What is Yuri?

[Doki] Yama no Susume Second Season - 23 (1280x720 Hi10P AAC) [886385FF].mkv_snapshot_10.21_[2016.03.21_23.20.23]

It’s a term I widely use yet I’ve come to realize that it’s an ill-defined term. Two girls kissing does not necessarily define ‘Yuri’ any better than something as simple as sharing a promise. This might be a little abstract, but bear with me here.

Yuri is to be Felt


Got that? Since you’re on this blog, you probably know the right side, but I won’t blame you for not knowing the left. The key difference here is the emotion it conveys, for Haruka and Yuu on the right its a reconciliation from sullen jealousy, on the left… I’ll leave that to you to find out.

All this is to say, Yuri is more than visual stimuli. The emotional connection is what we, as fans, want to be able to empathize with. Of course, you’ll have a hard time explaining this to someone outside the fandom, especially  so if you are a male fan.


Sexuality is irrelevant


Sexual desire and orientation are not 100% crucial in Yuri. What I mean to say here is Yuri ≠ Lesbian. I’m sure there’ll be those who disagree with me here, but hear me out first.

If you’ve been a long time fan of Yuri, you’ll notice that the portrayal of Yuri has become much more open of recent as opposed to the reserved platonic relationships of ‘Class S’. Those were stories about strong feelings of intimacy between girls but they were typically written with the thought in mind that the characters would inevitably proceed to pursue traditional relationships as adults. This fact however, does not negate the relationships which they once shared with other women.


Yuri is Ambiguous


Which goes back to why there is no real way to define the Yuri. Between girls, it’s generally more acceptable to have intimate relations and that does sometimes blur the line between friendship and love. Which is kind of why CGDCT(Cute Girls Doing Cute Things) shows attract a lot of Yuri fans without having to blatantly spell out that they’re gay.

Okay, maybe Gochuumon would have been a better choice for ambiguity, but you get the point.


How far ‘Yuri’ extends really depends on the person, so keep an open mind, unless that someone tries to tell you Kiss X Sis is Yuri in which case you should unfriend/block/delete them immediately.

I really hope I won’t confuse anyone with this post, because I’ve successfully confused myself by binge writing this.


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15 Responses to What is Yuri?

  1. OG-Man says:

    Reblogged this on The Yuri Nation and commented:
    An interesting analytical study on the subject of yuri as more than kissing between women. Yours truly is well acquainted with most of the subdivisions explained here “Holds head high” but I bet some of you youngsters who just started may pick up a thing or two from this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kakikitsune says:

    I’m proud to say I was not at all confused and see exactly where you’re coming from with this and I think you did a great job explaining well done! x3

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ramenshojo says:

    Yuri is a vague term because imo it’s basically a blanket word for all gxg relationships, from the extremes to everything in-between, i.e. from full-on sexual contact to just one girl noticing or taking an interest in another.
    I’m in the non-touchy-feely camp. The magic kind of disappears once anything more than a hug happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shoujo Aisha says:

      I do recall a doujin artists saying something similar, like how they feel a work is no longer Yuri once it starts to encroach on sexual territory. I guess yuri kind of exudes a feeling of innocence.


  4. MiniMinute says:

    Wow, is that really yuri I don’t know about? That picture on the left looks vaguely familiar, but I can’t put a name to it… Your “I’ll leave that to you to find out” comment indicates that you probably don’t want to say what it is, but, still, I would love to know what it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shoujo Aisha says:

      Recommending this to Yuri fans would be akin to recommending Boku no Pico to some guy looking for romance anime. Regardless, I did link it’s page in my post, beyond that is for curious lads to discover at their own risk.


  5. Raizon says:

    I don’t consider friendship stories yuri. Because in the end, yuri is about strong relationship between women. If we’re talking about straight women, sometime in her life, her strongest relationship will be with a man. Even if she has a strong relationship with her girl friend, it will be her husband that will be beside her in the future.

    I think I could accept a story about two girls that are friends, live together and never marry a man as yuri. But then, why not making them lesbian already?

    The biggest reason Marimite is considered yuri, is because there wasn’t a lot of animes focusing on girls relationship at the time. And most of the yuri fans actually imagine them in romantic relationships.

