Friday, August 26, 2016

fujoshi 腐女子

In the anime fandom, a fujoshi 腐女子 is a fan-girl that fantasizes about male characters in homosexual relationships, or real people. In other words, she's into gay shipping, gay fanfics, lemons (pornographic fanfics), gay manga, anime, and so on.

A fujoshi.
Anime: Outbreak Company (Episode 4)

Genres

There's a number of genres popular with fujoshi that will give you an idea of what a fujoshi is into.
  • BL, bii-eru びーえる
    A Japanese term from the English words "Boy's Love," booizu-rabu ボーイズラブ.
    This is a gay fiction genre, and encompasses basically everything, specially romance fiction.
  • yaoi やおい, or ya-o-i 801.
    From the name of a doujinshi called yaoi 夜追い, "night-chasing," which didn't make a lot of sense. Later backacronym'd into YAma nashi Ochi nashi Imi nashi 山なしオチなし意味なし, "no mountain, no fall, no meaning," i.e. "no climax, no punchline, no meaning."
    A kind of BL that skips the story and goes straight to the sexy parts.
    In the west, refers to gay pornographic anime and manga.
  • shounen-ai 少年愛
    "Boy's Love."
    In the west, gay fiction that's not pornographic yaoi.
    In Japan, it actually means "pederasty," and is not a genre.

Not all genres of gay fiction are popular with fujoshi. The gay genre bara バラ is popular with gay men, but not with the fujoshi fan-girls.

Also, not all fiction popular with fujoshi is exactly gay. Some are, well, not exactly gay:

Besides the above, some tropes featured in characters popular with fujoshi include:
  • bishounen 美少年
    "Beautiful boy."
  • ikemen イケメン
    "Hot guy."
  • bocchan 坊っちゃん
    A rich boy. (specially one accompanied by a "butler," shitsuji 執事, servants, etc.)
  • otokonoko 男の娘
    A girl that's a boy. (literally.)
    In other words, a boy that looks a like a girl.
    This is the Japanese word for "trap."
  • josou 女装
    "Female clothes." The act of wearing them.
    Guys crossdressing.
  • okama オカマ
    An effeminate man, or a gay man. Sometimes derogatory. Sometimes a self-label.
    In anime, okama are stereotypically depicted as crossdressing men, drag-queens, etc. Men who talk like women are called onee オネエ, and their use of the female language, onee-kotoba オネエ言葉. Usually, this includes ending phrases with kashira, da wa, desu wa, wa ne, and using the first person pronouns watashi, atashi, and uchi, rather than boku or ore.
  • shota ショタ
    A "young boy" in anime.
    Comes from the name of the character Shoutarou, from the anime Tetsujin Ni-juu-hachi-gou 鉄人28号. Because he wore short pants and white socks, whether short pants and white socks would suit a character is sometimes used as a guideline to determine whether he's a shota or not.

ショタBL本
Anime: Centaur no Nayami セントールの悩み (Episode 2)
  • A fujoshi holding a "book," hon 本, about shota BL. The circle on the bottom-right corner of the cover, illegible on the image, reads juu-hachi-kin 18禁, "18 ban," meaning its contents are for adults only.

Note that, besides the above, any trope that's popular in general is popular with fujoshi, except it will be a guy featuring the trope instead of a girl.

Examples of male Zettai Ryouiki in anime and manga: a crossdresser from Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens 博多豚骨ラーメンズ,  a boy from "Black Butler," Kuroshitsuji 黒執事, a boy from Knight's & Magic ナイツ&マジック, and a man from Wild Rock ワイルド・ロック.

In Japanese

In Japanese, fujoshi 腐女子 means literally a "rotten," kusatteiru 腐っている, "girl," joshi 女子, so a "rotten girl."

The reason they're "rotten" is because of their bizarre gay shipping fantasies. If you see two guys in an anime who hate each other and are rivals or something and the first thing you imagine is that they actually love each other and don't want to admit their feelings, your brain must be rotten.

If you consider yourself a fujoshi and take offense with the paragraph above, know that you're now officially normie levels of fujoshi.

A lot of the anime fandom is built on self-deprecating jabs toward themselves. Manga authors who are otaku depict otaku as obese anti-social NEETs all the time. The term fujoshi is no different: it's a term used by the fujoshi to label themselves as rotten because of their admittedly rotten hobby.

If the fujoshi didn't want to call themselves fujoshi, they could call themselves something else, and they have, like:
  • yaoi shoujo やおい少女
    An "yaoi" girl.
  • yaoraa ヤオラー
    Yao-rer, or something like that. Probably works in the same sense as kemonaa ケモナー is a "furry" who likes kemono ケモノ art.

But the terms above haven't gained as much popularity as fujoshi.

