Neo-Shonen and Yaoi Fans

March 25, 2009 at 4|28|pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Many thanks to Daryl Surat for coining the term “neo-shonen.”

Go to any anime convention and you’ll see them.  Buying their Gundam Wing and Prince of Tennis doujinshi, squealing over Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, badgering Naruto’s voice actor to say “Sasuke” JUST so they can fuel their yaoi fantasies.

I’m talking, of course, about shonen fangirls.  Yes, shonen.  You see, the genre is really no longer a boys-only club (in fact, most of the boys have continued on to – shudder – moe.  Horrors!)  Why, the most popular manga magazine for girls in Japan is Weekly Shonen Jump (Bleach, Naruto, et cetera.)

Why?

Well, maybe there are some other girls out there who, like me, just want a good action/drama/comedy.  But mostly it’s the yaoi fangirls.  Yaoi doujinshi culture and fujoshi (yaoi fans) are becoming so prevalent over in Japan that even Shonen Jump, which used to be the market for no-girls-allowed manga, is cashing in on the trend by adding… certain undercurrents… to their series.  Long meaningful glances between male characters.  Angst to the highest power.  Useless female characters.  HELLO?  CAN WE PLEASE GET TO THE HOLLOW-BASHING/DEATH AND DESTRUCTION/(INSERT OTHER AWESOME PLOT DEVICE HERE) NOW?  ARGHHH!

I can’t say I don’t appreciate a good romantic undertone in my shonen (see: blog header; excessive Uryu/Orihime fangirlism) but not when it’s pointless, goes nowhere, and is only there to pander to the squeeing yaoi hordes.  (See: That Foot Washing Scene In The Death Note Anime.)  This is even worse when the pairing the fans are slashing makes absolutely no canonical sense whatsoever.  Fullmetal Alchemist – the manga, at least – has hardly any such undertones between a certain EXTREMELY popular yaoi pairing, and much more reasonable canon love interests for both.  (Oh-kay, maybe I’m biased on this point, but…)  Yet they still dominate the DeviantArt fanart section for pairings in the series.

Sometimes, I must admit, such pairings do make sense: almost anything by CLAMP will have a pretty great male/male pairing that is seriously UN-HATEABLE (unless we’re talking Seishirou/Subaru, in which case… well… I admit this started OUT great, but then the whole Sakurazuka plotline took over and we found out about Seishirou and AAAARGH) and completely canonical.  Still, the unfounded pairings outweigh the ones that make sense.

I dunno about you, but I’d prefer it if, even if the fangirls must love their yaoi, they didn’t shove it in non-fujoshi’s faces.  (Particularly with their hatred of female characters.  Particularly their hatred of Orihime Inoue.)

 

So what was the point of this blog entry?  Nothing in particular; I just wanted to get my point across.  I don’t even know what my point was.  Aaaargh.

Bleach: Not Just For Washing Your Clothes, Anymore

July 31, 2008 at 2|28|pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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bleach_urahara0187.jpg image by kissablexlies
Translation: “Read Bleach or I’ll poke you with a big stick!  Seriously!”

Jacket Copy:

Ichigo Kurosaki has always been able to see ghosts, but this ability doesn’t change his life nearly as much as his close encounter with Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper and member of the mysterious Soul Society. While fighting a Hollow, an evil spirit that preys on humans who display psychic energy, Rukia attempts to lend Ichigo some of her powers so that he can save his family. Much to her surprise, Ichigo absorbs every last drop of her energy. Now a full-fledged Soul Reaper himself, Ichigo quickly learns that the world he inhabits is one full of dangerous spirits and, along with Rukia—who is slowly regaining her powers—it’s Ichigo’s job to protect the innocent from Hollows and help the spirits themselves find peace.

While Tite Kubo’s smash-hit manga Bleach is published by VIZ’s Shonen Jump line, which to me is full of manga that follow the same formulaic plot (Unlikely boy hero wants to be best [ninja/samurai/tennis player] in the land,) even if it does run into a whole lotta cliches, somehow it all seems new when you pick up the first volume.

Here’s what I love so much about the ten volumes of Bleach I’ve read so far:

1) Character design.  The looks of all the characters are completely different.  You know in some manga how you can’t freakin’ tell half the guys apart?  Thankfully, that doesn’t happen in Bleach.  Every character has something you’ve just never seen before.  Uryu’s awesome asymmetrical hair, Renji’s weird eyebrows, and a guy who’s followed around by a giant pig… and let’s not even get into the fact that the “Rukia Rescue Squad”‘s leader is a freakin’ cat.

2) Really cool stuff.  Explosions!  Big scary monsters!  Toys running around in cosplay!  Oh my!

3) Most of all… there are some truly emotional moments in Bleach that I wasn’t expecting.  The flashback to Ichigo’s mother’s death, for one, was drawn really well and fit in so well with the story.  Another scene I really loved was when Orihime thought about how Tatsuki had protected her throughout the years and knew she had to save her this time.  And it’s interesting seeing inside the workings of Rukia’s mind when she starts wondering if maybe she’s developing “human” feelings, like friendship, jealousy, fear…

All in all, Bleach is a really great manga.  It’s funny, action-packed, emotional, explosive-y, sword-y, and just generally awesome.  If you haven’t picked it up by now, go down to the local library and ask for a copy of volume one today.

Warning: May cause uncontrollable urges to scream “Sooooul caaaaandy!” at Pez dispensers.

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