Reflections on Yaoi - A Twitter Conversation
By Hervé St-Louis
February 12, 2011 - 07:27
Here is the compiled edition of an article we posted on Twitter first about yaoi a genre of manga with gay themes.
At The Comic Book Bin, we feel that yaoi like any other type of comic books deserve to be highlighted, even if not popular with everybody.
Sites like The Comic Book Bin can help decide what is really mainstream in comic books, like by putting yaoi side by side with other comics.
Yaoi manga is obviously not for everybody. It seems like gay content for most. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it’s more.
Using two males in yaoi comics breaks the usual flow a story where a male and a female character interact.
Although many yaoi have that “Harlequin” vibe to them, some argue that two guys open up stories for more than romance.
One has to wonder how much the yaoi manga phenomenon is linked with new trends like bromance?
Yaoi manga ask the question of where does bromance end and where does love, erotic or sentimental starts or end.
Would something akin to yaoi but using only female characters work as properly and be as successful?
Many readers of yaoi in Japan are women. To some extent there are many also in North America.
Yaoi are also read by many gay readers in North America. There is really no similar genre as established in for gay readers, it seems.
Yaoi serve a dual purpose for female and gay readers by offering the type of stories that seem to be missing from comics and more.
Would something like yaoi manga work in other media like television, novels and film? What about video games.
It’s great that the Japanese world is so rich and complex in comic book that whole genres like yaoi exist to serve a very specific audience.
North American comic books are really focused on super hero comics. Even gender bending experiments like Batwoman are not like yaoi.
Perhaps the trick with yaoi is that instead of focusing one a few well defined gay characters, they focus on many stories.
There are so many yaoi stories to pick from with different writers, artists, characters and situations that using it's become a whole genre.
There can equally be a yaoi story starring two baseball players or one starring middle age characters.
The Japanese do the same too with other genres besides yaoi. There is a whole genre about basketball players for example.
In the last few years many North American publishers have jumped on the yaoi bandwagon. Is there enough material left?
Homosexuality is way more discussed than a few years ago so a genre like yaoi can actually thrive in North America.
The visual content in yaoi can sometimes be graphic. That may be a problem for a wider audience.
At the same time, some readers probably feel that the visual content in yaoi does not go far enough.
There seems to be a difference, however, between yaoi and “real” Japanese gay manga. Yaoi is more story-focused.
But then, why should a comic book just because it has gay themes even have explicit visual contents?
Some review the quality of a yaoi based on the explicit material. Others focus on the story.
Enough yaoi material has been translated to English by now that those curious about the genre can find out more easily.
Has yaoi has been as popular in other non-Asian markets such as France and Italy, where many manga are translated?
To find more about yaoi check out the yaoi section at The Comic Book Bin with close to 200 articles and reviews.
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