|Part of a series on|
|Anime and manga|
|Anime and manga portal|
Yaoi fandom refers to readers of yaoi (also called Boys' Love or BL), a genre of male-male romance narratives aimed at those who participate in communal activities organized around yaoi, such as attending conventions, maintaining or posting to fansites, creating fanfiction or fanart, etc. In the mid-1990s, estimates of the size of the Japanese yaoi fandom were at 100,000-500,000 people, but in 2008, despite increased knowledge of the genre among the general public, readership remains limited. English-language fan translations of From Eroica with Love circulated through the slash fiction community in the 1980s, forging a link between slash fiction fandom and Yaoi fandom.
Most yaoi fans are teenage girls or young women. In Japan, female fans are called fujoshi, a pun which denotes their way of seeing homosexual relationships in media as being "rotten". The male equivalent is called a fudanshi. Both male and female fans are stated as being hetero- or bisexual; homosexual male fans are more likely to prefer Bara genre media.
Yaoi fans have been characters in manga such as the seinen manga Fujoshi Rumi. At least one butler cafe has opened with a schoolboy theme in order to appeal to the Boy's Love aesthetic. In one study on visual kei, 37% of Japanese fan respondents reported having "yaoi or sexual fantasies" about the visual kei stars.
Most yaoi fans are either teenage girls or young women. The female readership in Thailand is estimated at 80%, and the membership of Yaoi-Con, a yaoi convention in San Francisco, is 85% female. It is usually assumed that all female fans are heterosexual, but in Japan there is a presence of lesbian manga authors and lesbian, bisexual or questioning female readers. Recent online surveys of English-speaking readers of yaoi indicate that 50-60% of female readers self-identify as heterosexual. It has been suggested that Western fans may be more diverse in their sexual orientation than Japanese fans and that Western fans are "more likely to link" BL ("Boy's Love") to supporting gay rights. Much like the Yaoi readership base, the majority of Yaoi fanfiction writers are also believed to be heterosexual women. The reasoning behind this trend is sometimes attributed to the patriarchy- that women who write yaoi fanfiction are in fact acting out heterosexual fantasies through these male figures.
Although the genre is marketed at women and girls, gay, bisexual, and even heterosexual males also form part of the readership. In one library-based survey of U.S. yaoi fans, about one quarter of respondents were male; online surveys of Anglophone readers place this percentage at about 10%. Lunsing suggests that younger Japanese gay men who are offended by gay men's magazines' "pornographic" content may prefer to read yaoi instead. That is not to say that the majority of homosexual men are fans of the genre, as some are put off by the feminine art style or unrealistic depictions of homosexual life and instead seek "Gei comi" (Gay comics), manga written by and for homosexual men, as gei comi is perceived to be more realistic. Lunsing notes that some of the narrative annoyances that homosexual men express about yaoi manga, such as rape, misogyny, and an absence of a Western-style gay identity, are also present in gei comi. Some male manga artists have produced yaoi works, using their successes in yaoi to then go on to publish gei comi.
Authors of BL present themselves as "fellow fans" by using dust jacket notes and postscripts to chat to the readers "as if they were her girlfriends" and talk about the creative process in making the manga, and what she discovered she liked about the story she wrote.
In the mid-1990s, estimates of the size of the Japanese yaoi fandom were at 100,000-500,000 people; at around that time, the long-running yaoi anthology June had a circulation of between 80,000 and 100,000, twice the circulation of the "best-selling" gay lifestyle magazine Badi. Most Western yaoi fansites "appeared some years later than pages and lists devoted to mainstream anime and manga". As of 1995, they "revolved around the most famous series", such as Ai no Kusabi and Zetsuai 1989; and by the late 1990s, English-speaking websites mentioning yaoi "reached the hundreds". As of 2003, on Japanese-language internet sites, there were roughly equal proportions of sites dedicated to yaoi as there were sites by and for gay men about homosexuality. On 16 November 2003 there were 770,000 yaoi websites. As of April 2005, a search for non-Japanese sites resulted in 785,000 English, 49,000 Spanish, 22,400 Korean, 11,900 Italian and 6,900 Chinese sites. In January 2007, there were approximately five million hits for 'yaoi'. Hisako Miyoshi, the Vice Editor-in-Chief for Libre Publishing's manga division, said in a 2008 interview that although Boys Love is more well known to the general public, the numbers of readers remains limited, which she attributes to the codified nature of the genre.
