What is Yuricon?

Our Mission | About Yuricon | About ALC Publishing
Present and Future | About Our Founder | What is Yuri?| Meet Our Mascot, Yuriko

Our Mission

Yuricon and ALC Publishing’s mission is to create, disseminate and celebrate Yuri in anime and manga.

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About Yuricon

Yuricon was founded in 2000 by Erica Friedman as AniLesboCon, with the mission of bringing together fans of lesbian images in Japanese animation and comics. Initially, ALC was designed to be a “virtual” convention only, with real contests to foster community and creativity. This mission gathered people from all over the world; to discuss and create stories that represented an entire continuum of lesbian experience, from youthful crushes to adult relationships.

As the ALC community rapidly grew, events were planned where members could get together off-line. The name was officially changed to Yuricon in 2002, to better represent the mission: to celebrate Yuri in anime and manga. Yuricon members have since contributed programming and subject expertise to conventions, film festivals and academic programs across North America and Europe.

In 2003, Yuricon sponsored a full three-day anime and manga convention in Newark, NJ. The convention brought together fans of Yuri with panels, an academic lecture series, games, several dozen vendors of anime and manga and related items and, of course, video programming.

Yuricon expanded efforts in events, from academic lectures at leading universities, to a ground-breaking all-yuri event in Tokyo, Japan, a joint event with another anime society, the “Yurisai” event and, of course, anime conventions across the US.

The past years have seen exponential growth for Yuricon, ALC Publishing and Yuri, both in Japan and the West. Yuricon will continue to expand its reach through a variety of events and projects, designed to address the needs of various relevant audiences, from long-time Yuri fans, to gays and lesbians who have never heard of anime. Yuricon and ALC Publishing will continue to pursue publishing, events, public speaking engagements, social networking and our online community to bring Yuri to the world.

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About ALC Publishing

ALC Publishing, Yuricon’s publishing arm, was born in 2003. ALC Publishing’s mission is to bring high quality Japanese-style comics to the worldwide English-speaking audience. Our collaborative effort, award-nominated Yuri anthologyYuri Monogatari, includes art and stories by writers and artists all over the world. Our translated manga, Rica ‘tte Kanji!? and WORKS have been popular world-wide. ALC has continued to expand with translations from the Japanese, a newYuri Monogatari anthology annually and an illustrated volume of Shoujoai ni Bouken, the adventures of our beloved Yuricon mascot, Yuriko.

With the birth of ALC Publishing a new mission was begun: to create a cause here in the west, that would have an effect on the fans of yuri in Japan. The publishers of Japanese lesbian magazine Anise, published a bilingual version ofRica ‘tte Kanji!?, released in Japan for the entire Asian comic market and a report of the Yuricon in Tokyo event has been published by Yuri Hime, Japan’s leading all-Yuri manga magazine. In 2005 ALC Publishing became the first American manga company to have a space at Tokyo’s largest comic event, Comiket.

ALC Publishing also continues to expand into the Gay/Lesbian comics market, bringing Yuri manga to a whole new audience, with outreach through G/L/B/T comics consortium Prism Comics, lesbian pop culture website Afterellen and local GLBT events and groups.

We strongly believe that ALC Publishing will continue to build even stronger bridges to Japanese and Western Yuri fandom, lesbians and their friends. Learn more…

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Present and Future

Yuricon’s membership is over 2000, and ALC Publishing is gearing up for many more publications, both translated and original, to be released next year. We’re contributing to discussions in both academic and entertainment venues, and persevering in our continuing mission to create, disseminate and celebrate Yuri.

You can join one of the Yuricon Mailing Lists to get updates and announcements about Yuricon and ALC Publishing, events and projects, or just fun conversation about Yuri in anime and manga. Or be a part of the process and join one of the Yuricon or ALC Publishing Projects. And you can always show your support for Yuricon’s mission by buying Yuri manga, anime and gifts from the Yuricon Shop.

We’ll look forward to seeing you!

