Secret Yuri Conspiracy?May 9, 2011
In shadowy smoke-filled rooms the darkly illuminated masterminds of fandom plot the tastes of otaku worldwide. They slowly have infiltrated all levels of anime and manga production with their sleeper agents. Over time they have insidiously increased the potential for fanboys to ship their favorite girls together. Some crazy people might have written fan-fictions about the girls from Azumanga Daioh or been Juri Arisugawa fans less for her complex personality and more for her doujinshi potential but they were the minority. But now the sleeper has awoken and shows like K-On!, Lucky Star, and Toaru Kagaku no Railgun have brought their unified vision of a yuri-wonderland to the forefront. Their war was won before anyone realized a shot had been fired. OK. That is me being silly plus that it ignores the fact that guys have been liking girl on girl action since time immemorial. But I have noticed a strangely silent but extremely aggravating male fandom appearing that is bolder and bolder while at the same time remaining largely unnoticed.
There needs to be a word for fans who see yuri everywhere. This goes beyond just liking seeing girls together, that is not where the interest lies because quite frankly that is unsurprising to anyone. It is more about people who see yuri in every friendship, in every show, and believe there is always an underlying context from the creator. This mirrors the extreme fujoshi (we talked about it a while ago) but I don’t really see anyone complaining that these yuri fans are “ruining” anime as is thrown at the yaoi community. Perhaps it is who I talk to on the internet, perhaps people don’t recognize them, or perhaps it is a classic double-standard.
Anyone who is regularly on the Internet to read about anime and manga knows about fujoshi. The effects of fujoshi and fandom have been examined closely and will be talked about whenever female fandom it brought up. They are praised and vilified in equal measure although certain places are much friendly or harsher than others. But they are an easily identified community in part because they are usually so loud and proud. But their male counterparts seems so quiet to the point it is easy to wonder if they exist at all. They have no common moniker and they don’t really come up in conversations as a group in conversations about fan-service, demographics, fandom, moe, doujinshi or any other the other topic they would be involved in. It would be easy to assume they don’t exist in any appreciable amount. But they are there and they are legion. They ship their favorite couples even if no basis for their coupling exists, they buy shows that cater (or pander) to their interest, and can be just as infuriating as their female counterparts.
This group of fans first became apparent to me with Pretty Cure. My only real knowledge of the show came from others discussing the girls’ relationships with such passion that my conclusion was that it was a magical girl show featuring a lesbian couple and that was the focus of the series. Lo and behold when I watched the first series years later I was surprised to find it simply a magical girl show; any yuri subtext seemed to be on the part of fans. Now, it is not as if Sailor Moon did not have dozens of girl/girl popular pairings, but I doubt that anyone attempting to find out about Sailor Moon had the misconception that I did with Pretty Cure. And then all that yuri desire for Pretty Cure gave birth to something like Nanoha.
Fujoshi get a lot of flack. They are constantly blamed for ruining shonen fighting manga and mecha anime and people regularly mention how sickened they are by the mere existence of yaoi. But their male counterparts don’t get anywhere near the animosity. I never hear anyone complain about them. But the male yuri fans can be very aggressive. Get them talking about something like Aria or My-HiME and you will wonder if the yuri fans and the non-yuri fans watched the same show. Woe to the fool that tears into a show with their favorite pairing like Chu-Bra!! or A Channel. You gets shows like Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha that take the normally female friendly magical girl genre and turn it into a show with a distinct yuri leaning for the fan boys. None of the girls are lesbians in the show but the subtext is so easily exploited. A look at Nanoha doujinshi shows that fans latched onto this subtext and latched onto it hard. In Toaru Kagaku no Railgun we see that Kuroko Shirai is the only lesbian character but fans pair up all the girls quite frequently. Even shows like Hanasaku Iroha were heavily influenced by the desire of those with yuri goggles but the fandom plays if off like nothing. That third episode is hardly nothing.
Hanasaku Iroha’s controversial(?) third episode reminds of the double standard that is bandied about so readily. Let’s say that instead of writing erotic fiction about the girls at the inn, the author wrote about the two male chefs instead, would the reaction to the episode be different? Of course it would be despite the claims that it was just fun/humor. Just as so many titles may throw in a bishonen, titles across the board are including lesbian characters or subtext and I don’t think it is just for diversity’s sake. Everyone likes to be catered to, but I’d like it better if it was just admitted.
I wonder why this group is gets such a free pass? Is it because they simply don’t have a name? It is harder to attack a group with no identity so and most you might only pick individual targets when you can. It is because they are generally quiet? Fujoshi often talk about their fandom proudly but yuri fanboys then to cloak their fandom in more indirect terms. Many of them might be praising characters or shows but you know they are watching these shows with no male presence because they want to fawn over the girls and their yuri potential. Is it because they are mainly part of more hated fandoms? Most of them are parts of moe, harem, and shonen romance fandoms. People who would complain about them go after the greater trends of fan-service and storytelling these larger groups bring to anime and therefore they never get singled out. Or is it simple sexism? Are men allowed to have whatever sexual proclivity they wish as long as it is considered manly but women are expected to hide such desires? I am not sure what the answer is but I do find it strange that this group is not talked about more. They are there and their existence might be more influential than you would first imagine.
Last year I thought the new trend would actually be yuri anime, that hasn’t quite happened yet, but the fandom seems to continue to grow. This is not a wholly bad thing, this post is not about denouncing the evils of yuri! As someone who enjoys many conical and imagined pairings, I’m happy for it. But when I see how much frustration straight and yaoi shippers can cause, I wonder why yuri shippers don’t get equal treatment.