Thorn noted that while some fans like both equally, fans tend to either prefer BL or non-BL shōjo manga. and Suzuki noted BL fans have a preference for BL over other forms of pornography, for example, heterosexual love stories in ladies' comics. Jessica Bawens-Sugimoto feels that in general, "slash and yaoi fans are dismissive of mainstream hetero-sexual romance", such as "the notorious pulp Harlequin romances". Deborah Shamoon said that "the borders between yaoi, shōjo manga and ladies' comics are quite permeable", suggesting that fans of BL probably enjoyed both homosexual and heterosexual tales. Kazuma Kodaka, in an interview with Giant Robot suggested that the Japanese yaoi fandom includes married women who had been her fans since they were in college. Dru Pagliassotti's survey indicates that loyalty to an author is a common factor in readers' purchase decisions. Yōka Nitta has noted a split in what her readers want - her younger readers prefer seeing explicit material, and her older readers prefer seeing romance. There is a perception that the English-speaking yaoi fandom is demanding increasingly explicit content, but that this poses problems for retailers. In 2004, ICv2 noted that fans seemed to prefer buying yaoi online. Andrea Wood suggests that due to restrictions placed on the sale of yaoi, many Western teenage fans seek more explicit titles via scanlations. Dru Pagliassotti notes that the majority of respondents to her survey say that they first encountered BL online, which she links to half of her respondents reporting that they get most of their BL from scanlations. In 2003, there were at least five BL scanlation groups. Japanese fan practices in the mid to late 2000s included the concept of the feeling of moe, which was typically used by male otaku about young female characters prior to this.
Robin Brenner and Snow Wildsmith noted in their survey of American fans that gay and bisexual male fans of yaoi preferred more realistic tales than female fans did.
Shihomi Sakakibara (1998) argued that yaoi fans, including himself, were homosexually oriented female-to-male transsexuals. Akiko Mizoguchi believes there is a "shikou" (translated as taste or orientation), both towards BL/yaoi as a whole, and towards particular patterns within the genre, such as a "feisty bottom (yancha uke)" character type. Her study shows that fans believe that in order to be "serious" fans, they should know their own preferences, and "consider themselves a sort of sexual minority". She argues that the exchange of sexual fantasies between the predominantly female yaoi fandom can be interpreted that although the participants may be heterosexual in real life, they can also and compatibly be considered "virtual lesbians". Patrick Galbraith suggests that androgynous beautiful boys contribute to the appeal of yaoi amongst women who are heterosexual, lesbian or transgender.
The small Taiwanese BL fandom has been noted to be against real-person BL fanfiction, banning it from their messageboard.
Fujoshi (腐女子, lit. "rotten girl") is a self-mockingly pejorative Japanese term for female fans of manga and novels that feature romantic relationships between men. Fujoshi enjoy imagining what it would be like if male characters from manga and anime, and occasionally real-life male performers as well, loved each other. The label encompasses fans of the boys love genre itself, as well as the related manga, anime, and video game properties that have appeared as the market for such works has developed. The term "fujoshi" is a homophonous pun on fujoshi (婦女子), a term for respectable women, created by replacing the character 婦 (pronounced fu), meaning married woman or lady, with the character 腐 (also pronounced fu), meaning fermented or rotten. The name was coined by mass media, but was reclaimed by yaoi fans. Fans self-deprecatingly refer to their way of thinking, which perceives homosexual relationships between male characters in stories that do not include homosexual themes, as being "rotten". "Fujoshi" carries a connotation of being a "fallen woman". The term originates from 2channel in the early 2000s. An issue of Eureka which examined fujoshi in detail in 2007 contributed to the spread of the term.
Older fujoshi use various terms to refer to themselves, including as kifujin (貴腐人, "noble rotten woman"), a pun on a homophonous word meaning "fine lady", and ochōfujin (汚超腐人), which sounds similar to a phrase meaning "Madame Butterfly", possibly taken from a character nicknamed Ochōfujin (お蝶夫人) in the 1972 manga series Ace o Nerae! by Sumika Yamamoto.
