[Fujoshi Friday] What is Fujoshi / Fudanshi? [Definition / Meaning]

Fu-who, Fu-what???
One of the many reasons why anime is so unbelievably awesome is the fact that there is a wide variety of different characters who are passionate about and enjoy different things. That being said, it goes without saying that the above extends towards not-so-mainstream interests that have other characters look at them funny. While some characters enjoy regular story books and others, manga, there are some who enjoy those with a certain twist… and so, we have the often wacky, sometimes surprising and often lovable character archetype known as the Fujoshi/Fudanshi!

“Fujoshi” is a term that came into prominence in the early 2000s on 2-chan, a Japanese message board website. With the Japanese being experts of pun and double entendre usage, and Japanese being a language which wholly accommodates puns, it’s of no surprise that lexically, the word “fujoshi” (腐女子) can be used to mean “rotten girl”, but the term is also a homophone- “fujoshi” can be written 「婦女子」, which actually means “respectable woman”. With that in mind, “fujoshi” is a well-constructed, witty and humourous, somewhat self-deprecating word coined by fujoshi themselves to describe a female fan of Boys’ Love, fudanshi being the male counterpart of the fujoshi.

We Love Boys’ Love

The most important characteristic for any character to be considered a fujoshi/fudanshi is the enjoyment of BL, or Boys’ Love in media. At times, these characters go as far as pairing up characters who they believe would make a great couple, as far as Boys’ Love goes. It is this aspect of the fujoshi archetype in anime which opens up the floor for their often insane and perverted antics; however, it is important to note that it is very possible to have one without the other. These characters are fully capable of enjoying BL without attempting to re-enact it using the people around them.

While Boys’ Love essentially features male homosexual relationships, most authors and fujoshi and fudanshi themselves are generally heterosexual and the predominant demographic being young Japanese women, stretching out to Japanese women in their early to late 40s. Some estimates place of 80% of all consumers of BL and yaoi media as women. Boys’ Love being made with an intended female demographic means that it can therefore be considered part of the greater Shoujo genre. That could also explain the being reflected in anime, where fujoshi characters are a lot more common than fudanshi characters, as more women are consuming the media than men. However, with something as dynamic as anime, this trend could come to change very, very soon.

Their love of all things BL can either be casual or borderline terrifying, with a whole lot of fujoshi and fudanshi going out of their way to create BL situations in their everyday lives. It is the male romantic novel version of anime fans spending hours with their hands together trying to gather energy. It is an intense interest in male relationships that at times, gives them just what they need to start the day.


Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu (Highschool Life of a Fudanshi)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2016 – September 2016
  • Read More

Sakaguchi Ryou, nicknamed “Gucchi”, is a Boys’ Love fanatic, a fudanshi but due to the fact that he’s a guy, he sometimes feels awkward about pursuing his interest. While Ryou initially hangs out with his best friend Nakamura, he later befriends a plethora of interesting characters such as fellow Boys’ Love lovers, the fujoshi named Rumi and fudanshi Daigo as well as his homosexual friend Yuujirou. Together, they experience high school life together – often resulting in hilarious situations!

In what seems like fate, Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu is a 2016 anime that deals with a main character who is a fudanshi and therefore the perfect example of well… a fudanshi. Sakaguchi has a passion for Boys’ Love, but, another interesting aspect of his character is the fact that he loves BL but identifies as a heterosexual male. In addition to being a fudanshi, Sakaguchi is otherwise a regular citizen. So, it can be said that the love of BL has no restrictions – if you wanna “fu”out, do it with Sakaguchi and his friends – you’ll love it. Boys’ Love: boys love it too.

Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu PV


Arai Tamako from Barakamon

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: _July 2014 – September 2014

When the exciting prospect in the world of calligraphy, Handa Seishuu, punches the curator of an art gallery during an exhibition, his parents see it fit to send him off to the remote Goto Islands, a rural area contrasting the hustle and bustle of Tokyo to which he was accustomed. Finding himself in a new environment, Handa must adapt to his new life surrounded by boisterous neighbours and fellow villagers, all while working on a calligraphy style he can call his own.

