8 Yuri Manga to Sweep You Off Your Feet | Mondo Manga

This manga category focuses on relationships between two women or girls, usually romances. 

Yuri manga was hard to find even five years ago, but it’s a rapidly growing niche. This category of manga focuses on intimate relationships between two women or girls, usually romances. Beyond that, it’s a very broad category, encompassing a wide variety of relationships between characters, from schoolgirl crushes to intense adult experiences. While school and workplace romances are the most common genre, there’s also action, sci-fi, and isekai yuri manga.

While its roots can be found in early 20th-century novels, the current yuri wave got its start in the late 1990s with the manga and anime Sailor Moon, in which Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune are a couple (although the early English-language anime described them as “cousins”). The first yuri magazines in Japan appeared in 2003, the same year that the U.S.-based ALC Publishing released its first anthology of translated and homegrown yuri, Yuri Monogatari, and the yuri doujinshi (fan comic) Ricca ‘tte Kanji!? Seven Seas began publishing yuri manga in the mid-2000s, but the other major manga publishers (Viz, Yen Press, Kodansha Comics, and Tokyopop) have all started publishing yuri as well in the past five years.

As with other types of manga, yuri is often available in different media, including manga, light novels, anime, and video games. The website Okazu is a helpful resource for finding reviews and news about yuri manga, anime, and novels, both in Japanese and in English. The site is maintained by Erica Friedman, who launched ALC Publishing and is the author of By Your Side: The First 100 Years of Yuri Manga & Anime, forthcoming from Journey Press in June 2022.

Below is a selection of new and upcoming yuri manga.

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“Adachi and Shimamura,” by Hitoma Iruma, adapted by Moke Yuzuhara (Yen Press, 2021)

Gr 8 Up—Adachi and Shimamura start hanging out because they both prefer playing ping-pong in the gym to going to class. Eventually, they start going to class again, but the friendship continues – awkwardly, in fits and starts, as they both question what’s really going on and whether the other has the same feelings. It’s a slow-burn story with a lot of inner dialogue, and the problems that the two girls have, such as social anxiety, will be relatable to many teens. This manga is based on a series of light novels licensed by Seven Seas, and there is also an anime. (3 volumes, ongoing)

“Goodbye My Rose Garden,” by Dr. Pepperco. illus. by author. (Seven Seas, 2020)

Gr 8 Up—This three-volume romance is a visual treat for fans of Victorian England. Young, idealistic Hanako, recently arrived in England from Japan, goes to work for the noblewoman Lady Alice as her maid, but one of Alice’s first requests is that Hanako kill her and make it look like an accident. The reason: Alice prefers women to men and has given up on ever finding happiness and fulfilling her family duties. We know from the start that Hanako is going to change her mind, but the story has intrigue, deception, and suspense, all played out in a lovingly detailed Victorian setting. (3 volumes, complete)

“I’m in Love with the Villainess,” by Inori, illus. by Aonoshimo (Seven Seas, 2021)

Gr 8 Up—Isekai meet yuri in this story of a young woman, Rae, who is reborn into her favorite otome game, a dating-sim game where the goal is to win over one of the leading males. The thing is, Rae only has eyes for Claire, the villainess whose role in the game is to bully the player. Thus, what Rae loves most is when Claire torments her. Eventually, Rae gets a job as Claire’s maid so she can be around her even more, including when Claire is dressing and bathing. Rae’s enthusiasm for humiliation at Claire’s hands is a bit overdone, but it’s all played broadly for laughs. The story is based on a light novel series, which has also been licensed by Seven Seas. (1 volume, ongoing)

“Otherside Picnic,” by Iori Miyazawa, adapted by Eita Mizuno. (Square Enix, 2021)

Gr 11 Up—Romance takes a back seat to danger in this series, but it’s definitely there, although strictly as romantic tension in the first volume. Sarawo, a loner college student with social anxiety, accidentally discovers a sort of parallel universe, which she dubs the “Otherside,” and she almost gets stuck there after becoming paralyzed by the sight of a strange, supernatural being. She is rescued by Toriko, a beautiful, gun-toting woman, and together they explore this strange land while looking for Toriko’s missing friend Satsuki, of whom Sarawo is jealous. This manga is adapted from a series of light novels (licensed in English by J-Novel Club) and has also been made into an anime. (1 volume, ongoing)

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“Still Sick,” by Akashi (Tokyopop, 2019-20)

Gr 8 Up—Shimizu is an engineer for a large company, and she tries to keep her hobby, drawing yuri doujinshi, on the down-low. When her co-worker Maekawa finds out, she teases Shimizu—but then shows interest and reveals that she too was a manga artist but quit when she hit a creative block. Shimizu tries to support Maekawa as she returns to drawing, but both women have to endure a lot before they can accept who they are and how they feel about each other. Workplace romance is a common yuri plotline, and it’s fun to watch Shimizu successfully manage an engineering team as Maekawa struggles with her own creative hang-ups as well as the behind-the-scenes drama of the manga biz. (3 volumes, complete)

“A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow,” by Makoto Hagino (Viz, 2019-21)

Gr 8 Up—Shipped off to a new high school while her father is working abroad, Konatsu is worried that she won’t make friends. Before school even starts, though, she chances on an aquarium exhibit and meets Koyuki, the sole member of the aquarium club and a serious fish (and amphibian and reptile) enthusiast. The two quickly hit it off, but they have a lot of soul-searching to do before they can admit their true feelings. Hagino uses the fish and other animals not only as part of the setting but also as metaphors, weaving them seamlessly into the plot. (9 volumes, complete in Japan; 7 volumes currently out in North America)

“Whisper Me a Love Song,” by Eku Takeshima, illus. by author (Kodansha Comics, 2020-21)

Gr 8 Up—On the first day of high school, Himari sees Yori singing in a band and feels an instant connection with her. When Himari tells Yori it was “love at first sight,” she means she loved Yori’s singing. But Yori takes it as a confession of love and is immediately smitten with the younger student. They sort out the misunderstanding, but Yori is still determined to make Himari fall in love with her, and they stay friends while Himari sorts her feelings out. The story is told from the characters’ alternating points of view. Although there are hints of jealousy here and there, it’s a fluffy, innocent sort of romance, with lots of friends reassuring one another and declarations of how cute everyone is. A new rival pops up on the last page of the third volume, however, so the super-cute romance may be heading for rough waters. (3 volumes, ongoing)

“A White Rose in Bloom,” by Asumiko Nakamura (Seven Seas, 2021)

Gr 8 Up—Most yuri schoolgirl romances have a look similar to shoujo manga, with cute, rounded characters and lots of details filling up the panels (flowers, screentones, side comments, etc.) This book, on the other hand, has a classic look, reminiscent of Heart of Thomas and other early shoujo manga. The story has a quiet feeling, with a pace that is not so much slow as deliberate. It follows the relationship between two girls at an elite European boarding school; Steph is a mysterious, taciturn refugee, and Ruby is a more outgoing teen who is dealing with family issues. When the two are stuck alone at the school over Christmas, Steph lets her guard down, but after the holidays, rumors and jealousy quickly drive a wedge between them. (1 volume, ongoing)

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