fbpx
×

Tired of all this political nonsense?

Sign up and get inspired everyday

Anime and its Contribution to LGBTQ + Media

Japanese anime Yuri on ice

Source: Viz Media | Flickr

Recently, Miu Suzaki and Ryuichi Kihara from Team Japan from the 2018 Pyeongchang Games performed to a music piece from the hit anime “Yuri!!! On Ice.”

The performance inspired mass media attention, evoking joy from thousands of fans of the show. The anime features a unique story, focusing a character named Yuuri Katsuki, a talented figure skater and his journey to the Grand Prix final with his skating coach and internally acclaimed athlete, Viktor Nikiforov.

The anime is also praised for featuring a prominent same-sex relationship between Yuuri and Viktor. While it is incredible that an anime like this could have received such international recognition, it also brings up the fascination of anime as it relates to LGBTQ + representation.

Often, what comes to mind when considering queer content in Japan are Yaoi and Yuri.

Yaoi, known as the Boys’ Love genre, focuses on the romantic/ homoerotic relationships between male characters, while Yuri focuses on those between female characters.

While both genres are popular in Japan, Yaoi and Yuri, especially the former, are often criticized for fetishizing same-sex relationships. Often created by straights creators for straight audiences, yaoi and yuri often embody heterocentric ideas, asserting one partner in a relationship as the dominant “masculine” partner and the other as the more passive “feminine” partner.

Within this are the commonly known terms such as Semê, referring to the “top” position in a sexual relationship, the more active and sexually aggressive partner, and Ukê, the “bottom” position, a passive and delicate partner.

Within both Japanese and American society, these genres have been criticized for failing to depict the reality of queer Japanese culture, often mimicking heteronormative gender roles as well as ignoring the realities of homophobia.

However, it would be impossible to solely judge queer content in Japanese media coming from a Western-biased perspective. Western and Eastern media, in regards to LGBTQ+ culture, manifest in unique ways, not always matching up with each other.

Michel DeSol and Haruku Shinazaki, authors of Edges of the Rainbow, a book documenting contemporary queer culture in Japan, wrote in an interview for GeeksOut discussing the differences between Japanese and U.S. queer culture.

“The most important are legal, even as civil partnerships are legal in some districts of Tokyo and some cities in Japan, marriage is still not legal, also for anti-discrimination legislation such as for housing and adoption. But also, cultural and historical, as Japan does not have a Judeo-Christian moral legacy in regards to sexuality and pleasure.”

In various ways Japan has created media that has shown to be extremely progressive in terms of LGBTQ+ representation.

Sailor Moon, a favorite among millennials, famous for girl power featuring an all-female team who fights the forces of evil, was also famous for one of anime’s most iconic lesbian couples, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune.

Anime based on the works of manga artist Takako Shimura, such as Wandering Son and Aoi Hana, was famous for depicting openly transgender and lesbian characters.

“Yuri!!! On Ice” is considered a revolutionary piece of media, portraying a queer couple in ways both progressive for the West and the East.

While queer narratives from any culture can come with problematic themes and tropes, the existence of potent, nuanced queer stories from Japanese anime cannot be ignored in regards to LGBTQ + culture.

By: Michele Kirichanskaya

Comments

RECOMMENDED POSTS

violence on us mexico border

Violence on the US-Mexico Border

Mayhem consumed the border. For weeks, thousands of migrants have been heading toward the US border from Tijuana into San…

ManhattanvilleCollegeCastleSpringtime

VISIONS Paves The Way for Blind College Freshmen

Moving on from high school to a four-year university can be a hard transition for anyone. Now imagine being blind…

Guns in America – Voices

Guns in America – Voices

“The issues of masculinity and gun violence are intimately connected, but it’s not a casual relationship.” Peabody, MA The issues…

memorial 1

In the wake of three terror attacks, England mourns the many lives lost

  Early Monday morning, Londoners woke up to yet another terrorist attack. In the Finsbury Park section of the city,…

Mental Health – Voices

Mental Health – Voices

“Just because you are struggling with something like anxiety or depression does not mean that you’re broken, it means that…

I Am An Immigrant – Voices

I Am An Immigrant – Voices

“Some people have no choice other than to immigrate. Most people immigrate hoping that they can give their family a…

I Am An Immigrant – Voices

I Am An Immigrant – Voices

“In America, immigrants are treated like second to last citizens. They don’t want us but they need us.” Queens, NY…

Obamacare_replacement_brainstorming_session

Health Care Nightmare: Senate’ Skinny Bill Fails; Trump Replaces Chief of Staff

More Bad News for Obamacare Repeal Plans When the Republicans’ ideal version of the ‘skinny bill’ failed to gain enough…

Mental Health – Voices

Mental Health – Voices

“People are quick to say that ‘tomorrow gets better,’ but they never help you with the present day.” Cincinnati, OH…