At a glance, Yuru Yuri looks like your typical moe show but with yuri flavoring for the otaku dudes who prefer the “pure love between two women” to claiming fictional women as their “waifu”. It’s a slice of life school show with moe girls, after all. There are at least three tsundere girls in this show, after all. Hell, one character is even an otaku herself, not to mention a doujinka! But, as a woman who likes other women, I saw some other things in this show.
The main thing is rather specific. There’s an episode in season 2 where Yui asks Chinatsu out, just the two of them, on what can be presumed to be a date. Chinatsu has been head over heels for Yui for most of the series, so of course she’s elated. But during the date, she starts noticing all of the couples around them…all of which are heterosexual. She starts doubting herself. Is it weird for her to have feelings for Yui? Is it right? Would Yui be creeped out by this (as if she hasn’t noticed)? Et cetera. By the end of the episode, however, she realizes that no, there’s nothing wrong here, her feelings are legitimate and she shouldn’t feel bad about them.
This episode caused a bit of a shitstorm with the fans. People even went so far as to say it was a homophobic episode. That attitude honestly pisses me off.
I like my escapist yuri where the girls are all lesbians and no one questions it plenty. After all,isn’t that how the world should be? Not that all girls are lesbians, but that it isn’t looked upon negatively when someone happens to not be heterosexual. I wish that was our reality. Thing is, it’s not. Unfortunately, it’s very rare for a yuri title (or a BL title, for that matter) to do anything other than either everyone’s gay escapist fantasy or something where one or more characters incessantly angst about their attraction to the same sex. Of the two, I definitely prefer the former. However, I’d really like it if more series did what that one episode of Yuru Yuri did. It addressed that this isn’t considered “normal” in modern society, but it also concluded that it isn’t wrong. It wasn’t about Chinatsu going into a fit of self loathing over being a lesbian. It was about society’s standards making her doubt herself, but her own conviction in her feelings making her realize that she can’t possibly be doing anything wrong. That was so uplifting for me, and I’m not even a Chinatsu fan.
The other major thing is also a specific scene. There’s an episode in which we see Sakurako and Himawari, two of the tsundere characters, in their childhood. This episode had a scene showing that they didn’t always fight. In fact, as little girls, they got their hands on the copy of a marriage registration form. They filled it out and declared that they would marry each other when they grew up, then, after a small tiff over “who has to be the husband”, they decided they would both be the wife. There is so much here that made my rainbow-colored heart soar, just in this sweet little scene of young love blossoming. Watching little kids with crushes on each other is usually pretty cute, especially when they’re innocent lesbians who haven’t faced the outside world’s hatred yet. The most incredible part of this scene, though, was actually when Sakurako scratched out the line that said “husband” and wrote in a second line that said “wife”. Why? So often LGBT couples, both in fiction and real life, are shoved into heteronormative roles, insisting one partner must be the “man” and the other the “woman”. This is bullshit (assuming both partners identify as their biological genders, issues relating to transgender individuals are another topic entirely that aren’t relevant here, as all of the characters in Yuru Yuri are biologically female and self-identify as female). It’s very offensive, and it’s yet another manifestation of homophobia that shows up in anime fandom. You know, all of those male/male pairing wedding fanarts that put the “uke” in a dress. Pretty often it happens with the “tachi” girl in a yuri pairing in a suit, too, which is acceptable on some occasions when the character in question would be far more likely to prefer to wear pants. But nevertheless, neither partner in a female/female relationship is the “husband”, and I loved that Yuru Yuri acknowledged that in a scene that was already melting my heart with cuteness.
I also enjoyed there being a relationship in which two tsundere characters are tsundere for each other, but then I never claimed to not like moe, otaku bait elements, did I?