What's Not a Fujoshi

In accordance to its meaning, some fujoshi argue that a real fujoshi is a girl who actively ships and fantasizes about gay pairings. Someone who simply likes gay fanfics isn't a fujoshi, they just like BL. In order to be a true fujoshi your imagination needs to be rotten. Of course, not everyone agrees with this kind of gatekeeping.

The word fujoshi often refers to someone who ships gay characters in anime, however, a fujoshi doesn't necessarily need to watch anime, read manga, or consume any Japanese media.

Girls who gay-ship characters in western TV shows and movies are also fujoshi. And those that ship real people are fujoshi too.

Harry Potter BL.
Anime: Asobi Asobase あそびあそばせ (Episode 4)

In other words, a fujoshi isn't necessarily an otaku. The term fujoshi isn't the female equivalent of otaku either. You can have a female otaku. The word otaku is genderless. Furthermore, a female otaku isn't necessarily a fujoshi.

婦女子

You may be aware that shoujo 少女 also means "girl" in Japanese. It does, in the "young girl" sense. The word joshi is toward teenagers and young adults. It's also used in terms that refer to the "girls'" side, rather than "guys'," danshi 男子, regardless of age. For example:
  • nihon joshi sakka riigu
    日本女子サッカーリーグ
    Japan "Girls" Soccer League.
    Japan Women's Soccer League.

The reason the term is fujoshi 腐女子 and not fushoujo 腐少女 isn't simply because of age. The word is also a pun on fujoshi 婦女子, which, like fujin 婦人 and yome 嫁, means "wife." [腐女子 - デジタル大辞泉 via kotobank.jp, accessed 2019-05-16]

貴腐人

The term kifujin 貴腐人 means an older fujoshi 腐女子. This, too, is a pun, replaces a character with the kanji for "rotten" in:
  • kifujin 貴婦人
    Lady.

Basically, a fujoshi is a "rotten girl," while kifujin is a "rotten lady."

fudanshi 腐男子

The word fudanshi 腐男子 means a guy who's into yaoi, BL, gay fanfics, shipping male characters together, and so on. It's the male counterpart of fujoshi 婦女子. Since joshi means "girl" it isn't used toward a guy. Instead the word danshi is used, because it means "guy."

The term fudanshi is less common than fujoshi. Probably because there are more girls shipping gay ships than guys.

The word fudanshi 腐男子 doesn't mean "gay" in Japanese, that would gei ゲイ, or formally dousei-aisha 同性愛者, "homosexual," or even derogatorily homo ホモ.

Similarly, a fudanshi isn't necessarily gay. Someone homosexual is someone literally sexually attracted to their own sex. Reading or making up a story about other guys who are romantically or sexually attracted to each other doesn't necessarily mean you are sexually attracted to them.

Bridget, from Guilty Gear XX.
Game: Guilty Gear XX
  • Everybody is gay for Bridget, though.

A consequence of fudanshi existing is that now there are BL stories featuring fudanshi. Unlike fujoshi, who are girls, fudanshi, who are guys, can get into gay relationships with other guys. And they'll have the meta knowledge necessary to guide them through their BL relationship.

Which is basically the same thing as an otaku relying on dating simulator game knowledge to date a real girl.

腐兄

The word fukei 腐兄 is a term for an older fudanshi 腐男子. This, too, is a pun, based on:
  • fukei 父兄
    Father and brother. Fathers and brothers.
    • ani to chichi 兄と父
      Father and brother.

This comes from the fact that fujoshi 婦女子 can mean a "wife," a joshi one, or it can mean "wife and girls," as in, "wife and daughters," "the mother and the daughters." See guessing the meaning of a word from its kanji for details.

fumuke 腐向け

The word fumuke 腐向け means "pointed to 腐," in the sense it's something targeted at fujoshi, fudanshi. Generally, this means BL, yaoi, and other genres that fujoshi like.

But not everything that fujoshi like fits nicely into such fiction genres. For everything made by fujoshi for fujoshi, there's fumuke.

For example, a dakimakura with Naruto and Sasuke kissing is a fumuke product, as it's targeted to fujoshi.

vs. Real Gay Relationships

Even if you assume most fudanshi are gay, there are still more fujoshi than fudanshi. So fumuke gay fiction isn't created by gays, it's mostly created by heterosexual girls.

Because the homosexual relationships are being seen through the lens of an heterosexual, it often ends up making, well, ignorant assumptions, for the lack of a better word, about what being gay is like.

Often, fumuke fiction is heteronormative. It doesn't ship two equally male characters. It ships one guy who takes the role of the "man," and one guy that takes the role of the "woman."

