Written by Lianne Sentar, Marketing Manager at Seven Seas
Six months ago, something incredible happened on Japanese TV: a high-budget, beautifully produced anime about male figure skating called Yuri!!! On Ice hit the airwaves (simultaneously streamed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll) and took the world by storm. Although the television series was merely one of the many sports-themed anime that regularly air in Japan, Yuri!!! On Ice surprised its audience with a sensitive, touching romance between its two male leads. The show performed extremely well with viewers around the globe, attracting audiences beyond the usual reach of anime and launching new conversations about nuanced and positive depictions of LGBT+ relationships in media.
Japan has a long history of exploring LGBT+ themes in manga and anime, in a number of genres aimed at (and created by) people from all over the gender and sexuality spectrums. Many have been imported to North America and are further spread to different audiences who form new relationships to the material. Not to be confused with the main character in Yuri!!! On Ice (which is often spelled Yuuri or Yūri to better reflect the Japanese), there’s an LGBT+ genre called “yuri” in anime and manga: stories about romantic relationships between women. These stories about women loving women are some of the most popular books that we at Seven Seas publish, and is a growing market segment in both Japan and North America.
If you enjoyed Yuri!!! On Ice and want more LGBT+ books from Japan, you might enjoy these yuri titles that explore the love between women:
Hana & Hina After School by Milk Morinaga: Shy, uncertain Hana and outgoing, trendy Hina are high school girls who couldn’t be more different from each other. But they share a secret—they work at the same shop after school, despite the school’s strict policy against part-time jobs. As they work side-by-side and discover the things they do have in common, they develop an attraction to each other…and now the secret they’re hiding grows bigger by the day! Manga creator Milk Morinaga has proven popular with both female and male readers in the West, after her sweet tale Girl Friends was first released in English. Hana & Hina After School is one of our newest releases from her, and is a fun, teen-friendly place to start exploring the yuri genre.
Kase-san and Morning Glories by Hiromi Takashima: For even more exploratory high school romance, the Kase-san and… series contains standalone volumes about flower-loving Yamada tending to her own budding romance with track star Kase-san. The first installment, Kase-san and Morning Glories, is the debut volume of this funny, touching tale that our readers absolutely love. And if you enjoy it, be sure to check out Kase-san and Bento and Kase-san and Shortcake!
My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata: If you’re after a darker, more adult story about identity, My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness is the expanded version of a memoir comic that went viral in Japan: the story of Kabi Nagata, a 28-year-old woman suffering through her adulthood, who decides to (bluntly) address some of her buried issues and hire a lesbian escort. This moving yet darkly funny comic is about dealing with heavy topics like mental health (including disordered eating and self-harm), sexuality, and growing up in the modern age in a candid voice all its own. Even prior to its release, it’s also going viral on our social media accounts in English, because this is a story that has moved—and continues to move—people all over the globe.
If you’d like to explore more yuri titles in English, we have an entire section devoted to them on the newly redesigned Seven Seas Entertainment website. Since the genre continues to expand in Japan, we’re always adding more books to our line-up, so there’s plenty out already—and plenty more coming. Enjoy!