New year, new yuri & BL! Featuring Yuri is My Job! Plus interview with Comic Yuri Hime's Editor-in-Chief!

Jan 22, 2019
New year, new yuri & BL! Featuring Yuri is My Job! Plus interview with Comic Yuri Hime's Editor-in-Chief!
It’s a brand-new year, with all-new manga! But this year Kodansha Comics doesn’t just have brand-new manga for you—we’re excited to be making our BL and yuri debut with not one, not two, but three series today—available in both print & digital editions! Read on to learn all about our debut yuri and BL series—and read a first chapter preview by clicking on the covers—and to learn a little bit about the history of yuri manga through an exclusive interview with Comic Yuri Hime magazine and Yuri Is My Job Editor-in-Chief Kanako Umezawa and a yuri essay excerpt from Erica Friedman!

New Yuri & BL Manga debuting January 22!

  10 DANCE Volume 1 By Inouesatoh The beautifully-detailed, lithe bodies of the two “kings of the ballroom” fly across the dance floor as rivals build a volatile bond in this red-hot romance! Shinya Sugiki, the dashing lord of Standard Ballroom, and Shinya Suzuki, passionate king of Latin Dance: The two share more than just a first name and a love of the sport. They each want to become champion of the 10-Dance Competition, which means they'll need to learn the other's specialty dances, and who better to learn from than the best? But old rivalries die hard, and things get complicated even further when they realize there might be more between them than an uneasy partnership… 10 DANCE Volume 1 is out in print & digital TODAY!

    Hitorijime My Hero Volume 1 By Memeco Arii A BL romance between a good boy who didn’t know he was waiting for a hero, and a bad boy who comes to his rescue! Masahiro Setagawa doesn't believe in heroes, but wishes he could: He's found himself in a gang of small-time street bullies who use him to run errands. But when high school teacher (and scourge of the streets) Kousuke Ohshiba comes to his rescue, he finds he may need to start believing after all...and as their relationship deepens, he realizes a hero might be just what he was looking for this whole time. Hitorijime My Hero Volume 1 is out in print & digital TODAY!             Yuri Is My Job! Volume 1 By Miman Kodansha Comics is proud to announce our first ever yuri release—the acclaimed, hilarious yuri comedy Yuri Is My Job! Hime is a picture-perfect high school princess, so when she accidentally injures a café manager named Mai, she's willing to cover some shifts to keep her facade intact. To Hime's surprise, the café is themed after a private school where the all-female staff always puts on their best act for their loyal customers. However, under the guidance of the most graceful girl there, Hime can't help but blush and blunder! Beneath all the frills and laughter, Hime feels tension brewing as she finds out more about her new job and her budding feelings … Yuri Is My Job!  Volume 1 is out in print & digital TODAY!        

