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Banana Fish and the History of BL


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CorneredAngel
It...it's not like I post for you or anything!It...it's not like I post for you or anything!


Joined: 17 Jun 2002
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Location: New York, NY
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:29 pm Reply with quote
The history of BL is covered much more thoroughly - and in a different tone - in the Eisner-nominated "Boys Love Manga and Beyond: History, Culture, and Community in Japan" ( University Press of Mississippi, 2015).

https://animemangastudies.wordpress.com/bibliographies/2015-bibliography/boys-love-manga-and-beyond/
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Яeverse



Joined: 16 Jun 2014
Posts: 622
Location: Indianapolis
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:23 pm Reply with quote
Tone of the article seems weird for Banana Fish and ignores much of the pedophile activities of the gang bosses.

Beyond that kiss scene chosen is kind of weird when Id think a more powerful scene to showcase the BLness was actually early on when Ash Lync was at awe at Eiji jumping the fence, and a few other moments, since the kiss didn't actually really generate much of any emotion from Eiji beyond realizing oh a note. Actually other BLness moments seemd to be like the way Shorter was holding Eiji when he was sedated and protecting him like his life depended on it, also that other scene when the handgrip seemed to be given extreme extra focus.
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Chester McCool



Joined: 06 Jan 2016
Posts: 236
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:13 pm Reply with quote
Яeverse wrote:
Tone of the article seems weird for Banana Fish and ignores much of the pedophile activities of the gang bosses.


I mean, the article in itself is kind of weird since nowhere does the mangaka or publisher consider Banana Fish BL.
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Dragonsandphoenix



Joined: 21 Jan 2015
Posts: 57
Location: Malaysia
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 6:14 pm Reply with quote
So my takeaway from the article is that BL can mostly defined by aesthetics. If it looks and sounds like BL then you can make a case that it is. Honestly, like the author I also don't care about labels anymore. Really, if someone can make a sound case to include certain shows within their definition of BL I'm willing to listen on a purely intellectual level. I've seen Evangelion being discussed in a video about BL and it made sense to me.
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Calico



Joined: 05 Jan 2013
Posts: 300
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:20 pm Reply with quote
Yeah, not really of fan of this article. It feels like it's both much shorter than it needs to be in order to explain the subject and it takes a kind of weird tone at points, like in this passage here:

Quote:
Behind the adventures of the Hottest and Tragic-est Boy Alive, Ash Lynx, I'm sure that Banana Fish has a plot somewhere. Maybe even too much of one. But if you're telling me that people aren't watching this for the manservice then boy, do I have a bridge to sell you.


Like uhhh... I know it's supposed to be a joke, but it just comes off as kind of assholish. Like women don't enjoy action movies and are only in it for the hot lead actor, amirite fellas? (Yes, I am aware that Gabriella is a women. I generally enjoy her work.)

I kind of disagree with the argument that BL is anything made for women by women that uses a certain aesthetic. While that take is valid, I generally view BL as nothing more than a label that depends on what magazine a series runs in, not a measure of a series' gayness or anything. (Honestly, if you define it any other way, you get ton of annoying dudes calling anything with attractive male character designs BL, which just confuses things even more. )
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Videogamep



Joined: 10 Jun 2014
Posts: 563
Location: CA
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:25 pm Reply with quote
Calico wrote:
Yeah, not really of fan of this article. It feels like it's both much shorter than it needs to be in order to explain the subject and it takes a kind of weird tone at points, like in this passage here:

Quote:
Behind the adventures of the Hottest and Tragic-est Boy Alive, Ash Lynx, I'm sure that Banana Fish has a plot somewhere. Maybe even too much of one. But if you're telling me that people aren't watching this for the manservice then boy, do I have a bridge to sell you.


Like uhhh... I know it's supposed to be a joke, but it just comes off as kind of assholish. Like women don't enjoy action movies and are only in it for the hot lead actor, amirite fellas? (Yes, I am aware that Gabriella is a women. I generally enjoy her work.)


Yeah, the article itself is fine, but that passage seems kind of out of place. The history of BL is interesting, but that just seems needlessly dismissive and rude to people who actually enjoy the plot.
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Samiamiam



Joined: 31 Jan 2017
Posts: 99
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:28 pm Reply with quote
Videogamep wrote:
Calico wrote:
Yeah, not really of fan of this article. It feels like it's both much shorter than it needs to be in order to explain the subject and it takes a kind of weird tone at points, like in this passage here:

Quote:
Behind the adventures of the Hottest and Tragic-est Boy Alive, Ash Lynx, I'm sure that Banana Fish has a plot somewhere. Maybe even too much of one. But if you're telling me that people aren't watching this for the manservice then boy, do I have a bridge to sell you.


Like uhhh... I know it's supposed to be a joke, but it just comes off as kind of assholish. Like women don't enjoy action movies and are only in it for the hot lead actor, amirite fellas? (Yes, I am aware that Gabriella is a women. I generally enjoy her work.)


