Anyway sorry for going off like that but I’m feeling a bit yuri deprived and the chance to talk about my favourites was too tempting. Thanks for all your hard work this year which has aided my yuri obsession and for taking the time to reply to my questions and such. I really look forward to more reviews from you in 2011!

P.S. said...

If I had to make a yuri list for 2010 it would be near identical to yours. the only difference is the addition of Gunsmith Cats Burst on my list, if only for the last volume.

Sadly I have little knowledge of the original language yuri manga you've mentioned, though I have heard a lot of positive comments of Aoi Hana and Sasameki Koto.

The only exception is Fu-Fu, I saw a few chapters, which was both sweet and funny (it suceeded in making me laugh rather than chuckle).

Though I hear a lot of praises for Gunjo, from what I have heard concerning the plot from Okazu it is not my cup of tea (though I do admit that making an assumption from others can be silly).

Hopefully I have not bored you with my long ramblings, and I hope you have a happy new year.

Katherine Hanson said...

@Sheldor- Thank you so much! I'm glad you've enjoyed my reviews here. ^__^

Organizing the manga into "ongoing" and "new" categories is a good idea. (Something to keep in mind for future lists.)

And lol at "lesbian lite."

Yes, chapter 5 of Gunjo reached epic proportions of gay, even for this series. One thing that I like/find interesting about Gunjo is how it manages to not be a happy yuri story while being more satisfying in its portrayal of lesbians than the vast majority of yuri manga. (Although one could argue part of that is because most yuri manga aren't even really trying to portray queer characters.) Like with chapter 5 again- it was about the break-up of a happy lesbian couple, but it portrayed their relationship as the normal status quo- it isn't what caused the hardship in Sensei(the blonde)'s life. Even though her love for Glasses (the brunette) caused her to kill, the burden is placed as much on Glasses as on her. (I'm using the nicknames for the protagonists that the Japanese fandom uses.) Like, this is a story that could be problematic in lesser hands but it isn't. It's kind of hard to explain, but I think you get it.

This year was indeed The Great Drought on the anime front (it boggles me that I was able to have "Honorable Mentions" last year), but at least we have as much good yuri manga as ever before.

@P.S.- Thanks! Happy New Year to you too! ^__^ Unfortunately, I haven't read any Gunsmith Cats manga. It's on my Pile of Shame for things that I know that I should read but haven't gotten around to yet.

If I had read Gunsmith Cats Burst, I would be able to bug you to read Aoi Hana. (Which I'm kind of doing anyway. ^^;)

Gunjo's plot didn't initially sound like my cup of tea either, but it's a great series.