FAQ Part 1: On Becoming a Fudanshi.

As I’m waiting for Psycho-Pass and Magi to finish loading and am considering whether to follow Shingeki no Kyojin, I thought that this will be a great time to answer some of the questions that some of you guys has asked me. それじゃ、始まります!

Q. I’d like to know the story behind how you personally/publicly first ‘became’ a fudanshi.

A: Well, I think it began when I saw Junjou Romantica when I was 18. Note that this was during the interim period after I finish high school and about to enter army so I was in this liminal stage where I’m caught between the end of one phase of my life and about to enter the next phase. At that particular time, I was devouring all forms of queer representation in media: Queer Eye, Latter Days, Eating Out and it’s all nice and good but I didn’t really like

1) How homosexuality is almost always diffused through a western, anglo-centric perspective. As a result of that, the dominant image of ‘homosexuals’ is always usually a white, middle-class male individual who usually faces some form of institutionalised oppression that is motivated by A) religious bigotry or B) misogynistic ignorance. As an asian male, living in an Asian society where Christians make up only a less than one quarter of the population, I struggle to identify how homosexuality is portrayed in the West as compared to my own personal experiences living here in my tiny little island in Asia. I also note that there is little black or latino queer representation in dominant gay discourse which is an entire different subculture from how white gay men live their lives. (Paris Is Burning is an excellent documentary on black and latino gay subculture by the way, if any of you are interested. 🙂 )    

2) How homosexuality is always conceived beyond a sexual identity, but also a process of cultural formation. I’ve always pictured homosexuality as just same-sex romantic and/or sexual attraction in its purest form. However, there’s always a series of cultural baggages that is attached to homosexuality especially in Western media. For instance, how male homosexuality is conflated with effeminancy, an ability to recite Bette Davis lines by heart, a natural inclination to Broadway and theatre and how there’s always a fag hag running around in the background. I’d always find this particularly fascinating on how a sexual category can evolve into such multiplicity and convergences of cultural identities. However, I guess I had (and still have) this desire to read a nice novel or watch a movie about just two guys falling in love. Without the baggages. 

And in this sense, that’s where shounen-ai comes in. Yes, granted there’s still a lot of cultural baggages as well: the seme is always masculine, tall with giant yaoi hands and the uke is always portrayed to be dainty, delicate and very feminine which is generally a reflection of how Japanese view gays in modern contexts. (Just that in Japanese society, the seme-uke relationship is known as tachi-neko.) I usually don’t like these stereotypes and I think it can be rather problematic as it perpetuates various untrue stereotypes about gay life and the power/gender dynamics within a gay relationship. But once in a while, you hit a rare story about just 2 guys falling in love with each other without any of such baggages: No.6 for instance. Zetsuen no Tempest is another. 

But yes, back to Junjou Romantica! It was the first time that I’ve seen a gay anime and I thought the portrayal of that gay relationship between all three couples were so… real and honest and it’s all about navigating through a world where there’s so much hurt and betrayal and unrequited love that is unrewarded and I love how Nakamura twists it all around. That for every tear you shed, for every hurt that you experienced, it all adds up towards a certain vulnerability that allows you to become more susceptible to love, and that love will always come back to you, no matter how much you think your love that you had given is in waste. That being hurt is part of a greater journey of being in love and there is beauty in the conflation of suffering and love and that is life. 🙂 

Coming soon: FAQ Part 2: On Sociology and Yaoi. 

 

 

The Swimming Anime

A teaser made by Kyoto Animation has been made about 4 swimmers which from a BL scale of 1 to Kuroko no Basugay, is probably closer to the latter. The title is not “Ore to Omae No Sa O Oshiete Yaru Yo (I’ll teach you the difference between you and I)”; it’s just a tagline.

I’m really anticipating the anime if it’s going to be released. It looks really well animated; I just hope it doesn’t have a sucky plotline like K.

 

 

Guess what arrived in the mail? And yes, I’ll be starting on a Mini Yaoi Shop soon!

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Special thanks to <a href=”http://fyeahsuzalulu.tumblr.com/”So this arrived to me in the middle of ethnographics lecture last week! This doujinshi is just as every much as well drawn and erotic as I expected.

As I will be going to Japan in the later part of the year, I’m thinking of how do I do better and serve the BL community to the best of my abilities. And I have decided to run a mini yaoi selling service; basically BL goods that Fudanshi Haven would personally recommend at almost no profit at all. You just need to pay for the transport fee, mailing fee and miscellaneous fees. 😀 Sounds good? I don’t do personal shopping for anyone at this moment unless you ask really nicely and it’s at my convenience but what I will be doing is to basically buy yaoi merchandise and doujinshi which I really believe in and which I really want to build up a base and demand for in other countries and also to please the fans from other countries who do not have access to Japan exclusive goods.

So are there anyone who’s interested in this doujinshi? 😀 I need a rough number so I can buy enough stock and distribute it when the time comes. XD

Here’s some preludes to what you’ll be getting: ^_^

Some Clarifications on K Season 2

No news on a second season of this yet.

