When I saw this search term come up recently, I thought ‘oh look, another strange, Hetalia inspired search term ending up on my blog’. But instead of being directed to Hetalia episode 5428, they were directed towards my top 30 anime. What’s more disconcerting is that they probably found what they were looking for. My top 10 that includes Death Note, Gankutsuou, Code Geass, Durarara, Berserk and Samurai Champloo, all series that have more than their fare share of homoerotic tension if viewed from a certain angle.
So….why? Why are a lot of my favourite anime littered with large yaoi fangirl fanbases? Forget Hetalia for a second. Hetalia is a female version of moe. Why do the likes of Durarara, Death Note, Code Geass etc. attract both myself and yaoi fangirls? Well, the first and obvious answer people would come up with would be that I am, in fact, a women. Now that’s quite an easy thing to check the answer to aaaaand…nope, I’m male. The second answer people could come up with is that I am gay. For the sake of research, let’s test this theory.
Nope, not doing anything. Now a women, upon viewing this picture, would feel her nipples go hard. A homosexual man would get an erection. Myself? No erection (and in case you were wondering, no, my nipples aren’t hard either). Now time to test another picture.
Pretty hot stuff. Women upon viewing this picture would probably close the browser window, or perhaps critique Eri’s taste in lingerie. As for myself, I’m displaying the typical bodily reaction a male would upon being sexually aroused.
But maybe the reason I like these sorts of anime has nothing to do with sexual preferences! I know, it’s shocking to think but maybe it’s true. Perhaps the reason I like these anime with homoerotic tension is because they’re the only anime that have any sort of decent male character relationship dynamics.
Think of what attracts yaoi fangirls to a certain pairing for a second. Beyond the typical hot guys and they happen to exist in the same universe (sometimes even that’s not a requirement). The two male characters have strong feelings for each other. Whether it be interest, friendship, loathing, fascination or any other type of emotion that means both characters find themselves thinking about the other frequently. There’s a spark between the two that make them fascinating to watch together. There’s a fantastic tension between the two when they’re together. To use our favourite Sushi Chef’s phrase, the two have a ‘complex’ about each other that draws them together.
This type of relationship can happen between a male character and a female character as well, but in these cases it’s quite clearly implied many times that the two have romantic feelings for each other. It’s incredibly rare to find a male/female relationship dynamic that isn’t romantic that has anywhere near the same tension as a romantic relationship would have.
What about female/female character dynamics? I’m afraid I’m drawing a blank on that one. Maybe it’s because I’m a man but I never find these friendships, hatred or any sort of fascination between the two ever that interesting to watch. While there may be one interesting character in the relationship, the other is often this do-good girl who runs around with a smile on her face, ever intent on being helpful or moe or whatever. The other female character has a passing interest in the other, usually with one hand on their hip, a wry smile and saying “you’re an interesting person”. OK, that’s a gross overgeneralisation, but there doesn’t seem to be that much proper exploration of female/female character dynamics.
I really tried to think of a female duo I enjoyed watching, but none of my favourites threw up anything. Hellsing has a fantastic character dynamic between Alucard and Integra, as well as Alucard and Victoria (in the original Hellsing that is. Not Ultimate. Ultimate sucks balls), but nothing between Integra and Victoria. Black Lagoon? You’d think Revy and Balalaika would be interesting to watch but there’s no spark there. Ayanami and Asuka? Nope. Tessa and Kaname? Nope. Yoko and Nia? Nope. Anything in School Rumble? Eri and Mikoto are rather interesting but there’s certainly no spark there.
Even take some classic examples people might use. Haibane Remnei with Raki and Reki. Nope, I never found them interesting to watch together. I was much more fascinated by the world than the characters. Azumanga Daoih and the two teachers? They were fun but that was about it. Mai HiME? Hugely boring cast of characters so much so that I can’t remember there names, let alone whether they had interesting relationships. Minami-ke siblings? Chiaki and I AM BOSS were fun to watch but again, nothing doing. In fact, the only female/female character dynamic I could come up with that I enjoyed watching was the Noir pairing of Mireille and Kirika. They were fascinating to watch together and watch their relationship slowly change throughout the series.
But that’s it on the female/female character dynamic side. Male/Female there’s Horo and Lawrence, Nodame and Chiaki, Jinto and Lafiel, Senjogahara and Arararagi, Murasaki and Shinkurou, Sagara and Kaname. Male/Male character dynamics there’s Light and L, Shizuo and Izaya, Mugen and Jin (love the unspoken conversations that went between these two throughout the anime), Simon and Kamina, Reinhard and Yang (they rarely ever meet each other, but the presence of the one is always on the others mind), Vash and Wolfwood.
Or maybe I’m not looking in the right places. As you can probably tell from most popular search engine term being ‘durarara episode 24’ I originally started writing this post almost 3 month ago. Since then, I’ve stumbled across a series that gives evidence contrary to what this post says.
Noizimi, the guys who put up legal streams of Irresponsible Captain Tylor that is actually available in my country, put up the first two episodes of MariMite. Within 5 minutes of the first episode I saw everything that bores me about anime. It was a bunch of girls being insufferably nice to each other in its near purest form. An all-girls catholic school where nobody is allowed to move quicker than a light stroll. Where female/female character dynamics are on the menu for the rest of eternity. Yet I reached the end of the episode and found I didn’t hate the thing. It took me until the second episode before I discovered why. When the girls were talking about leaves falling and their favourite type of nuts, it’s as boring as any other ‘bunch of girls being insufferably nice to each other’ anime out there. But the rest is politics in the guise of a yuri anime. They hide harsh put downs as polite rebukes. The characters are fascinated by each other and find their minds constantly stuck on that other person. Unlike the many other shows with a Mary Sue leads or moe girls, these characters are actually interesting to watch together.
So maybe female/female character dynamics are as fascinating as male/male character dynamics. I’ve just yet to watch those anime that do it well yet.