Event Reports

FujoCon: The Very First Virtual BL-Only Event

Touting the motto “Ship and Let Ship”, FujoCon 2020 was a digital convention celebrating the Boys’ Love (BL) fandom. Catering to the adult con-goers, FujoCon offered the whole adult-convention package within the comforts of your home. Held last July 10-12, the convention used three platforms to host the various panels: Zoom, Twitch, and Discord.

The first day began with Fanzines 101, a panel discussing the essentials of making a zine for your favorite pairings. Hosted by Cat, who heads the MG Zine team, this panel provided a more in-depth look at the whole zine production process.

Throughout the three days, various fandoms from PROMARE to Mo Dao Zu Shi organized meetups to provide a venue for fans to geek out and rave amongst each other about what makes their fandom special.

Who says adults can’t have fun? The Jackbox Party hour was filled with zany games where the eventual risque drawing was inevitable. After all, what’s a Boys Love convention without naughty stuff? There was also Fujo Family Feud on Day 2, where fans went head-to-head as they battled in the classic game to figure out who has the tightest grasp on the BL fandom’s pulse!

Ship and Let Ship dealt with anti-shipping, which is something that has been rather prevalent among fandom. Anti-shippers are intent on putting down their disliked ships with as much passion as the shippers. Antis are the equivalents of social conservatives in fandoms, and believe that one must be critical about fandom consumption to prove superiority over other fandoms.

Antis advocate for the deletion of the content they deem problematic so that others won’t get to consume things that they don’t approve of. For example, antis claim that BL fans are problematic because they support the fetishization of LGBTQ+. Although there are many BL fans out there who support the LGBTQ+ movement, antis would want to banish them all regardless because they think the very concept of same-sex shipping is problematic.

As a fan, an ita-bag can be considered as a badge of honor, but they definitely don’t come cheap. The Itabag Economics panel discussed factors that affect fandom merchandise pricing, which in turn affects the price of having an itabag. One factor that affects merch prices is the series or character’s popularity, as it directly impacts how uncommon the merch is. Merch from popular franchises tend to be more readily available, so their prices are often lower in comparison to niche fandoms with little to no merch. Fandoms that have reached oversaturation of goods like Boku no Hero Academia tend to have lower pricing since too much merchandise has been released.

The last panel for Friday, LGTBQ+ Representation in Anime and Manga, dealt with LGBTQ+ characters and relationships in anime and manga. Professor Erin put LGBTQ+ representation under a fine lens and dissected the workings of what does (and what doesn’t) make certain characters a good representation. Erin examined older anime and discussed how the representation can be problematic, and how it’s important to be more discerning about the media that we consume. Erin pointed out several cons of LGBTQ+ representation in anime, including the heteronormative roles assigned to same-sex couples, where one has to be more manly and the other more feminine; this concept is blatant in anime like Gravitation and Love Stage. There’s also the Depraved Homosexual, where the villain being evil is inseparable from their sexuality, that they’re evil because they’re homosexual, like Berkeley Rose from FAKE.

In The Art of Show, Not Tell in Writing, Adrienne Wilder introduced viewers to a tool that allows hopeful writers to create stronger and more engaging stories and gave tips on how to blow your readers’ minds without saying too much. Actions speak louder than words, and Adrienne enumerated the things you need to consider when you show, not tell your audience. She encouraged viewers to write more about what the audience is supposed to see, how they are feeling at that moment, and whether there are any physiological responses.

The IneffableCon presents: Ineffable Husbands panel, took a look at how ineffable the second wind of Good Omens was. The apocalypse novel, which was written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet, became more popular again as it aired on Amazon Prime; the ship between Crowley (played by the devilishly handsome David Tennant) and Aziraphale (played by charming Michael Sheen) was lovingly dubbed as “The Ineffable Husbands of 2019,” and ended up being the ship that beat all other ships on Tumblr that year.

Yaoi is not always about the fluff; sometimes you’re craving for something that hurts so good. There are times when you just want to indulge in what some might consider questionable content in your BL. Peachie talked about the dark side of yaoi during her The Church of Yaoi Presents: Yaoi That Hurt Me panel and discussed some of the works that had left impressions on her psyche. No topic was too dark to tackle, as Peachie covered various media from anime to games that dealt with taboo topics such as incest and blackmail; there was even somediscussion about a game’s bad end, where the protagonist’s genitals expanded and exploded.

In Learning Japanese with Yaoi, industry translator and Japanese instructor Bishounen Sensei taught the captive audience Japanese about the very sexy basics of the Japanese language and terms that are very relevant to BL. It seems that BL has finally penetrated the part of the brain that deals with language.

In Tapas Creators Panel: VVBG, VVBG, Michi, and Archia answered questions from the fans. They talked about their creative process and how they thought the future for LGBTQ creators would look like. They believe that LGBTQ stories are important because of the representation they provide.  These media are finally starting the conversation but a lot of work still remains to be done, especially in countries where LGBTQ people are still being treated as criminals.

The next panel was Digital Boys’ Love (BL) Manga Publishing with futekiya featuring Ayu Yamane. Yamane mentioned that she learned about BL during her late elementary school years. She was into anime and she read a lot of anime magazines where she found out about ship culture. She recalled being a bit BL-phobic back then because she hasn’t had much exposure to it; the BL industry used to be very small. After the internet became more accessible she became enamored with Kusama Sakae’s works, but when she became a teenager she lost interest in BL. Her love of BL was rekindled in her late twenties.

