Darling, Your Age is Showing

The appearance of age through yuri and BL reading habits.

After ranting about the lack of BL anime out there the other day, I decided to actually go to read some BL manga. As I am currently broke to the point where it really isn’t at all funny, and I was hankering for some instant gratification, I settled on trawling through scanlations instead of ordering some volumes or poking around the book store (other fun fact: car = broken).

I went through page after page of Baka-Manga Updates, fruitlessly searching. It seemed like there was nothing I was interested in! It felt a bit shocking.

However, I then happily stumbled upon something that looked interesting. And as I poked around the scanlator’s website, I found myself happily pleased – there were actually quite a few titles here that I could enjoy!

And then it struck me – one of the things I was happy to find in these titles? Adults. Y’know… with jobs. And real lives. And real figures.

Wait, what?

This actually wasn’t entirely too surprising – I’ve noticed over the past few months that my ability to endure schoolgirl yuri has tailed off considerably (noticeable exceptions being titles such as Aoi Hana and Milk Morinaga’s Girl Friends). I quickly page through yuri with apple-cheeked young girls, barely suppressing yawns – oh, another story about a girl innocently crushing on another girl? And they both happen to be wearing serafukus? Meh.

At the same time, though, my mileage for BL starring wispy high school boys wasn’t really running out. Yet. So this new need for some more maturity (superficial or actual) in BL titles is newer, and yet not precisely novel.

Looking at it, I tend to think that this is a sign of the fact that I am getting older. I am going to be graduating this spring from college, so high school is receding further and further into hindsight (halle-fucking-lujah) (<— evidence that ‘older’ does not always mean ‘more mature’) (fun fact!: this also means that my first high school reunion is quickly appearing in the headlights!). Teen angst just doesn’t quite do it for me any more in the way it used to; I don’t relate to it as well any more, nor do I find the same degree of comfort in it as I did when I was closer to that age range. The adult characters in the BL and yuri I prefer these days tend to have problems I can relate to more acutely, such as filial expectations and employment.

There is also a tendency in titles featuring these older characters to not pull the “I’m not gay, I’m just attracted to you!” trick, which I find infinitely irritating, and only moreso as I get on with life. Not that I was ever exactly tolerant of this trope, mind you. However, I do think it represents a lessened willingness on my own part to gloss over bullshit.

Now, I haven’t dispensed with the tales of high schoolers in love wholly. I still have some teeny sentimentality in my heart which goes “aww” over those sweet little stories which end with a mutual kiss. Even if I do get older, there does remain something evocative in such stories; nostalgia is sweet, regardless of how antiquated it becomes.  Of course, I do nevertheless cast some blame on such tales for encouraging me to almost canonize my own experiences during high school and even early college with such youthful endeavors of love.

“Youthful endeavors of love”? Man, who writes this shit?

Anyway! Day is getting older and needs something more substantial than furtive kisses in empty classrooms alternated with angst over unreturned affections! Bring on the hot salarymen sex!

Err, not exactly. Although I certainly don’t mind that as well.  I just like my characters to act a little more rationally, which, mercifully, adult characters generally do (at least at a higher rate than do teenaged characters). And, like I said before, I enjoy their adult problems a little more. I can get the “family is pressuring B-san to get married” thing since my own grandparents have, disturbingly enough, begun to beat that drum. I can understand that feeling of aimlessness as relating to occupation and career goals. Ultimately, its just all those expectations of adulthood bundled together that I feel resonance with, and which just aren’t there in most BL and yuri manga, since most of those are about sixteen year olds – the closest you get with those is when characters are studying and stressing over graduating high school, although this is generally then parlayed into studying for college entrance exams. (Interestingly enough, I find that notion fairly alien in more than one way – American colleges and universities don’t have entrance exams, so there’s one, but, even more, I didn’t really stress much over the college application process as it just felt so inevitable at that point. I hope I don’t come off as boasting on this; its more that I knew I’d worked my ass off during high school, and I knew that failure to get into a good college wasn’t permissible in my household. I would also argue that my expectations were not unreasonable; I did not apply for Harvard, as a classmate of mine did, with below-zone SAT scores and above-average GPA on that truly roulette-esque gamble of them balancing out somehow.)

So, I suppose before you know it I’ll be reading stuff about older, married gay couples who are chiefly concerned about income taxes and what is for dinner. Ah dear.

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9 Responses to Darling, Your Age is Showing

  1. Baka-Raptor says:

    Harvard sucks, and taxes are really gay.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Harvard undergrad sucks, unless you really adore T.A.’s teaching classes with one hundred other people after having gone through the most vigorous application process in the country.

  2. wm says:

    So…what happened to the car?

    • adaywithoutme says:

      It heard I wanted to put underglow on it and ceased working properly out of spite.

  3. 2DT says:

    You know, the delightful thing about high school reunions is that you don’t have to go. 🙂

    What’s really interesting about this is that BL fandom, in its current form, is just about as old as you are. Twenty years or so. So as you grow older, theoretically so will it. Even if the bulk of it is still schoolboy romance catering to the new blood, I suspect you will be accounted for and catered to.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Well, you don’t have to go unless you’re a total sap/loser and caved to a good friend’s pleas to go with her… sometimes I really think someone should just drag me out back and shoot me or something.

      I definitely do think there is more BL featuring adults than there used to be – kind of makes me feel weird to use the term ‘BL’ to describe those sorts of stories, though! I would also say I’ve seen a similar trend in yuri, although to a lesser extent – moe-moe apple-cheeked schoolgirls still reign fairly supreme.

  4. sniffits says:

    I’m getting to be that way as well. I want realistic stories with adults in realistic situations and relationships. I always blamed myself (as I got better at writing I demanded more from movies and books, so why not BL and yuri?) but I think it may also be due to just growing up.

  5. itsubun says:

    Remember the days when we used to discuss writing our own “adventures” XD

    Been a while, how have you been?

  6. Soniasonia says:

    Well, the most mature and intellingent BL mangas I’ve found are actually about schoolboys… I consider “Kaze to Ki no Uta” by Keiko Takemiya the best BL work ever, and it’s about two 14-year-old-boys in the late XIX Century France. I wouls like to recommend it, if you haven’t read it yet. My other favourites are works by Hagio Moto (anything by her are very deep philosophical mangas, dealing with gender issues in a sci-fi fashion), Takemiya’s “Natsu e no Tobira” and a surreal comedy “Patalliro” by Maya Mineo. Not much sex in any of these works, through.

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