FujoCon 2021, the 100% free adult convention, graced fans’ screens once again this year! Held last June 11-13, 2021 on several streaming platforms (Twitch, Zoom, and Discord), fans of BL got to interact with fellow fans in this safe space for fans to appreciate all things BL.
Day 1 started with a heavy-hitter as Peachie talked about BL content that hurt so good in the panel “YAOI THAT HURT ME.” Ranging from whump to psychological horror, Peachie discussed several works that are sure to leave a dent in everyone’s hearts. From manga that involves snakes and anthropodermic books (Even if It’s Not Fate by Yoshimoto Senco) to manga with demons, necrophilia, and cannibalism (MADK by Ryo Suzuki), this panel delved into content for those that have a taste for the taboo in Boys’ Love.
The next panel, “GATEWAY QUEER: GENDERQUEER IDENTITIES AND M/M ROMANCE,” had 4 guest panelists who talked about their experiences as queer authors specializing in M/M romance. They talked about the first queer books they read and how they realized that they were not cisgender. One of the panel highlights was a discussion of the common misconception that once you get a contract for a book that it’s going to be smooth-sailing from there. When they were talking about writing advice during the panel, they mentioned that if one is going to make a mistake when trying bold things, you might as well make it a really big one and learn from it.
The next panel was “BL DESAM: BOYS LOVE FANDOM IN THE SUBCONTINENT.” Lakshmi talked about BL in India, a country known for being conservative and largely focused on dominant religious culture. Discussions ranged from Indian people largely refusing to talk about gender and sexuality issues to mainstream media where LGBTQ+ people are portrayed in a homophobic stereotypical manner. During the pandemic, there was a boom in interest in BL in India, partially because everyone was stuck at home. Lakshmi talked about 3-4 avenues where Indians discovered BL: 1)Kpop/Kdrama, 2)Anime and Manga, and 3)Tiktok, where the majority of the new fans discovered BL. It was also pointed out that, thanks to 2gether, the series being available on YouTube for free, it became one of the most common gateway series to BL.
The next panel, “THE BL FAN PROJECT,” aims to find the pulse of all things BL. Presenting the results of a survey circulated online for 6 months, this survey had reached 500+ respondents worldwide.
In “VVBG PRESENTS: THE BOYFRIEND THEORY & OTHER BL WRITING TACTICS,” comic creator duo VVBG discussed how they write their BL from how to write love triangles where the viewers don’t feel like the main protagonist is cheating on their main guy.
In “FUJOSHI BAIT: THE INTEGRATION OF BOYS LOVE LITERACIES IN MAINSTREAM JAPANESE MEDIA AND BEYOND,” Dr. Kristine Santos talked about various aspects of BL that seeped into non-BL content. She mentioned that BL literacy is composed of 3 parts: bishonen (handsome male characters), odo (“noble formula”), and intertextual “database.” Bishonen was usually drawn with expressive eyes that were stereotypically associated with females. Introspective panels, which were initially used in Shojo manga to depict one’s inner turmoils, have also been utilized in shonen mangas, such as Inoue’s Slam Dunk, where we can see how downcast Sakuragi is, which in turn led to Yoshinaga Fumi, a BL writer, to see him as a relatable lead character. “Odo” or “the royal path” involves the “yaoi formula” of having a seme and uke. She also talked about how media unintentionally and intentionally baits BL lovers into consuming content that they would not normally get into by inserting elements that could be construed as queer.
In the “ROTTEN BLOSSOMS INDUSTRY PANEL,” we got a glimpse of how a BL project is made with several talents doing a live recording of one of their BL offerings.
Of course, for fans of music, Thai artist Jeff Satur regaled us with his voice and his guitar during the mini live concert.
