Boys' Love Manga: Essays on the Sexual Ambiguity and Cross-Cultural Fandom of the Genre

“Boys’ love,” a male-male homoerotic genre written primarily by women for women, enjoys global popularity and is one of the most rapidly growing publishing niches in the United States. It is found in manga, anime, novels, movies, electronic games, and fan-created fiction, artwork, and video. This collection of 14 essays addresses boys’ love as it has been received and modified by fans outside Japan as a commodity, controversy, and culture.
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About the author

Antonia Levi is a retired professor of Japanese history and popular culture. She is the author of one previous book and numerous articles on Japanese anime and manga. Mark McHarry is an independent scholar of both contemporary and Edo-period Japanese culture. His essays have been published in Queer Popular Culture: Literature, Media, Film, and Television and LGBT Identity and Online New Media, as well as other journals. Dru Pagliassotti is a professor of communication at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks and the author of several books.
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3.4
31 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
McFarland
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Published on
Jan 10, 2014
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Pages
280
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ISBN
9780786456277
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / Comics & Graphic Novels
Performing Arts / Animation
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Arguing Comics shows how prominent writers from the Jazz Age and the Depression era to the heyday of the New York Intellectuals in the 1950s thought about comics and, by extension, popular culture as a whole.

From Cutie Honey and Sailor Moon to Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the worlds of Japanese anime and manga teem with prepubescent girls toting deadly weapons. Sometimes overtly sexual, always intensely cute, the beautiful fighting girl has been both hailed as a feminist icon and condemned as a symptom of the objectification of young women in Japanese society.

In Beautiful Fighting Girl, Saitō Tamaki offers a far more sophisticated and convincing interpretation of this alluring and capable figure. For Saitō, the beautiful fighting girl is a complex sexual fantasy that paradoxically lends reality to the fictional spaces she inhabits. As an object of desire for male otaku (obsessive fans of anime and manga), she saturates these worlds with meaning even as her fictional status demands her ceaseless proliferation and reproduction. Rejecting simplistic moralizing, Saitō understands the otaku’s ability to eroticize and even fall in love with the beautiful fighting girl not as a sign of immaturity or maladaptation but as a result of a heightened sensitivity to the multiple layers of mediation and fictional context that constitute life in our hypermediated world—a logical outcome of the media they consume.

Featuring extensive interviews with Japanese and American otaku, a comprehensive genealogy of the beautiful fighting girl, and an analysis of the American outsider artist Henry Darger, whose baroque imagination Saitō sees as an important antecedent of otaku culture, Beautiful Fighting Girl was hugely influential when first published in Japan, and it remains a key text in the study of manga, anime, and otaku culture. Now available in English for the first time, this book will spark new debates about the role played by desire in the production and consumption of popular culture.

Boys Love Manga and Beyond looks at a range of literary, artistic and other cultural products that celebrate the beauty of adolescent boys and young men. In Japan, depiction of the "beautiful boy" has long been a romantic and sexualized trope for both sexes and commands a high degree of cultural visibility today across a range of genres from pop music to animation.

In recent decades, "Boys Love" (or simply BL) has emerged as a mainstream genre in manga, anime, and games for girls and young women. This genre was first developed in Japan in the early 1970s by a group of female artists who went on to establish themselves as major figures in Japan's manga industry. By the late 1970s many amateur women fans were getting involved in the BL phenomenon by creating and self-publishing homoerotic parodies of established male manga characters and popular media figures. The popularity of these fan-made products, sold and circulated at huge conventions, has led to an increase in the number of commercial titles available. Today, a wide range of products produced both by professionals and amateurs are brought together under the general rubric of "boys love," and are rapidly gaining an audience throughout Asia and globally.

This collection provides the first comprehensive overview in English of the BL phenomenon in Japan, its history and various subgenres and introduces translations of some key Japanese scholarship not otherwise available. Some chapters detail the historical and cultural contexts that helped BL emerge as a significant part of girls' culture in Japan. Others offer important case studies of BL production, consumption, and circulation and explain why BL has become a controversial topic in contemporary Japan.

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