Underage sex and romance in Japanese homoerotic manga and anime

Aleardo Zanghellini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article discusses a genre of Japanese cartoons and comics known as yaoi or BL ('Boys Love') and produced by female artists for essentially female audiences. The subject matter of yaoi/BL works is romantic and sexual relationships between males. Often these works depict homoerotic relationships involving underage people, and as such they are liable to being censored on the basis of legal provisions restricting the circulation and consumption of 'child pornography' as defined in some western countries. After identifying the reasons for the social and legal acceptability of yaoi/BL in Japan, the article discusses its vulnerability to censorship in Australia and Canada. It then goes on to examine the distinctive features of the yaoi/BL genre and its value as a form of speech, particularly in light of the fundamental questions it raises in relation to our self-conception as sexual beings. Lastly, after arguing that the harm-fulness of yaoi/BL is very much open to debate, the article concludes by casting doubt on the desirability of restricting the circulation of yaoi/BL material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-177
Number of pages19
JournalSocial and Legal Studies
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

Keywords

  • Anime
  • BL
  • Censorship
  • Child pornography
  • Manga
  • Same-sex relationships
  • Shounen-ai
  • Yaoi

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