'Finding the law' through creating and consuming gay manga in Japan: from heteronormativity to queer activism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In late 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States decided, in a landmark decision, that state-level bans against same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. Their ruling, extending the legality of same-sex marriage across the entire US, had a profound and unexpected impact on the Japanese media landscape, leading to increased discussions about LGBT rights in Japan within the mainstream press. Whilst post-war Japan has a long tradition of LGBT activism, the mainstream media have largely ignored these movements. The US Supreme Court ruling, however, spurred an increase of discourse concerning both domestic and international LGBT issues and became a talking point in Japanese society in general. As a result, Japan has seen a veritable explosion of popular culture texts with LGBT themes in what Sunagawa refers to as Japan’s new ‘LGBT boom.’ These include television discussion shows, TV serials (known locally as ドラマ: dorama, drama) and manga comics such as 弟の夫: Otōto no Otto (My Younger Brother’s Husband) by noted gay manga artist Tagame Gengoroh. Of course, manga with queer themes are not new, with a homoerotic genre of manga known as Boys Love produced for largely heterosexual female audiences having a long history. Furthermore, manga produced for and by gay men (known variously as ゲイコミ: geikomi, バラ: baraor 野郎系: yarō-kei) have been published in Japan’s gay sub-cultural press since at least the 1970s. What does appear to be new is the mainstreaming of such popular culture texts, and their emergence out of sub-cultural spaces into wider societal recognition and engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLaw and justice in Japanese popular culture
Subtitle of host publicationfrom crime fighting robots to duelling pocket monsters
EditorsAshley Pearson, Thomas Giddens, Kieran Tranter
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781351470513, 9781315136134
ISBN (Print)9781138300262
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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