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About Our Founder

Erica Friedman holds a Masters Degree in Library Science and a B.A. in Comparative Literature, and is a full-time researcher for a large pharmaceutical firm. She is dedicated to bringing together fans of Yuri, and considers herself very lucky for being given the opportunity to do so. She has lectured at dozens of conventions and presented films at several film festivals, notably the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. She has participated in an academic lecture series on women and gender roles in anime at MIT and University of Illinois, and written about yuri and shoujoai for several websites and Animericamagazine. She reviews Yuri anime and manga on her blog Okazu. She can be reached at yuricon@hotmail.com

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What is Yuri?

The term Yuri (百合) is used to refer to stories that contain romantic or sexual relationships between girls or women or, sometimes more generally, stories with a lesbian character. The history of this term is a little fuzzy. And while some people use Yuri and other terms, such as shoujoai, as if they have clear distinctions – or as if they are interchangeable – the truth is that the etymology is somewhat fluid, forming a broad continuum of definition and understanding. In other words, what any term means has a lot to do with who is using the term – and what they think it means.

In the 1970s, Itou Bungaku, the editor of Barazoku, a gay men’s magazine, called lesbians in Japan “the lily tribe” – bara is Japanese for “rose” and yuri is Japanese for the lily. Hence, gay men were barazoku (薔薇族), or “rose tribe” while lesbians were yurizoku (百合族), the lily tribe. This name was taken by many hentai manga and doujinshi artists, who then named their lesbian characters “Yuri” or “Yuriko,” so that it became a kind of cliche’ for the genre itself. For instance, one of the most common early pairings in hentai doujinshi were Kei and Yuri from Dirty Pair. At Yuricon, when we were getting started, we believed that it was time to reclaim the term from porn artists and embrace the beauty of the lily as our own.

Here in the west, as anime and manga fandom grew quickly in the 1990s, the term Yuri was often, but not exclusively, used to represent explicit stories with sexual relations between women. In short, it was considered “porn for guys.”  The term shoujoai (Girls’ Love) was created by an American fan as an analog for shounenai, which was being incorrectly used by American fans as a term for Boys’ Love manga. Shoujoai wasn’t ever really used in Japan – although they understood what was meant if western fans used it. If they did use the word, they meant it in the sense of adults who had a fetish for young girls. Shoujoai was originally used by American fans to refer to stories that contained romantic love between girls. The emphasis was originally on the romantic over the sexual, but this age and content distinction was convention that was made up by Americans and had no meaning at all in Japan.

What *is* sometimes used in Japan – especially by publishers – is GL, short for Girl’s Love (in English.) This was created as an analog to the preferred genre term for Yaoi which is Boy’s Love, i.e. BL. For the same reason American fans like Japanese words, Japanese fans think English sounds exotic and cool. Creators of f/f stories in Japan – especially within the lesbian community – avoided using “Yuri” for a long while because of the porn connotation, preferring Onna no ko x Onna no ko (女の子 x 女の子) or Onna-doushi (女同士). These are slowly falling out of favor in Japan as the word Yuri takes their place as an indicator of “lesbian-themed animation or comics.”

We at Yuricon would like to offer this intentionally broad definition of Yuri:

Yuri can describe any anime or manga series (or other derivative media, i.e., fan fiction, film, etc.) that shows intense emotional connection, romantic love or physical desire between women. Yuri is not a genre confined by the gender or age of the audience, but by the *perception* of the audience.

In short, Yuri is any story with lesbian themes.

And there you have it – Yuricon is all about celebrating anime, manga and doujinshi that show girls/women who love other girls/women no matter who the author is, or who the story is for. As long as we, the ‘taku-rezu, the lesbian fans of anime and manga, see some part of our lives reflected in a character or series, it’s Yuri no matter who drew it. As we like to say on the Yuricon Mailing List, Yuricon is about the celebration of girls/women in love – and we don’t care who brought the drinks!

**Special thanks to resident Yuri scholar Sabdha Charlton for her endless and fascinating research into the origins of Yuri and Rica Takashima for her energy and passion in promoting Yuri, and Yuricon, in Japan. And to Itou Bungaku for explaining what he was thinking when he came up with the term Yuri.**