Yeah, the article itself is fine, but that passage seems kind of out of place. The history of BL is interesting, but that just seems needlessly dismissive and rude to people who actually enjoy the plot.


The history of BL would be interesting if it wasn't full of incorrect misconceptions that BL fans have tried to get rid of for years.

The article just seems... mean at points. With little jabs against BL here and there it seems kinda "haha look at these stupid women and their stupid hobbies" and I know the woman who wrote it probably didn't intend it that way, but honestly ANN just needs to stop. Leave women and BL and otome the alone. ANN and its writers just can't seem to write anything decent about the topic anyway.
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katscradle



Joined: 05 Jan 2013
Posts: 460
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:49 pm Reply with quote
I don't understand this article because it is simultaneously trying to be broadly educational yet incredibly personal (condescendingly at points) at the same time.

Quote:
So the deal is that Hagio and Takemiya shared an apartment in the early 70s. At one point, a friend of theirs introduced them to the gay magazine (as in, by-and-for actual gay guys) Barazoku. The women were fascinated, and went on to make art in response to the encounter.


Do you mean Takemiya and her friend? Because Hagio was not terribly interested until she went with them to see les Amitiés particulières. It’s in the interview Rachel Thorn did with her. That’s likely a factor why she has this more spiritual agapé aspect in a work like the Heart of Thomas. They use that word too in the interview. Les Amitiés particulières is as Peyrefitte who wrote the novel has put it about pure love from his youth devoid of all sexuality. (Je voulais vivre jusqu’au bout l’amour pur. Et conserver le souvenir d’une «amitié particulière», exempte de toute sexualité.) That’s a quote from the first volume of his memoir Propos secrets. (Course most people in my experience rarely look past les Amitiés particulières into his other work or, his life. Which, fun if you believe creators can never divorce themselves fully from a work and you want to talk about how that unconsciousness might be unintentionally fashioned into titles inspiring homo romanticism/eroticism narratives in Japan and the seemingly pederastic aspects in BL. But, as pointed out BL has this idea of using bodies but, inside is something different.) Probably also a factor about the settings being European and young boys too in the “remediation” as it was put of these works instead of Barazoku. Or idk, something Takemiya talked about like Shounenai no Bigaku (Aesthetics of Boy Loving) the eroticised stuff from Taruho Inagaki that referenced British public schools that is where "shounen ai" term comes from. In addition to other western literature Takemiya and Hagio read like Hesse.

Yes western influence can be seen too with Yoshida. A work like Banana Fish her exploring what connects souls. Midnight Cowboy was written and directed by gay men (though the screenwriter was not). So homoeroticism check. Still, Joe and Rico have something for a variety of reasons that is not sexual in the narrative. Even the director wasn't setting out to make a gay movie. It’s a love story but, not a sexual one. Yoshida also drew from other western media like Maurice and My Own Private Idaho too. But, it was that influence of Midnight Cowboy that made it so she just wasn’t thinking a lot on or, pursuing a sexual narrative during the course of Banana Fish.

So I find a problem with how this whole article is indeed defining BL
Quote:
“in which a large part of the appeal lies in an erotically charged relationship between two men, and that also engage with tropes initiated by the Year 24 group onwards.”


Readings are dynamic. Everything is not erotically charged except in the eye of a creator or consumer. I'm not going to say people aren't watching Banana Fish for manservice. Just indeed not all are. Like me. Now I’m glad someone recognized the themes and history from the 70s. (I’m going to use that word instead of “trope” because trope has come to acknowledge something cheap in most people minds, instead of being about the execution.) I truly thought and remember Banana Fish’s portrayal of the affects of abuse and survivorship in a character that is not saintly was something good because there wasn’t a lot around that tended to go there. And that even what one may see as problematic aspects were reflecting some realities, even if those can be applied wrongly. Like the persistent myth that if someone is not straight they are more likely to be predators. Wish that idea would die. (Those positive things I saw in the comic just might be undermined by the more sexualized MAPPA adaptation.) Even with BL works the appeal has never been about manservice to me. I’m not fawning over characters nor a slasher/shipper of anything even. I’ve never understood the shipping fandom. Which, is maybe why I don’t generally like much BL.

I own and have read Kaze to Ki no Uta in Japanese. I never would describe the series in the terms used either. In fact this article makes it sound horribly salacious. I find that difficult on such a public venue as ANN because I don't like how the series has a potential to be legally contentious. Maybe someone needs to explain to me what a current understand of rape culture is. Because interrogating that or gendered norms is what some of these works with such themes feel like to me. Especially since Takemiya has talked about BL before and did not believe the modern genre has something to offer her. Which I have quoted the English translation on these forums before from the book BL and Beyond when I tried to express not long ago about how labels actually do unfortunately matter.

