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Synonyms: shoujo ai
See also: doujinshi, femslash, yaoi
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Yuri (百合) is a genre that involves romantic or sexual relationships between female characters in manga, anime, and related Japanese media. Yuri can focus either on the sexual or the emotional aspects of the relationship. Non-adult yuri works are sometimes called shoujo ai in western fandom.


Yuri literally means "lily". (As in English, this is both the name of a flower and a female given name.) Yuri, Yuriko, and related names are often used for characters in yuri works in Japanese. In English, references to lilies are common, such as in the name of the scanlation group lililicious.

The term was coined and popularized as a parallel to the pre-existing association between the word for rose ('bara') and gay men.[1]

Yuri Tropes

While f/f tropes are not as widely discussed as those in slash or yaoi, Japanese yuri manga, anime, and visual novels have many of these. Most of them are based in appearance and temperament.

  • Sempai/Kohai dynamic: Also known as "oneesama", this is the pairing of a mature older girl with a bright-eyed, emotional, admiring younger girl. This was popularized by Sachiko Ogasawara/Yumi Fukuzawa in Maria-sama ga Miteru in 2004.
  • Dark hair/light hair: This is common in yuri series to the point where some fans consider it a cliché. Maria-sama ga Miteru features this, along with Kannazuki no Miko and the heavily implied Sayuri/Mai in Kanon.
  • "Class S lesbians", wherein the romantic relationships between two women only last until high school or college graduation, whereupon the girls will go back to being "just friends" and find husbands. This trend is slowly dying out, however, seen as outdated and offensive.
  • Butch/Femme is mostly seen in western lesbian love stories, but a few anime couples have this dynamic as well, such as Tenou Haruka/Kaiou Michiru in Sailor Moon.


Unlike the term 'yaoi', 'yuri' does not indicate a particular audience: it can be realistic slice of life stories by and for Japanese lesbians, non-graphic schoolgirl love stories with an assumed audience of straight women, girl-on-girl porn for men, or anything else featuring f/f romance or sex. However, that is not to say there is no tendency. Traditionally, published yuri works tend to take a male gaze, yet there is a new trend, too:

(...) But the predominantly male focus in yuri publishing doesn’t necessarily have to be the only offering, nor should it. There should be more room in yuri for stories that aren’t just founded in sex appeal. That’s certainly the case in Japan. As Friedman points out, there’s been a rise in lesbian narratives from female mangaka in recent years, shifting and expanding the Japanese definition of what can be called “yuri.” (...)[2]

Fans of yuri may refer to themselves as "himejoshi" (if female) and "himedanshi" (if male).

Usage Outside of Japan

The terms 'yuri' and 'shoujo ai' came into use early in the history of English speaking animanga fandom. They are also common in other non-Japanese anime and manga fandoms. These parallel the usage of yaoi and shounen ai in those fandoms. (Note that Japanese usage of some terms differs from English usage.)


  • Yuri Day - in Japan, June 25 has been noted as a day for celebrating Yuri works.





Further reading



  1. ^ Wikipedia's yuri article has more on the etymology.
  2. ^ https://www.themarysue.com/rethinking-yuri/ by Ana Valens for The Mary Sue. Oct 6th, 2016.