Firstly, あけおめ。今年もよろしく。 (Happy new year, please be kind to me this year too. ^_^)

I’ve seen reports flying around that Season 2 of K begins on Oct 4th 2013. This is a rumor. It’s not confirmed that a 2nd season has been ordered (it may be an OVA spanning one episode) and there’s definitely no news that it begins on Oct 4th this year. According to official sources, NOTHING is being announced yet and according to usual anime standards, they won’t make such a quick announcement on what the sequel would be after they make such a cryptic statement at the end of the last episode anyways. (Tiger and Bunny made a similar annoucement and only announced that a movie prequel and sequel are in the works several months later.)

So calm your tits and carry on. Loads of rumors tend to be floating around this time and you know that fudanshi haven has the most updated and reliable news on yaoi on the Internet so if you’re really interested, follow this blog on tumblr or on wordpress. ❤

Shinsekai Yori Epi 1-11: Ambitious Premises, Disappointing Execution. (Spoilers)

This. Is. Misleading.

I wonder how many people saw the above gif and decided to watch Shinsekai Yori because of it supposed yaoi themes. After marathoning 11 episodes in roughly one day, I can safely say this: Just because Shinsekai Yori contain scenes like these:

Or these:

Doesn’t mean that this is a yaoi or yuri anime. (In fact, the yaoi scenes between Shun and Satoru last barely 5 minutes and it only appears within one episode; Episode 8 to be exact.) This is because the main focus of the anime isn’t characterisation: it’s the utopia/dystopia theme that is similarly executed by No.6. The characterisation is particularly paltry and 2 dimensional: there is rarely any characterisation growth at all, the fast forward of 4 years into the future gave them entirely different characterisations without the viewer having any particular insight to why or how they changed the way they are. However, what is particularly convenient about this lack of characterisation is this: from a metanarrative perspective, the 2-dimensionality is fundamentally part of the storyline as well. All the hypnotism and memory erasing motifs are a more prominent plotline which justifies their lack of character growth. (One can’t develop as a person if you keep forgetting what person you are or used to be.) I rarely get contented with superficial personalities running the whole show but this time, the lack of characterisation is premised and required for the plot structure to work so I’ll let this one go.

Utopia/Dystopia Setting: You’ll Never Look at a Bonobo the Same Way Again.

In university, I was reprimanded by my professor for cramping too many major ideas within a 10 page, double spaced essay. Any one of these ideas, he said, who have been sufficient but by cramping in 3 major themes within an essay ended up with me not doing any justice to any of them. This analogy can be said for Shinsekai Yori: it has many ambitious themes, all of which failed to have sufficient airtime to flesh it out in its full glory. Remember the story of the molerats, their oppression and tribal communities and distrustful nature, only to be discarded by the 8th episode? Or the Huxleyian utopic control of sex and hypnotism to reduce crowd aggression and antagonistic behaviour, raised only to trigger certain fanservice moments? Or what about the themes of ethics and morality, which at the end of the day, is only an ideological system perpetuated by the people in power in order to regulate and control society as a whole? Or the psychoanalytic discourse on the subconscious and how one’s capabilities may exceed his or her own control? ANY one of these ideas will make for a brilliant 24 episode arc anime but at this moment, the pacing is too rushed for any form of elaboration or thematic developments to occur.

I will continue watching the show because the premises are at the least, interesting and there are certain moments that definitely do carry and define the anime emotionally and thematically. Too bad there arnt more of those scenes. But let’s stop calling this a yaoi anime: homosexuality is not a prevalent theme and homosexual relationships are not the main, nor the secondary focus of the anime at all.

Rating: 7/10 (Promising, I expect more to come.)

An Academic Article: On Yaoi, Homophobia and Misogyny

Yaoi = Yama nashi ochi nashi imi nashi. Also: Yamete, oshiri ga itai!

I came across this yaoi academic article written by Wim Lunsing termed On Yaoi Ronsō: Discussing Depictions of Male Homosexuality in Japanese Girls’ Comics, Gay Comics and Gay Pornography which you may access here. Ronsou (論争) means controversy and used in this context, this article discusses the potential homophobic elements within yaoi manga and Lunsing has done a great job representing both the queer and feminist circles who comes from two different camps in interpreting the social implications of yaoi towards misogyny, homophobia and minority misrepresentation.

Lunsing has eloquently laid out the history of yaoi ranging from the publication of one of the first yaoi manga drawn: Hiizuredokoro no tenshi {The angel who came from the sun} by Yamagishi Ryōko towards the phenomenon of of bara manga (manga for gay men, by mostly gay men) as a counter-response to towards the inaccuracies of gay relationships depicted in yaoi manga. I’m not going to talk about it here because it think that it’s mostly factual and it’s fleshed out pretty nicely so do go ahead and read it if you’re interested. I think that there are two arguments you can make about yaoi manga. You can either say that yaoi is homophobic because in echoing Satō Masaki, yaoi perpetuates a misrepresentation of how homosexuals behave, look like, have relationships etc. Homosexuals do not neatly identify themselves as uke or seme, they do not usually have feminine, slender, hairless bodies and in this sense, homosexuals as portrayed within the manga are demasculinised, emasculated and are depicted in a manner that is set up for the female to be viewed upon as sexual objects, for the pleasure of others. Hence, Masaki argues that female readers are no different from hentai jijiis(変体爺, dirty old men) who objectifies women in order to obtain sexual gratification through the eroticism of voyeurism.

