Shonen Jump and Yaoi/BL Fans, Part 1

imgMoePre has an interesting analysis of the recent attempts by Shonen Jump to better market itself to the fujoshi* demographic.


(1) Literally "rotten girl" (腐女子). A pun, based on the homonymous term for women (婦女子). Ironical self-description by readers of Yaoi/Boys Love. (Urban Dictionary)

(2) Pertaining to manga/anime, girls who like gays (translator)

translator's aside: it would help to have a basic understanding of otaku terminology such as fujoshi (explained above), yaoi/BL (explained in the article) and moe before reading this article.

- The author has been reading Shonen Jump for 10-odd years now.
- The article below is based on assumption, hypothesizing and the author's personal opinions.

[Fujoshi Who Disapprove of Shonen Jump's Catering to Fujoshi]

Generally, titles mocked as Fujoshi-centric have several common characteristics:
- There is no plot to speak of*
- Numerous prettyboy characters make appearances
- The story is interspersed with pointless episodes of male bonding and re-affirmation of male friendships.

*translator's aside: the etymology of the term "yaoi" highlights this point, yaoi (やおい) originating from the term "ヤマなし オチなし イミなし (yamanashi ochinashi iminashi)," or "no climax, conclusion or meaning." An alternate theory is that yaoi actually stands for "やめて お尻が 痛い (yamete oshiriga itai)," or "please stop, my ass hurts."

These traits are often viewed unfavorably by male readers: we often hear complaints like "screw off, fujoshi" and "Jump only has manga that panders to fujoshi." From a fujoshi's perspective, this is very hurtful. It is as if we are being told that fujoshi are the reason that Jump is boring.

Until now, there have been a large number of fujoshi who countered these criticisms by arguing that "the artist/author's excessive fan-service is uncalled for" and "we never asked for it."

That is because fujoshi are a hidden demographic, one that must not affect the plot developments of a title.

It is a given that niche titles and BL (Boys Love) titles, which are specifically targeted to the fujoshi demographic, would consciously appeal to fujoshi. But if Shonen Jump, which has billed itself as the authoritative shonen manga anthology, continues altering its lineup in response to the demands of the fujoshi demographic, that means that it is ignoring its original, non-fujoshi readership, which would lead to a definite decline in the quality of the work.

It is not surprising that some fans would think "I want titles that I like to continue being entertaining and high-quality and something that is loved by all demographics, I don't want to see them desecrated." Because they love their manga, they fear that leaning more towards their tastes will cause their beloved titles to become distorted.

There is no need for fujoshi, who can have debates about covers and comforters and which one is the "giver" and which the "taker," to be fed yaoi elements by the author. Creating fantasies in their mind comes as naturally as breathing to these people.

And so these anti-fujoshization fujoshi saw it as a virtue to hide their very existence, admonishing the rude, vocal yaoi contingent and staying away from the spotlight.

[Trends Amongst Fujoshi]

For reference, let us look at some of the female-oriented (translator: read: homoerotic) doujinshi industry's long-standing popular pairing trends for Shonen Jump titles:

(1) Where 2 characters are somewhat hostile to each other, and end up fighting whenever they come face to face.
(2) Where one character views the other as a fierce rival, but the other pays no heed to him,
(3) Where the 2 have very few things in common, and one of them rarely makes any sort of appearance.

All of the above are dynamics that occur regularly in shonen manga. You can see how there is no need for any intentional fan-service.

If you look at titles which were popular targets of female-oriented doujinshi in the past, none of them would be dismissed as manga merely for fujoshi: they were all titles that gained mass-market appeal.

Examples: Captain Tsubasa, Saint Seiya, Dragon Ball, Yu Yu Hakusho, Slam-Dunk, Rurouni Kenshin, Houshin Engi, One Piece, Naruto, etc.

These titles were not created for fujoshi.
They just happened to have elements that made them easy targets of fujoshi fantasy.

Episodes or characters that touched off fujoshis' basal "moe" reaction were never considered anything more than a streak of luck: the plot developments that the author "happened" to think up for his intended audience "happened" to be something that got the fantasy-centers of fujoshis' brains going. And so titles that "happened" to have multiple instances of these chance occurrences would develop popularity amongst fujoshi.

[Why It Has to be Something That Just "Happened"]

In the current moe industry, titles which exist solely for the purpose of "moe" are not rated very highly. If a title does not possess some other quality to draw readers in, it will quickly fade from readers' minds and end up being processed and disposed as just another piece of merchandise in a sea of similar items.

Titles that are intentionally geared towards fujoshi show a sense of ignorance on the part of the producers: they show a sort of assumption, that "if we make this-and-this sort of story, the fujoshi will be happy." And that is the mindset that they operate under, creating work strictly as a commodity to be sold for profit. The problem is that the producers are often not fujoshi themselves, so there is a bit of disconnect, and even if they are, their work comes off seeming excessively contrived.

Jump-worshipping fujoshi are extremely sensitive to these things, which leads to the fujoshi demographic, already a minority, being split into the "yes! I will willingly and knowingly fall for this contrived trap!" camp and the "don't treat us like idiots" camp, meaning that the title has no hopes of being a big hit.

Continued to Part 2

Article by Sayaka
Translation/asides by Neuroretardant