Meandering thoughts: The Fujoshi
I’m an anime/manga otaku. Specifically, a fujoshi, 腐女子 who loves boy on boy action. For the uninitiated, watch Genshiken season one for an innovative way to learn about the otaku culture, and proceed to season two to get an idea of what a fujoshi is.
The definition of a fujoshi is still rather vague and narrow in nature. A basic online search will bring up results like: Fujoshi|腐女子|”Rotten Girl” is a pejorative Japanese term for female fans of manga and novels that feature romantic relationships between men.
Bangin‘s blog is a good place to find out more on “Japanese words of anime fans, by anime fans, for anime fans” and i find his classification for 腐女子[fujoshi] rather apt. Another thing to note is that there is a distinction between female otakus and the fujoshi but commonly muddled up by most folks. Female otaku or onna-otaku is are what I commonly term as “Fangirl”, who are deeply involved in the anime/manga/game culture. A fangirl could be a fujoshi but not necessarily so. For example, a girl could be a fan of Code Geass, but not necessarily attracted or even notice the underlying chemistry between Lelouch and Suzaku. However, a fujoshi will be on the hunt for the latest Lelouch X Suzaku (yes, i want Lelouch to be seme) doujin to hit the stands. Info on Seme/Uke classifications can be found here.
Some of my personal definitions are as follows-
Otaku: General classification of fans of the Japanese entertainment and visual culture, mainly in the fields of Anime, Manga and Game (AMG).
Male Otaku: Male otaku who are usually fascinated with all aspects of the male-orientated AMG industry. Involves hardcore otaku behavior like forfeiting food and sleep in favor of purchasing AMG merchandise. Example: Male members of “Genshiken”. Kaoru Yamazaki from “NHK Yokosou!”. However, girls who follow Male Otaku habits can also be classified under this category. Examples: Konata from “Lucky Star”.
(Image: Konata cosplaying as Haruhi from the hit anime The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi.)
Female Otaku: Female otaku whose passions are usually directed at shoujo themed AMG, but may also be directed at other mainstream AMG. Examples: Risa Koizumi from “Lovely Complex”, who plays Shoujo sims. Nagi Sanzen’in from “Hayate no Gotoku!”, who is also a game otaku and aspiring mangaka. Kagami Hiiragi from “Lucky Star” who is a light novel otaku, her favorite being the “Full Metal Panic” series. There may be instances when males display fangirl otaku behavior like Masamune Asuka from “Otomen”.
(Image: Kagami discovering FMP BL doujin.)
A specific type of female otaku are hardcore fans of the Boys Love (BL) genre, often labeled as fujoshi, which has be explained in excessive detail above.
Despite being an otaku for close to half of my life, this is a feeble attempt at making definitions. To go in depth would be more than my poor brain can process due to the sheer diversity of the genre. Moving on…
Unlike the rise of media attention on the otaku, thanks to the Densha Otoko franchise, the fujoshi has been keeping a rather low profile. However, the recent blog-turn-novel Fujoshi Kanojo 腐女子彼女 (‘My BL-fangirl girlfriend’) sets to turn the tide, for receiving similar success as its predecessor.
Though no news of a similar live-action series have been announced, the manga version of the novel is in the works as seen here. An interesting point to note is that the mangaka of this version of Fujoshi Kanojo is a pretty famous BL artist. More information and downloads of the manga version of Fujoshi Kanojo (Image on the left) can be found here.
Fujoshi characters have been appearing more frequently in recent anime including: Ogiue (Genshiken) and Tamura Hiyori (Lucky Star). More fujoshi action has been serialised in Mousou Shoujo Otakukei by Natsumi Konjoh. Published by Futabasha/Comics High. Review here. And downloads here. (Image on the left)
Another example of Fujoshi in popular media is the story of a police officer who is a fujoshi at heart, and is attracted to the good-looking men she comes across when handling a case, featured in a recent dorama Fujoshi Deka.