When asked about what she liked drawing the most, Yamane’s answer was “two lovely and peaceful men”. She mentioned that she believes she does not have to draw something that she doesn’t like, but she does find it difficult to draw backgrounds. She has also delved into the world of English M/M romance, and is learning more about the language due to her interest in the Diversion series by Eden Winters. Regarding her future plans, she hopes that she can do something spicier. On the topic of relaxation, Yamane mentioned that she relaxes by taking walks outside, reading M/M romance, and drawing. Before proceeding with the drawing demo she gave aspiring mangakas a piece of particularly unique advice, to learn how to do everyday mundane things with their non-drawing hand so that their drawing hand can get some rest.

futekiya announced upcoming omegaverse BL titles from Media Soft and EIWA Publishing such as α ga α wo Daku Houhou by tokishiba, Vampire Itadakimasu by abuku, Oazuke no Kiss no Yukue by Omayu, Kakumei no α by Kotaru Kashima, Kimi wa Boku no Koto wa Suuhai Shisugiteiru by Coco Aino, Tsukikagerou de Aimashou ~Yuukaku Omegaverse~ by Shibito Koiwazurai, Do S Obake ga Nakasetekurenai by tokishiba, Revival Blue by itz, Himitsu no Mesuiki Ojisan by ri-ru-, and Goten Oji no Shitsuren Doukokai by Kazuki Minamoto.

If you missed our panel at FujoCon, you can now watch it on our YouTube account!

Captivated by the ephemeral beauty of the samurai who lived such short lives, in dedication to their lords or perhaps their fellow samurais, Carpfish talked about Rekijos in the panel titled “Romancing the Past: Japan’s Rekijo and their Samurai Love.” Rekijo is a portmanteau of Rekishi (History) and Joshi (girl); these girls are history buffs who treat certain historical figures as idols. They aim to have some psychological connection with their idols by visiting sites related to the said figure. No castle is too far or historical site too obscure, their dedication to these historical figures can be so great it can be considered as a tour de force. The topic of why historical figures appealed so much to these women was also discussed. Women are drawn to them because these men are viewed as attractive and have compelling human drama attached to them. Rekijo gained pop media attention in 2009 thanks to anime like Gintama and the ever-flashy musou style game, Sengoku Basara. Rekijos put their money where their mouth is and have often helped in boosting the tourism revenue of historical sites. Touken Ranbu fans have been known to blow up crowdfunding campaigns for sword restoration, and it was thanks to these fans’ interest that the Shokudaikiri Mitsutada sword was found and had a replica made to display beside the original.

After that, the attendees of Fujocon were able to play a game of Battleships, where players faced the other ships’ captains and proved their mettle as they took down other ships with their logic and watched as new members joined their ship. This was like the ultimate (peaceful) ship discourse!

Day 3 began with several talks from authors regarding their writing experiences. In From Fanfiction to Published Author, Amy Tasukada talked about her experience starting from being a fanfiction author to becoming a best-selling novelist of gay literature.

On Beyond World Building, Maz talked about treating the world in stories as a living, breathing character. Small details are what gives the world its flavor and the more small details there are, the more depth a world has; big details are the themes that encompass the whole world.

There was also a round panel with the M/M authors, where they discuss anything and everything about their writing process.

In the Gay in Premodern Japan panel, Aeri discussed the Japanese view of homosexuality, and how it started from the Chinese-derived idea of nanshoku (男色; meaning “male colors”) where the idea of sexual attraction is still male-defined. This perspective eventually lead to the birth of wakashudo (若衆道; meaning “the way of the young”), which is wholly Japanese and adds the element of huge age gaps in homosexual relationships. Wakashudo was a sign of affluence during the age of samurais. Nanshoku then became more common where homosexual affairs were no longer markers of status, but something accessible for all. This panel talked about how these stages have pervaded media in Japanese pre-history.

In All Yaoi Considered, BL Garden presented their research on Yaoi and some of the highlights of the panel were finding what the average seme and uke were like. Semes tend to have darker hair and are more built than their uke counterparts. Research that aims to find out more about fujoshis was also done; it was interesting to note that most of the respondents were non-white, were liberal, and were largely supportive of LGBTQ+ people(despite antis claiming that fujoshis are white people that fetishize LGBTQ+ couples).

The next panel, The Language of Textiles, talked about how culture can be represented by textiles. The characters’ religion, hobbies, level of education, and social statuses are reflected in the types of clothes that they wear.

Solofong hosted a demonstration on how to make an uchiwa, a non-foldable Japanese fan. Having an uchiwa is one way of showing your support.

In Fukaboku – The Queer Manga That Looks Cute But Cuts Deep, Ashes discussed why this queer manga about a non-binary character is a must-read. Fukakai na Boku no Subete wo‘s depiction of non-binary people and trans people are exemplary as they’re not treated like freaks or the punchline but as normal people that you get to interact with from day-to-day. Beneath its cute facade lies an excellent depiction of the lives of LGBTQ people and can serve as a Gender 101 sort of manga with a cute art style.

All in all, was refreshing to have a BL-focused digital convention, where people were more or less free to discuss topics that may have been too risque for a regular convention. FujoCon was a perfect balance of academic panels and panels that were lovingly presented by BL fans for BL fans.

Kudos to BL Garden of DFW for organizing this event! If you want to learn more about the people behind FujoCon, you can read our interview here.

Did you join FujoCon? Share with us your experiences on our Twitter account!

About FujoCon 2020

Dates: July 10-12, 2020 (CST)
Platforms: Zoom, Twitch, Discord
Official Website: https://fujocon.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/fujocon
Instagram: https://instagram.com/blgardendfw

About futekiya: BL manga subscription

Boys' Love Manga Subscription Service futekiya promotional image

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 around the world 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.

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