Weaving Stories In Manga and Comics


Weaving Our Stories Through Manga and Comics 

Presented at Kanagawa University on October 8, 2013

Click Here For the Companion Slides

For video of this presentation please visit our Youtube Channel:  Yuri Studios.

Slide 1: Title Slide

Slide 2 Mukashi, Mukashi…

This story – *my* story – begins in the 1990s with Sailor Moon. Anime was very new to American Television. Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon were playing on cartoon in the afternoon – after school, when teens had time to watch them.


Slide 3 – Sailor Moon

My wife asked me to watch an episode of this cartoon with her.  In English, the episode is called “Cruise Blues.” I will never forget that day.

In the English language episode,”Amy” asks “Ray” If she has noticed that they are the only ones without boyfriends on the cruise.  Ray says, “we don’t need boys to have fun.”

I turned to my wife and said, “We are watching two different cartoons. You are watching a cartoon for little girls. I am watching a cartoon with a lesbian story.” We both became fans. Of course once we became fans of Sailor Moon, we learned about Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus! Now we were big fans of the series. I taught myself Japanese in order to be able to read the Sailor Moon manga. So, that was the first manga I ever read – and the first manga with a lesbian couple.


Slide 4 – “Worldshaking Fanfic”

My next step into fandom was to tell stories about the characters I had grown to love. I began to write fanfiction – shousetsu. Other fans draw fanart, or make music videos, or cosplay.

The step from being a reader of manga or watcher of anime to becoming a “FAN” is a very big one. Even today, we can visit Pixiv or Deviantart to see how fans tell their own stories about characters they want to spend more time with.


Slide 5  – Yuricon

In 2000, I read a fan story. In the story, all the lesbian anime characters decided to get together and have a convention. The convention was call “ANImated LESBian CONvention – AniLesboCon. Just about then Yaoi fandom was growing in America, and Yaoi fans were not friendly to Yuri fans, so I built a website and a community so fans of Yuri anime and manga could have a place where no one would tease them or reject them.

In 2002, we changed the name of the community to Yuricon. We ran live events in 2003, 2005, 2007. We’ve attended many events and done lectures about Yuri all over the world. The main focus of Yuricon remains the same as it always has been – Yuricon is about the promotion of Yuri as a genre. We still have fan communities online where we share Yuri-related news.


Slide 6 – ALC

In 2003, I met Yuri mangaka Rica Takashima and we decided to publish her manga that had run in Anise magazine in Japan, “Rica ‘tte Kanji!?” Then we started to gether Yuri stories from all over the world. We published 6 volumes of our Anthology “Yuri Monogatari.” In 2013, we released a complete, free digital version of “Rica” in English called Tokyo Love.


Slide 7 – Okazu

In 2002, when I wanted to talk about Yuri manga and anime, I  started a blog called Okazu. Now, after I no longer run events or publish Yuri manga, I still talk about Yuri manga and anime here on Okazu. It’s a wonderful community, with interviews with many Yuri mangaka, and guest writers. I still enjoy Yuri stories

– and I still enjoy talking about them with people.  One of the questions you had was who reads my blog – my readership is split almost evenly between men and women, with women being the sligh majority and split evenly again between straight and LGBTQ people.


It is very typical for a fan to want to participate in the stories they read. Fan writing, art, cosplay, music videos, karaoke contests…conventions and communities are filled with methods through which a casual fan can create alongside of the original series creator.

One of the many reasons we, as fans, want to participate in the narrative, is because by doing so, we ensure our emotional needs are met by the story.

If we are a sexual minority, we want to be able to see our personal story reflected in the story we are reading or watching.  For many young lesbians, seeing character like Haruka and Michiru in Sailor Moon, as a stable couple, gave them deep emotional satisfaction. (And…with the new Sailor Moon anime coming up this winter, you can be very sure that lesbians anime fans are worried and hopeful about what story might be told – or not told – in the new series.)


Slide 8: Why Do We Tell and Retell Stories

The only thing worse than having none of our stories told in media is having them told incorrectly. When Horou Musuko came out in English as “Wandering Son” a number of transgender and queer people wrote in to explain to me that this manga did *not* accurately reflect their story at all. I’ve had at least one guest reviewer on Okazu in order to look at the narrative, not as an accurate and sympathetic reflection of trans life. Instead, the reviewer took apart the story in order to highlight the flaws.

Readers are also told to “be careful” when we read older stories or watch Takarazuka,  that have what we see as LGBTQ characters or stories. We – are told to not interpret the stories, or musicals through  21st century sexual minority filter.  I’m about to read Otome no Minato. I am not looking for a lesbian” story, but for another piece in the bridge between Yaneura no Nishojo and Strawberry Panic! In other words, we *know* they are not lesbian, but we feel free to reinterpret what we’re seeing anyway. Of course we do, because re-writing these stories is natural to us.

The side effect of non-representation or mis-representation of our lives in media is that we, as readers, become more sensitive to stories that miss the points

we’d like to make. Some of us, not wanting to wait until someone gets it right, will create our own stories. In fandom, we rely on characters that speak to us, resonate with us, but we create our own stories about them.


For the next few slides, we’re going to do something a little different. Instead of me telling you what an image means, I’m going to show you a single page of a western LGBTQ comic. I want you all to look at the page. Take your time and decide what you think the story is – what is happening? How does the image make you feel? I’ll give you some time to discuss each page amongst yourselves and  then I’ll ask for volunteers to tell me what the story is or what the key point here is. You can tell me about the character, or about yourself. I want to hear your story.

 (If you are reading this online, feel free to take a look at the following slides and decide what you think is going on, how it makes you feel, etc. Please feel free to use the comments to tell me your thoughts!)


Slide 9: If I Were A Drag Queen by Ivan Velez

Ivan is an American comic artist from New York who draws “bara” comics.


Slide 10: Anything That Loves

The art style is a parody of American comics – especially romance comics of the 20th century


Slide 11: The Young Protectors by Alex Woolfson

This is a superhero comic with a gay lead character


Slide 12: She Said, by Kris Dresen

There are very few words in this story. The story is mostly told through expression and body language


Slide 13: Sources 

I will make this slide set and this transcript available online to you all.


Slide 14: What Stories Will We Tell Next?

These are the characters I created as mascots for Yuricon – out lesbian pop idol, Yuriko and her lover, award-winning novelist Midori. Because, as humans,  we need to keep telling new stories.



3. Thank you all for your questions!

Feel free to send in any questions you may have and I’ll do my best to answer them



Last Slide – My top 6 Yuri Manga (Now, could be different tomorrow.)

Not in any order –

Aoi Hana by Shimura Takako-sensei is a terrific, realistic story about a young woman coming out to herself, her friends and growingup.

Fu~fu by Minamoto Hisanori is a very cute, adorably sweet story about a lesbian couple.

GUNJO – by Nakamura Ching-sensei. A gritty, violent, sublimely beautiful story about the utter loneliness of s supremely lonely person.

Steps – by Takemiya Jin – This book will be my top manga of 2013. A Yuri manga that has lesbian identity.

Watashi no Sekai o Kousei Suru Chiri no You na Nanika by Amano Suninta – This manga reads like a nighttime TV drama about a group of college students.

Renai Joshi File – by Morishima Akiko. Morsihima-sensei does extremely moe art, but also stories about real couples and she gives real advice to young women in relationship in her work.



Today you have listened to my story. Each one of you has a story and I want to hear them all. ^_^


One Response

  1. […] summer and a similar lecture to the one I did in Kanagawa University last month. (Here is the the full-text of the lecture and companion slides to the Kanagawa University lecture. I hope to get the videos up […]

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