Fujoshi culture is pretty much similar to the mainstream Otaku culture. Instead of prowling the streets of electrical town Akihabara, Fujoshi visit Otome Rd of the vibrant Ikebukuro to fulfill their need for BL merchandise. Big names like Animate, Mandarake and K-books are all situated within close vicinity, their stores catering to the needs of their female clientèle. Unlike the glitz of Akihabara, Otome Road looks deceptively docile and deprived of a flood of anime character posters, save for a few subtle promo posters of the latest BL drama cd.
Butler cafes are also a feature of Otome Road. Butler cafes are in essence similar to maid cafes, difference being, catered to fulfill the fetishes of Fujoshi. My personal favourite being 男子校カフェ [danshikou cafe]
(Image of the waiters in Danshikou Cafe)
The following is a two-part special on Fujoshi culture, Otome Road & butler cafes:
History of the Fujoshi can be traced back to the start of yaoi, where the simple theory of supply and demand applies. Interest in homosexuality has been around for ages, so it was a matter of time before it started to appear in the AMG. M. J. Johnson describes yaoi as ” a word that’s the source of a *lot* of confusion” in the article “A Brief History of Yaoi”.
Over at ComiPress.com, an interesting theory is brewing, concocted by Japanese blogger Moepre, who explores the relationship between fujoshi and Shonen Jump. Shonen Jump has traditionally been a vital part of the teenage male otaku diet, a weekly must-buy that many may even follow despite adulthood. A prime example of such is Gin-chan from the popular series “Gintama”, serialized in Shonen Jump, which is a comedy that often parodies AMG norms. Sakata Gintoki, the lead character, is a seemingly useless bum with abnormal sugar cravings and an addiction to Shonen Jump. Moepre talks about how fujoshi are attracted to the series featured in Shonen Jump and reason behind the appeal of the male-oriented comic to females. Her blog has been translated by ComiPress and can be found, here and here. Khursten looks to Moepre’s word for inspiration as she also looks into the influence of Shonen Jump titles on the Fujioshi culture, from the perspective of a non-Japanese fujioshi.
Outside Japan, the fujoshi culture has morphed into epic proportions, spawning the famed Yaoi-con (american-styled comiket tailored to foreign fujoshi needs). Vanessa E. Jones’ article “He loves him, she loves them” sheds some light on the fujoshi community out of Japan, and has some simple explaining of the dynamics within this lifestyle choice.
Graphic novelist Tina Anderson’s blog is another good read, giving an refreshing insight into the BL scene out of Japan. Her simple explanation on the classic archetypes in the BL sex scenes (link not worksafe) is strangely amusing to read in retrospective. She also does a comparison of the traditional japanese BL sex scenes and the western BL sex scene. There are also more articles by Tina on controversial nature which I find enlightening: The Time I Wrote About Yuri; That Shotakon Article! ; Twincest Thoughts
There is a strong BL fanbase in Asia. China and Taiwan have developed their own interpretations and modifications to the genre, based loosely on the Japanese ideal. Many BL manga titles are often translated to the local language, and published for sale.
In this article by a chinese blogger, she wonders why there is an absence of romance novels in the Japanese market. Specifically, romance novels written by women for women. In western countries, there are the variations of Mills & Boons. In China/Taiwan/Hongkong, there are 言情小說 (romance novels) of women and their search for true love. However, there does not seem to be a Japanese equivalent of such a genre… or is there? The Japanese BL novel genre is definitely a market that fulfills the fantasies of females, written by female, the only twist being the characters in the story being male. (Image on right)Japanese BL culture has even spawned a sub-genre among asian fans, affectionately know as 耽美, roughly translated as an intangible form of beauty, often used to describe homosexual relationships that exist on an emotional level, beyond the physical.
The intention of this post was actually just to write a brief introduction to “The Fujoshi”, which turned into fascinating findings that I just had to share. What has been highlighted above is just hints of the culture and more in depth analysis has to be done before truly understanding the subject. Perhaps I shall continue this train of thought in detail at a later date.