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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. 18 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.

      • the bad female characters are always a lame excuse for yaoi fans, and Celty × Shinra is very much an original pair, it doesn’t even needs “shipping” or such childishness, and for shizaya, any one can agree that is delusion.

        female characters have been always a lame excuse, a lot of female characters are very well written, the problem is simple, they are flawless, they sre ideolised like males of the shonen anime are as well, this simply never bids well with female audience, it never has and never will probably, as for the physical appearance, people like to see characters in the physical prime, like Senjougahara from the monogatari series / Yukinishita from Oregairu

        on contrast, its shojo males with bad designs, they are unrealistically tall compared to the girl by japanese standards, nearly twice as tall, extremely feminine in appearance, have ridiculously low muscle and fat content, sure its one thing to not be obessed, but the muslcle and fat content of shoujo males look lower than even 3%,

        that being said, for their personality, they are nearly always broken or flawed in name of complex or rounded character, where suddenly female lead becomes only voice of reason and every one suddenly fall for her.

        its shoujo that has a very cliche element to it, shonen rather does a goof job with the female characters, as seen in Basics like Naruto, Bleach, Twin Star, Guilty G.

        Seinen does an even better job,-Re Zero.

        as for yaoi, a lot of lesbian openly accept they just like seeing bottom male being treated like a rag doll in anime, it is pretty much a grude projection in some cases, for the women who have gender dysphoria and have a identity issue with their gender role, for others its pretty much projection of their own fantasies.

        not to mention, the age gap to compensate over the lack of dynamic between two men is just a border line, pedophillia, if we really had to support gay people through anime or a positive notion like that, bara or gay writers will do far better job in field that some heterosexual woman who are not even happy with their own sex or sexual identity, i am disappointed in Frog, crowd pleasing and honesty are not the same thing, this post is equivalent of why in young males, it is good to like Futa Erotica.

  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!!

    • I am drastically sure, 100% stick with yaoi because of gender dysphoria, its provides such woman to project their female fantasy on the homosexual couple hollow cask.

      a good example is idea of why the one od very first yaoi, “Kaze To Ki No Uta” was popular because woman likes the concept that men can get violated, or r@ped, it was basically a “getting back at you” mentality

      even now it has not changed much, that is not to mention, the main reason Yaoi fans get the negativity they deserve is because of their behaviour, and nature, clear basis Yaoi is not homosexual stories, its closer to being transexual stories, with dynamic in character, appearance, and the fans it usually appeals to “lesbians, non binary”

      but despite, codified nature of content it self, the fans are too vocal and ill in the behaviour, explicitly their are much worse contents for normal healthy otakus, like a good example of Bara and Futa, however the fans of such genre are well behaved and do manage to keep their buisness to themself.

      as a community, Yaoi fans tend to be the garbage dumb of otaku audience, being the common hinata haters, sakura haters from the naruto series to irational vocal hate of Mikasa in SNK, not to mention the fans themself tend to have terrible back ground and lot of them have no issues eith the age gap that is considered statistical rape in much ways, “Eren Levi” “Pre Sasuke Kakashi”

  12. i feel like the whole blog is very crowd pleasing generalized blog that does not focuses on the topic unbiasedly, and did not focus on topids like how Yaoi is not really what its fans portray it to be.

    how men like lesbian porn is not same as woman liking yaoi, due to huge difference in sexualities, how Yaoi actually in its origination is just portrayal of gender dysphonia, and negative female fantasy on the male character, or the toxic attitude of fanbase towards show’s cannon pairing

    specially since the show is not made for them in first place, that is ill mannered.

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

    as a matter of fact yes, specially if that is sole reason why a person sticks to the media, and if the portrayed relationship is delusional or non existent in some cases.

    “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?”

    again, yes, its quite often sad thar a lot of audience are willing to digest the fact two married men with kids, and wife are rather gay for each other than obviously being best friends, as that was core of the shonen manga, and things male audience in general appreciate.

    its similar to brony sexualising my little pony and putting them into a lesbian sexual relationship in a fan settings aming whole community, but unlike us, normal audience group from my little pony managed to shut down things like these, and the people who had any thing to do with them either, as they are obviously wrong to do so and the author dont stand for their work being in very much sense, mutilated before their own eyes, this sadly does not works for Japan.

    the current mangaka have lodt self respect in lots of sense, and usually editorial department would rather have them put it in the story rather than not, specifically if we take into facts ediorials department in japan is much more likely to be woman than not, it’s simply about pleasing the crowd.

    and i am not saying its wrong either, the real problem is current generation and how they take this demographic, the older yaoi mangaka have nearly died trying to explain that they are a sexual minority, and they should UNDERSTAND the codified nature of this content, but that does not even really works with the yaoi fan girls, in the least

    “I also find the fujoshi fandom to be refreshingly free of the snobbish elitism that pervades the male-dominated blogsphere.”

    that is blatantly wrong and generalizing, fujoshi are willing to watch lamest of all anime as long as it provides them with the femeinine boy fodder and even tiny dynamic between to male characters, even if they happen to be blood related members as well.

    as for elitism, i doubt gender has anything to do with it, MAL is a good example of it.

    other thing is Fujoshi are band wagoned, they will go go where heard gathers, in other words any anime that gets popular is likely to attract fujoshi, hell even Re Zero has fujoshi who shio Subaru and Julius and that ship is probably most baseless one in all the ships i have yet seen till now.

    “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.”

    i agree with them being scary, infact like modt i blatantly accept them being a very unpleasant sight for eyes, and disgusting.

    i would like to point out Pandora for very good example, male DO NOT think like it in the least, as the inaccuracy itself is the unbearable part of lot of readers, it can be an uncomfortable experience for normal fans, specially male fans, Pandora heart could have easily made a good female character which portrayed wide range of the same emotions, that did not need to be on sexual side, however it was avoided and a cheap route was accepted, some people like poems but not everyone is a fan of it.

    but most importantly, the reason fujoshi are common in anime audience is simply

    “Maybe girls don’t want to see another girl being successful with multiple men for no good reason. Could be.”

    as a matter of fact, a lot of fans do very much accept that is the case, specially the Japanese fans tend to be very clear about it, but unlike western fan their honesty, regardless their negativity being irrational, it can be respected.

    Gender Dysphoria, and Schizophrenia is not all that unusual, this might seem like a trash talk, but their is very good foundation behind, the same Tumblr that hatches Fujoshi, is also one that de bunks many myths and delusions on subject too.

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