Variety Show Discusses 'Boys-Love-ification' of Real-World High School Students

posted on by Jennifer Sherman

Wednesday's episode of the Honma Dekka!? TV variety program, hosted by comedian and actor Sanma Akashiya, discussed the phenomenon of "boys-love-ifying" real-world high school boys.

Apparently, male companions who are not necessarily romantically involved have been increasingly seen doing relatively intimate behaviors such as holding hands. When many people see such activities among young men in public in Japan, they have been quick to label it as "BL" (boys-love).

Although holding hands can be an innocuous gesture, some of the reported actions involved with this recent trend include more typically sexualized behaviors. For example, people have also observed the "Pocky game" among male friends as part of "boys-love-ification."

The Pocky game is a popular party game in Japan. Rules vary, but the game typically involves two players who put the opposite ends of one Pocky chocolate biscuit stick in their mouths. In Lady-and-the-Tramp style, they eat the Pocky. The person who backs out of the situation first loses. If both participants persist, their mouths inevitably join in a kiss.

Another aspect of the trend that the program described was young men hanging out in public while wearing matching outfits. In recent years, there has been a trend of couples who are involved romantically wearing matching outfits. The trend is popular in Japan, South Korea, and other parts of Asia.

Youth culture critic and marketing analyst Yōhei Harada noted on the television program that two men being involved in emotionally close but non-sexual relationships is sometimes called a "bromance." Although the term is popular in the West, it is not as widely known in Japan.

Online commenters had a variety of reactions to the "boys-love-ification" phenomenon. Some people wondered if actions such as those described above are really enough to label something as "boys-love." Such behaviors could be normal signs of affection among friends.

Other commenters called out the double standard when talking about groups of female versus male youths. If female high school students did the same activities, society may not be as quick to apply a label comparable to "boys-love." Although Japan does not have as strong of a "macho male" culture as some other countries, public displays of affection between males may still result in observers labeling the relationship as something amusing or inappropriate.

What do you think of the "boys-love-ification" phenomenon? Is it appropriate to use the "BL" label for people not romantically involved? Tell us in the forum.

[Via Nijimen]

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