Erica Friedman is joining us today to talk about her book, By Your Side: The First 100 Years of Yuri Anime and Manga. Here’s the publisher’s description:
Two decades in the making, By Your Side is a collection of essays, scholarly and approachable, by the Western Hemisphere’s authority on the subject. This landmark work should be in the library of any fan of anime, manga, lesbian relationships in media–or any combination of the three!
What’s Erica’s favorite bit?
Lesbian-themed Japanese animation and comics is a relatively new addition to media shelves in Japan’s famed pop culture centers. In By Your Side: The First 100 Years of Yuri Anime and Manga, I take a look backwards at the history of one of the newest genres of Japanese pop culture. Known as Yuri— Japanese for the lily flower— this genre nonetheless has literary and artistic antecedents that reach back to the beginnings of the 20th century. I love learning about these references and linking them through time to the key series of the late 20th century and Yuri’s current 21st century boom. In my book, I’m throwing old trunks open and pulling out beloved old tomes and family albums of Yuri, poring over their dusty tropes and recognizing hints of similarity in current series and trends. Having said all that, it may come as some surprise when I say that, at heart, I am a futurist.
Which makes my favorite bit of my book, the very final chapter. This final essay, which was written especially for By Your Side, is a look at the possible futures of this shiny, new genre of pop culture.
As we walked side by side through this garden of lily tales, we moved past a lot of social change. We saw the evolution of stories dealing women’s roles, homophobia, and trauma and isolation into a world — or worlds, as Yuri blooms in all Japanese pop culture genres — where I believe anything is possible. Why is this my favorite bit? Because I believe in the collective power of fandom. I believe that the future can and will be greater than the sum of the past’s parts. I believe that the future of Yuri is not a utopia, not a too-ideal-to-exist place, nor is it a Yuritopia, where all things are Yuri, but none of them are lesbian…but a eutopia, a place where diversity and inclusion in Yuri, and of Yuri, are the norm.
In the 20 years it has taken me to live and then write this book, I’ve seen (and manifested) a whole lot of changes in how fandom approaches queer content. Now I’m ready to leave our beautiful cloistered lily garden and terraform the heck out of the future. I’ve got a pocket of lily bulbs and plan on seeding them wherever I go…wherever that is. And, the fact that I can’t see that future…that’s my favorite bit.
Erica Friedman is the Founder of Yuricon and has run the world’s oldest and most comprehensive blog, Okazu, since 2002. She has edited manga for JManga, Seven Seas and Udon Entertainment, most recently Riyoko Ikeda’s epic historical classic, The Rose of Versailles.