Interview: Kanako Umezawa, Editor-in-chief of Comic Yuri Hime

And now, here's an exclusive interview with Yuri Is My Job! and Comic Yuri Hime Editor-in-Chief, Kanako Umezawa!   About Kanako Umezawa: Umezawa is a graduate of Waseda University. Through her editorial work on Yuri Shimai (Magazine Magazine), she joined the editorial staff for Comic Yuri Hime (Ichijinsha). Having worked on Comic Yuri Hime since the very first issue, she has served as Editor-in-Chief since 2017. She has managed titles such as citrus and NTR: Netsuzou Trap.           Q. In the early 2000s, the term “yuri” became more and more commonplace. This was also around the same time that Comic Yuri Hime’s predecessor, Yuri Shimai magazine, was running. What do you think made yuri become so big? How have changing internet trends and platforms affected yuri media and its popularity today? Kanako Umezawa (KU): Yuri has always been an indispensable part of shojo novels and manga, even if it was hiding on the fringes, but I think what really kicked off the popular recognition of the term “yuri” was when the anime series Maria Watches Over Us started airing in 2004. After that, slice-of-life genre anime like those from Houbunsha, or the adaptation of YuruYuri, pushed yuri even further into the public consciousness. I think that provided a framework where people could see yuri as something fun and lighthearted, instead of the somewhat unapproachable image it had before. And with the internet, yuri fans could take a more grassroots approach and could find each other’s posts on social media, making it possible for people to share and distribute yuri fan work in a more seamless fashion. Those things certainly played a role in spreading the genre and establishing a foothold in the industry, and I believe they’re linked to the current popularity of the yuri genre. Yuri manga lends itself to digital distribution, and my impression is that there has been a steady increase in both print books and digital sales. Also, this is something that’s especially striking for citrus, but the large number of international fans is one of yuri’s strengths, in my opinion. Following in citrus’s international popularity may be Yuri Is My Job!  and going forward, I’ll be doing my part with the editorial staff to target the series to international audiences and try to build up its appeal. For the future, I plan to focus on what the editorial staff needs to do in order for us to keep up with not only digital and international markets, but also what’s culturally relevant. In particular, we’ll be focusing on what can help our stories remain great for our increasingly borderless modern readers. Q. What were the biggest differences you found in overseeing editorial for manga that was not yuri, compared to what you do now? What are the editorial hurdles you face specifically with a yuri magazine? KU: With editing yuri manga, when you’re working with the authors to create a project, your biggest priority is whether the first chapter truly showcases the characteristic charm and satisfaction of yuri to readers who love the genre. In order to achieve that goal, right from the planning stage, the editor must get a firm grasp of the following: what the author wants to convey in the project, what kind of characters they want to create, and which pairings they want. Then, the key is whether or not the editor can offer support and advice to make those things appeal to readers who love yuri. Also, it’s extremely important to consider how much of a change in the main couple’s relationship you want to reveal by the end of the first volume. Though, editorially, I’d say the significance of the first chapter and the first volume are the same for any other manga as well. As for editorial hurdles with yuri … The artists are the ones dealing with actually bringing a project to life and experiencing difficult emotions. So as an editor, I don’t feel their same difficulties in editing the work itself. I would just say it’s essential for a yuri editor to always be conscious of what readers are currently looking for in their yuri. Our editorial staff is constantly talking about that, and it’s an indispensable but challenging skill to acquire. For example… The almost chemical reaction that’s sparked when a girl meets another girl … The feeling a girl gets when she embraces another girl … Being able to gently and utterly capture those moments and be in tune with those emotions is very important for editors of yuri manga. Even while looking at work that’s written off as “just yuri,” it’s important for a yuri manga editor to know that each relationship and emotion expressed is only one of a thousand different ways to portray yuri. A yuri editor should constantly strive to be a mediator, to make sure the yuri author’s joy lines up with the joy of the reader. Q. What difference in story creation and reader engagement was there when Comic Yuri Hime changed from a quarterly to bimonthly, and then finally to a monthly publication schedule? KU: At the start, when we were a quarterly publication, we primarily published standalone stories with comics on smaller, A5-sized pages, and had subject matter aimed at our core, yuri-loving readers. As yuri gradually came to be more recognized, and we transitioned to bimonthly and then monthly publications, we shifted our focus to serialized stories. We also saw a sudden increase in the rate of publication for our comics, and starting with YuruYuri, stories being adapted into other media also got more attention. Sometimes we get readers who swoop in at the most important moments to tell us that those anime adaptations are the first time they’ve seen the yuri genre, and then they decided to pick up Yuri Hime! This is a great cycle that happens regularly, and I feel that this promotes positive feedback and helps increase magazine readers. Q. Comic Yuri Hime is known for its quality work and curation—in a yuri story, what’s that special spark that makes the story stand a cut above the rest? KU: I think for a yuri story, the most important thing is intimately conveying the charm of a pairing to the reader. From my experience, I’ve found that the pairing and the story feed off of each other—and that’s when the allure of a yuri story becomes palpable for the reader. Q. What trends do you see lately in Comic Yuri Hime and what trends do you think you’ll see in the future? KU: In short, it’s a return to what’s essential and classic. Lately, even with other publishers, we’re seeing a lot of projects with yuri as the central theme that are becoming hits or successfully getting adapted into other media. So I think the yuri genre will continue to spread and establish itself even more than it currently is. As for current trends, I feel quite strongly that our magazine—as a source that specializes in yuri—is making a home for projects that can thoroughly serve the yuri market. As for future trends—though this could be said for manga and otaku genres in general—I would imagine that the distinction between the reader’s sex would gradually disappear. For example, the delineation made between media targeted at men and media targeted at women, even in yuri manga, would most likely fade. Q. What media (manga, literature, movies, etc.) influenced you? What led you to do editorial work in Comic Yuri Hime? KU: Ever since I was little, I’ve loved books and manga of all kinds, but when I read Nangoku Shounen Papuwa-kun, I sensed there was something more than friendship between the male characters, and that opened my eyes to the yaoi way of reading things. From there, I devoured BL manga and novels, but I wasn’t fully aware of yuri stories until I saw an anime called Battle Athletes, and also Revolutionary Girl Utena. Utena in particular shook up my adolescent sensibilities and had a huge influence on my future values. I recall other things that I liked were movies you’d find in an indie theater, direct-to-video, stuff like that—what you might call underground works. And I feel like I’ve always enjoyed mysteries, sci-fi, and other stuff that’s a little bit off the beaten path for the entertainment industry. Later, during college, I got a part-time job with the manga editorial staff for a publishing company. I had the opportunity to interact with editors and manga creators while there, and I made it my mission to get hired at a publishing company. But when I couldn’t, I ended up working at an editorial company instead. That’s where I picked up a magazine with job listings and saw an ad looking for a manga editor. So I applied to work at Yuri Shimai, which was the precursor to Comic Yuri Hime. My focus was on the page content and the binding, which the editor-in-chief in my early days, Nakamura, was very particular about. At the beginning, I didn’t have any strong interest in yuri, and was just single-mindedly focused on becoming a manga editor any way I could. When I started actually getting involved with the yuri manga editorial staff, I picked up on the enthusiasm the manga creators had for their yuri work. I also began to develop a desire to reciprocate the passion that the readers had for the genre, and from that point on, yuri manga had me under its spell. Now that I’ve overseen many different yuri projects, I feel like the true pleasure of editing yuri manga lies in how yuri is a special genre that can cross the boundary between reality and fantasy. What’s more, I can really rely on and lean into my feelings and lived experiences as a woman.