One of his many neighbours who just can’t seem to stay away from Handa and his work is none other than 14-year-old Arai Tamako, a middle schooler, otaku and aspiring mangaka who is normally accompanied by her best friend, Miwa. At first, Tamako was fairly reserved and kept to herself but spoke for days when the topic was manga. Tamako is a closet fujoshi and has her interest in male relationships brought to when she walks in on Handa and fellow villager Hiroshi mid-embrace, causing her to have a fujoshi meltdown. Since she doesn’t want the other villagers to know that she is an otaku, Tamako does not fully accept her fujoshi tendencies as they are an extension of her manga-obsession, but to her chagrin (read “delight”), Tamako constantly walks in on Handa and Hiroshi in compromising situations which ignite her fujoshi fire.


Fujoshi and Fudanshi - Fudifferences

Despite being two sides of the same coin, fujoshi and fudanshi tend to have fairly noticeable differences in terms of how they are portrayed in most anime and it is of no surprise; given that in real life, fujoshi make up most of the Boys’ Love loving demographic and so it’s far easier to make depictions of a fairly prominent group than it would be with one that is somewhat obscure. That being said; however, a lot of characters are not always defined by their love of BL. Given how the target audience of BL is women, fujoshi anime characters are different from their fudanshi counterparts because although it is an interest that shocks other characters to the core, they can engage with it on a whole other level, a “for the girls, by the girls” situation. And so, with seemingly less hindrance than fudanshi, fujoshi immerse themselves in their favourite media - birthing the stereotypical fujoshi: an obsessive, borderline insane character with a hilarious lack of tact at times and a lack of true regard for what people have to say. Be that as it may, stereotypes only hold fast for several characters and others tend to be very different.

Because heterosexual males consume Boys’ Love and similar media a whole lot less than their female counterparts in real life, they are featured a whole lot less in anime, but given changing times, they are being centred a lot more in manga and will probably appear more in anime. Fudanshi personalities are vastly different from the stereotypical fujoshi; however, they do have a lot of the same tendencies - fudanshi can be obsessive and in pursuit of the creation of the same experiences they see in BL media in their everyday lives. In contrast to that desire, fudanshi seem to be under more pressure in a social context - they work hard to keep their “fu” a secret and therefore live under a more stifled experience, since they find it difficult to explain why they enjoy homosexual romantic media as heterosexual males.


Hato Kenjiro from Genshiken: Nidaime

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: July 2013 – September 2013

Based on the original series Genshiken, an anime about college freshman Sasahara Kanji and his experiences in the Genshiken student society, a club focused mainly on the various facets of otaku culture – from anime and manga to cosplay, Kanji joins the club in order to share his hidden thoughts on manga and anime. As time goes on; however, Kanji slowly grows accustomed to the otaku way of life in Genshiken. In Genshiken: Nidaime, another college semester calls for the recruitment of new club members, but most new recruits are attracted by a BL poster drawn by one of the Genshiken members – a fact which could turn Genshiken into a Yaoi haven and remove the club from its original purpose.

As a result of the prospects of spending time with other BL lovers, Hato Kenjiro joins Genshiken as the only male recruit. Due to the fact that he is a fudanshi, Kenjiro often attends club meetings dressed up as a very attractive girl in order to be able to enjoy his love of BL with less judgment. It is because of this crossdressing that it was first thought that he is a girl. Despite this, because he is actually male in the anime and a fudanshi. Because of his crossdressing, most people think he is just another fujoshi – but one interesting aspect of his character is the relative normalcy of his personality; he is just a guy who enjoys BL, whereas most fujoshi would have a plethora of other quirks which most other characters would find unsettling.

Genshiken Second Generation Official Trailer


Conclusion

All things considered, fujoshi and fudanshi are really just very passionate fans of the Boys’ Love genre as a whole and for the most part, they want to be able to enjoy it all without getting foul looks from other people. They appear in scores of different anime and often spice things up and add humour to all kinds of situations and are somewhat misunderstood characters. Fujoshi and fudanshi often have a plethora of other quirks that make them a whole lot more interesting, funny and enjoyable and despite anime having a knack for exaggerating certain aspects of human life and culture, the current fujoshi and fudanshi trends in anime and manga can be seen as a reflection of those same trends in real life, albeit simplified. That being said we hope this has been helpful; perhaps you now know what to call yourself. If you’d like to know more about anything else, or feel like sharing your favourites with us, drop a comment below – share the love of Boys’ Love with everyone else and fu-out!

Hoshi-kun

Writer

Author: Hoshi-kun

I’m South African, harbouring an obsession for anything remotely related to Japan, mostly anime, of course. I draw sometimes. Some people call me Naledi, it’s my real name, or something like that. People think I’m stoic because I don’t smile often (I do sometimes). I like languages. Hoshi-kun and Naledi are the same side of the same coin.

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