According to a 2005 issue of Eureka, in recent times fujoshi can refer to female otaku in general, although it cautions that not all yaoi fans are otaku, as there are some more casual readers. As fujoshi is the best-known term, it is often used by the Japanese media and by people outside of the otaku subculture to refer to female otaku as a group, regardless of whether they are fans of BL. This usage may be considered offensive by female otaku who are not fans of BL.
Men who, like fujoshi, enjoy imagining relationships between characters in fictional works when that relationship is not part of the author's intent may be called fudanshi (腐男子, "rotten boy") or fukei (腐兄, "rotten older brother"), both of which are puns of similar construction to fujoshi. Bara manga author Gengoroh Tagame has said that men may choose a fudanshi label because it is more socially acceptable than coming out as gay.
Fujoshi and fudanshi are used as characters in otaku-themed anime and manga, particularly those aimed at men. Popular titles include Tonari no 801-chan, My Girlfriend's a Geek, Kiss Him, Not Me and The High School Life of a Fudanshi. A TV series featuring a policewoman who is a fujoshi, Fujoshi Deka, has been broadcast.
Yaoi and slash
Besides commercially published original material, Japanese yaoi also encompasses fan-made dōjinshi, fanart, computer games, etc.; a large percentage of the dōjinshi offered at Comiket are yaoi stories based on popular anime and manga series. This may be seen as a parallel development to slash fiction in the West. Although shōjo manga stories featuring romances between boys or young men were commercially published in Japan from the mid-1970s, and soon became a genre in their own right, the spread of yaoi though the Western fan community is generally linked to the pre-existing Western slash fiction community. In the mid-1980s, fan translations of the shōjo manga series From Eroica with Love began to circulate through the slash community via amateur press associations, creating a "tenuous link" between slash and yaoi. Although the English-speaking online yaoi fandom is observed to increasingly overlap with online slash fandom, slash fiction has portrayed adult males, whereas yaoi follows the aesthetic of the beautiful boy, often highlighting their youth. Mark McLelland describes this aesthetic as being seen as problematic in recent Western society. Yaoi fans tend to be younger than slash fans, and so are less shocked about depictions of underage sexuality. Jessica Bauwens-Sugimoto detects a tendency in both yaoi and slash fandoms to disparage the others' heteronormativity, potential for subversiveness or even the potential for enjoyment.
- Solomon, Charles (14 October 2003). "Anime, mon amour: forget Pokémon—Japanese animation explodes with gay, lesbian, and trans themes". The Advocate.
- Nagaike, Kazumi (April 2009). "Elegant Caucasians, Amorous Arabs, and Invisible Others: Signs and Images of Foreigners in Japanese BL Manga". Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific (20).
- "Tokyo cafe taps into women's Prince Charming fantasies". AFP (via Google News). 19 February 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2009.
- Hashimoto, Miyuki Visual Kei Otaku Identity—An Intercultural Analysis Archived 2011-06-07 at the Wayback Machine. Intercultural Communication Studies XVI: 1 2007 pp.87–99
- Keenapan, Nattha Japanese "boy-love" comics a hit among Thais Japan Today 2001
- Lunsing, Wim. Yaoi Ronsō: Discussing Depictions of Male Homosexuality in Japanese Girls' Comics, Gay Comics and Gay Pornography Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context Issue 12, January 2006 Accessed 12 August 2008.
- Welker, James. (2006) Beautiful, Borrowed, and Bent: "Boys' Love" as Girls' Love in Shôjo Manga Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society vol. 31, no. 3 doi:10.1086/498987
- Antonia, Levi (2008). "North American reactions to Yaoi". In West, Mark. The Japanification of Children's Popular Culture. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 147–174. ISBN 0-8108-5121-0.
- Pagliassotti, Dru (November 2008) 'Reading Boys' Love in the West' Particip@tions Volume 5, Issue 2 Special Edition
- Kustritz, Anne (September 2003). "Slashing the Romance Narrative" (PDF). Journal of American Culture. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
- McLelland, Mark. Why are Japanese Girls' Comics full of Boys Bonking? Refractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media Vol.10, 2006/2007
- Yoo, Seunghyun (2002) Online discussions on Yaoi: Gay relationships, sexual violence, and female fantasy
- Boon, Miriam (24 May 2007). "Anime North's bent offerings". Xtra!.
- McLelland, Mark (2000). Male homosexuality in modern Japan. Routledge. p. 249, note 18. ISBN 0-7007-1300-X.
