The Beginner’s Guide to Anime, No. 118 – Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi: The World’s Greatest First Love

World's Greatest First Love 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Yaoi Day, a special “Beginner’s Guide” column covering Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi: The World’s Greatest First Love

World's Greatest First Love 2In case you are wondering why this thumbnail image is here, the reason is that I’ve had a bit of a disaster on On The Box. Several articles have been deleted and adding images at the moment can only be done via inserting an image URL, so I’m inserting the image in here and then copying it over.

The Beginner’s Guide to Anime, No. 100 – Feline & Lupine

Feline and Lupine

Today “The Beginner’s Guide to Anime” reaches its 100th article. To mark this, I’m doing something a bit different and covering an anime that tragically never got made: the yaoi parody Feline & Lupine.

Anime UK News review: Crossing Continents – Should Comics Be Crimes?

Earlier today BBC Radio 4’s foreign affairs documentary series Crossing Continents broadcast an episode called “Should Comics Be Crimes?” which mainly covered lolicon. Here is a review of the programme, and here is the programme page where you can listen to it. You can also download the programme as a podcast.

The Beginner’s Guide to Anime, Extra IV – Yaoi: The World’s Most Feminist Pornography?

Yaoi

I’ve written a special “Beginner’s Guide to Anime” article about yaoi. I am interested to see whether or not people consider yaoi to be feminist, because it is created for women, by women. Could it be the most feminist porn in the world? I’d love to hear people’s opinions on the subject.

Opinion: English release of Kuso Miso Technique

Kuso Miso Technique, Project H front cover (not final)

Kuso Miso Technique, Project H front cover (not final)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I can’t really write about this on either On The Box, Anime UK News or MyM Magazine due to the adult nature (I can’t really cover porn for them, although I do sometimes cover yaoi and yuri), I thought I would express my views on this latest, unusual title.

Project H, which is the hentai branch of Digital Manga Publishing, is planning to release one of the most controversial, pornographic, and some would say just plain sick, manga ever. But oddly, it is not straight sex like most Project H titles, or yaoi which is covered by DMP’s June and 801 labels, but bara. For those who don’t know, “bara” is male gay porn aimed at men, rather than “yaoi” which is male gay porn aimed at women.

Kuso Miso Technique was first published as a one-shot bara comic by Junichi Yamakawa. The press release from Project H reads: “Kuso Miso Technique tells the story of a typical student, Masaki Michishita, as he meets Takakazu Abe, a man who will change his perception of love, lust and the world. Kuso Miso Technique brings in a different flavor compared to any of Project-H’s past works including, but not limited to: homoerotica, scatology and urination.”

So, if you think “2 guys, 1 cup” you might begin to get some idea of what it is like, and not just because of the use of shit. This manga has already achieved some infamy, becoming an internet meme. Some people attacked what was seen as a rather naff plot and an odd depiction of gay men, especially Yamakawa’s odd dialogue.

Now when it comes to sex and fetishism, I’m pretty open-minded. You have kinky characters in anime, like the masochistic Taro Sado in MM! (See “The Beginner’s Guide to Anime, No. 47“) and there are works like the OEL manga Demon Candy: Parallel which is famous for covering all sorts of kinks while being very clean and inoffensive.

However, I do see problems with the release of Kuso Miso Technique. Firstly, why is it coming out on the Project H label? Even the yaoi sub-sections of DMP would be better. In fact I would personally encourage DMP to open a whole new bara section, and start to release some of Gengoroh Tagame’s works.

The other major problem is the legality. I don’t know about the laws in the USA, but in Britain I suspect this might break the rules on “extreme pornography” (a stupid set of laws if you ask me). Given the media outrage that occurred when the anime of Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend occurred (this week’s subject in “The Beginner’s Guide to Anime”, not online at the time of writing) the papers would have a field day.

But then again maybe that is what DMP wants. When Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend was released in the 1990s, it sold loads more copies than any other anime at the time because of all the media coverage it got. It would not surprise me if DMP is playing the same tactic.

I must confess that I would be interested in reviewing it, and any other future bara titles DMP plan to bring out. Their press release does say they plan to bring out more of Yamakawa’s work so I might do so if I am allowed.

Kuso Miso Technique is scheduled to be released in May 2015.

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From the MyM Archive – Today is UK Yaoi Day!

This article was originally published in Issue #16 of MyM under the title “Are You Ready for Yaoi Day?”, and was concerned with the Yaoi Day normally celebrated in the USA and Japan on August 1st (801). But today is 8th January,  making it UK Yaoi Day (as well as elsewhere in Europe as was highlighted to me by a Dutch blogger) so it seems right to present this article today covering yaoi.

Junjo Romantica copyright: (c) 2008 Shungiku NAKAMURA_KADOKAWASHOTEN/Romantica Club

Junjo Romantica copyright: (c) 2008 Shungiku NAKAMURA_KADOKAWASHOTEN/Romantica Club

 

For some anime fans August 1st is dubbed “Yaoi Day”, because in Japanese the word “yaoi” is pronounced the same as the digits of 801 (ya-o-i). In celebration of this event, Ian Wolf takes a look at one of anime’s more intriguing genres.

 

As Yaoi Day” is arriving soon it is worth taking a look at one of the many genres created in manga that has little Western equivalent. How did it originate? What do you need to know about? What are the best yaoi manga to read and anime to watch?

