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boys’ love

[QUOTE] From Iron Man in Chinese boys’ love fandom: A story untold | John Wei | Transformative Works and Cultures

Founded in 2003, Jinjiang Wenxue Cheng (the Jinjiang City of Literature, hereafter Jinjiang) ( proclaims itself to be the largest female cyberlit platform in the world, with 93 percent of its over 7 million registered members being women (JJWXC n.d.; Feng 2009; Xu and Yang 2013). BL fan fics, or danmei tongren (from the Japanese words tanbi, “addicted to beauty,” and dōjinshi), are listed side by side with yanqing (heterosexual romance) as two major genres on the Web site, where male-male love is treated as another form of romantic relationship. Jinjiang is one of the major platforms for online distribution of Chinese BL fiction where people pay the authors in order to read their favorite titles, often with the first few chapters free, while the Web site charges a commission for each subscription. (…) Jinjiang also helps build connections between novelists and publishers to facilitate commercial publication of popular yanqing titles. BL fiction with homosexual content, however, often cannot pass the censors to be legally published in China, even as niche publications.

Iron Man in Chinese boys’ love fandom: A story untold | John Wei | Transformative Works and Cultures

[QUOTE] From Salil K. Mehra, Copyright and Comics in Japan: Does Law Explain Why All the Cartoons My Kid Watches Are Japanese Imports? p54-55

Perhaps most notably, by offering works that arguably “push the envelope” more than the works of the formal manga industry, dōjinshi may produce examples of innovation that create new opportunities for the entire industry. Indeed, mainstream manga publishing companies have in the past brought the styles and ideas of “hot” subcultures into their own product lines. New genres fostered by the dōjinshi markets– genres that are often quite risqué – have been at times been adopted by mainstream commercial manga publishers. (Examples of such genres include lolicom (sic) and yaoi.)

Salil K. Mehra, Copyright and Comics in Japan: Does Law Explain Why All the Cartoons My Kid Watches Are Japanese Imports? p54-55

[QUOTE] From Akiko Hori, On the response (or lack thereof) of Japanese fans to criticism that yaoi is antigay discrimination

In the middle of the 1980s, fannish dōjinshi based on the manga Captain Tsubasa exploded in popularity, and yaoi dōjinshi circles proliferated accordingly. This caused dōjinshi conventions to grow as well, to the point that commercial manga magazines could no longer ignore the existence of the major dōjinshi circles. These major circles consisted of woman creators who, although amateurs, had often amassed large fan followings of their own. Publishers reasoned that they could save themselves the effort of cultivating new artists if they let these popular fan creators publish in commercial magazines. They began to scout popular yaoi fan creators, and commercial manga magazines that focused solely on boys’ love were launched one after the other. With the availability of yaoi in regular bookstores, a massive expansion of yaoi fandom ensued. However, a less desirable consequence of yaoi’s commercialization was that a hobby that had previously been underground was now thrust into the public eye.

Akiko Hori, On the response (or lack thereof) of Japanese fans to criticism that yaoi is antigay discrimination

[QUOTE] From Keiko Nishimura, Where program and fantasy meet: Female fans conversing with character bots in Japan

On the official help site of Twitter in Japan, there is a section titled “Parody, Commentary, and Fan Accounts Policy” (Twitter n.d.). Twitter permits users to have parody accounts as long as they are clearly marked as such. Twitter users in Japan who own alternative accounts for their character bots (kyarakutā botto) refer to this statement by Twitter to justify the existence of their creations. Character bots are automated programs that post—that is, tweet—characters’ lines from popular manga, anime, games, and so on. They post regularly, and in the past few years they have become difficult to ignore, especially in fan communities.


The programmers of the bots are fans, many without specialized knowledge of programming (note 1), and the bot’s followers are also fans. Although everyone knows who programmed the bot, in the participatory culture of fans online, it seems to belong to everyone and no one. When followers converse with the bot, the interaction is visible to other fans, which contributes to an active, open, and shared form of bot play (botto asobi).


Fujoshi are not confused about what is real. They are aware of who programmed a specific character bot, just as they are aware of who the original creator (gensakusha) of the character is. As is typical of manga/anime fandom, fujoshi keep their distance from the original creator because fans are involved in secondary or derivative production (niji sōsaku) of the creator’s character, which might involve a yaoi scenario that the creator might find offensive. Nonintervention by the creator is taken as a sign of tacit approval for fan activities, including bot play.

