Or, yuri helped me figure out that I like ladies.
No, really – it did. And its silly, but I’d somehow… not forgotten this, but had let this fact settle into a remote enough corner of my mind that it does not readily occur to me any longer (something which, surely, has a lot to do with the fact that I’m very comfortable with myself these days, which itself is primarily since Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed). But I was reminded of it within the past week when I stumbled upon Fuck Yeah Strawberry Panic, a tumblr dedicated to, you guessed it, Strawberry Panic. What was noteworthy here, though, is that it seems that it is primarily fueled by female fans, many of them bisexual or lesbian. Which is really pretty freaking cool, and which got even more awesome when, as I slowly paged through, I realized that for a lot of these fans, SP was their closet key, so to speak. Like my curiosity for Battle Athletes Victory’s kissing scenes and my interest when I heard Kannadzuki no Miko had girls kissing girls, SP had proven revelatory for these women and girls.
…its also, um, kind of great to figure out that one is not some weird, weeaboo deviation whose sexual orientation was largely made apparent through anime. Woo! I’m not a total weirdo!
This is actually itself an interesting feeling, because had I figured it out through my non-manga reading habits, I would not have felt odd about that. However, figuring it out through anime? Weeeeiiiirdddd. I blame fujoshi and fudanshi of both the yuri and BL varieties. Or, at least, the young ones running around cons and shrieking while waving paddles. Dammit, chillens, get off my lawn! Joking aside, last I checked, fans of Annie on My Mind or Dance on My Grave weren’t doing likewise, so I think I can be forgiven for feeling in such a fashion.
Yes, so, yuri: my gateway drug to bisexuality. Oh man, you can be converted! They were right all along! And my saliva can turn men gay!
Battle Athletes Victory, then, was my penultimate gateway drug. Or, y’know, the first thing to put some cracks into my consciousness. I remember so distinctly watching as Kris Kristopher’s antics went from seemingly merely a comedic addition to something legit. I hurriedly covered the computer screen with my hands to block the images, worried my mother or someone else would see. I paused it, and cautiously turned – I was in the computer room of my house. But there was no one there. I carefully re-wound, and watched Kris kiss Akari in the middle of the Cosmo Beauty Tournament. And then I re-wound it and watched it again. And then yet again. At that point I let the DVD roll forward. I didn’t think too much of my fascination.
A couple years later, I discovered the wonderful world of digital fansubs, and my anime fanhood increased tenfold. I was willing to watch almost everything and anything, so thrilled I was with this development. I pored over websites detailing different shows, filling scraps of paper with titles of shows I knew I had to check out. However, my connection speed hampered my ability to watch as much as humanly possible; these were the days of torrents taking six hours for a single episode, and only then if it was a fast torrent.
I also had a very short-lived blog, incidentally, sometime during my latter years of high school. And which also, much to my surprise, still exists, albeit sans any posted content! The tagline apparently was ‘anime for the goldfish crowd’, and I can only speculate that had to do with my enjoyment of Goldfish Warning.
Thinking on it, though, while Kannadzuki no Miko did end up on my list of yuri titles to check out, along with Yami to Boshi to Hon no Tabibito (which, interestingly, remains unlicensed unlike its time period stablemates in “yuri” Mari-sama ga Miteru, YamiBoshi, and Mai-HiME), Marimite is the one I actually watched in full and which was my holy grail of sorts of anticipated watches.
I had this funny misconception aout Marimite going into it. For some reason, I thought it took place in the early 1900’s, and was honestly a bit put out when it wasn’t. I also expected it to be a little heavier on girl-on-girl content, although it ended up being my favorite of these early contacts with yuri. In fact, I think its the only one that’s any good, as I thought Kannadzuki no Miko was a garbagefest even before it brought rape into the mix, and YamiBoshi made no fucking sense.
Anyway, so I had my list of yuri and yuri-ish shows, and it filled me with trepidation. I actually was pretty calm about the whole “hmm, maybe I like girls” thing initially. I developed a crush on a girl and figured, well, Kinsey scale, whatevs. A second girl, basically the same reaction. Third girl and starting to find a lot of girls attractive? We-ell… maybe its a pattern. But despite my cool head, the prospect of watching yuri made me feel a bit nervous. Partially because, well, what if I was caught by my parents? But there was probably an element of points of no return in there. What if it turned out I didn’t like guys at all? That would be kind of weird. I’d thought I was attracted to them my whole life, after all. Liking girls in addition to boys? Fine. But instead of? That would require a much larger shift in perspective and in my conception of myself.
So, my list. I can still picture it now, even tell you what stationery it was on, the fact that I’d written it in red ink with a Pilot G2 pen. I can even smell the way the air coming in the back door smelled, because it was summertime and it was hot, so the door was open almost constantly. I sort of wonder what happened to that list.
The first episode of Kannadzuki no Miko was kind of boring and random, but then the girl kissed the girl and I was a bit spellbound, although subsequent episodes bored me as well. YamiBoshi, as previously stated, made no fucking sense, so although I did dutifully watch a few episodes, I dropped it pretty quickly. And then there was Marimite. And most of what was going on was just left open to interpretation if we so desired, but then the Forest of Thorns arc appeared and I was a goner. I was fairly well into developing a pretty intense crush on a friend, and there was Sei, with the girl, but then she lost the girl! It was tragic! and here I was, pining away for someone I also couldn’t have!
From there, it all just kind of snowballs. I can recall watching Strawberry Panic in my dorm room my first year of college (had a single, thank goodness, never would’ve dared had I not), and thrilling to its cheesiness and bright colors and impossible set-up. I also started reading Hourou Musuko that year, interestingly enough, and then found Aoi Hana, that wonderful shock of yuri that actually spoke to me as a girl who liked girls, and wasn’t just something for the fanboys. And Marimite got subsequent seasons, and, oh man, I hated Rainy Blue, but everything else was great. But most of the rest of it blurs together, partially because a lot of it wasn’t terribly good, and also because I had figured out I was bisexual by then, so it wasn’t the opening of a door it had once been.
So, yes: yuri helped me realize I liked women. Really. Isn’t life curious?