Yaoi, Hentai And The Misconception Of What’s What

You people make me tired. Really, really tired. Here we go again, that’s the feeling I get everytime I hear you talk. Because you just don’t get it. Especially now in June you open your mouth and you complain. You spew your ignorance about a genre that you obviously don’t understand.

So, here’s the deal. We all know what hentai is. Right? Hentai, the Japanese animated equivalent to real people porn. Straight porn that is. You never hear anyone complain about how relationships in hentai is not representative for a healthy relationship. You never hear anyone complain about how damaging hentai is for, well, more or less anyone. You very rarely, if ever, see anyone on Youtube or elsewhere, dissect a regular hentai with various dubious tropes like rape, tentacles, doms&subs and so on. Still, you see a load of people weekly attack yaoi like it was the burden of the earths all problems, blaming it for all the problems the lgbtq+ community has.

What you people have completely misunderstood is, yaoi is the gay equivalent to what gay porn is to straight porn. Yaoi exists only for the smut factor. It’s the hentai of the gay anime and manga. You can’t find a gay hentai because then it is yaoi. Okey?

But, but, but, you shout as loud as you possibly can, what about Yuri!!! on Ice? Banana Fish? (does this sound familiar? Well, that’s because I’ve said it before.) Yeah, that has nothing to do with yaoi. It doesn’t even have to do with boys love. What else hasn’t to do with yaoi is all the anime and manga we would classify as shonen ai, the soft core, gay romance stories out there. It’s still boys love but NOT yaoi. Stories such as Love Stage and Classmates.

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Yes, you are, sweetie.

You know, there are three categories of gay anime/manga in this world. Let’s talk a little bit about these three:

Boys love: Well, I call both yaoi and shonen ai that because in the end, they both are aimed at a niche genre; primarily females but there are a whole bunch of males who enjoy the genre as well. But, to make it simple I’m gonna divide them into two; yaoi and shonen ai.

Yaoi

It’s porn people. Hardcore PORN! The word comes from the expression yamanashi ochinashi iminashi which in English means no climax, no point, no meaning. Does that in anyway seem like anything but porn? How much meaning does porn have? Sure, a lot of yaoi actually has a story behind it but in the end, yaoi is all about the smut and hot scenes. Fujoshis want that hot, steamy sex and that’s why we read it. We don’t really care about gay rep when we read, just give us our porn. Leave the yaoi alone. Because you see, there are other stuff for your to read. And that stuff is not yaoi.

Shonen Ai

It’s the softcore part of boys love. Kisses and holding hands, occasionally some implied sex scenes but really, it’s more about the romance. The shojo of gay if you will. If you want to read a boys love story but are disturbed by the hardcore yaoi tropes then a shonen ai is what you should read. But be prepared, it still is not meant to be a good rep for the lgbtq+ community. It is still written for women by women, just as yaoi. It is still a niche genre. I know, i’s not easy to understand this, but look at it like this; if yaoi is hardcore porn then shonen ai is softcore porn. It’s like watching Emanuelle late at night. (you kids have no idea what I am talking about now.) Or perhaps reading a really smutty Harlequin novel.

What you people really are after are…

Good lgbtq+ rep in a regular anime/manga.

Right? I’m not wrong and you know it. You are just confused about this whole gay thing when it comes to boys love. Gay doesn’t automatically mean good rep. It shouldn’t. (I feel like a broken record but it’s been a long times since I wrote my last post about it so here we go again.)

We don’t have a lot of manga/anime with good lgbtq+ rep, there is a lot to be done. We do have some and I wish we maybe could talk about that and not focus on what you think is bad when in fact that genre isn’t aimed at a broader audience. It’s like shit talking hentai and comparing it to a high school shojo romance.

Now, do you understand the difference between yaoi and gay rep in anime/manga? Porn vs. shojo romance.

Some recommendations:

Yaoi:

Finder series (with all its problematic tropes. Yeah, don’t read if you are in anyway sensitive to rape and bondage. It has some really cool mafia dudes though, and a pretty guy from Hong Kong among other hot boys. I don’t think there’s one fujoshi or fudanshi who hasn’t heard about this series.)

The Incredible Kintaro (because it is hilarious and Kintaro drops his pants in every chapter. I shall not say anymore. Just read it. It’s a good laugh.)

Shonen ai:

Just take a look at this list. Some of them have a manga as well.

Good Gay Rep:

Yuri!!! on Ice

Banana Fish (although one could argue that Eiji’s and Ash’s relationship is somewhat ambiguous.)

I Hear the Sunspot (please, watch the movie too, it’s absolutely adorable. I think you can find it on YouTube, there is no official English release.)

Let Dai (I know, this might be a bit of a borderline BL/good rep but this manhwa is so much more than just Jaehee’s and Dai’s relationship. And it’s not all good and shiny, it’s tragic and violent. So, it opens up for a discussion on what is good lgbtq+ rep really. What would you consider good rep? Is it only when it’s shiny and all is well, or can it also be realistic and hard and cold? Because Let Dai is nothing but the harsh reality, brutal and complicated.)

If you have any other suggestions please leave a comment. I’m all about new manga and anime. Especially if there is an English license with a print. But it’s not necessary because we all know that most yaoi never sees the western market unfortunately. And of course, I am really interested in manga (especially) and anime with gay rep and not only BL.