Quote:
We all make certain claims before we're comfortable with ourselves.


While this statement indeed may hold true for some it is still incredibly condescending and dismissive. People can be perfectly comfortable with sexual expression, content or sexuality and still not form the same opinion. This is also reminding me of remarks about internalized homophobia or misogyny that was sparked by current Banana Fish discourse. Please can we not?

I’m tired. Very tired of this whole “is Banana Fish BL?” thing. As well as the weird undercurrents of multiple toxic stuff coming from people of all stripes going around it. I don't care if someone feels something is BL, I care how they and others then act because of it.
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littlegreenwolf



Joined: 10 Aug 2002
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Location: Seattle, WA
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:01 pm Reply with quote
Well that was a burning pile of click-bait I feel bad for clicking on. Can we get something educational that doesn't try to make fun of and dismiss the people who like it?
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RestLessone



Joined: 02 Aug 2009
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Location: New York
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:05 pm Reply with quote
I'm gonna agree with the some others here... Perhaps unintentionally, this article felt somewhat condescending. I know it was meant likely meant to be humorous, but actively taking a jab at people by stating that they aren't comfortable with themselves. C'mon. It's a shitty thing to say in general, much less aiming it at people who are apparently not.

I see that the article has apparently been edited since its first posting, but I really think there should be a note added stating that it was. (Unless I missed it?) Be forward with it.
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Zac
ANN Executive Editor


Joined: 05 Jan 2002
Posts: 7799
Location: Anime News Network Technodrome
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:11 pm Reply with quote
So, I edited this piece together this morning and I've been reading all the feedback and discussing the intention with the author. We've made a few changes already, but we're going to take all of this feedback and try to improve the piece.

My thanks to everyone who is giving us feedback on it.
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BlueOla



Joined: 08 Feb 2016
Posts: 95
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:52 pm Reply with quote
Not to be mean (or maybe to be mean, I mean the author already reduced the fans to brain-dead drooling fangirls who are only here for the "hot boys") but maybe an article like this should be written by someone who has actually READ and UNDERSTOOD Banana Fish? Not by someone who's clearly just trying to throw out content as fast as possible because it'll bring ANN the clicks. It's not a good look, guys.
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musouka



Joined: 09 Sep 2003
Posts: 534
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:12 pm Reply with quote
This article sure leaves me with more questions than answers. The author of the article clearly likes BL in the same way my mom “likes” checkout aisle romance novels. Which is fine for her, on a personal level. I like goofy, stereotypical system danmei novels, I get it.

But then I wonder... Does the author think BL can be more than a moment’s diversion? Like, the entire conceit of the article as originally written is blaring, blinking “BUT YOU HAVE TO ADMIT IS SURE IS DUMB (fun) THOUGH, RIGHT? I MEAN, THE DUMBEST (fun) SHIT EVER!!” Laughingly, it describes classics in the genre as “slutty” (while implying, on the other hand, that another lauded mangaka is a prude). Yes, being goofy and ridiculous can be freeing and empowering for people that consume BL, but I don’t think that’s why Kaze to Ki no Uta and other works around that period have withstood the tests of time. Did you read those works before you decided to namedrop them, author? I wonder.

Does the author like Banana Fish? She doesn’t seem to, if she wants us to call it BL in the same way she likes BL. I mean, BL is just so gosh darn void of anything like plot. Which Banana Fish has too much of, or maybe too little of. It’s hard to think when boys are kissing in front of you. Because it’s all so DUMB. But that’s a GOOD thing. Why y’all getting so mad? Don’t you know I love BL? Just like everyone loves The Room—that delicious so-bad-it’s-good flavor.

Has the author read Banana Fish? Does she know that Yoshida’s other works have featured LGBT characters? Are they classified as BL? Does everything with that Otomo-ish aesthetic get classified as BL, or just the stuff aimed at women? So many questions.
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Dragonsandphoenix



Joined: 21 Jan 2015
Posts: 57
Location: Malaysia
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:49 am Reply with quote
I find the article to be pretty spot on. People are entitled to their opinion that it felt dismissive but for me it was less condenscension and more gentle riffing.

I mostly agree with the author's points. For starters I do think classifying Banana Fish within BL is acceptable. Also BL has a complicated history with gay media and has a lot of problematic tropes. I like BL but I'm not above having a sense of humour about my hobby. Gab has also stated that she thinks BF's plot is quite silly which I agree with. Hence the plot joke. I understand though that fans might find it mean.
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CorneredAngel
It...it's not like I post for you or anything!It...it's not like I post for you or anything!


Joined: 17 Jun 2002
Posts: 799
Location: New York, NY
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:51 am Reply with quote
Quote:
Does she know that Yoshida’s other works have featured LGBT characters?


Show me a Yoshida work with a B or a T character.

- Mikhail Koulikov
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