Onwards to Day 2, the first panel, “IRODORI SAKURA: WHAT ARE DOUJINSHI AND WHY AM I PAYING $5 FOR 20 PAGES?” talked about how the pandemic has affected the sales of doujinshi in Japan. Due to the nature of the pandemic, COMIKET has been canceled three times, and there is 50% less demand for printed doujinshi. Since fewer people are going out to buy books, physical bookstores are closing. There is also the resistance to go digital because of Japan’s tax laws.
The next panel was a blast from the past, “GRAVITATION: A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH.” The panel covered one of the staples of BL anime shown in the west, Gravitation. From Shuichi’s funny hijinks to manipulator extraordinaire Tohma Seguchi, the cast was definitely unforgettable in both good and bad ways. As an earlier work, it does have its share of problematic content – such as the lack of consent and transphobia – but it does have its moments to deserve a spot in everybody’s BL list.
The next panel, “LIVING IN JAPAN AND RESPECTING CULTURES IN STORIES,” dealt with a teacher’s experience in Japan and how said the experience opened her eyes to understanding a culture that’s very different from her own. Her 2-year journey in Japan helped her access her creative juices and write her queer vampire novel, Lore and Lust.
Peachie once again made her appearance to talk about BL content that broke her, but this time, in live-action! From Chinese BL drama that involves castration and grooming like A Frozen Flower to Japanese yakuza live-action BL Double Mints, this panel definitely did not shy away from discussing elements that might make most people queasy.
Audiophiles rejoice; well-known audiobook narrator Nick J. Russo provided the goods, as he did a live reading of Lisa Henry and Sarah Honey’s MM novel in “MM ROMANCE NARRATION AND Q&A WITH NICK J. RUSSO.”
Fisky, a catboy Vtuber, talked about how having virtual avatars, known as vtubers, expands the possibility of expressing one’s self and allows people to do things that they would never quite dare to do since they’re behind a character.
The next panel, “PROPER FUJOSHI ETIQUETTE,” told us about the do’s and don’ts of fujoshis and fudanshis in a lighthearted manner.
The next panel, “YURI!!! ON ICE IN / AND THE FANDOM CONTACT ZONE”, talked about a fan favorite in queer circles: the ice skating anime Yuri!!! on Ice. It discussed how its influence was so great that it managed to pull non-anime fanfiction writers into writing for the fandom. It also fueled discussion about queer-baiting at around episode 7 when they showed a not-quite kissing scene between the leads. Said episode brought into light how different cultures interpret that particular scene; some would view it as queer baiting since nothing explicit was shown, while some took it to confirm a blossoming relationship. Cultures clashed as fans scramble to interpret one of the most pivotal scenes in the popular skating anime.
Everybody loves a good rivalry. After all, rivals provide good drama, obsession, and desire melding together where people can’t even tell where one ends, and one begins. The panel “ANIME RIVALS: THE QUEER SUBTEXT OF A SWORN NEMESIS” delved into famous foe-yay ships such as Naruto and Sasuke and what makes their dynamics irresistible to fangirls (and even fanboys) worldwide.
The next panel discussed the rather spotty history of consent in BL media, starting from the ’70s up to modern times. First, the panel discussed the concept of “rape fantasy,” a victimization fantasy that involves the surrender of control (willingly or unwillingly) mixed in with the thrill of being wanted. Notable examples included Mori Hagio’s work from the ’70s, which involved a prepubescent boy preying on older men (thus reversing common relation dynamics), and Ash from Banana Fish, a rape survivor who then used his rape to achieve his goal; the latter illustrated how typical victims end up weaponizing sex in their favor. During the 90’s we saw works such as CLAMP’s X and Tokyo Babylon that dealt with taboos, such as a huge age gap; however, the twist is that these series didn’t provide a catharsis, as the main couple did not get a happy ending. In the 2000s, the bodice-ripper genre in BL got a boom. One of the most notable works under said genre is Yamane Ayano’s Finder series.
futekiya had two panels where they discussed the BL manga hosting service and had live drawing sessions with two BL artists, Makuno and Nacolat. The manga artists shared their insights and answered questions from fans as they drew BL art exclusive for FujoCon 2021.
