I swear Gakuen Heaven is better than it looks, guys!
Are you a BL fan or have you been one? Did you suffer from an inability to tear yourself free of shows that you knew were going to be utter crap despite knowing you were going to be disappointed? Do you sadly look back over hours of your life spent on paper-thin plots and characters with the characterization of your average stick figure? Well do I sure know how you feel!
I was recently (as in, ten minutes ago) looking over one of the columns on Anime News Network, The Mike Toole Show; the latest is a column about “least” essential anime, an amusing change of pace from the usual lists purporting to inform of what shows must be watched in order for a person to be a “true” fan. Looking it over, I noticed shows I myself have seen – Jewel Hunter Lime B.E.M.! Trouble Chocolate! Twilight of the Dark Master! – for better or worse. It was slightly exciting, and my mind began to whirl, trying to recall the titles to long-neglected OVA’s and others I watched in the early days of my fanhood. I popped over to MAL, considering writing my own post about things like Don’t Leave Me Alone Daisy, before another sort of inspiration struck me as I quickly realized how many of the forgettable titles I’ve seen are bottom of the barrel BL affairs.
And, there were a lot.
From the mercifully short Fish in the Trap to the so-bad-I-never-finished-it Marginal Prince, there is an astounding amount of incredibly shitty BL anime out there to be found. And while most genres are also comprised mainly of crap, they also benefit from volume – yes, most shounen franchises suck, but when you’ve got hundreds of them, there are at least more that are worth watching than you can count on a couple fingers.
Which does bring us to what baffles so many outsiders – if most BL is bad, and if so many of us willingly admit its bad and howl about how bad it is… why do we keep watching?
It is purely a numbers game, as suggested – the pool from which to choose is so tiny to begin with that any addition is cause for interest. And with additions as intermittent as they are, once you’ve exhausted the small backlog, its only cause for more excitement every time someone comes around to hawk the same old junk with newer animation. And, yes, even when that excitement is tempered strongly with a conviction that what is coming down the pike is only going to be terrible.
So, what are some of these awful shows, anyway? Virtually everyone has heard of Junjou Romantica and Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi, while most know of My Sexual Harassment due to the infamous corn scene, but the majority of titles are those only known to those who tend the church of the BL faithfully, year after year, disappointment after disappointment, forgettable show after forgettable show. Here are the ones I’ve had the… pleasure of viewing.
Araiso Private High School Student Council Executive Committee. It takes longer to say the title than do any of the fleeting moments of maybe-BL. And that, really, is the problem with this OVA, a spin-off of Wild Adapter which predates that series by several years. The only noteworthy item about the show is its strange and bouncy ED, which begins with someone singing about it being the day they are going to die. It actually isn’t too bad of an OVA, but it is rather lacking in actual BL and is also fairly uneventful. It also features art and animation which would fool you into thinking it dated from the mid-90’s, not 2002.
As for the story itself… well, its about a, um, high school student committee which works to prevent deliquency. And there are two guys who are basically bad-asses and are on the committee, but tend to do their own thing, although they are the good guys still. They also break a lot of stuff. And there’s a basketball tournament. And a sexy trap school nurse. And some stuff about the student council itself trying to shut down the committee beating up delinquents.
Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru is another long-winded title with little actual BL. It is a more egregious offender in its lackluster-ness, if only because it lasted twenty-four freaking episodes. It also flubbed on the few points where its basic story differed from eight million other shows about people fighting evil, reincarnated people fighting evil, and reincarnated people fighting evil which happens to be led by people’s childhood friends. A total waste of time.
The story is young man who discovers he is reincarnated and used to help fight demonic creatures in the past. After living his whole life in an orphanage, he is brought back into the fold of his fellow reincarnates, who desperately need him to defeat the bad guys. But, surprise! In his former life he was a woman! His bad-ass former boyfriend also surfaces, but is mum about their past relationship. For the whole series.
Gakuen Heaven and Marginal Prince are very similar in that they are both half-season shows about bumbling young men who find themselves suddenly accepted at prestigious schools and surrounded by allegedly gorgeous guys. In truth, they are basically standard reverse harem shows that happen to feature a clueless guy instead of a clueless girl as their leads. As they get to know their schools, they get to hang with one guy at a time, leaving the audience breathless with anticipation! Or so it should be. In truth, the winner is telegraphed from one hundred miles out, and the slog through each successive potential mate is tiresome in the extreme.
At least, though, Gakuen Heaven had one thing going for it – at the beginning of each episode, there was a roughly two minute segment that deliberately lead the audience to believe something dirty was happening… only to then reveal that two of the characters were replacing a ceiling tile, or something similarly innocent.
I tend to class Sukisho along with these two (or, excuse me, Suki na Mono wa Suki Dakara Shou ga nai!!), as they form a half-season dull BL trifecta. Sukisho also takes place at an all-boys’ school, although the lead is a seme this time and there is no harem run-through to endure. However, there are split-personalities! And it turns out that the lead and his love interest were held captive in a cruel science lab as children and tested upon, resulting in their split personalities. Blah, blah, blah, Akira Ishida played an uke who had sex in it HNNNGH, blah.