- Brenner, Robin E. (2007). Understanding Manga and Anime. Libraries Unlimited. p. chapter 3 p. 137. ISBN 978-1-59158-332-5.
- Lunsing, Wim (2001). Beyond Common Sense: Sexuality and Gender in Contemporary Japan. London and New York: Kegan Paul International. ISBN 0-7103-0593-1.
- Wilson, Brent; Toku, Masami. "Boys' Love," Yaoi, and Art Education: Issues of Power and Pedagogy 2003
- Mizoguchi, Akiko (September 2010). "Theorizing comics/manga genre as a productive forum: yaoi and beyond". In Berndt, Jaqueline. Comics Worlds and the World of Comics: Towards Scholarship on a Global Scale (PDF). Kyoto, Japan: International Manga Research Center, Kyoto Seika University. pp. 145–170. ISBN 978-4-905187-01-1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
- McLelland, Mark (October 2001). "Local meanings in global space: a case study of women's 'Boy love' web sites in Japanese and English".
- Sabucco, Veruska "Guided Fan Fiction: Western "Readings" of Japanese Homosexual-Themed Texts" in Berry, Chris, Fran Martin, and Audrey Yue (editors) (2003). Mobile Cultures: New Media in Queer Asia. Durham, North Carolina; London: Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-3087-3. p.73
- McLelland, Mark. "Japanese Queerscapes: Global/Local Intersections on the Internet" in Berry, Chris, Fran Martin, and Audrey Yue (editors) (2003). Mobile Cultures: New Media in Queer Asia. Durham, North Carolina; London: Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-3087-3. pp. 52-53.
- McHarry, Mark (November 2003). "Yaoi: Redrawing Male Love". The Guide. Archived from the original on 2008-04-17.
- McLelland, Mark. The World of Yaoi: The Internet, Censorship and the Global “Boys’ Love” Fandom The Australian Feminist Law Journal, 2005.
- "Roundtable: The Internet and Women's Transnational "Boys' Love" Fandom" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-07-21.
- Brient, Hervé, ed. (2008). "Entretien avec Hisako Miyoshi". Homosexualité et manga : le yaoi. Manga: 10000 images (in French). Editions H. pp. 17–19. ISBN 978-2-9531781-0-4.
- Thorn, Matt What Shôjo Manga Are and Are Not - A Quick Guide for the Confused
- Suzuki, Kazuko. 1999. "Pornography or Therapy? Japanese Girls Creating the Yaoi Phenomenon". In Sherrie Inness, ed., Millennium Girls: Today's Girls Around the World. London: Rowman & Littlefield, p.245 ISBN 0-8476-9136-5, ISBN 0-8476-9137-3.
- Bauwens-Sugimoto, Jessica (2011). "Subverting masculinity, misogyny, and reproductive technology in SEX PISTOLS". Image & Narrative. 12 (1). Retrieved 2011-03-22.
- Shamoon, Deborah (July 2004) “Office Sluts and Rebel Flowers: The Pleasures of Japanese Pornographic Comics for Women” in Linda Williams ed. Porn Studies. Duke University Press p. 86
- Camper, Cathy (2006). "Boys, Boys, Boys: Kazuma Kodaka Interview". Giant Robot (42): 60–63. ISSN 1534-9845.
- Totilo, Stephen. (10 March 2006) Japanese Comics With Gay Themes Attracting Young Female Readers MTV.com
- Chavez, Ed (30 October 2007) Yaoi-Con and BL, No Longer “Niche” Publishers Weekly
- ICv2 (2006) A Yaoi Explosion - Dozens of Titles Announced at Yaoi-Con
- "Yaoi Titles Strong in Online Sales - From Amazon".
- Wood, Andrea. (Spring 2006). "Straight" Women, Queer Texts: Boy-Love Manga and the Rise of a Global Counterpublic. WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly, 34 (1/2), pp. 394-414.
- Donovan, Hope (2010). "Gift Versus Capitalist Economies". In Levi, Antonia; McHarry, Mark; Pagliassotti, Dru. Boys' Love Manga: Essays on the Sexual Ambiguity and Cross-Cultural Fandom of the Genre. McFarland & Company. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-7864-4195-2.
- Galbraith, Patrick W. (2009). "Moe: Exploring Virtual Potential in Post-Millennial Japan". Electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies.
