Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Types of Yuri

Don't know why, felt a sudden urge to write this. Just an impulse.

Yuri for those who don't know is a genre of Anime and Manga focused around the love between two girls, the female equivalent of Yaoi which is the love between two guys. People sometimes think it's Lesbian Pornography Hentai or Hentai Manga/Doujinshi. It's not...though it can be extremely NSFW and have sex scenes, it generally is not ABOUT sex perse, and is more like a romance story that can get really graphic. I am quite the fan.

There's three main types of Yuri and I just wanted to make a quick blog explaining what those are. Generally though they are divided by what their target audience is.

Their's Yuri for Guys....Seinen Yuri, or the super-rare Shonen Yuri. Super-rare because Shonen tends to be quite detached from romance or love stories. Shonen Yuri tends to be the closest to a hentai manga.

There's Yuri for Teenage Girls, Shoujo Yuri. This is actually the most common. It's also my favorite.

And then there is Yuri for Adult Women, Josei Yuri. This is the rarest one, although fans will tell you it's the only "real" Yuri.

Let me start by saying there's sort of two types of characters people go for: People and Icons.

People are meant to be realistic, three-dimensional, fully-fleshed out, etc. They are meant to be relatable or intriguing in their complexity, etc. The major goal is being lifelike.

Icons are meant to be immediately recognizable and archetypal. They have simpler more drastic personalities and actions.They are meant to be very entertaining to watch and intriguing not in their depth but in their impact.

Yuri for Guys tends to be mostly Icons. The Characters are sort of more extreme archetypes. These works tend to heavy a focus on femininity, innocence, general moe-ness. Their is a vaguely idealized version of what being a teen girl is like (since outside of Josei, most Yuri is set in school with the main characters being schoolgirl lesbians) and lots of fanservice in the form of the characters in cute costumes or situations. These works tend to have the most physical action between the characters, but it also tends to be the lightest physical action. A quick kiss or loving caress here or there to tease the audience. Actual sexuality is general reserved for really important points. The heavy emphasis on icons means the series tends towards really sort of blunt and direct characterization meant for the more direct entertainment of the male audience rather then depth. As such these works are often more plot-focused with lots of big events happening rather then subtle characterization, which boys tend to prefer anyway. This is the sub-genre that most often takes forever for the girls to actually get in any kind of relationship, whereas the other Sub-Genres tend to start with that and focus on their relationship status, this sub-genre prefers to focus on how they get into that relationship (Thugh Shoujo Yuri does that a little).

Example Plot: Poor Hina-Chan! She's a nerd (with boyish likes) and shy, and now her classmates find out she still is mostly interested in girls in High School! She's in the middle of the other girls' bullying when suddenly Miyu-senpai shows up. All the Bullies stare in shock at this elegant cool confident girl. One year older, used "omae" as her default pronoun, and with a beautiful long dark hair complimenting her pale skin, she's what all the girls crave to be! Miyu-senpai with a few words send the bullies running before helping Hina-chan up. Miyu will act as Hina's active dominant sexually, protector, and teacher of how to be more confident. The climax of the story will be the first time that Hina stands up to Miyu, and Miyu's happiness that Hina has finally become a confident woman herself. 

Shoujo Yuri is a big mixture of Icons and People. It's also about the fanservice, but it's a different type of fanservice. Shoujo Yuri also has Femininity as an idealized concept, but will more often have the characters striving to be it, rather then being it effortlessly, it's written more like cheesy romance novels. Their is often surprisingly actual erotic content more graphic and common then in Yuri for Guys, but it's almost as rare and the smaller stuff is also rarer. Imagine "OMG we can't do this, we're both girls!" for a thousand pages lol. Their also tends to be more gender-bending with masculine girls taking the active romantic role for our femme lead being common. Often Shoujo Yuri is a form of escapism where girls can just love each other instead of being backstabbing bitc.....sorry that got away from me. Straight girls also sometimes read this since "Forbidden Romance" and all is exciting to girls regardless of reason. The mixture between icons and people often shows up as the main girl and her friends are people with mundane lives and developed personalities (for the readers to identify with) and the Cool Girls that are the love interests are the Icons with big personalities that the reader can girl-crush on.

