I am starting to watch the series Sekaiichi Hatsukoi. It’s a Boys Love anime about first love by the creator of Junjou Romantica. BL is basically man-on-man (or girlish male adolescent-on-adolescent) romance written by and for women. Oddly, I learned about it from my male cosplay friend, Bangin Sensei. He claims he cosplays BL stories only as “fan service” for his female otaku audience. Really?
I have not posted for a week to pay respect to the thousands of dead and displaced by the unimaginable earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. Frankly I wondered whether this blog’s frivolity and frequent lack of taste is appropriate during this stressful period of intense sadness and nuclear meltdown panic.
From today I will resume this blog to show that we are still alive, creative and observant here in Tokyo. I was inspired by my blogging sensei Bangin, who insists he will continue to try to make others happy through his blog. Even in the worst of times, there is plenty of moe to share, plenty of male fashion to ponder, and plenty of hope that Japan will rebuild.
Can you outdance Kylie?
Is life circular or just my own depraved mind? An interesting discussion on Bangin sensei’s brilliant website about the difference between gay and Boys Love (BL) male ideals. On the one hand there are yakuza and gay terms aniki and gachimuchi (兄貴／ガチムチ), a butch-er, often mustachioed and muscle image. It can be summed up as ikanimo-kei (イカニモ系). On the other hand, there is the yaoi dream of androgynous beautiful boys, yaoi taikei (ヤオイ体型), who often do not appeal to gay taste.
Somehow the discussion led to young actor and singer Narimiya Hiroki, and then, despite the often lack of celebrity online photos, this deliriously dirty image above from his photo book Milk. OMG! And then, the husband reminded me that he is the star of the movie I want to see on DVD, Lala Pipo. It’s based on Okuda Hideo’s hilarious book (available in English translation, too).
Has anyone seen Lala Pipo? Does anyone have any intimate details about Narimiya Hiorki?
A TV version of the manga Otomen is starting soon in Japan (August 1, 11.10 pm, Fuji TV), as revealed by this Omootesando billboard. The story centers on high school junior Asuka Masamune: manly man and judo/karate/kendo master on the outside, lover of caramel macchiato, shōjo manga, sweets, and pink things on the inside. Apparently he romances a (female) classmate by teaching her how to do girly stuff.
I first heard of this term from my otaku and moe language teacher Bangin. He prefers this term over “soshokukei” (herbivores). Otomen, he defines, as young men who like BL and otome stuff (note the pink flower in the billboard which refers to girls’ anime styles), who are skilled at domestic crafts, and who act manly in public but are secretly feminine.
Thank you, Japanese television. Anyone else looking forward to this show?
“Many of the boys I’ve met told me they cannot go out of their house if their hair doesn’t look perfect,” she said. “They have also told me that their self-esteem goes up when their nails look nice.” -Quoting Ushikubo Megumi who invented this new term”soshokukei” (草食男子) or “herbivores” to describe the new generation of men, 20-34.
What a happy day to read a Japan Times article that 60% of young men today can be classifed as “herbivores.” Also called “ojo-man” (lady-like men), this term seems to share many characteristics with the term “otomen” introduced by my online moe sensei Bangin.
Bangin does a great job contrasting the two terms in this recent post, and attributing soshokukei to the recently disgraced SMAP member Kusanagi Tsuyoshi who got drunk and then arrested for public nudity last month.
What makes the Japan Times article so delicious is how they trace this new attitude to the post-bubble gloom generation and highlight extremely unmanly, dare I say “gay” behaviors. The article, of course, goes on to quote a sociologist who claims these girly men are “not gay”: herbivores are “searching for heterosexual love while turning unisex.” Haha.
So here goes the definitions:
- They are not as competitively minded about their jobs as men in older generations.
- They are fashion conscious and eat sparingly so they can stay thin and fit into skintight clothes.
- They are chummy with their moms and often go shopping together.
- They are not interested in dating girls, having relationships, or even having sex (choosing from a plethora of “self-help” toys instead).
I love how this new trend is also tied to the internet: Apparently these herbivores do not want to reproduce because they are “too physically tired to have sex, let alone start a family.” Supposedly, they are substituting sex with women with internet porn and “do-it-yourself” gadgets! A supporting quant stat is that condom shipments have been falling since 1999, the start of the internet revolution.
I am surprised that this focus on men’s hair and nails overlooks their incredibly tortured eye-brows. Ah, Japan and your girly men, WE LOVE YOU!