- Brenner, Robin; Wildsmith, Snow (2011). "Love through a Different Lens: Japanese Homoerotic Manga through the Eyes of American Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Other Sexualities Readers". In Perper, Timothy; Cornog, Martha. Mangatopia : essays on manga and anime in the modern world. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Libraries Unlimited. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-59158-908-2.
- Sakakibara, Shihomi (1998) Yaoi genron: yaoi kara mieta mono (An Elusive Theory of Yaoi: The view from Yaoi). Tokyo: Natsume Shobo, ISBN 4-931391-42-7.
- Galbraith, Patrick W. (2011). "Fujoshi: Fantasy Play and Transgressive Intimacy among "Rotten Girls" in Contemporary Japan". Signs. 37 (1): 211–232. doi:10.1086/660182.
- Chiang, Feichi (21 June 2016). "Counterpublic but obedient: a case of Taiwan's BL fandom". Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. 17 (2): 223–238. doi:10.1080/14649373.2016.1170311.
- Kotani Mari, foreword to Saitō Tamaki (2007) "Otaku Sexuality" in Christopher Bolton, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., and Takayuki Tatsumi ed., page 224 Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams University of Minnesota Press ISBN 978-0-8166-4974-7
- Suzuki, Midori (21 November 2012). "The possibilities of research on "fujoshi" in Japan". 12 – via journal.transformativeworks.org.
- Tanaka, Hiromi; Ishida, Saori (25 January 2015). "Enjoying Manga as Fujoshi: Exploring its Innovation and Potential for Social Change from a Gender Perspective". 10 (1): 77–85 – via www.tci-thaijo.org.
- bangin (July 25, 2007). "The classification for 腐女子 [fujoshi]". Japanese words of anime fans, by anime fans, for anime fans. Retrieved 2009-08-06.
- Aoyama, Tomoko (April 2009). "Eureka Discovers Culture Girls, Fujoshi, and BL: Essay Review of Three Issues of the Japanese Literary magazine, Yuriika (Eureka)". Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific. 20.
- Ingulsrud, John E.; Allen, Kate (2009). Reading Japan Cool: Patterns of Manga Literacy and Discourse. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 57. ISBN 0-7391-2753-5.
- Kazumi Nagaike (2015). "Do Heterosexual Men Dream of Homosexual Men?: BL Fudanshi and Discourse on Male Feminization". Boys' Love Manga and Beyond : History, Culture, and Community in Japan. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. p. 192. ISBN 9781626740662.
- Thorn, Matthew. (2004) “Girls And Women Getting Out Of Hand: The Pleasure And Politics Of Japan's Amateur Comics Community.” Archived 2016-12-14 at the Wayback Machine. pp. 169-186, In Fanning the Flames: Fans and Consumer Culture in Contemporary Japan, William W. Kelly, ed., State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-6032-0. Retrieved 12 August 2008.
- Lee, Tammy (May 2001) Tantalizing Translations - M.J. Johnson Sequential Tart
- Thorn, Matt. "Girls' Stuff, May (?) '94".
- Youssef, Sandra Girls who like Boys who like Boys - Ethnography of Online Slash/Yaoi Fans Honours Thesis for Bachelor of Arts, Mount Holyoke College, 2004.
- fujyoshi.jp - Includes a glossary of fujoshi-specific terminology.
- Galbraith, Patrick. "Fujoshi: The "rotten girls" of Ikebukuro take center stage". Poplife. Metropolis. Retrieved 2009-06-11.
- Levitt, Aimee (8 December 2009). "Girls Who Love Boys Who Love Boys: Inside the Midwest's first celebration of all things yaoi — where the screaming never stops". Riverfront Times. Retrieved 18 January 2010.
- Treyvaud, Matt (June 4, 2009). "Everybody's Fujoshi Girlfriend". Néojaponisme. Retrieved 2009-06-11.
- Zanghellini, A. (2009). "'Boys love' in anime and manga: Japanese subcultural production and its end users". Continuum. 23 (3): 279–294. doi:10.1080/10304310902822886.
- Jeffry T. Hester (2015). "Fujoshi Emergent: Shifting Popular Representations of Yaoi/BL Fandom in Japan". Boys' Love Manga and Beyond : History, Culture, and Community in Japan. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 9781626740662.