Manga Monday: Look Kids, I’m Trying to be Serious.

Published on July 20th, 2009

Right. I have dodged around it for as long as possible but this Manga Monday I am actually going to approach the subject of yaoi and attempt to make it relatively insightful. Yes, I said ‘attempt’.

Right. If you actually recall from my very first post, yaoi is Japanese for homosexuality of a romantic nature specific to the male gender (yuri is female homosexuality). It is something that is featured heavily within the anime and manga world, but what always struck me as odd is that yaoi is actually a market dominated by women. Yes that’s right- the majority of fans who purchase yaoi manga are young teenage girls. In-fact there is a different type of manga all together geared towards gay men.

It isn’t something that appeals to me personally and I have always wondered what drew people in, yet the more I have looked into it the more I have started to learn. The majority of yaoi manga is actually written by females, and a huge portion are amateur artists who write fan made comics with their favourite characters from video games, other anime or popular culture. I actually have bought yaoi manga in my time; the first one was called Gravitation and followed an amateur rock band on their way to stardom. I didn’t actually know it was a yaoi manga when I bought it, but nonetheless it was my introduction to the subculture (it may be worth mentioning that the original Gravitation is known as a shōnen-ai as it focuses on the homosexual relationships and not on sexual acts like yaoi).

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I think what always struck me about yaoi was the actual innocence that surrounds it, something which is more than likely for it’s young female audience. Yaoi actually means ‘boy love’ and when you read such manga that theme is often pronounced throughout. Yaoi manga frequently have an eme (pursuer) who pursues the uke (receiver), and the relationships that form between the two often focus on their developing feelings and coming to terms with them. It is fundamentally romance. If people want gratuitous sex, well, that’s what hentai is for.

As I’ve read around the subject I really have been given a lot to think about. Porn these days, or the majority of it, is catered mostly for men. So do women, who commonly prefer a little romance and passion, find reading yaoi more sexually ideal? Many believe that yaoi allows women to explore sexuality and at the same time “…greater fluidity in perceptions of gender and sexuality.” Others have even stated that yaoi could be described as a female fetish, and feminists belive that it helps break down stereotypical gender roles. In our modern time many women do not necessarily find masculine heterosexism ideal.

I guess yaoi manga is something that many people instantly dismiss because people can’t look around the homosexual nature of it. It will never be a manga sub-culture that I will ever understand or take a particular interest in, yet I am starting to see why it’s so popular. Its focus comes from emotions and passion and provides an escape from the highly sexual ‘real world.’ Manga, homosexual or not, like all forms of comic books are at the end of the day an escape from our own realities.

Hollie ‘Pheonix thinks CloudXSeptheroth yoai is annoying’ Bennett
Hollie@comicimpact.com