Keiko Nishimura, Where program and fantasy meet: Female fans conversing with character bots in Japan

[QUOTE] From Midori Suzuki, The possibilities of research on “fujoshi” in Japan

In the new millennium, the word fujoshi has traveled beyond fannish circles and has come into general use in Japanese popular media, reflecting the fact that fujoshi are no longer necessarily an underground phenomenon. (…)

I will first trace the origins of the word fujoshi and describe how it became established terminology in Japan. Around the start of the year 2000, the word fujoshi was used mainly in online anime and gaming fan communities. Chizuko Ueno (2007) says that the word was first used around the beginning of the 2000s on the online message board 2channel. At that time, fujoshi indicated a girl or woman who proactively read things in a yaoi fashion, discerning romantic relationships between men where such relationships were not originally intended. The kanji characters for fujoshi are pronounced in the same way as a similar character compound that means simply “woman,” but the first character fu (woman) is substituted for a homonym fu (rotten) so that the resulting term, “a woman with rotten thought processes,” becomes a self-deprecating label that such women use to refer to themselves.

Midori Suzuki, The possibilities of research on “fujoshi” in Japan

[META] Transnational Fan Studies

The most recent issue of Transformative Works and Cultures is a special issue focused on a topic that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago, namely, Transnational Boys Love Fan Studies. Editors Nagaike Kazumi and Suganuma Katsuhiko have collected an impressive breadth of perspectives, countries, and topics under their rubric, providing a welcome complement to the diversity of fannish interaction across national boundaries that has already begun to characterize BL and fandom online.

I have sometimes felt that trying to talk about BL and slash in the same breath can be more trouble than it’s worth, but reading the articles in this issue, I was struck anew by how BL and slash have in the past few years started to find common ground online, and in particular through the astonishingly polysemic blogging platform of Tumblr. Through Tumblr, for instance, Chinese BL doujinshi artists and slash fans are discovering not only shared fandoms but shared interests, and forging cross-cultural and cross-fandom connections that would not have been possible just a few short years ago. In this issue, Keiko Nishimura documents the fascinating interactions between female BL fans and character bot accounts on Twitter in Japan, but even Twitter remains language-bound in a way that Tumblr, with its strong visual emphasis, often is not.

In such a rapidly changing fannish environment, the advantages of an online, open access journal like Transformative Works and Cultures at studying and disseminating discussion of these topics are clear. Although no academic publishing venue is truly immediate, lacking physical distribution platforms enables TWC to publish articles much more rapidly, and its open access policies mean that fans can read, discuss, and disagree or even argue back with what scholars (many of whom are fans themselves) are saying about them without having to rely on the privilege of a university library connection. And although TWC is by no means unique in this respect, digital production means that editors and contributors may come from around the globe.

Indeed, the current special issue showcases the particular strengths of TWC‘s holistic take on fan cultures and practices, particularly in comparison with a series like Mechademia, the sixth volume of which is reviewed in this issue by Samantha Close (and on which I did production work). Both venues are examples of what can be done when fan scholars, and scholars who are fans, get together and take over the means of publication for themselves without relinquishing the highest academic and editorial standards.

That said, although TWC has full editorial independence, its server space and financial support are provided by the Organization for Transformative Works, which is a 100% member-supported non-profit organization. Although the OTW’s April membership drive is winding down, donations made at any time will go to support all of the OTW’s projects including Transformative Works and Cultures. Neither the Organization nor the journal would be anywhere without fans, so let me close by thanking you.

[META] 32 fic writers arrested in China in 2011, and we missed it

Reading Reflection on Chinese boys’ love fans: An insider’s view by Erika Junhui Yi in the latest issue of TWC, I was struck not just by how extreme reactions to BL can get, but also how little info sometimes gets through to English-speaking media fandom about fandoms in different places that use different languages.

Yi describes how BL fans are sometimes stigmatized in China because BL often involves explicit sexual content, and homosexual content at that. For instance, she says that “in the massive censorship crackdown launched in 2010, thousands of BL fan forums, Web sites, and personal blogs were censored, along with pornography”.

Censorship is bad enough. But then there’s this:

These media reports, along with the Internet censorship, made BL fandom a target of attack. Perhaps the most outrageous action taken against BL fan girls happened in 2011. The police in Zhengzhou Province arrested 32 slash fiction writers whose work had appeared on a Web site specializing in homoerotic content. The arrested writers were all women, and most were in their 20s (Xin Kuai Bao, March 22, 2011, This news caught the attention of other BL fan girls, most of whom had also created some kind of fan work, making them vulnerable to legal action.

If this was talked about in English fannish circles, I completely missed it. Was it discussed? Google is being no help at all. The only thing in English I found that mentions this episode is an academic article on BL in China, Forbidden love: incest, generational conflict, and the erotics of power in Chinese BL fiction (paywalled, alas. Comment if you’re looking for access, someone may be able to help). A bunch of Japanese friends I mentioned it to did know about the incident, though. Turns out it was even slashdotted in Japan.

