Friday, August 26, 2016

腐女子, Fujoshi - Meaning in Japanese

If you've been watching anime for some time you might have heard about the fabled fujoshi 腐女子, and perhaps about fudanshi 腐男子. Or, maybe, you've only heard about the word "fujobait," which is certainly related. But what does fujoshi means in Japanese? And what is a "fujobait"?


To begin with, the way the word's used, a fujoshi 腐女子 is a girl who's fanatical for BL and yaoi やおい .

Great... but what is BL? And... yaoi? Well, BL and yaoi are terms for homo-erotic fiction, that is, a word for gay porn found in the form of manga, anime, games, light novels, etc. A fujoshi is a girl who likes to see male characters, often bishounen 美少年 or ikemen イケメン, kissing each other, or dating, or even having fictional gay sex.

So there you have it, fujoshi are girls who like gay porn drawings. It's a label, like otaku オタク or hikikomori 引きこもり. A lot of fujoshi are female otaku, but not all female otaku are fujoshi. This is despite most female otaku liking BL. This is because there's another requirement for a girl to be a fujoshi.

A fujoshi isn't a girl who just likes BL. A girl can like BL without being a fujoshi, since BL is a genre targeted at girls, it's only natural girls like them. A fujoshi is a girl who, seeing a couple of guys in a normal relationship any two guys would have that is not gay at all, would start imaging them being gay.

This is specially true when the guys are characters of an anime who are obviously just friends, nakama 仲間, they don't love each other, they just hang together. Only a fujoshi would imagine them kissing like a gay couple. Or arch-enemies who hate each other, they definitely don't love each other, but fujoshi would still ship them. (one would think they can't just ship anything, but they can, and do)

Origin of Word Fujoshi 腐女子

Alright, but what about the actual meaning of fujoshi in Japanese? Like, what does the word fujoshi means in the Japanese language literally, and not how it's used?

Well, fujoshi written with kanji is 腐女子. The word kusaru 腐る means "to rot." The word onna 女 means "woman." And the word ko 子 means "child." These last combined also form joshi 女子, meaning "girl." So fujoshi means "rotten girl" or "rotting girl."

But what does "rotten girl" or perhaps "rotting girl" have to do with yaoi? Putting it in a blunt way, fujoshi aren't your sincere beacon of decency joshi, the sane, healthy kind, they are your rotten descending into depravity fujoshi who will see innocent male characters in a series in completely normal situation and fantasize they're deeply in gay love with each other for perverted some reason.

In other words, their brains are rotten.

Fujoshi character Oshiroi Hana from the anime Ben-To giving a thumbs up. Scene from episode 8.
Anime: Ben-To ベン・トー

  • Oshiroi Hana 白粉花 is a fujoshi.
  • Above, she can be seen using her rotten brain to imagine a completely innocent situation is somehow perverted.

Fudanshi 腐男子

Like I said, the joshi 女子 in fujoshi means "girl" so it's not a coincidence that the word fujoshi is used only to talk about girls who are into yaoi and never guys who are into yaoi. Then again, just call those guys gay or whatever, there is no need to make a new word just for them.

Or is there?

The word fudanshi is technically fujoshi counterpart. The danshi 男子 part has the kanji for man 男 instead of woman 女 and it stands for "boy" instead of girl. So fudanshi is literally "rotten boy". And yes, fudanshi is used for guys who are into yaoi just like fujoshi is used for girls.

But why? Why not just call them gay?!?! Why a new word?!

Fundashi vs. Gay

The answer is a bit tricky. Basically, in Japan, both BL and yaoi are not terms for general gay fiction. They are terms for gay fiction targeted specifically at women. And, surprisingly, gay men tend to not like them. The gay fiction genre that's made specifically for these gay men is called bara 薔薇.

So, if gay men don't like yaoi, then who the hell are the fudanshi? Because they aren't gay men. As it turns out, it's actually straight men who are fudanshi. The fujoshi aren't lesbians, either, they are mostly straight women.

So both fudanshi and fujoshi are mostly straight people shipping for gay couples. And it's the acting of fantasizing about gay ships, BL, and yaoi, that make them fudanshi and fujoshi, not anything else.

Furthermore, both fujoshi and fudanshi read BL as spectators. They want to see the gay love happen, but they don't to participate in it, because they aren't gay. This might sound like it's really fucking weird, and if it does, just think about yuri 百合, lesbian fiction. Men who like yuri are most definitely not lesbians. The same happens with fudanshi.

Fumuke 腐向け

In the Japanese fiction industry, the fujoshi are considered a niche market.

Just like there are manga classified as shoujo 少女 and josei 女性, which are made "for girls," shoujo-muke 少女向け, and "for women," josei-muke 女性向け, respectively, there are also works made "for rotten", fu-muke 腐向け, which would target fujoshi (and fudanshi).

The most fu-muke thing there is are BL doujinshi 同人誌, since fujoshi are, by definition, girls who like and fantasize about BL. So anything that's BL is also fu-muke. This also includes manga, light novels, games, etc.

Sometimes a given manga or anime isn't blatantly BL, but tries to appeal the fujoshi consumers somehow by having plenty of pretty male characters, by officially endorsing fujoshi products like pillows dakimakura 抱き枕, or by adding awkward situations (like Naruto and Sasuke kissing) to fuel the perverted minds of fujoshi and make them feel attached to that given work.

Character Gintoki from the anime Gintama holding a BL manga in three different episodes, advertising for the fujoshi audience.

There are some unfortunate series out there that are extremely popular with fujoshi despite not even being made for fujoshi; Such series have countless BL doujinshi drawn and numerous fanfics shipping every single possible couple combination the fujoshi can think of.

What is Fujobait

Closing the topics we started with, let's talk about fujobait. It's not a Japanese word, it's an English word obviously joining fujoshi with bait. A bait for fujoshi, for the fujoshi audience.

An anime (manga, etc.) with fujobait is an anime which has unusually pretty male characters, bishounen 美少年, and slaps homo-romantic / Boys' Love-esque scenes around for no reason, thereby creating a habitat for fujoshi to proliferate.

These fujobait things are forced, obviously. They are fujoshi fanservice. That means these anime are as bad as your usual anime with forced fanservice, only it caters to a niche audience, the fujoshi.

Why Fujobait Exists

Money, of course! If you make an yaoi anime you're out of money, because you're essentially porn and won't show on any good TV slot. Make a BL anime you get a half-ass TV slot at best, but the audience that is not into BL will never watch it.

So your best bet is making the most generic anime possible that won't scare your public away. But just because aren't scaring them away doesn't mean you're hooking them in either. Now your anime is generic and nobody will talk about it!

But then there was a devious plan. What if you made your male characters so pretty fujoshi would notice but the rest of the audience wouldn't mind or just find it funny. And then include some gay jokes in the middle that fujoshi would definitely notice but the audience would just laugh about?

That would be perfect! Now you have an anime that is popular with an obsessed niche audience and that can be watched by everyone! There is only one problem, though.

Fujobait anime are generally shit and everyone despises them as much as fanservice-filled anime.


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