Example Plot: Yuma is just your ordinary girl but to go to the good school she needs to live in a dorm away from home. Arriving late she finds there is no rooms for her to use but a older dorm-mate agrees to let her stay with her. From local gossip she finds out this new Room-Mate is actually the mysterious Ryusei, an extremely rich aristocrat girl, who is rumored to have a habit of seducing cute young girls into girls' love. Yuma finds herself in the virtual palace of this queen and her playing the part of servant. Yuma finds herself dependent on Ryusei, and Ryusei taking flirtatious advantage of her. Yuma must come to terms with her own attraction towards the older girl, her feelings of being both more independent then ever and more dependent then ever, and figure out where she is comfortable. The climax of the story comes when Yuma leaves Ryusei, but asks her to come live together in a modest dwelling, Ryusei says no initially not wanting to leave her hedonism behind but changes her mind and goes to live with Yuma.

Josei Yuri is a mixture of mostly people. It is the least fanservice-y and the most focused on actual LGBT experiences in Japan. It attempts to be most realistic and often has characters that are not very simple and easy to grasp, and talks about discrimination against lesbians, especially adult lesbians, in Japan. As such it is the most likely to feature grown adults. Eroticism is not unknown but is rarer then any other Yuri genre. The fans of this particular sub-genre have a bad reputation of calling everything that isn't this "Not REAL Yuri".

Example Plot: Aimi and Minako are in a stable relationship. Aimi's parents have been dead a long-time and she is self-employed, having never attended college. Minako is a college student of the same age who comes from a traditional family. When Minako brings Aimi home, her parents become angry that she will not find a man and pass on the legacy of the household. Minako refuses to take the next step in their relationship without her parent's blessing. Aimi supports Minako for a while as her parents give her no end to the grief.  However she becomes resentful that Minako is so dependent on others, having become prideful of being independent. Minako finds that out and the two argue before Aimi leaves her. This causes her parents to become even more set in their ways, seeing this as evidence that women's love relationships should only be for the very young girls as practice for real relationships and that staying in them longer is a sign of emotional immaturity. Minako becomes depressed to the point of mentally abusing herself, hating her own orientation. Aimi is alone and also becomes depressed before finally realizing that she isn't as dependent as she thinks, that she needs people too and more then anything depends on Minako. Minako's parents watch Minako's condition deteriorate and realize how much they suffering their daughter is truly going through. The climax of the story comes when Aimi apologizes and goes through a long involved process trying to make it up to Minako, who comes through her depression. Minako's parents give their blessing to the couple and they live together.

Now I read all three of these as you might be able to tell and they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. YES, Yuri for Guys has it's own strengths, get off your high horses, fictional series made for fun entertainment are not exploiting all of womenkind. Yuri for Guys can be just downright fun, and also the most likely to explore a relationship from the start. However it can also be kinda comically unrealistic, repetitive and use stereotypes that are really hard to relate to if you are actually a woman. Shoujo Yuri is the most imaginative I'd argue and the one that can be just outright adorable all the time with lots of cutesy-ness and female love (platonic too) shown. However it can also be manipulative and aspire to a level of depth it can't really back up. Josei Yuri has the most complex characters, realistic, relatable characters and is most likely to make actual points about LGBT culture and reception in Japan. However it is often the darkest and most audience-alienating with it's presentation, and tends to be the most hostile to what it perceives as harmful to Lesbians in Japan, including Traditional Religion, the Government, Men, Foreign Influences, etc.

They all have their strengths and weaknesses and none are "better" then the others in my opinion. I personally prefer Shoujo Yuri but that's just me.

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