It’s things like this that make me think we need better ways to make sure that at least the very important info about troubles and incidents in non-English-speaking fan communities gets over the language barriers. I’m not sure if English-speaking fans could have been of any help in this particular incident, but 32 fic writers getting arrested seems like something that should have made more waves than it did.

[META] New TWC issue on boys’ love fandom is live

Transformative Works and Cultures has published its twelfth issue, entirely devoted to boys’ love fandom around the globe (full press release). There are some excellent articles on Hetalia, the politics of BL in Germany, character bots on Twitter, BL in China, dojinshi, the origins of the word fujoshi, criticism from Japanese LGBT activists on BL, and more. We’ll be posting some short bits of analysis and good quotes from the articles in the upcoming weeks. Enjoy!


Transnational boys’ love fan studies, by Kazumi Nagaike and Katsuhiko Suganuma

Doing Occidentalism in contemporary Japan: Nation anthropomorphism and sexualized parody in Axis Powers Hetalia, by Toshio Miyake

Rotten use patterns: What entertainment theories can do for the study of boys’ love, by Björn-Ole Kamm

Transplanted boys’ love conventions and anti-“shota” polemics in a German manga: Fahr Sindram’s “Losing Neverland”, by Paul M. Malone

Simulation and database society in Japanese role-playing game fandoms: Reading boys’ love dōjinshi online, by Lucy Hannah Glasspool

Reflection on Chinese boys’ love fans: An insider’s view, by Erika Junhui Yi

Where program and fantasy meet: Female fans conversing with character bots in Japan, by Keiko Nishimura

The possibilities of research on fujoshi in Japan, by Midori Suzuki

On the response (or lack thereof) of Japanese fans to criticism that yaoi is antigay discrimination, by Akiko Hori

Book review by Samantha Anne Close of “Mechademia Vol. 6: User Enhanced,” edited by Frenchy Lunning

Book review by Emerald King of “Writing the love of boys: Origins of ‘bishōnen’ culture in modernist Japanese literature,” by Jeffrey Angles

[LINK] Yaoi Research Blog Launched

Guest Post by Mark McHarry and Dru Pagliassotti: Dru Pagliassotti and I have launched a blog, Yaoi Research: Formal work about yaoi and boys’ love is finally beginning to appear but we saw a need for a central place to publish more informal content than that in a journal or book. If you study, create, and/or enjoy yaoi, BL, and/or male/male romance and would like to contribute well-informed descriptive or analytical writing to our blog, please contact us: We’re hoping for posts about ongoing work, observations and opinions, reviews, commentary, analyses, and research notes and queries. Discussions of fanfic, artwork, original stories and novels, including slash and gay comics and fiction, are welcome, as are posts about context, creation, or consumption across historical periods, regions, and cultures. Graduate students, professors, independent scholars, publishers, and published mangaka, dōjinshika, and novelists are especially encouraged to contribute. If you do, please take a look at our submission guidelines. You don’t need to present original research or in-depth analysis, just interesting ideas that may stimulate thought. Although we request that posts be in English, if it is not your first language we will help you copyedit your contribution should you wish. Best Wishes for the New Year / あけましておめでとう.

[LINK] Fascinating CFP Alert! Attention Boys’ Love Fans!

