Is No.6 a yaoi?
NOTE: unless you are a 腐女子 (fujoshi) or a 腐男子 (fudanshi), you are hereby granted permission to skip this post.
[Talk between Nikki and Moro]
Nikki – lilac text
Moro – rose text
Before starting on this, I think we should clarify some Japanese terminology, but more importantly, what some words mean in Japan versus what they mean in the Western community. And since we don’t want to be sexist, even if this post refers mostly to yaoi, we’ll clarify yuri, too.
Firstly, the term yaoi is an acronym dating from the ‘70s, which stands for 山[場]なし、落ちなし、意味なし (“No peak, no fall, no meaning”). In Japan, yaoi is a parody of the BL (boys’ love, or 少年愛 – shōnen-ai) genre: while BL focuses on the more serious aspects of a relationship between two male characters (i.e., all the drama which makes you cry your eyes out – the juicy stuff), yaoi depicts more explicit content without much of a story, just like the phrase 山[場]なし、落ちなし、意味なし says. In the Western community, however, BL refers to fluffy, softcore stuff, while yaoi is more on the hentai side of things.
Secondly, the term yuri (百合), also known as girls’ love (GL), is in Japan an umbrella term which encompasses all of the aspects of a relationship between two female characters (i.e., sexual and/or romantic, both implicit and explicit). In contrast, in the West, yuri refers to the more explicit depictions of a lesbian relationship; for the fluffier (again), more drama-focused stories, the fans use the term 少女愛 (shōjo-ai, i.e., girls’ love). Noteworthy is that in Japan, shōjo-ai refers to paedophilia.
And now, let’s tell our readers where this stemmed from. Well, as far as I remember, once we finished our co-post on Madoka Magica, and we decided it was not yuri (and the above paragraph supports that, which is why I deliberately wanted to include it somewhere – anywhere), I think it was you who asked “but then is No.6 not a yaoi?” And I think I’d said something along the lines of “well, they kiss in No.6, something they don’t do in Madoka Magica; so, I’d say the shite between Nezumi and Shion is on the more romantic side, unlike the one between Madoka and Homura”. I mean I’d say that a kiss is a pretty bold way of expressing affection – considering we’re talking about the way it’s viewed in the Japanese culture and media, so this is what I’m basing it on when I say that No.6 could be considered yaoi, in that regard.
When I initially found out about No.6 – the anime – I also ended up finding out about this yaoi/not yaoi dilemma: there are definitely people out there who think “OMG! I’m not going to watch this because it’s a yaoi”—
And you think it’s not?
I don’t think it’s not a yaoi, but it’s not a yaoi in a traditional sense either (i.e., it’s not all drama and f*****g and sucking either).
So if you were to take out those negations you end up with what?
It is a yaoi, but at the same time I don’t think that’s the main focus of the story. Well it is a big part of it, but I personally don’t feel like it’s the main focus of it. I guess I just feel that No.6 is just a good depiction of two very realistic characters and the relationship that forms between them. I mean, it’s not a yaoi either in the Japanese nor the Western definition. Could you actually classify it as a BL?
I don’t think I would. I mean it’s just an aspect of the story, it just is there. It’s not the biggest thing that happens in the story, there are other bigger and more important things that are the focus of it; their gestures are an important aspect of their relationship and how they develop it—
But it’s not what the story itself revolves around. So you could say that the relationship that forms between Shion and Nezumi is an off-shot of the events that happened in the dystopia that is No.6. I mean if those things hadn’t happened, they wouldn’t have met.
Yeah, I wish they would have actually done something on that stormy night when they first met as kids – I’m a perv and proud, OK?!
Well, there were lots of innuendos (SQUEEK!). On another note, No.6 was published in a magazine (Aria – Kodansha) which publishes shōjo manga, but it specifically targets an older audience (16-22 years). So in that sense I guess you could say we’re dealing with a more mature story and that’s why the whole BL content in it is not such a big deal. At least not in the ‘ewww!’ sense, where people end up making a fuss about it.
Well, the problem is that the terms gay and lesbian have come to have truly negative connotations for some people, and I guess that’s where all this silly and ignorant attitude stems from. I mean, some view this gay/lesbian thing in a negative light and they don’t even want to try to understand it, therefore completely disregarding stories such as No.6.
You also can’t deny that yaoi and even BL include loads of really weird, effed up, and maybe even creepy stuff, because not everything’s going to be peachy in BLland. I mean if in the West yaoi is considered to be porn, people are going to easily dismiss something if they hear that it has yaoi content in it (provided they’re not into that).
Yup, and that’s why people should take it in the Japanese way, and then there would be no more confusion and such brainless situations, where people argue against something without even checking it out. I mean, I die inside when I see that after so much time of being exposed to Japanese productions, there is still this huge clash in mentalities, and people actually try to explain why Japan is creating the media it is creating, and the way it does it. And that makes no sense: I mean, it just is; that’s what they do, and if one takes it in the Japanese way, in the Japanese context, even tentacles makes sense – it’s just the way their creativity goes; some things may have a reason for being there (like tentacles), some may just be there because the author wanted it, and that’s to be respected. One either likes it, or not – just like Marmite, but one can’t argue against something if they don’t even bother looking into it. And I ended up rambling again.
I’d say that’s perfectly fine ^^. So we’ve agreed that No.6 is not a yaoi, by any definition, nor is it a BL; and it doesn’t qualify as a shōnen-ai either, because that is not the main focus of the story that is No.6. As you said, it’s a story that people should just take as it is (the same way as the Japanese do – as they don’t categorise it as anything but mystery, sci-fi, dystopia).
So there you have it, guys, enjoy. By the way, the title translates to “stop it, my arse hurts!”
Thank you for stopping by and for reading!