While girl-on-girl action might be one of the most popular searches on your adult-time fun sites, for most people who watch yuri, they watch it for the complex emotional relationships. If you’re a fan of drama and complexity of relationships in your romance anime, then yuri anime will always be the way to go. Same sex relations are still somewhat taboo in Japan, but it is not just that. Even in areas where accepted, coming to terms with your sexuality is wrought with difficulty, especially when you develop feelings for close friends, which is often a big plot point in yuri shows. So that all sets up for an emotional journey in this genre of anime that any romance fan can enjoy with the right open mind.
Well, let’s start off with the best of the bunch just so if you haven’t watched it yet, you can get right to it. Sakura Trick tells the story of two girls who were best friends in middle school. When they get to high school, they are in the same class, but sit way across the room from each other. As one begins to make friends on her side of the room, the other gets jealous. In order to deepen their friendship, they decide to do something they would never do with another girl – kiss. However, that one kiss awakens new feelings in them both.
The journey in Sakura Kiss is a slow one of two girls realizing their real feelings towards each other. Of course, with that innocent new romance comes ten tons of drama, but the real reason this is number one is because it has a lot of wonderfully sweet kisses throughout.
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Revolutionary Girl Utena is, in every sense, a revolutionary anime. Not only is it one of the first yuri anime series, but it is the type of anime that you can watch over and over again while still discovering something new to analyze. Utena is also a difficult series to summarize without spoiling things. However, it does follow Utena, who transfers to her new academy and wears a feminine version of the male uniform. She makes it very clear that her dream is to one day become a prince. From there in, it becomes a complicated story of academy politics with huge subtext on gender and sexual identity.
Sweet Blue Flowers
There are a wide variety of different types of yuri plots on here, but if you are looking for a sweet and touching story of the blossoming love between two girls, Sweet Blue Flowers is for you. It tells the tale of two childhood friends that separate when one moves away, but reunite as freshmen in high school. The story is about them conquering all the troubles of high school life while also slowly trying to reconnect with each other. Although tender and touching in terms of plot, the animation is kind of more “meh” than this great yuri tale deserves.
This is a very curious yuri anime. It takes place in a world where gender and sexual identity doesn’t work the same way as it does in the real world. In it, everyone is a form of gender-neutral until they turn 17, in which they must choose their permanent gender. Of course, these adults can’t pilot the airships that protect the nation in a very NGE sort of way.
So it follows the tale of these young pilots who are gender-neutral, but mostly feminine in nature and have grown into female puberty to some extend during their neutral-ness. So, in other words, it is very much a yuri-esque series of relationships, but not really since they haven’t actually decided on a gender yet.
If you’re not into “heavily implied” or “strong subtext”, then Whispered Words should be one of your first choices in unabashed yuri anime series. It tells the tale of Ushio who isn’t shy about announcing her interest in girls. She says she prefers the cute, shy, and feminine type. The problem is that her best friend secretly has a crush on her, but she is definitely not cute, shy, or very feminine.
While, yes, it is a (mostly unrequited) love story, it is also a story about how the shared experiences can help strengthen each person. Being gay in a Japanese high school (or otherwise life) is isolating, and this story depicts that as they discover other gay students and form a club to help strengthen each other.