It’s at moments like this that I realize how much I have to learn about fandom, its far-reaching impact on global popular culture forms, and its awesome and endless variety. With that in mind, I heartily encourage fans, fan scholars, and acafans with the relevant expertise to think seriously about submitting a piece of writing to this upcoming special issue of the academic journal Transformative Works and Cultures. The editors have put together a welcoming and intellectually exciting set of questions to inspire contributions from a range of disciplinary and fannish perspectives. I can’t wait to see how the issue takes shape. But enough about me, onto the editors’ CFP: Transnational Boys’ Love Fan Studies Edited by Kazumi Nagaike and Katsuhiko Suganuma, Oita University ‘BL’ (Boys’ Love), a genre of male homosexual narratives (consisting of graphic manga, novels, animations, games, films, and so forth) written by and for women, has recently been acknowledged, by Japanese and non-Japanese scholars alike, as a significant component of Japanese popular culture. The aesthetic and style of Japanese BL have also been taken up, deployed and transformed by female fans transnationally. The current thrust of transnational BL practices certainly raises a number of important issues relating to socio/cultural constructs of BL localization and globalization. A historiographic approach to Japanese BL studies clearly shows that Japanese BL originally developed through fans’ amateur aniparo (anime-parody) writing, in which the male characters in popular animations (as well as manga and other genres) are recast in homosexual pairings. From the outset, then, BL was a fan-oriented activity, established on the basis of a fervent, female-oriented fan community which has produced, circulated, and consumed dōjinshi (amateur coterie magazines) and other materials in this genre. The Tokyo Comic Market, the biggest fan-dōjinshi event in Japan, is held twice a year and attracts more than half a million participants in each event. A large portion of these Comic Market participants consists of BL fans, who have become a dominant force in the development of such dōjinshi activities. As well, Japanese female BL fans have recently received a great deal of public attention in relation to the popularized concept of fujoshi, which literally means rotten women and connotes the presumed “perversions” of women who fantasize about male-male eroticism. A specialized body of academic analysis concerns the formation of Japanese BL fujoshi, detailing their consumptive and productive activities, both as individual fans and as members of specific fan communities. Such scholarly endeavors would certainly be enriched by further research concerning the activities of transnational BL fans. This research would examine BL fans, fan communities, fandom, and fan fiction in each of the regions where BL (or BL-like) activities have originated and developed. For example, several critics (e.g. Antonia Levi 2010) have previously described the arrival of BL in the West, but this is surely premised on the existence of local fan communities and practices. Further, Matthew Thorn (2005) has investigated the similarities between Japanese BL fans and North American female slash fans and found, in both cases, that these fans “come out” only among fellow fans, showing that women’s pleasure in such “unhealthy” materials still possesses some degree of public stigma. On the other hand, Ting Liu (2009) has examined the development of BL fan communities in China and Hong Kong, along with the gradually shifting cultural perceptions which surround them, demonstrating the ways in which BL fan activity problematizes established gender formations in these regions. Thus, transnational BL fan studies can and should also be incorporated into the broader socio/political critical frameworks offered by studies concerning economy, gender/sexuality, race/class, and others. In order to develop transnational BL fan studies further, we are therefore seeking contributors working in this field, in particular those engaged in the exploration of non-Japanese and non-North American contexts (e.g. Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, Africa, and others). We welcome submissions dealing with, but not limited to, the following topics: Case-studies and ethnographic examinations of BL fans, specifically examining fans’ sex/gender, age, occupation, class, race/ethnicity, et cetera. Local ethnographies relating to BL fans’ production, distribution, and use of these materials. Discussions concerning the ways in which broadly framed socio/political issues or forms of consciousness (e.g. gender/sexuality formations, authorities’ interference, censorship, and so forth) impact fans’ BL activities. Media and social responses to fans’ involvement in BL activities. Commercial aspects of BL and fans’ contribution to the development of BL economics. The integration of research on BL fans into a wider discussion of social theory, differing cultural discourses, and globalization. Discussions concerning the ways in which BL fans’ forms of production, distribution, and consumption might challenge traditional notions of Author, Reader, and Text. Theoretical overviews reflecting traditional/contemporary ideas of fandom, fans, fan communities, and fans’ means of communications, demonstrating how these ideas specifically relate to BL fans. Explorations of the ways in which BL participants are motivated to become involved in other fan-oriented activities (e.g. cosplay; female fans’ cross-dressing as male BL characters). Submission guidelines TWC accommodates academic articles of varying scope as well as other forms that embrace the technical possibilities of the Web and test the limits of the genre of academic writing. Contributors are encouraged to include embedded links, images, and videos in their articles or to propose submissions in alternative formats that might comprise interviews, collaborations, or video/multimedia works. We are also seeking reviews of relevant books, events, courses, platforms, or projects. Theory: Often interdisciplinary essays with a conceptual focus and a theoretical frame that offer expansive interventions in the field. Peer review. Length: 5,000–8,000 words plus a 100–250-word abstract. Praxis: Analyses of particular cases that may apply a specific theory or framework to an artifact; explicate fan practice or formations; or perform a detailed reading of a text. Peer review. Length: 4,000–7,000 words plus a 100–250-word abstract. Symposium: Short pieces that provide insight into current developments and debates. Editorial review. Length: 1,500–2,500 words. Submissions are accepted online only. Please visit TWC’s Web Site) for complete submission guidelines, or e-mail the TWC Editor (editor AT Contact We strongly encourage potential contributors to contact the guest editors with any inquiries or proposals: Kazumi Nagaike, nagaike AT Katsuhiko Suganuma, suganuma AT Due dates Contributions for blind peer review (Theory and Praxis essays) are due by March 1, 2012. Contributions that undergo editorial review (Symposium, Interview, Review) are due by April 1, 2012.