Kachou no Koi is, literally, forgettable. I watched it earlier this year, and I recall absolutely no details except that the animation was so stiff that it seemed likelier that I was watching people moving pictures up in down in front of a camera. This same approach to animation can be seen in Yebisu Celebrities, an OVA I can recall the details of only because I watched it two weeks ago. It was a bog standard story about a new hire and a company president. At least the sex noises were good.
Fish in the Trap is one of those mid-90’s OVA’s that is hacked down version of a longer manga, made solely because the manga happened to be selling well for its genre. A teenager goes to a bar with an older man, gets drunk, leaves, older man has sex with other man to porn music, and then rapes the teenager in the rain. But! He falls in love with the teenager! And stops hanging out with his creepy friends who like to bet on high school swimming races (yep), and almost gets stabbed, and the teenager he rapes joins a swim club to meet his rapist because he loves him. If this sounds like it is a somewhat cohesive story, it really isn’t; scenes jump and characters do things for no apparent reason.
However, it does make more sense than Angel’s Feather, which drops us into a boys’ school where there are… angels, presumably. Some guy enrolls, becomes convinced another guy is his brother, harasses him, then there’s an earthquake and the lead guy and two other students get sucked into another world. Once there, he grows wings. And the story ends there. All of this is a lot more confusing than I’ve made it sound – it was literally a “what the fuck?” every two minutes sort of story.
First on this list should be Boku no Pico, but I don’t even want to acknowledge to myself that I watched that disgusting thing. My watching of it was done, more or less, on a dare, and in a group. We loudly made jokes to one another, our laughter drowning out the noise as what was happening on screen got more and more distasteful. Someone joked about watching the sequel; we never did.
Kirepapa has father-son incest vibes, although it never actually embraces them, mercifully. Papa to Kiss in the Dark? Not so much. Both feature famous fathers, Kirepapa with a writer, PapaKiss a Hollywood actor. Incest vibes aside, Kirepapa is pretty boring, while PapaKiss embraces its creepy side and runs away with it. The uke is fifteen years old, and is worried his dad/lover is going to marry some woman! Also, this woman’s son seems to want to rape uke’s ass. Uke gets sad… but then his dad promises that he would never leave him for a woman or anyone else! Oh, and, don’t worry, folks, he isn’t his biological dad! He just raised him! So its totally fine! But still kind of subversive to keep the weirdos out there happy! Blech.
In The Tyrant Falls in Love, the love interest is homophobic. So when our loser lead accidentally drugs him, he rapes him. Obviously, homophobe, a.k.a. the tyrant, falls in love. The audience squirms, even though homophobe was a horrible person. It doesn’t help that our lead is as milquetoasty as humanly possible, to the point where he makes someone like Harem Lead Everyman look like a decent person.
In Enzai, a boy is accused of murder and imprisoned in pre-Revolution France. He is then raped. A lot. Then he is raped some more. Then he makes some friends. And then he gets raped again. All the way through he looks about twelve years old, which just ups the creepiness factor.
Maiden Rose starts off with a young military officer being left in his room after he ha been raped. The rest of the story seeks to explain why we shouldn’t regard this as totally horrible behavior, establishing that the officer was raped by his lover, a lover who started out as his guardian when said officer was a mere shouta. His lover also physically abuses him in other ways. But, its ok! They’re in love! You just can’t understand it!
Did I mention that we are lead to believe the officer has bled to death after being raped and is then abandoned in his bed by his alarmed rapist?
Seitokaichou ni Chukokku for the most part isn’t bad. The story is rather simple – a guy has a crush on the class president, a friend of his. Said class president is a bit clumsy and simple-minded, while his friend, the vice-president, is rather smart and organized. Pretty average fare, but not bad. But then there’s this sequence which suggests someone has come in and molested the president in his sleep; the president keeps hearing someone in the house but then takes a nap anyway, only to have an erotic dream with a cruel version of his dear vice-president in it. He cries when he wakes up, and the implication is crystal clear to the audience. Its an unnecessary and skin-crawling addition to the narrative.
Finally, there are the rape-as-love twins, Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi and Junjou Romantica. I hardly need to go into the details, having complained about them enough before on this blog.
Admittedly, all the stuff on this list is bad. However, they also had descriptors that were much more fitting than that, as the subheadings above detail. Level C just ranks as bad. It isn’t baffling, it isn’t disturbing, and the Sex Noises of Akira Ishida manage to remove it from the realm of the boring. How? Well, the sex in most of the boring shows was also boring, whereas the sex in Level C will hold your interest as you listen closely for all gasps and moans made by the uke. HNNNNNGH AKIRA ISHIDA HNNNNGH. Listen for one of only two chances out there to hear him breathe sexily in an anime!
And, there you have it, folks – shit BL fans watch. And I didn’t even mention that non-BL show with the school that makes a few guys per year crossdress all the time to make the male student body happy!