My “chotto hen” (sort of strange) sensei Bangin taught me a useful word for someone who stays home too much glued to the internet: Home Security Guard (自宅警備員, jitaku keibi’in). Most of my classmates at the ceramic studio hadn’t heard it before.
自宅警備員 is a replacement for NEET (not in education, employment or training) and the older phrase, 引きこもり(hikikomori), recluses who never leave their rooms. As Bangin explains, a home security guard mostly guards the computer screen, and has less responsibilities than a “home-maker.”
I guess I am a part-time 自宅警備員.
My favorite blogger on otaku and manga language, Bangin, has recently released a second typology for seme (攻め) and uke (受け). Apparently new types of Boys Love roles are constantly being created and new words emerging.
The beauty of these top/bottom terms are their endless variety, unexpected reversals and melodrama. Here are two of my favorites. Follow the links to read both posts with over a dozen types:
ワンコ攻め[wanko-zeme]; Sounds cute, doesn’t it? Well, ワンコ[wanko] means a dog here(but it’s not correct) It derives from the fact that they howl ワンワン[wan wan “bow wow”]. At any rate, dogs are so obedient to their masters but they also fawn upon. Yes, no matter how cold 受け is, how many times 受け refuses to accept him, he never gives up, and eventually it comes to pass. It sounds like a relationship between 先輩受け[sempai-uke] and 後輩攻め[kouhai-zeme]. 先輩 means a senior at a company or school, and 後輩 means a junior as well. 先輩 is more superior to 後輩. In such a relationship, 後輩 becomes 攻め…the position is switched, isn’t it?
姫受け[hime-uke]: 姫[hime] means a princess. This type of uke is surrounded by several semes(more than two tops). I can’t think of a better example. Maybe Shibuya Yuuri? He can be paired up with Gunter or Conlad…but he ends up being uke.
These two posts also provide an evolving typology of BL (Boys Love) literature:
- リーマンもの[riiman-mono] or office settings;
- 学園もの[gakuen-mono] or schools;
- ナマモノ[namamono] or slash fiction about movie stars, singers, sports stars and “vocal actors”;
- イロモノ[iromono] or minor characters;
- 兄弟もの[kyoudai-mono] or brothers, often step-brothers;
- ML or men’s love, versus boys or minors;
- ロボやおい[robo yaoi] or robot love;
- 匂い系[nioi-kei] or “smells” type, meaning no sex but plenty of homo-erotic scent (like Water Boys, Ouran High-School Host Club, Hanazakari no Kimitachi e, Prince of Tennis);
- 健全[kenzen] or sound, meaning Normal Love (NL);
- 微裏[biura], an abbreviation of bimyou ni ura, which means “slightly porno” and should be no more than kissing
Wow. Thank you, Bangin sensei!
Writing as someone almost entirely untouched by anime and manga, I am certainly inspired to start reading. What about you?:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::
Moe Moe (萌え萌え) means very “moe.” Coming from anime & manga otaku or “geeks” (オタク), moe means both fetish and (non-sexual) hobby. Love the ambiguity of Japanese. Wikipedia uses the example of 眼鏡っ娘萌え, meganekko-moe, “glasses-girl moe.” Unlike the U.S., eye-glasses in cartoons and in real life can inspire fetishized desire. For the ladies only, there’s even a Tokyo “eye-glass and suits” male host bar called Love-all.
In Japan, otaku moe has a surprisingly large influence on more general (albeit) perverted culture and into mainstream language. In other words, you don’t have too be an anime/manga fan to appreciate and adopt some of the words and “hobbies” these fantasy worlds generate for adult viewers.
In my Nakano hikikomori moments (ひきこもりみたい)– a reference to Japanese shut-ins who remain locked in their rooms at their parents for 6 months or more– I’ve found the internet an amazing resource for words that are not covered in my college-level Japanese language textbook. Japanese themselves seem to love the discovery and use of new words; my sister-in-law Yoko told me how delighted she was to learn about o-nii-kei (お兄系) from this very blog (and she was the one who introduced me to gyaru-o and Men’s Egg).
In my exploration of moe moe, there’s been no better guide writing in English than a blogger named Bangin (バンギン). He describes his blog, titled “Japanese words of anime fans, by anime fans, for anime fans: On this blog, I will introduce and explain Japanese slangs, Japanese-English words, or 2ch words, or any other popular words among anime fans (or whoever).”
With rain in the forecast for the next few days, I’ll be devoting a number of posts to words, ideas and moe I’ve discovered on Bangin-san’s blog. Of course, any misunderstandings or errors are mine alone. Thank you, Bangin Sensei. バンギン先生ありがとうございました!:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::