Boys’ Love (BL) or yaoi manga, which often features male-male homoerotic storylines, is well-known for being popular among Japanese girls, and has also gained some popularity outside of Japan. But this article from News Post Seven suggests that BL is now growing in popularity among male readers due to its ‘homosocial’ portrayals of men in the company of men.
BL has been the subject of academic study in both Japan and the West, with critics suggesting a number of theories as to why yaoi manga has enjoyed popularity among girls and women, including the idea that it allows them to distance sexual fantasies from their own bodies. Others argue that it allows readers to reject the power equation that female readers might see as a fundamental part of sexual relationships between men and women. But how can we explain the phenomenon in men?
The article below sets out to find the answer, though many agree that it doesn’t really succeed. Netizen comments on the article reveal an array of attitudes toward the subject matter, ranging from homophobia to acceptance of an individual’s tastes.
From News Post Seven:
It’s Not Only For Female Otakus: A Look At the Psychology of Boys Who ‘Like Boys’ Love’ Manga As Their Number Increases.
Boys’ Love (BL) manga, which portrays a love relationship between two men, is currently one of the major genres that supports the fanzine market. However, before the appearance of the term ‘BL’, there were numerous female fans of fan-fiction that depicted romantic love between men, who were known as ‘yaoi’ fans ['Yaoi' was originally an acronym standing for 'Yamanashi/ochinashi/iminashi', or 'No peak/no punchline/no point'].
From around the year 2000, these fans came to be called ‘fujoshi’ [a pun on 'respectable woman' that literally means 'rotten girl'], and they bolstered a fanfiction industry aimed at women. In the past, ‘BL’ and ‘yaoi’ was something of a ‘secret garden’ — there was the impression that it was something that women enjoyed in secret — but women like the celebrity Yoshiki Risa who openly admit that they like Boys’ Love manga are also on the rise.
Still, now there are ‘boys’ appearing who openly admit that they like BL. Mr. A (21), a male university student who attends the law faculty at a private university in Tokyo, had this to say:
‘I’m a member of an inter-college group who identify as otakus. When the members get together, the boys also read BL manga as a matter of course. There are some guys who openly admit that they actively like BL, and who enjoy talking to fujoshi about it. I mean, fanzines are not just erotic, there is also a lot of fanfic that consists of jokes or ‘honobono’ ['heartwarming']-style manga. So if one person gets hooked on something, their enjoyment tends to spread to everyone else in the group’.
A company employee, Mr. B (25), is another man who is hooked on fanzines aimed at women:
‘Just as K-On! became popular, on a deep psychological level men kind of like the ‘homosociality’ of gay fanfiction. This is portrayed in shonen manga [boys' manga], and it’s also portrayed in fanfic, so why wouldn’t men get hooked on it? ((笑). By the way, in my own case, I prefer manga that shows the bonds between men rather than a sexual relationship between them, so of course I can read BL. It doesn’t really matter if the relationship between men is expressed as love within that.’
I see. It seems like romantic love can also be interpreted as a ‘bond’ between men.
Comments from Ameba News:
[Most upvoted comments first]
It’s homo manga, at the end of the day.
Does this column actually explain the psychology behind it?
Fujoshi and fudanshi [male equivalent], why don’t you make friends! w
Ah, good. I want them to read pure love manga, which has has no sexual relations and a lot of good stories, because it focuses on matters of the heart rather than lust. And I guess that there are a lot of really handsome men in it w You can get used to it! w
Saying that people are small minded and stuff because they don’t feel the same as people who like BL(°_°)笑 People are going too far in trying to force their opinion.笑 That’s what you call a petty person!
Some people really are petty ^^ — like people who don’t take kindly to BL, and who say it’s physiological impossibility.
Hmmm…It’s up to the person themselves, and I think it’s fine…they enjoy it…
Isn’t it OK for anyone to read BL?笑
What’s the problem? People like what they like.
Try not to discriminate against people. This is just the same as racism or abuse of human rights. Men should eat what they want, read what they want, and love who they want. They should live freely.
I don’t have any particular interest in BL so I don’t read it, but if someone likes it then there’s no problem. If you wake up and it’s no harm to you…then…w I won’t put up with people butting in over what someone likes doing.
I understand that there are still a lot of people in society who have bad feelings about BL, but I think it’s weird for other people to say this and that about people’s interests.
Japan has been like this since the old days. Can’t be helped.
And why are people who say it’s disgusting reading this article anyway, I wonder? 笑 If someone was really disgusted by it then I don’t think they’d stay on the page (^ー^)
So fudanshi are on the rise, huh? Just what I’d expect in Japan.
There should be even more fudanshi! ww
Sick. Disgusting. Are all young men sick in the head these days?