LGBTQ+ Manga for Pride Month: Part 2 – Yuri

This is our second of three posts from Erica Friedman as a guest blogger. Make sure you saw last week’s post, and join us next week for the final installment of recommended manga for Pride Month!

Part 2 – Yuri

While manga culture in Japan can be traced back about a century, manga is not static. Everything changes – from fashion, to art styles and even genres. Since the turn of the 21st century, fans and creators have been hungry for stories of girls or women in love and since 2010, they have created a new genre for those stories. Yuri is the only genre of manga that didn’t begin with a single age or gender as an audience. As a result, it’s growing pretty quickly by appealing to different kinds of audiences for different reasons.

A Yuri manga might be a first love in school story…or it could be two women learning about their true selves, women in the office and even, sometimes, actual lesbians. (^_^) The stories I’ve chosen here are notable for telling compelling stories that make you want to keep reading.

Whisper Me a Love Song
Eku Takeshima
Kodansha Manga

Bubbly, energetic first-year high school student Himari falls head over heels for her senpai Yori after hearing her band perform on the first day of school. Himari tells Yori she’s fallen in love at first sight, and, to Himari’s surprise, Yori confesses that she has as well! But when Himari realizes that she and Yori are feeling two different kinds of love, she begins to ask herself what “love” really means…

One of my favorites, this story is so wholesome and sweet, but not cloying. You’re really rooting for these two all the way.

Even Though We’re Adults
Takako Shimura
Seven Seas Entertainment

A heart-tugging manga about two busy women who think they’ve figured out the whole adulting thing…until they fall in love with each other. Ayano, an elementary school teacher in her thirties, stops by a bar one day and meets another woman named Akari. Sparks fly as the two chat, and before the night is over, Ayano even goes in for a kiss. Akari is intrigued but confused…especially when she discovers that Ayano has a husband! Both Ayano and Akari are about to find out that love doesn’t get any easier, even as you grow older.

If you like messy relationships, or complex tales of adult life, this one is for you. There are no bad guys here. Everyone is trying their best.

How Do We Relationship?
Viz Media

Shy Miwa has always dreamed of finding love, but living in small-town Japan made finding the right match difficult—especially since she likes girls! Even going away to college didn’t seem to help, until one day her outgoing classmate Saeko suggests they might as well start dating each other since it’s not like either of them has other options.

At first it seems like things won’t work out as their personalities clash and misunderstandings abound. But when their casual friendship starts to become something more, Miwa begins to wonder—can a pragmatic proposal lead to true love?

This story goes way deep into two young women’s lives and does some things I’ve never seen a manga do before for an intense, but compelling read.

Doughnuts Under A Crescent Moon
Shio Usui
Seven Seas Entertainment

A yuri romance for the modern career woman! Uno Hinako throws herself into makeup, fashion, and falling in love, hoping that will make her seem “normal” to the other people at her job. But no matter how hard she tries, she’s a self-doubting mess inside, and her attempts at “normal” romance with men just keep failing. When she starts to think she might be alone forever, a new normal presents itself in the form of her relationship with Asahi Sato, a level-headed woman who works at her company. It starts as respect, and then it becomes far more intimate.

Another of my personal favorites, this is a tender story about two women who have never had a chance to learn who they really were, finding themselves as adults.

Bloom Into You
Nio Nakatani
Seven Seas Entertainment

Yuu has always adored shoujo manga and yearns for the day when someone might give her a love confession that would send her heart aflutter. Yet when a junior high school classmate confesses his feelings to her–she feels nothing. Disappointed and confused, Yuu enters high school, where she sees the confident and beautiful student council member Nanami. When the next person to confess to Yuu is Nanami herself, has her romantic dream finally come true?

A new classic schoolgirl Yuri, this series includes adult lesbians in a relationship who are able to mentor the young lesbian in the story, Sayaka. She gets her own 3-novel spin-off series, Regarding Saeki Sayaka, which is not to be missed if you enjoy this series!

Next week will be Part 3 – Queer Manga.

Erica Friedman has written about Yuri for Japanese literary journal Eureka, Animerica magazine, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Dark Horse, and contributed to Forbes, Slate, Huffington Post, Hooded Utilitarian, The Mary Sue, Anime Feminist, Anime Herald and Anime News Network online. She has written news and event reports, interviews Yuri creators and reviews Yuri anime, manga and related media on her blog Okazu since 2002 and is the author of By Your Side: The First 100 Year of Yuri Anime and Manga out from Journey Press.

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