The last day of FujoCon started with a tete-a-tete with Pop Chadtarat Kittichotiwong, executive Producer of the Thai BL series Ingredients and He She It. One of the panel highlights was him admitting that he did not initially plan for Jeff and Game to be together, but anyone with eyes could notice that the two definitely had delicious chemistry! This was seen in the Jeff and Game QA session, where they were adorably cute together. One of the session highlights was their message for their LGTBQIA+ fans, which imparted some advice for those struggling with mental health issues. They emphasized that LGBTQ+ people are human, and as humans, they are worthy of love. That love is love, and you really don’t get to choose who you love, so we really should live and let live, and if people give you trouble for being what you are, then you should ignore those naysayers.
Since most of the panels were told from the POV of a fan or an academic, it was a refreshing take to see BL from the POV of a creator; we’re sure it was even rarer to see a discussion on Filipino BL. The next panel, “PINOY BL: INTRODUCTION TO FILIPINO LANGUAGE BL IN THE PHILIPPINES,” talked about how Male x Male movies in the Philippines basically started as an extension of the bold (pornographic) movies of the 90s and early 2000s and was relegated to art films only shown during film festivals; this was then followed by queer literature, such as works by Danton Remoto and his work on the queer anthology Ladlad, and Carlo Vergara’s genderbending superheroine, Zsazsa Saturnnah. My Husband’s Lover, the first Filipino telenovela with a Male x Male couple, sadly didn’t do that well, and it has not been followed by another. The Philippines’ relationship with gender and sexuality has always been complicated due to the pervasive Catholic culture. Various Pinoy BL tropes were discussed, from campus stories to content which dealt with coming out of the closet in a homophobic situation or environment.
The next panel talked about a pervasive problem in fandoms; “fantis.” Fantis are hellbent on removing content that they deem problematic in fandom. Nowadays, there is an alarming trend where fandom is becoming more and more puritanical, with a large portion of the fantis being minors in female-dominated fan spaces. A lot of anti-behavior is also intertwined with the idea of white supremacy, where Western morals are deemed as morally superior.
The interestingly-named panel, “GAY KARATE BUGMEN: A ROTTEN HISTORY OF TOEI’S SUPERHERO TIME,” talked about the spandex-clad heroes of sentai and tokusatsu. What was meant to show catering to children ended up capturing the interests of women thanks to actors like Joe Odagiri in Kamen Rider Kuga, which in turn led to writers injecting homoerotic elements in sentai they can keep the female demographic. The homoeroticism of tokusatsu has also inspired several manga/anime to keep up with the tradition of male bonding, from CLAMP’s DUKLYON to the superhero duo Kotetsu and Barnaby of Tiger and Bunny fame.
FujoCon has absolutely slain it with such a variety of content. It’s interesting to see how they managed to outdo the previous year’s con (which was already massive), and we’re absolutely looking forward to next year’s FujoCon too!
Did you join FujoCon? Please share with us your experiences on our Twitter account!
About FujoCon 2021
|Dates:||June 11-13, 2021 (CST)|
|Platforms:||Zoom, Twitch, Discord|
About futekiya: BL manga subscription
In 2018, futekiya began as a Boys’ Love manga news and culture website operated by FANTASISTA, INC., a CG/VR production studio based in Tokyo, Japan. futekiya transformed into a budding global distributor of officially licensed BL manga in 2019.
futekiya launched as an online subscription service for officially licensed BL manga on July 8, 2019. Determined to connect fans worldwide with English-translated BL legally and conveniently, futekiya empowers readers to support creators and the manga industry.
Readers who subscribe to futekiya and pay a flat monthly fee of $6.99 will have access to our expanding library of English-language manga. To subscribe, please go to read.futekiya.com and create an account. More information is in our guide.