    Another big classic series for older yuri fans is Sailor Moon, and, although there’s a lesbian couple, no one would call it a yuri series.
    Why? There’s strong friendship between the girls, too. Sometimes told to be even stronger than their relationship with their boyfriends. But the boyfriends are there. And that’s enough to not be considered yuri.
    I don’t think that just because we can’t see their future husbands/boyfriends, suddenly it’s yuri.

    In the end, of course yuri fans will be interested in all kind of stories that deal with female relationships. But if we need to hide the men for it to be considered yuri, maybe it’s not.

    I think I would say yuri isn’t about lesbians. But it makes not sense yuri being without lesbians. Be it real lesbians or subtext lesbians.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Shoujo Aisha says:

      I’d say it’s more like Yuri has changed with times to reflect a society which is generally more welcoming of non-traditional relationships. It’s not so much a ‘matter of hiding the men’ but rather focusing on relationships between girls. For example, this confession here. If you read the rest of the story, you’ll realize things don’t go quite as she said but her moving on doesn’t change the fact that she was serious at the time.

      Some will dismiss this because it was a fleeting feeling, and that’s fine, but it’s still very much Yuri to me. I still stand by my point that Yuri ≠ Lesbian. These two do commonly overlap but they aren’t exactly the same thing.


      • Raizon says:

        I actually think it’s the opposite. On a time homossexuality was taboo (specially female homossexuality in Japan), it makes sense that anything trying to display it would mask it with with more traditional relationships. Actually, yuri is a new thing. As a genre, it didn’t exist before the 00s. Although yuri fans existed before that, official yuri stories were rare.

        I’ll agree that yuri is not lesbian, though, but for a different reason. Homossexuality isn’t well accepted in Japan. So even on yuri stories, the word “lesbian” is avoided. The important is that it’s a love between girls, not their sexuality. It’s not like they’re not lesbian, though. It’s more like they’re hiding it. Not saying it makes it better to accept. Also, the word “lesbian” has a big sexual connotation in Japan, so some people aren’t confortable with it. However, originally “yuri” was a term used to reffer to lesbians (exactly because the word itself wasn’t well accepted), so it’s hard to disassociate them.

        In fact, the word “yuri” was used to describe lesbian relationships in the localization of Life is Strange in Japan. It’s common in anime when a characters wants to ask if another girl is a lesbian, ask her if she’s “yuri”. It’s all because lesbian (rezu) is a term too strong. We’re talking about a culture that use the english word for “kiss”, because their own word sound too direct, after all.

        But Class S stories wouldn’t be sold as yuri nowadays. KyoAni won’t try to sell Hibike as yuri, unless they change the original ending. If the one-shot you sent was focused on the girl that ended up with a boyfriend, it wouldn’t be on a yuri magazine. Or at least, yuri fans would complain or ignore it. I remember a yuri serie ending in het marriage and it didn’t got good praise.
        Characters like these are usually used in yuri stories just to hurt the main characters, that usually actually like girls.

        Well, it’s a complex genre, mostly because of cultural differences. I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of the homossexual ground that yuri stand on, though. Even if it’s not about lesbians, it’s still about romance between girls above everything…and aren’t girls that are truly in love with other girls lesbians or bi?

        Sometimes I also like to see yuri more like a demographic than a genre, though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Shoujo Aisha says:

        That’s what I’m saying, though, the genre has become more brazen with displaying affection because the taboo is starting to clear up.

        My original point has nothing to do with the tone of words. It’s as you say, what’s important is the love between girls. The difference in our opinions is that is that I don’t believe Yuri necessitates that the feelings must be romantic.

        I recently finished the second season of Yama no Susume and it was really great. I do consider the show to be very Yuri in essence, especially with Hinata/Aoi though there is nothing to really establish that their feelings towards each other are romantic or sexual in nature.

        We could probably discuss this all day and not come to any consensus. In the first place, we are talking about fundamentally different things when we use the word ‘love’. Between lovers, friends, parents and siblings, they are all different kinds of love, none of which necessarily take precedent over each other. To me, Yuri is an exploration into love between girls which is not restricted solely to romantic love.


  6. OG-Man says:

    That Kiss X Sis scene was (and I think still is) spread around for quite some time and to me it was just another of “Oh look, two girls kissing! HAWT!” and ignored it. Ladies kissing for the sake of hawtness and nothing else is meaningless to me.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great post. Definitely sums up my own thoughts as well. 🙂


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