Notably, looking through titles people considered to have yuri subtext, there were a reasonable amount that weren't violent. But the more popular ones that have it are violent.
And yeah, your point on K-ON - Free really is the gender-swapped version, isn't it. Back in the days of Junjou Romantica and Gravitation, it was glam then as well, but it was dramatic. So I guess the trends have reversed. Although yuri is going darker in comparison. Not sure if something like Utena ever went that dark, so it really feels that Madoka set the trend.
Well, Akuma no Riddle certainly supports your idea.
Gen'ei o Kakeru Taiyou is rather cruel to its most clear-cut yuri characters.
Kancolle made a creative decision that might not have been made if not for Madoka Magica...
There's still some soft/cushy yuri shows like Sakura Trick, but yeah, on the whole, I think your idea is correct. Yuri has become significantly more violent/cruel.
I haven't watched a lot of yaoi, but Free! is a lot more soft/cushy than No. 6 was. Those are probably the two most yaoi-esque shows I've watched over the past few years, and Free! is the more recent one. So your friend and you might have the right idea there to.
I think what's happened is two things:
1. Madoka Magica popularized (or re-popularized) "tragic yuri". You could maybe even call it "crying games yuri".
2. K-On! has been very influential, and has even helped inspire shows that are close to gender-swapped versions of it. Hence more soft/cushy yaoi (subtext).
Apologies for not replying sooner despite sending PMs about other things and commenting further in that thread.
Well - your thread was the only one in that sub-forum that held any interest for me, so, figured I might as well say something.
I have acquired new headphones as of a few days ago, so I plan to get back into watching anime again very soon, but at present, some IRL stuff is very time-consuming and watching anime newly under those circumstances isn't the best of ideas.
That said, I have gone back through a bit of Azumanga Daioh and Akagi to get me back in the right mindset.
The other one I tried out was The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan.
With both that and Vivid, I checked it out because I'm a big fan of the parent series (Haruhi and Nanoha). So those two shows were automatically on my "to watch" list for Spring 2015.
As for the Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan... I liked it well enough, but it might be a bit safe and generic for your tastes. Even for me, it's a bit heavy on the conventional side, and I'll be sticking with it mainly due to fondness for some of the characters.
As for the WWE, I might check out the next RAW. From what Akuma has told me, they've been getting pretty creative and bold lately with how they're handling their top wrestlers.
Out of interest, what is the other one you were into?
Incidentally, as of recent times, I've found the WWE is worth watching again. I get the feeling Paul Heyman's influence is beginning to mix in again with Vince's and Triple H's. There seem to be people that otherwise wouldn't get proper chances. There seems to be a generational shift that's coming into play at the upper level now - the brand may finally have the people it needs to move on from the regular top carders of the last 10 years.