Thank you!

While reading Yuri Is My Job! by Miman, readers may wonder about the setting and characters of the story. Erica Friedman’s essay, “Why Is It Always Catholic Schoolgirls in Yuri?” touches on this topic. You can read an excerpt below, and the full essay here. As manga fans—as Yuri fans—in the west, we surely have asked ourselves “Why is Yuri so often set in a Catholic school? And why “sisters?” surprisingly, there is an answer to this question. Around the time Japan entered the international stage, schooling for adolescents of both sexes was a prominent social cause in the late 19th century. In Japan, just as in America and Europe, it was often religious organizations that oversaw this education. Single-sex schools became popular for children of the growing middle class. [And] in order to curb adolescent passion in these schools, traditions were founded that focused admiration-tinged-with-desire on strictly maintained hierarchies … Girls’ literature of the early 20th century in Japan focused on these relationships, presenting them as passionate, yet platonic bonds of sisterhood. Intense emotional relationships between older students and younger were transformed into sisterly feelings. Japanese girls’ magazines were filled with letters and stories of these heart-pounding feelings for older or younger “sisters.” In the late 20th century, this foundation of girl’s literature became fixed as Yuri was born amidst the upheavals of the 1970s. Popular literature had detailed these affairs of the heart, mostly set in Catholic schools—so, when girls’ manga later wanted to tell this same story, immediately these tales were given the “exotic” setting of private religious schools. … So it makes perfect sense that Miman-sensei combined the two for a trope-filled yuri romp in Yuri Is My Job! Welcome to a salon where maidens with pure hearts serve you delicious sweets, admire their “schwestern” and vie to be the Blüme, the most popular girl at the school. Note: This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared on Okazu, on December 16, 2018.

Translation Notes

Yuri Yuri, or literally “lily,” is a genre covering female same-sex relationships within manga, anime, and other media. In addition to same-sex romance, it can also cover female friendships. Yuri and Girls Love are sometimes used in the same vein. Yuri Shimai Yuri Shimai (“Yuri/Lily Sisters”) is the name of a quarterly manga anthology magazine that ran between June 2003 and November 2004. Magazine Magazine was its Japanese publisher. Comic Yuri Hime Comic Yuri Hime (“Comic Yuri/Lily Princess”) is the name of a manga anthology magazine that began in July 2005 and continues to be published monthly. Ichijinsha is its Japanese publisher. Houbunsha Houbunsha is a Japanese publishing company. Some slice-of-life anime series of their works featuring prominent female friendships include: K-ON! and Hidamari Sketch. A5 size A5 is a common book size (5.8in x 8.3in) for collected volumes, or for magazines geared towards more niche or older audiences. It is comparable to the size of a personal planner/agenda and is collectible. For reference, many mainstream shonen manga magazines are much larger, at B5 size (6.9in x 9.8in) and are usually recycled after reading. Otaku Most commonly localized in English as “nerd/geek,” an otaku is an obsessive fan who hoards information and merchandise of their favorite things—there are train otaku, camera otaku, and most famously, anime and manga otaku. The word “otaku” in Japanese is a formal and honorific pronoun that the speaker uses to address “you,” reflecting their insider culture. Yaoi and BL Yaoi and BL (Boys Love) is a genre covering male same-sex relationships within manga, anime, and other media.  

More BL the better? Check out these digital-first BL series from Kodansha Comics!