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Why Yaoi Fangirls Have Good Taste In Anime

If there’s one type of anime fan that is almost universally – and undeservedly – scorned, it’s the yaoi fangirl. Also known as fujoshi (literally meaning ‘rotten girl’), this is the female anime fan who likes pretty boys and homoerotic subtext in her anime. This is the big question I’m going to pose in this post and I want you readers to seriously think about it: is there anything wrong with that?

Does liking an anime because of the character designs or because you find a certain relationship compelling mean that your tastes are somehow shallow?

Is an anime somehow “ruined” just because a bunch of fangirls like it and decide to ship straight male characters together? Are they missing the point of the experience?

fujoshi4koma

I don’t write this post through the perspective of a fujoshi – I’m not a yaoi fan and never will be, and I’m more attracted to appealing female character designs than to male ones – but I have met and discussed anime with many female anime fans, both in real life and over the Internet. It’s my honest opinion that not only are fujoshi sorely misunderstood by the rest of the fandom but that the things they look for in their idea of a good anime are things any of us would look for in a good anime. I also find the fujoshi fandom to be refreshingly free of the snobbish elitism that pervades the male-dominated blogsphere. Okay, you girls can be a bit full-on at times with your fangirling (tumblr is a scary, scary ass place) but at least you have good taste in anime.

This post is my vain attempt to crack open the head of the average fujoshi and lay it bare to the rest of the world. What do female fans seem to look for in anime and why is not always necessarily the girly shojo stuff in the vein of Kimi ni Todoke and Kaichou wa Maid-sama?

The Feels

pandora-hearts-575609

Chicks dig Pandora Hearts. The reason? Because the characters show a very, very wide range of emotions. This is the kind of series that is extremely funny when it wants to be and also extremely angsty when it wants to be.

And boy, does it know how to make its angst beautiful. It’s always the prettiest characters who have the most to mope about – Gilbert’s a fan favourite, I hear. This series likes to be poetic about its angst and have the characters say the most introspective, profound things while posing in tragically heroic stances. In a way, it is kind of ridiculous, especially through a male perspective. Most guys just don’t think that way when they’re upset.

Regardless of its psychological inaccuracy, however, fujoshi seem to love angst. And this is indicative of a greater aspect of their tastes. They like to watch people who possess feelings. They don’t like static characters who exist merely to facilitate the plot. They like stories that attempt to have some emotional depth.

This is an extremely good thing to see.

No matter how plot-driven or intellectual it is meant to be, a story, by its very definition of the word, should tell us something about what it means to be human.

The Relationships

Shizuo-Izaya-shizaya-31588363-900-563

ShizuoxIzaya is the anime couple of 2010.

Durarara!! is popular with the fujoshi because it features a plethora of characters who each live their own lives and who are connected to each other through their relationships. It is nothing as girly as a romance – nope, it is an action series through and through – but the interactions between the characters play such a fundamental part of the story that one would say it is almost completely relationship-driven.

Shizuo and Izaya take the absolute cake because of their pathological, almost irrational hatred of each other. Izaya loves to troll because he loves humans, but then he turns around and says he hates Shizuo. Shizuo, on the other hand, loses his shit whenever Izaya is around. They go out of each other’s way just to make each other’s lives miserable. They’re the only ones seemingly capable of getting much of an emotional reaction out of each other. It is a pretty complex dynamic that is only ever touched on in the anime.

The fact that their interaction is never fully explored is really appealing. It leaves a lot to the imagination. Shipping is so appealing to girls because the possibility of a relationship is always more exciting than actually seeing the relationship play out. This is why some yaoi fangirls don’t like shojo series or even het (boy x girl) pairings in general. The idea that the boy and the girl will hook up is such an inevitability that it is boring. Yaoi shipping is exciting because, in most mainstream works, it will never come to fruition.

Thus, the reason a fujoshi likes yaoi isn’t so much because they like gay porn but because of a fascination with complex and interesting relationships in general. And because male characters in fiction are usually arguably better-written than female characters, fujoshi like to scrutinise their relationships in particular.

A popular yaoi ship doesn’t indicate how twisted the fujoshi are – it indicates how well-written and complex the males are.

This is also a good sign in a story. People are defined by their interactions. A writer who doesn’t think about relationships is what I would call a shitty writer.

What about reverse harems?

Ouran_high_school_host_club1995

Reverse harems are an interesting case when it comes to fujoshi psychology. Besides Ouran High School Host Club and The Wallflower, there are really not that many reverse harem anime that are not based off first-person dating sims. There certainly are not that many which are popular. Unlike regular harems which can be based off a variety of media, reverse harems are far, far more niche.

Perhaps it’s a case of bad marketing, but it honestly just looks like a market for these sorts of things isn’t as profitable as the alternative. Maybe girls don’t want to see another girl being successful with multiple men for no good reason. Could be.

