While girl-on-girl action might be one of the most popular searches on your adult-time fun sites, for most people who watch yuri, they watch it for the complex emotional relationships. If you’re a fan of drama and complexity of relationships in your romance anime, then yuri anime will always be the way to go. Same sex relations are still somewhat taboo in Japan, but it is not just that. Even in areas where accepted, coming to terms with your sexuality is wrought with difficulty, especially when you develop feelings for close friends, which is often a big plot point in yuri shows. So that all sets up for an emotional journey in this genre of anime that any romance fan can enjoy with the right open mind.
Well, let’s start off with the best of the bunch just so if you haven’t watched it yet, you can get right to it. Sakura Trick tells the story of two girls who were best friends in middle school. When they get to high school, they are in the same class, but sit way across the room from each other. As one begins to make friends on her side of the room, the other gets jealous. In order to deepen their friendship, they decide to do something they would never do with another girl – kiss. However, that one kiss awakens new feelings in them both.
The journey in Sakura Kiss is a slow one of two girls realizing their real feelings towards each other. Of course, with that innocent new romance comes ten tons of drama, but the real reason this is number one is because it has a lot of wonderfully sweet kisses throughout.
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Revolutionary Girl Utena is, in every sense, a revolutionary anime. Not only is it one of the first yuri anime series, but it is the type of anime that you can watch over and over again while still discovering something new to analyze. Utena is also a difficult series to summarize without spoiling things. However, it does follow Utena, who transfers to her new academy and wears a feminine version of the male uniform. She makes it very clear that her dream is to one day become a prince. From there in, it becomes a complicated story of academy politics with huge subtext on gender and sexual identity.
Sweet Blue Flowers
There are a wide variety of different types of yuri plots on here, but if you are looking for a sweet and touching story of the blossoming love between two girls, Sweet Blue Flowers is for you. It tells the tale of two childhood friends that separate when one moves away, but reunite as freshmen in high school. The story is about them conquering all the troubles of high school life while also slowly trying to reconnect with each other. Although tender and touching in terms of plot, the animation is kind of more “meh” than this great yuri tale deserves.
This is a very curious yuri anime. It takes place in a world where gender and sexual identity doesn’t work the same way as it does in the real world. In it, everyone is a form of gender-neutral until they turn 17, in which they must choose their permanent gender. Of course, these adults can’t pilot the airships that protect the nation in a very NGE sort of way.
So it follows the tale of these young pilots who are gender-neutral, but mostly feminine in nature and have grown into female puberty to some extend during their neutral-ness. So, in other words, it is very much a yuri-esque series of relationships, but not really since they haven’t actually decided on a gender yet.
If you’re not into “heavily implied” or “strong subtext”, then Whispered Words should be one of your first choices in unabashed yuri anime series. It tells the tale of Ushio who isn’t shy about announcing her interest in girls. She says she prefers the cute, shy, and feminine type. The problem is that her best friend secretly has a crush on her, but she is definitely not cute, shy, or very feminine.
While, yes, it is a (mostly unrequited) love story, it is also a story about how the shared experiences can help strengthen each person. Being gay in a Japanese high school (or otherwise life) is isolating, and this story depicts that as they discover other gay students and form a club to help strengthen each other.
Hello! Kiniro Mosaic
This is one of those “no plot” anime series in which you just follow cute girls doing cute things. Of course it has the comedy that goes with that distinct sub-genre, but they also threw some yuri in. The yuri is much more substantial in the second season where it explores more of the relationships and a big dollop of jealousy is thrown into the mix.
Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san
You know those cute animal videos people love where a dog and a cat end up as cuddle buddies? Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san is like those videos in anime form. Nekoyama is a shy tsudere that loves dogs. Inugami is a friendly, albeit masochistic girl that loves cats. They meet and develop feelings, but while Inugami is overwhelming with affection, Nekoyama is always bashful. As a short episode anime, the episodes are only 3-minutes long, but it conveys a lot of its fluffy plot without stopping for any filler.
After her grandmother dies and she is left alone in the world, Kana moves into a newspaper carrier as a live-in delivery girl. However, her room has a hole in it that her co-workers use frequently to let themselves in.
Kanememo is one of those yuri stories where the heroine isn’t full-on into it, but every girl around her just kind of tosses themselves at her. She’s a harem queen, for sure. It’s aimed more at comedy than yuri relationships, but there are lots of fluffy, albeit slightly naughty moments throughout.
Who says that imouto love needs to be straight? Technically, Candy Boy isn’t imouto though, because the sisters are actually twins, but they are just so gay with each other. There’s not much plot other than two sisters being very close in a yuri way, and their clingy lower classman that always interrupts them because she has a crush on one of the sisters. However, it is one of those romance series where there is ten tons of teasing and you just want to reach into the screen and pop those two heads together so they would actually kiss already.
Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid
This series has no qualms about what it wanted to be. It follows a high school girl that gets kidnapped and is stranded on an island. She meets another fellow castaway that kisses her and uses her arousal to turn her into a weapon. From there on, the two fight and form friendships with other lady duos. There are many kisses and much naughtiness to be had. However, the plot and overall fan service nature of it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
There is some debate as to whether this relatively new yuri anime is trash, a masterpiece, or wonderful trash. It is certainly one of the more graphic yuri anime series out there if that is what you are looking for without it being full-on hentai, but it is actually pretty sad too. In NTR, two best friends with boyfriends end up cuckolding their boyfriends with each other. However, one side of this relationship has suffered emotional and physical abuse, and as such, abuse begets abuse throughout the series. I think the cucking makes people most uncomfortable (possibly all that shiny, shiny girlflesh, too), but underneath there is a surprisingly emotionally complex story.
Strawberry Panic is the yuri anime plot you always secretly wanted. It follows a new transfer student to an all-girls Catholic school. There she catches the attention of the girl at the very top of the school’s intricate hierarchy. While the main character tries to quietly live out school life, she and this school queen get to know each other, and with her help confront their troubled pasts.
Strawberry Panic is a yuri classic, not just for its somewhat cliché plot, but because it maintains a distinctly alluring balance of adorable and strangely sexy. It is a treasure, a real gem, especially since new anime series use moe to convey adorable these days.
Destiny of the Shrine Maiden
The Destiny of the Shrine Maiden is a fickle show. It starts off kind of bland, but actually gets better the more you watch of it. It also tries to confuse you by creating a love triangle between a boy and the two girls, but it wouldn’t be a yuri anime if he won! (Don’t worry about the spoilers, the OP/ED spoil the outcome plenty.) The premise is that two normal schoolmates have to become shrine maidens of the sun and moon to fight the evil orochi. However, one orochi is a childhood friend or one girl, and it makes them rethink their sacred battle. The yuri relationship is pretty on point and you also get some okay mech battles too.
Akuma no Riddle
In Akuma no Riddle, the name of the game is for a group of assassins to kill their singular, non-assassin classmate for a big payout. However, they only get one shot at it. While this seems pretty easy, the problem is one of the assassins has developed feelings for the girl, and thus begins to protect her instead of try to kill her. Yuri assassins? Yes, please. Most times, there is very little fighting in yuri series, but this one is packed full of some pretty cool fights.
This is another tale about the forbidden girl love between two sisters. Hazuki is a tall, dark, and brooding girl type that has always been infatuated with her sister Hasumi. However, Hasumi disappears. Hazuki meets a talking bird that is also looking for her sister and together they search for her by entering the different worlds through books. It is an interesting concept in and of itself with a huge fun cast of characters. However, the yuri is kind of creepy. You know it is an obsessive kind of love when Hazuki listens to her sister doing her business in the bathroom. It starts off seeming sweet, but it gets kind of weird, to be honest.
This one doesn’t start off as yuri. It is the age old tale of a guy liking a girl, the girl not liking men, and the guy getting rejected. However, the twist is that the guy goes up the mountain where they first met, gets crushed by aliens, and they bring him back as a girl. You know, usual plot things. The unfortunate thing about this series is that while he may be a girl, he is still very much of a guy and does guy things, which kind of takes away from the romance of it all.
The Virgin Mary is Watching You
Marimite, as it is called for short, is a classic story about yearning. It focuses on the multiple different relationships between several girls at an elite Tokyo catholic school. There isn’t much overall plot besides relationship drama, oh, but the way if approaches it is masterful. These girls yearn for each other, be it openly or in secret, and of course their relationships seemed destined to be curtailed in one way or another by adulthood. Some see all those yuri feelings as a phase, after all, and this is an anime that depicts the real complexity of that notion.
This series is not pure yuri. It is more heavily implied than anything, particularly more so in the spin-off. However, it is one of those female-centric series where the subtext is very obvious, but it never takes that real first step. Despite that, if you don’t need fully-realized yuri, Noir has a damn intriguing plot. It follows two seemingly unrelated female assassins that are both pursued by the same Illuminati group. They meet and begin to learn more about each other and their connection to each other. It’s got an interesting plot and plenty of awesome action scenes if that is more important to you than tender romance moments.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
This series has very strong hints of yuri that are never fully realized, but I still believe it deserves a spot. You might not get the kissing and the holding you crave, but that doesn’t change the fact that Ms. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is a very, very fun watch. The basic premise is Kobayashi gets drunk off her ass after work, wanders into the forest, and saves a dragon by pulling a sword out of it. In order to repay her, the dragon decides to work as her busty Victorian-style maid as it is capable of changing into human form.
Yuri Bear Storm
This one is just kind of for fun. That’s not saying it is a bad anime, but it is definitely not the kind of thing you expect from a yuri anime in terms of plot. In Yuri Bear Storm, bears and humans can no longer coexists after bears suddenly crave human flesh. So thus, they build a wall between them. However, two bears sneak across it and infiltrate a school disguised as humans, where they kill one girl’s lover, then fall in love with her.
There are a lot of yuri series out there, and even more with strong yuri overtones, so if we missed on your very favorite series on this list, let the world know in the comments section below.