Good friend medievalotaku recently reposted a manga best seller list, happy that a favorite of his made it to the top. What gathered more attention from his commenters, though, was the fact that a yuri title made it to fourth place. Many comments bemoaned how lust and sin will always sell. This made me realize that the old misconception of yuri being a subgenre of porn, featuring two ladies going at it and aimed at heterosexual males, is still alive and well. I am not going to argue how you should define the genre, but I want to provide some data for reference and perspective.
1. Yuri – for boys or girls?
It is difficult to get clear-cut data on the male-female ratio of yuri readers, and the most reliable data we have dates back to 2008, coming from magazine Yuri Hime’s reader questionnaires. At that time, the magazine was divided into two sister titles, the lighter Yuri Hime S and the core-audience Yuri Hime.
Yuri Hime S: 62% Male / 38% Female
Yuri Hime: 27% Male / 73% Female
The two magazines fused together in late 2010, the stated reason being an increasing readership overlap, as readers of the lighter Yuri Hime S reportedly migrated to the main magazine.
No official data has been published since after the fusion, though some speak of a 50-50 ratio nowadays.
2. Yuri and erotica
Yuri being just a genre, and a broad one at that, you can find all kinds of stories and story elements if you look hard enough, But how unwholesome (perverted) is the average yuri title nowadays?
I took a quick look through the May 2015 issue of Yuri Hime, and classified the story chapters into three categories: family-friendly, fanservice and physical intimacy.
For fanservice, I looked for images which could be considered titillating, regardless of the significance to the plot. Nudity and provocative clothing were the most common reasons for getting included into this category. Just one such element was enough to include a given series.
For physical intimacy, I looked for characters expressing their affection physically, starting from kisses and going up to sexual foreplay. (No story contained characters having actual sexual intercourse.) I did not include hand-holding and hugs, as I do not want to live in a world where you cannot give your friend a hug. Sorry.
There were a total of 22 works in the issue. I only counted Yuru Yuri (two chapters) once, and counted the A-side and B-side short stories by Canno as one whole story.
Family-friendly: 12/22 – 54,5%
Non family-friendly: 10/22 – 45,5%
Non family-friendly includes both stories containing fanservice and physical intimacy.
Fanservice: 5/22 – 22,7%
Physical intimacy: 7/22 – 31,8%
Two of the stories qualified for both categories, Saburouta’s citrus containing non-erotic nudity in one scene and some sexual foreplay in another. Kodama Naoko’s Netsuzou TRAP –NTR- was the most daring story this issue, as a shower scene between two friends (the Japanese and their public baths) momentarily borders on something less innocent. The above two stories were also the only two this issue to contain sexual foreplay. Other than that, there were three kisses, one instance of a character teasing another with a near-kiss, and one (implied) masturbation scene.
I was more disturbed with some of the fanservice.
Korur’s Momoiro Trance only features the slightest wardrobe failure which just barely made the cut for the fanservice category. So far so good.
Unfortunately Aoto Hibiki’s Prince Prince starts things off by undressing ugly girls (what is with that artstyle, honestly), only to up the ante by providing us with a pantyshot showing off the buttocks of a character later to be revealed as a cross-dressing male. And that is the first chapter of a new serialization. I hope this one dies ASAP…
merryhachi’s Tachibana-kan To Lie Angle closes the list off with a chapter dedicated to the main heroine (?) trying not to wet her panties as she waits for the toilet in her apartment to get fixed. I know there is need for this particular fetish on the market, but if that is chapter three of your story, the times ahead are dark indeed.
Overall, it seems medieval’s commenters were right to regard citrus as a work containing an open portrayal of homosexual love. Claims that the yuri genre is all about “selling lust”, on the other hand, turn out to be largely unfounded. More than half the titles in the genre were able to develop or hint at a romantic story without resorting to either fanservice or overt physical affection. I was also happy to see that those stories that delved into the physical side of a relationship did so with good taste. The few notable exceptions will hopefully not last long.
Thank you to Yuri Hime staff and artists for their hard work (the next issue comes out in two weeks, doki doki) and to medieval for an excuse to fill this blog with yuri images. I might yet get back to this topic if time allows.