Often when I am looking at photos of my peers in a group, the one thing that would subconsciously keep flashing in my brain is: the guys (and, *ahem*, clothes) are ruining the picture. Sure, it wouldn’t be that obvious if I was looking at a photo of my friends. In other cases, the guys just serve as an unpleasant distraction. It really didn’t matter whether the guy in question was good looking or not, because unless he is extremely repulsive visually with missing ligaments or hair, I wouldn’t be able to detect it (being heterosexual and all). And in the case that he was incredibly good looking, I would feel a subconscious threat to my position on the mating ladder. Which would in fact create the totally opposite effect of making the photo all that more unpleasant to look at.
Which brings me to why Yuri is great: the male component is absent. Seven Seas has recently translated the Strawberry Panic! light novels into English, and the novels finally made me understand why many are raving about Yuri. I never watched the anime prior to the novels, and now that I have, I would say the anime is rather disappointing as it deviates too much from the original novels. To get a clearer picture, do get the novels asap, as well as the manga. Which was by far a much more faithful adaption of the novels.
Strawberry Panic! takes place atop a beautiful hill where 3 prestigious girls schools are constructed. A sanctuary for those who want their daughters to grow up to become cultured and productive members of society. I mean, do I really have to go any further? The fundamental reason why Strawberry Panic! rocks is because: there isn’t a single guy character, Bishoujos are abundant, lolis are present, and Yuri is everywhere. Reading Strawberry Panic! feels like entering a garden locked away from the rest of the world with trees that endlessly bear the forbidden fruit of Yuri.
I say Yuri is forbidden for a reason. I recently joined my college’s anime club, and its infested with Yaoi fangirls. Ok, I really hope none of these girls (especially my Deputy Head) finds this blog, but face it. Most guys don’t want to hear about your Yaoi fantasies. In fact, my Committee Head marks all of her Yaoi stuff in her laptop with YH (whatever that stands for) in front just to warn other people to think hard before opening them.
Anyway, if you’ve been following my initial thesis, you might be wondering: If Yuri is so great then, why is harem anime, particularly those that target the Shounen demographic, so popular among guys? Some examples would be Negima!, Ichigo 100% and of course the most recent Kanoporn. 2 of these examples feature arguably wimpy male leads, while the last one features your typical GG (or Generic Guy). The reason is simple: these anime most probably cater to wimpy boys who really gotta get out there in the real world and understand what the world is really like.
Of course, just simply watching a typical Shounen Harem does not make you a wimp. This statement is a false dilemma, as you may actually be a rampant ecchi addict that doesn’t really give a damn about the guy leads. Or perhaps, you just like the Seiyuus involved, or for the “interesting” character development, etc. etc. But fundamentally, I wouldn’t say it is a stretch to conclude that this kind of anime does cater for a younger male audience that have yet to understand fully what maturity really means.
I mean, often, I find myself watching your typical Shounen Harem, or even your typical Shounen anime with a GG and I find myself either being really irritated with the guy (Claymore) or just plain bored out of my skull at all the “Shounen-Haremic” cliches if you will. Which was the biggest reason why I chose to drop Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu. I went into it thinking it hopefully rather complicated Otakuish stuff like Genshiken, but I was badly mistaken. In other words, I thought it was adapted from a Seinen light novel when in fact it was Shounen.
Ultimately, to draw a parallel with the Yaoi fangirls, I believe there is a reason why they ain’t watching crap like Mermaid Melody or Sailor Moon anymore. To put it simply, they’ve seen beyond all the typical Shoujo-cliches found in your typical Shoujo manga or anime, and want wilder stuff. And wilder stuff we do desire, as I’ve yet to hear anything along the lines of “Yuri cliches” or, *shudder*, “Yaoi cliches”. And I do hope that I never do.