 

To begin with, yaoi, also known as “Boys’ Love” or “BL”, originated as a response to shonen-ai, a more romantic genre depicting male gay relationships which started between the late 1970s and early 1980s, as made by the Year 24 Group of shojo artists. Many shonen-ai had extravagant locations, often European, and deep plots. However, some other artists wanted something more erotic. Two of these, Yasuko Sakata and Akiko Hatsu, responded by creating yaoi, which concentrated more on the sex than the plot. The term “yaoi” is a euphemistic acronym reading, “Yama nashi, ochi nashi, imi nashi”, which means, “No peak, no fall, no meaning” and actually originates from a quote by the godfather of manga, Osamu Tezuka, to dismiss poor quality manga.

 

Much of yaoi contains the same occurring elements. Usually there is a more dominant partner together with a submissive one. These are called the “seme” and “uke” retrospectively, which roughly translates as “to attack” and “to receive”. The seme is usually the more masculine character while the uke is the more androgynous or feminine, which some, understandably, criticise as being stereotypical. It is not the only criticism given to yaoi. Some attack depictions of rape scenes occasionally found in titles, while others claim the stories are not realistic enough or fail to tackle issues such as homophobia.

 

Whether you like it or not, there are plenty of yaoi fans out there, with women being the largest group. Women who are yaoi fans are often dubbed “fujoshi” – “rotten women”, although of course, there are rotten men too: gay, straight, bi and pansexual.

 

So, if you are new to yaoi, what are the best titles to go for? Well for starters there are plenty of “dōjinshi” – fan fiction – depicting gay relationships between just about any male anime or manga character you can think of, but there also plenty of original yaoi works that you can sample. In English, most yaoi is published between two companies, Digital Manna Publishing (DMP), who have several yaoi labels including June, the first yaoi magazine, and also organises an annual yaoi convention in the United States; and SuBLime, the yaoi imprint for one of the biggest manga publishers, Viz Media.

 

AI NO KUSABI VOL. 1 – STRANGER © Rieko Yoshihara. All rights reserved. Original Japanese edition published in 2001 by Seibido Shuppan Co., Ltd.

AI NO KUSABI VOL. 1 – STRANGER © Rieko Yoshihara. All rights reserved. Original Japanese edition published in 2001 by Seibido Shuppan Co., Ltd.

In terms of early successful works, one of the first yaoi to make it big was not a manga or anime, but a novel. Ai No Kusabi by Reiko Yoshihara which was written in the mid-to-late 1980s and is published by DMP under the June label. Like many of the best yaoi, it also combines romance with another genre. In this case it is a dystopian sci-fi story which is set on a planet where a caste system operates on the basis of hair colour, with blondes at the top and black being at the bottom – which might surprise some Brits who were probably expecting ginger people to come last.

 

The central characters include a blonde man called Iason Mink and a black-haired lad from the slums named Riki. By fate the two meet and Iason becomes so intrigued by Riki he decided to “tame” this rough man from the slum by making Riki his submissive “pet”. It has to be said that while reading the book, you sometimes wonder whether or not parts are a little too obscene, but the overall plot is excellent as well as both the setting and the ideas in terms of science and eroticism. The series has been animated twice as an OVA, once in the early 1990s, but there is a more faithful adaptation which began last year.

 

Copyright for Junjo Romantica: Junjo Romantica copyright: (c) 2008 Shungiku NAKAMURA_KADOKAWASHOTEN/Romantica Club!!

Copyright for Junjo Romantica: Junjo Romantica copyright: (c) 2008 Shungiku NAKAMURA_KADOKAWASHOTEN/Romantica Club!!

Arguably the most popular yaoi is the comedy Junjo Romantica which began as a manga in 2002 and is still going, but as it was published by a label owned by the now defunct Tokyopop label, it is no longer available in English. The series has also been one of the few yaoi to been adapted for television, being animated in 2008, but currently without a release in Region 2.

 

There are several plots in Junjo Romantica, but the central couple here are student Misaki Takahashi and his tutor Akihiko Usami. When they first meet Misaki is aware that Akihiko is an author, but does not know that he also writes yaoi on the side. To make things more embarrassing Akihiko has the habit of adding moments of passion between the two of them in his book, and Akihiko does have an odd passion for collecting teddy bears. There are plenty of funny moments, but sometimes the plots featuring other characters do get in the way.

 

Copyright for His Favorite Volume 1 and internal pages: © 2008 Suzuki Tanaka/Libre Publishing

Copyright for His Favorite Volume 1 and internal pages: © 2008 Suzuki Tanaka/Libre Publishing

Concerning SuBLime titles, I would recommend His Favorite (spelt the American way). A more romantic than erotic title, the story is about the relationship between two students. One of them, Sato is chased by all the girls in the school who consider him the most handsome guy there. However, he is only attracted to Yoshida, who, when they were younger protected him against bullies. One interesting aspect is that Yoshida is not conventionally attractive because of a scar on his face which would put some people off. However the humour is good and the chemistry between the two works well.

 

Like any manga genre, there is good and bad. You do not have to look very hard however to find some great work, and no doubt there will be plenty of yaoi to keep demand for many years to come. Perhaps the only problem with Yaoi Day is that due to different way dates are written across countries Britain should be celebrating it on 8th January. Perhaps we could organise our own yaoi conventions and mark “UK Yaoi Day” on this date instead, then we could honour yaoi twice a year rather than annually.