Masaki: Fujoshis = female version of hentai jijis.

In fact, Yanagita Akiko agrees with Masaki to a certain degree because yaoi in this sense, acts as a tool for feminist emancipation, though the way it does so is through decidedly homophobic ways. Heterosexual relationships depicted in manga, be it shojo (note that the term shojo 処女 means virgin or maiden) or shounen usually carry a certain traditionalist, misogynistic portrayal of women where they are usually the passive party, the support hero, the one whose sole purpose is to fall in love with the male protagonist. In this sense, the female is usually portrayed for the needs and fulfillment of the male character and hence, always already a subject of patriarchy. Yaoi however, challenges such patriarchal portrayals by providing a gateway for women to look at men, presented in subordinated positions. For the first time, women are the ones who wield the power to gaze at men in a voyeuristic sense. Women can also substitute themselves with the feminine uke and imagine themselves within a relationship that is more egalitarian than one would have within a heterosexual relationship found in other manga.

Of course, the alternate position that one can take (and this is where I personally stand) is that yaoi actually help combat against homophobic structures because it perpetuates discourse that a relationship other than heterosexual is possible and thinkable. For me, my first encounter and understanding that gay relationships can be beautiful and worth pursuing is through a youtube video of Junjou Romantica, even if the drawings are idealised caricatures of what men are supposed to be. Yaoi occupies a crucial position in mainstream media (especially in Japanese media) that usually delegates homosexual subjects to a lower order; as a mockery, a point of curiosity, a subject of deviance or worse, as abjects (non-subjects) and any representation that presents gay relationships in a liberating manner acts as a counter-discourse towards the prevalent heterosexist structures within our media industry.

And besides, I disagree with Misaki that yaoi does not reflect what gay men look like in reality. In following Baudrilliard, what we are dealing in yaoi manga is not a distorted simulation of reality; it has become a simulacrum whereas the simulation has become the reality that we live in (Baudrillard calls this “the hyperreality). The bishounen phenomenon that is presented in yaoi manga has been reworked and represented in so many various ways that it spills over to reality where a substantial number of Japanese men choose to imitate and represent themselves as the sensitive, good looking, wide-eyed, charming, uke-esque male individuals known as ikemen. (いけめん)What was depicted in the manga, has far-researching consequences such that the simulations and depictions effectively become the real reality that we are living in. Does this change the way the gay landscape has become? You bet it does.

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An example of an ikemen.

I’ll have more to say on this, and more academic analyses are to come. To stay updated, do follow me by clicking on the button to the left. 😀

P.S I didnt know that the Japanese term for fag hag is okoge おこげ which means burnt rice. “Okama” (お釜) is the japanese word for “pot”, and is also slang for effeminate gay men/drag queens/ass. so burnt rice, literally sticking to the pot, translates to the equivalent slang of “fag hag”.

November 2012

So I just started this blog and it’s probably going to be awhile for me to build up my content and for it to even appear in google search I guess. So if this blog may seem rather dead… it’s not going to stay that way so do come back once in a while for new updates!

But just to give you a taste on what’s happening for the rest of November, these are the animes that I will be following and blogging about this season:

K: So I understand that all of yaoi-dom is mostly crying over this right now; however to be honest; I’m not as impressed with this anime as I should be. The plot direction seems rather haphazard and I’m rather turned off with the overt objectification of women in this anime (normalised in many shounen anime but that doesn’t make it tasteful). Though the plot is starting to pick up, the character developments are really starting to become intriguing and yaoiness is starting to kick in; I’m not holding my breath.

Erotic gaze + bitchslap = ヽ(;▽;)ノ

Magi:

I love this anime series probably because it appeals towards my sociological instincts and its portrayal of class-struggles and capitalist oppressions are practically begging to be analysed. Given that Magi is drawn by a female mangaka; she doesn’t really stand for all the bullshit/ 2 dimensional demeaning portrayals of females that is rather recurring in many other animes. Alibaba is really charming as the protagonist and there’s this natural and easy synergy that exist between the booby-loving magical kid, the spineless ex-prince who suddenly have a burst of character growth at the end of episode one, and the pink-haired beast-girl who kicks really really well.

And this of course, doesn’t hurt.

Shinsekai Yori: Haven’t watch it but this:

Gives this an instantaneous tick on the “must-watch” anime list.

The sensual butt-smacking/feeling doesn’t hurt either.

Looks to be a great season so far really.

Anyways, have a great November!