Jakkal vs Western BL
Fight of the century
So if it's not clear, today's subject is: why do I (personally; this is all a matter of YMMV opinion) personally find that I tend to bounce off of most western-fandom-space original fiction that postures at being for fujoshi?
The caveat of course is that I can only talk about what I have personally seen, so this is hardly exhaustive, but I enjoy making observations and synthesizing things based on what I've seen, lmao.
So for starters, let's define what I mean. I am specifically referring to things that are made in English and are explicitly targeting a fujoshi audience, which tends to mean "An ensemble cast consisting of men and intended to have a lot of m/m bait, if not straight up textual m/m relationships". There are two core problems I tend to have, though I think in many ways they are simpatico:
- First is that they seem to shy away from the voyeuristic pleasure of BL. I know that word has a lot of negative connotations but I am using it purely descriptively, as something that I, personally, am in fact looking for.
- Second is that I feel there tends to be a tendency to rely on shallow reference pools, leading to an overreliance on predominantly shonen, with the only references to woman-targeted media from the early 2010s at the latest.
So oh boy I'm gonna have fun walking those back!
Point 1: Commit to the Voyeurism, CowardI think the easiest way for me to articulate what I mean here is: stop trying to make a dating sim.
There is a distinct discomfort with creating something that is meant to be observed and not related to, when in my opinion part of the textural joy of BL is that you're supposed to be observing it from the eyes of a third party. Even when you're playing as the protagonist in a BL game, there is -- in my eyes and experience -- a distinct sense that you are not really supposed to be viewing him as a proxy for yourself.
Because, like, even if it's m/m, yume is wildly different from BL! But it feels like a lot of people have a distinct discomfort with creating something that is meant to be observed and not participated in, possibly for fear of being labeled fetishizing. I'm not going to win this battle. I know that. But even speaking as a gay man (though this would be an equally fair thing to want if I were a completely cishet woman, do not @ me) part of the joy of BL is in the distance, in watching heightened emotions play out without being expected to project onto them.
This isn't a matter of whining about diversity or whatever (I am going to personally piss in your shoes if you think this is what I'm doing), but there is I feel too often a focus on including the viewer when the entire point is being a distant observer.
This is why I think these things tend to parse better when they commit to just being explicit romances (or erotica), but then those in turn don't tend to be pitched as being fujoshi-targeted.
Point 2: We Need to Go DeeperThe second point, I have articuated thusly:
If you are going to make an ensemble cast, then you need to show me that you actually know what's been going on in the joseimuke space in the past 5 years. Free!, DMMD, and maybe Sk8 are not going to cut it.
There are some archetypes that are wildly popular in the joseimuke space, and I've half-sarcastically called them the Itaru (courtesy of A3!) and the Figaro (courtesy of Mahoutsukai no Yakusoku). These are very particular niches who fall outside of the "cool blue, genki red, rival, childhood friend, buff one, bitchy one, token shota" template, and they are wildly, obscenely popular.
They are -- respectively -- a guy who has absolutely horrible fucking taste in hentai, and a slimy guy who pretends to be nice on main to hide his power level from a more idealistic member of the cast. These dudes absolutely print money, and yet I see people return to the same well of the same six character types copy-pasted from the latest fujobaiting shonen. And you know what, guys? If you're just straight up making BL, you don't have to stick to the shonen archetypes. I promise.
But this isn't just about not having the currently-popular character types, it's also kind of about the role of ambiguity. If you want to have an ensemble cast, then like... I'm begging you with my fucking words to stop pairing everyone off into strictly 1-to-1 canonical pairings. For the love of god. Have some ambiguity. Have characters with different relationships with each other. Have some options.
Basically what I'm saying isThere seems to be a fundamental discomfort with the idea of making something that's tropey and baity and meant to be observed from the outside, which leads to a lot of English-language content theoretically made for fujos just kind of feeling like remixes of a few things that were popular in 2012 getting remixed with the entire appeal being that it's textually gay instead of just implicitly, which tends to accidentally sail by the point that part of the fun of fujobait is being able to go coconuts without being handed everything.
When I want fujobait, I don't want a bunch of eligible bachelors who are all going to pair off into nice married couples, I want a bunch of dudes who all desperately need to be sectioned.