The terms seme 攻め and uke 受け denote literally the "attacker" and "receiver," or the "pitcher" and "catcher," or the "active" and "passive," or the "top" and "bottom," or the "man" and "woman" of the ship.

They often fall into stereotypes: the stronger guy is the seme, the guy who dresses like a girl is uke, the taller one is seme, the introverted one is uke, and so on. A notable subversion is josou-seme 女装攻め, a "crossdresser seme."

Such things tend to be popular with heterosexual girls, but can be a turn off to homosexual gays who feel they're wrongly portrayed.

vs. Fiction for Gays

The genre of fiction that's specially "targeted at gays," gei-muke ゲイ向け, is called bara バラ, "rose." It has the same origin as the lesbian fiction genre called yuri 百合, "lily," another kind of flower.

This gay genre, bara, is a gay genre just like BL, yaoi, and other fumuke stuff. However, since it tends to be made by gay men for other gay men, it gets right what the fujoshi often get wrong.

Generally speaking, fujoshi don't like the bara genre, probably because what it "fixes" away is exactly what the fujoshi like in BL in first place.

So the girls don't like stories made by gays, and the gays don't like stories made by girls. Therefore fumuke and gei-muke are separated things, despite both being genres of gay fiction.

A simpler way to think about it:
  • fu-muke 腐向け
    Gay, with things that girls like in guys.
  • gei-muke ゲイ向け
    Gay, with things that gays like in guys.

Where does fudanshi fit into this? The non-gay guys? "Things that guys like in guys" kind of complicates things. Probably, if it was like that, they'd just read bara. If fudanshi like the same stuff as fujoshi it's because they like "gay, with things girls like in guys."

Fujobait

The term fujobait is a western portmanteau about anime and manga, that attracts, "baits," fujoshi.

Fujobait exists because the fujoshi are a niche demographic, but one with a rotten gay-shipping addiction that makes them buy DVDs, blu-rays and merch of their favorite shows, providing profit to the industry.

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

So, commercially, you want a show to be popular with fujoshi, if possible. How do you do that? You put in the show a lot of stuff that's popular with fujoshi, to attract their attention, to bait them.

Examples of okama characters from anime Ouran Koukou Host Club, Kuroshitsuji / Black Butler, One Punch Man, Tiger & Bunny, Gatchaman Crowds, Tokyo Godfathers, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and Fushigi Yuugi
  • Examples of okama オカマ characters, some of which from anime popular with fujoshi.

However, it turns out the general public doesn't like gay romance as much as fujoshi, so you can't actually put that in there, or else you'll turn away most of your potential customers.

Instead, you put everything that hints, suggests, or implies characters are totally gay for each other, but you don't explicitly, canonically make them gay, leaving the actual gay shipping to the perverted, rotten fantasies of fujoshi.

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.

An easy way to tell an anime uses fujobait is by its cast. Normally, it looks like a reverse-harem, with one girl and a bunch of guys. However, unlike a reverse-harem, the girl isn't the protagonist. She's the token girlfriend. She's just there so you can say: "this anime isn't gay because there's a girl in it."

Some stuff published in GFantasy falls into this category, like Black Butler, Nabari no Ou, and Durarara. Some anime fitting this same concept are Nanbaka and Free!.

Crossdressing Ciel Phantomhive.
Anime: "Black Butler," Kuroshitsuji 黒執事 (Episode 4)
  • Ciel Phantomhive, crossdressing, because of the the plot.

Unintentional Fujobait

Not every non-gay anime that happens to become popular with fujoshi is fujobait. Sometimes fujoshi will like an anime that's not made for them, and they will make gay fanfics and doujinshi about it, which will pique the interest of other fujoshi, which do the same, and eventually you turn a totally innocent shounen anime into one of the most popular fujoshi anime in the world.

This is often the case of sports anime, like soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball, boxing, etc. Such sports are divided by gender. A shounen anime would want a male protagonist, which means it will be a male character, with male teammates, against male rivals.

Rivalry, in particular, is often target of shipping because it's one guy chasing another guy, in skill. Notable example: Hikaru no Go. And more recently: Boku no Hero Academia.

Gay hand-holding in anime.
Anime: Hikaru no Go ヒカルの碁 (Episode 3)
  • Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Even card battling anime, like Yuu-gi-oh, which you'd think has nothing gay in it—I mean, it's a card game, how do you make this gay?—ends up becoming targeted by fujoshi because the stakes of the battles force characters to declare their emotions (for their not-gay male nakama) and the trust in their relationship.

The same thing happens when you have a male character rescue another male character, or fight for another guy. Usually, it's girls that end up being kidnapped, or girls that end up being powerless and have to ask the main character to fight for them. Replacing the usual girl by a guy in this case sends the message you could replace the usual girl by a guy in the romantic case too.

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