But whatever the case, here’s a news flash: even female anime fans look down on otome game adaptations, or at least find them to be acquired tastes.

What makes the likes of Ouran better than the likes of Arcana Famiglia? Likely it is because each character in Ouran exists as their own person and the boys all have interesting and unique relationships with each other rather than just restricting their interactions with the heroine. In comparison, the average otome game adaptation is a soulless hulk of a story.

In other words: just because an anime has pretty boys in it does not necessarily mean the fujoshi fanbase at large will find the show interesting. The story and characters are what make you fall in love with a series, not the designs.

I think that’s true for everyone.

Conclusion

I’ll make this brief since my points have already been made.

What a fujoshi looks for in a story is universal to good storytelling. The fact that a fujoshi loves your favourite series and makes slash fanfics out of it is not a sign that your favourite series has been “ruined”. What it actually tells you is how universal the appeal of the series is. On some deep, fundamental level, it connects with our emotional circuits. The relationships between the characters are deep and interesting. And they also probably look pretty. Nothing wrong with that. Girls can have their fanservice too.

So next time you feel like tearing out your eyes upon seeing a slash fanart, think twice. Your average fujoshi hasn’t missed the point of the story at all.

And as long as they’re having fun and enjoying themselves, who really cares? Stories are meant to entertain us, anyway.

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Posted on May 5, 2013, in Editorials and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I never felt that much understood at all TT_TT
    I’d give you 100 out of 10 if I could rate it QwQ
    I personally love Yaoi because of these reasons, not because they are gay porns (I absolutly HATE that hardcore stuff which is only about getting to the point without a real story behind it, nor feelings other than lust … ._.’ )

    It would be a great thing, if other people would already understand that, too.
    Sorry for my bad English (I am a German 10th grade student – Yorushku (*_*)/ )
    Anyway :D I loved reading it! x3

  2. Oh, boy, is this post beautiful! I can certainly relate on a spiritual level to everything you’ve said here. Good job on your observations; the world needs more people like you. ♥
    Of course I know fujoshi who only ship for the gay sex… There’s plenty of those. But they’re just the yaoi equivalent of those otaku who spend their lives downloading hentai doujinshi of their favorite series. :B

  3. OMG It’s like you’re really one of us! LOL. You’ve put these feelings of the fujoshis into words and that alone is just so brilliant! Most of what you said is what fujoshis really look for in an anime though animes with bishounens are sometimes a weakness of mine. xD

    Also, just because fujoshis love yaoi ships doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate straight ships from time to time though it takes a really good story and great character development (and art though sometimes it’s not taken into consideration esp if the story is superb).

    Anyway, high five for this article ’cause it’s so great in many ways and I hope that we, fujoshis, will not be hated just because they can’t stand seeing some man to man action from time to time. xD

  4. :3 ermagawsh tank you for making dis!

  5. You just made my day.I haven’t met a person yet that dosent like yaoi that understands me that well.

  6. So very profound. Favorite blog post! Nice written piece.

  7. This makes so much sense and makes me wonder why so many het shippers hate us. Thank you for understanding and making this article. I’d also like to say thank you on my behalf and my friends who are fujoshi and fudanshi(males who like yaoi).

  8. Even though I’m a fudanshi I agree with this to some degree.

    To me yaoi is like an extra, if the show’s well done I’d watch it for its plot and not for the yaoi “shippings”.

    It’s true that tumblr’s full of weird sh*t, it wasn’t easy at first.

    Really enjoyed reading this post!

  9. [COMMENT CENSORED FOR EXTREME MISOGYNY]

  10. Great post! *—*
    As a bisexual girl, I would add that I mainly ship bl couples because, unfortunately, not only the het couples are super mainstream, but because it’s really hard to find good, complex female characters. Even the character design is usually either “enormous boobs fanservice girl” or “overly young innocent looking girl”, and their personalities are always similar.
    I have no problem whatsoever shipping het couples as long as they have something different about them; for instance, while watching Durarara I shipped Celty x Shinra as much as Shizaya ♡

    • Is not that very generalising statement? As most female character tend to be STRONGER than the main characters themself since the 90’s, a good example is Black lagoon, I do think that sometimes some stories just have characters for show, like how shoujo does with the male characters, but that is a bad reason to claim someone watches homoerotic porn, because like it has been claimed by the LGBTQ bassociation, it’s just like a lesbian pornography, and just masturbation fodder for introverted audience,just that.

  11. OMG THIS IS SO TRUE!!
    (I am a fujoshi) And I am saying this is 99% accurate!
    Tho 1% of the fujoshis might only be looking for gay porn the others are just there for the angst and the imagination of their ships.
    And I don’t get what’s the problem with people that don’t like it, if you don’t like don’t read the fanfic or the doujinshi or what!?

    I am happy someone understands this and made a post about it. Some fujoshis that are discouraged by their close friends sure have a need for this. Thank you ver much!!

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