Magical Girls, Miko, and Reincarnated Lovers With a Destiny: How I Became a Yuri Fan

by Katherine Hanson

I love Yuri. I read and watch it, I rave and complain about it with people online and offline, I’ve been writing about it on my blog, Yuri no Boke, since March 2009, and I’ve been presenting panels on it at conventions since August 2008. My first Yuri couple, Haruka and Michiru, was the first lesbian couple I remember ever seeing and they were a major part of the cast in my gateway anime and manga, Sailor Moon. The first Yuri couple that I identified as “Yuri”, Chikane and Himeko in Kannazuki no Miko, was a flash point in my coming out process, after which I began watching Yuri for its own sake.

I made friends in kindergarten with a girl from Japan, Azusa, who introduced me to Sailor Moon. She moved back to Japan after a year, and we lost touch. I started collecting the PocketMixx Sailor Moon manga (the well-worn volumes are still on a shelf in my room at home) and watched it on TV. Even though Haruka and Michiru were rewritten as very close cousins “Amara” and “Michelle” in the English dub that aired on Cartoon Network, I knew they were a couple thanks to the Internet, the less ambiguous English manga release, and just about every other kid who liked Sailor Moon mentioning them. Because of Sailor Moon, I became a fan of anime and manga in general, which would break the ice for a number of friendships and lead me to the Yuri fandom.

One day near the end of my sophomore year of high school in May 2006, I found an AMV starring a cool dark-haired miko in a purple robe and a cute blonde miko in a red robe. I looked up their show, Kannazuki no Miko, on YouTube and tried the first episode. I was hooked. Even though I didn’t consider myself homophobic, I had always rationalized away my interest in women. But I found myself breathlessly waiting to see what happened to these characters—especially closeted Chikane, who seemed doomed to lose her beloved Himeko to the plucky robot-piloting hero Souma, even though her only seeming disadvantage was that she was female. I cried over the last episode because I was happy for Chikane and Himeko and because I began to realize why I became so invested in what happened to them. (I looked at the puzzle pieces in my hands and began to recognize the picture they created, so to speak.) Cue a year of questioning while glutting myself on Yuri and unwittingly dropping hints to people. (After I came out to myself, the hints became calculated. I made my dad watch Kannazuki no Miko in its entirety to “test” his attitude, for example.) Now I’m happily out to friends and family and, as mentioned earlier, still a big Yuri fan—and of course, Sailor Moon and Kannazuki no Miko hold sentimental value for me.