One show I’ve been enjoying in the current anime season is been Adachi and Shimamura, a charming slow-paced story about two high school girls who become friends by cutting class together, then become closer and closer as the story progresses. It’s an enjoyable show that makes me ponder the eternal question of, just what makes a great yuri anime?
Adachi and Shimamura is an Adorable Yuri Drama
Lesbian Ping Pong Adachi and Shimamura is a cute show about two high school girls who become friends when they discover an unused corner of the school that’s perfect for cutting class and taking a nap. They start talking and discover some shared interests, and start playing daily games of table tennis to pass the boredom of school. As time goes by, Adachi starts to have special feelings about Shimamura, though she can’t decide if this is love or not.
Each episode follows the two girls as Adachi becomes more and more obsessive over Shimamura, wondering if she’s in love.
Are you enjoying Adachi and Shimamura?
I’d certainly love to sit between Shimamura’s legs. Just saying. pic.twitter.com/SxsfYTqCkl
— Peter Payne (@JListPeter) December 4, 2020
It’s definitely a slow-paced show, very relaxing and comfortable to watch, as we wait to see whether the two girls will reach out for each other or just stay friends. There’s a third character who adds some mystery to the story, a strange short girl who dresses in a space uniform in some episodes.
Why I Love Yuri
As I’ve written before, I’m a big fan of stories that tap into the drama that’s created with girls fall in love with other girls, violating the supposed social norms expected of them, and forming relationships with other girls. It’s a great genre that can be used to tell all kinds of fun and unique stories. And thanks to this fact, there are several well-defined sub-genres of yuri anime.
The Six Genres of Yuri Anime
The word yuri-zoku, which means “lily tribe,” was coined in the 1970s to describe the new wave of lesbian fiction that had started to become a thing at the time. The term is a reference to bara-zoku (“rose tribe”), which had come into vogue as a term to describe homosexual males around the same time. Note that for the categories below, not all of the shows are pure yuri series; some are more traditional romance/drama stories with a strong yuri arc.
Casual Comic Relief Yuri
These are shows that exist to make amusing jokes about girls loving other girls. Some of the best include
- Miss Vampire Who Lives in my Neighborhood. Lucky Star with vampire and lesbian jokes.
- Wataten! Awkward university student obsesses about her sister’s young friend.
- Uzamaid! Former soldier obsesses about a Russian girl and becomes her maid so she can be near her 24/7.
- Kobayashi-san’s Dragon Maid. A dragon befriends a human and becomes her maid, culminating in pretty much the most perfect single anime ever created.
Realistic Drama Yuri
Anime and manga that tell serious stories about girls falling in love with other girls, and the joy and/or problems that this brings about. Some examples include
- Maria-sama ga Miteru. The seminal yuri show that explores shoujo-ai themes in a strict Catholic school setting.
- Strawberry Panic. Another legendary show that launched a thousand ships.
- Bloom Into You. A beautiful and realistic girl’s love story that’s full of complexity and great characters.
- Aoi Hana/Sweet Blue Flowers. Another great story that deals with the complexities of girls who love other girls.
- O Maidens in Your Savage Season. Five girls begin to obsess about sex after reading steamy literature, and one of them comes to the conclusion she’s attracted to girls instead of boys, adding some complexity to the story.
- The outstanding Flowers visual novel series, available digitally from JAST USA and in collectible package form from J-List.
Unabashed Yuri for Guys
There are anime and manga that tell subtle and beautiful stories of girls falling in love, and then there are yuri series that is pretty much intended for boys to enjoy. Or that’s my working theory, anyway. These shows include
- Sakura Trick. Whenever the girls are getting physical every 5 minutes, you know the anime is aimed at male viewers.
- Scum’s Wish. Step 1, don’t be gay for your best friend, step 2…oops.
- Valkyrie Drive Mermaid. Girls have sex to turn their partners into weapons to do battle with, a concept so awesome it got banned in the UK.
- Kandagawa Jet Girls. River racing excitement and anime butts, what more could we ask for?
- Citrus. A divisive series but one that was quite enjoyable to watch and read, I’ve been a longtime fan.
- Slow Start. A cute-girls-doing-cute-things series with a surprisingly intense yuri side-story.
- Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl. A wholesome story about a boy who gets changed into a girl thanks to aliens, which really complicates his life. I guess this is mostly intended for guys to watch?
Hyper Stylized Yuri
These are series that create such an amazing visual aura surrounding the ideal of pure yuri love, it’s impossible not to fall in love with the genre. Interestingly, the top four series below all featured Kunihiko Ikuhara as director. We owe this man a lot!
- Sailor Moon
- Revolutionary Girl Utena
- Mawaru Penguindrum
- Kannazuki no Miko
Slice of Life Yuri/Yuri Bait
These shows either use yuri themes as the background for slow-paced slice-of-life episodes but never actually bring the relationships to fruition, or engage in visual yuri bait to bring in
- Yuru Yuri. Laid-back girls who are in love with each other, though nothing ever progresses.
- Hibike! Euphonium. How to make an anime about brass band club interesting? Just add yuri bait!
- New Game!, aka Lesbian Video Game Developers: The Animation. One of the best yuri series with great characters all around.
- Mysteria Friends. A calming anime about yuri in a fantasy world, which will give you a dragon girl fetish big time.
Non-Yuri Shows that Fans Turn into Yuri
Finally, there’s a category of anime that actually features very little actual yuri themes, yet for some reason, fans start “yuri shipping,” making fanart and memes of whichever characters they’ve decided are banging. Some examples are
- Sailor Moon. Any combination will do, but Makoto x Ami is my go-to.
- Yuru Camp. The anime that made us all google “how do two girls have sex in a tent.”
- Love Live Sunshine. Riko x You or GTFO.
- K-On! Mio x Ritsu or Yui x Azusa, take your pick.
While the term “shipping” has its origins in X-Files, when fans would log onto BBSs to discuss when Mulder and Scully would finally hook up and form a relationship, after much research I’ve traced the tradition of yuri shipping to this poster from Megami Magazine back in 2007.
Thanks for reading this post about Adachi and Shimamura and other great yuri anime series! If I missed your favorite show, it’s probably because I didn’t have direct experience with it and didn’t know where to place , or on Twitter!
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