13 thoughts on “Yaoi, Hentai And The Misconception Of What’s What

    1. Uh… my only quibble with this is that yaoi isn’t actually gay porn because it’s not written FOR gay men. It’s written by women, many of them straight, for women, many of them also straight. (and the weird number of lesbians, like myself, who also enjoy it.)

      Similarly, the whole idea of yaoi as an acronym for “yamanashi ochinashi iminashi” actually came out of fan work, dojinshi, not the official BL publishing category that most commercial yaoi comes out of, regardless of it’s level of explicitness.

      Bara is gay porn written for gay men. The men tend to be what we’d call “bears,” and if you thought there was no plot in yaoi, there’s less in bara (IMHO, though I’ve read several that I found sweet.)

      Sorry for being pedantic. It’s a genre I care a lot about, and, like you hate a lot of the misconceptions associated with it.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you for your comment! I really appreciate your thoughts and I see what you are saying about gay porn. It’s okey to be pedantic, I am too most of the time when it comes to subjects I burn for.

        My point was more that it is porn and it should stay that way. People have the wrong expectations on what yaoi is and isn’t and that bothers me. No, it actually annoys me. The easiest way to explain to normies are probably to compare it to gay porn vs straight porn (as in my comparison yaoi vs hentai). I imagine that it would be easier to see the comparison if you can understand that there actually is such a thing as porn with two men. Does it make sense? I didn’t take into consideration the other factors as being for women and all that because it would be secondary to my comparison. In theory that is. The reason I don’t even mention bara is because (hardly) any normies are interested in the genre. And if someone are they aren’t a problem in general, they understand the differences between BL, bara and gay rep. (oh, and if you have any good suggestion for sweet bara I would love to hear about them. I have just recently started to explore that part of the world and I found it rather refreshing but as you say, it’s just mostly pwp and I wish there would be some sort of substance to it. It would be nice to find something a little bit more to the shonen ai side but with bara. Sweet romance with real men.)

        *I really don’t like the word normies but I can’t use the word straight folks either because it isn’t a purely straight issue. And I can’t say that it is a non-fujoshi/fudanshi problem either because that’s not true either. So, the best I can do is use normies even though I’m not talking about non-anime/manga fans.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I scanned through my reviews of bara, and I apparently did a round-up in which I talk about some of the ones I found kind of sweet here: https://mangakast.wordpress.com/2018/03/29/aogeba-toutoshi-by-jiraiya/. My reviews always include direct links, so you should be able to read any that strike your fancy.

      I totally get being annoyed at people who make broad generalizations, the “normies,” as you called them. I think I mainly had a knee-jerk reaction to the term porn, because I tend to think of porn as something consumed just for the naughty bits, which… I guess I don’t see as a main function of yaoi? Even extremely explicit stuff like Ten Count has a story. If you want to talk stereotypes, I suspect it’s because people believe women need stories to get off and yaoi is consumed almost entirely by women. But your point is very valid that fantasies are fantasies and are not intended to be GLBTQ+ representation. I talk about this a lot on my blog, since I review a TON of yaoi, because it’s always startling when queer folk actually act queer in yaoi, you know?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “Emanuelle” – Know exactly what you are talking about. Good stuff from when I was a kid.

    But I am left confused. I always thought that yaoi and yuri were the same thing, just with different genders. And the anime I hear called yuri are generally not porn. Is it a double standard?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not a double standard, just that yuri is used differently. As I understand, yuri is an umbrella word for all kind of girls love; from hardcore yuri (which we call yaoi) down to softcore yuri (which we call shonen ai. I know some call it shojo ai but I was shunned once for calling it that because it apparently had to do with paedophilia they said so yeah, don’t say that anymore.), and even ambiguous cute girls doing cute things anime that really isn’t yuri or even gay sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe that yaoi is fetishization of the sex side of m/m relationships (it’s for the female gaze, as per the ‘porn for the fujoshi’ bit after all), and I blame the yaoi artist community (and it’s lax stance on plagiarism, because it’s only for the porn right? who cares if it hurts someone’s beloved character by taking their image and making them into a rapey character) for the abusive things I have gone through in m/m spaces, online and in real life.

    Anyone is free to like what they want obvs, but I do not agree that yaoi is not harmful simply because it is fiction and regarded as a fantasy mostly for the female gaze. After all, it has hurt me in real life many times, well before the internet because yaoi was all we had as impressionable younger people who were desperate to learn about ourselves (I switch to ‘we’ since it was me and my friends at the time). M/M was often a joke, or yaoi, or ended in sadness (as in many LGBT movies – ugly or artistic sadness was ).

    I will not even begin the ‘corrective sexual’ stance yaoi has ingrained into m/m spaces, which has influenced people to treat ace people like me as someone to ‘teach sexuality’ to. When I learned that these people (male) were sometimes not creators of yaoi / the rapey side of bara but simply consumers of it, the puzzle locked into place lol.

    I do agree that m/m doesn’t equal good representation. But I will not ‘leave the yaoi alone’, because it is not simply a harmless fantasy. Perhaps people wish it was, but it isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I believe that most anime writers don’t have a clue what a gay relationship between 2 guys would be like. I also suspect they don’t believe it would sell if they did. The former could be corrected but the latter prevents them from making the effort.

    Like

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