What is Fujoshi? Fujoshi can definitely claim to be one of the most contentious words ever. With so many uses and meanings, and all of these with different emotional interpretations, it’s no wonder many are thoroughly confused. It’s definitely time to put fujoshi under the microscope.

Fujoshi literally means ‘rotten girl’, and humorously refers to women who who like to read BL/shonen-ai (or yaoi) fiction.

The overwhelming majority―up to 80%―of yaoi fans and creators are female, most of them heterosexual. There is a small male readership, who are referred to as fudanshi (‘rotten boy’). As the art style of most yaoi media tends to be feminine, this may be somewhat off-putting to male readers.

Right now, there are two major genres that fujoshi flock to.

Who watches sports anime? Given the genre’s focus on high school male athletes and the primary origin of these stories as manga running in Shounen Jump, it makes sense to say “boys.”

But anyone following sports anime fandom knows that’s not the whole truth anymore. In recent years, sports anime has taken on an enormous secondary audience of women (and to a lesser extent gay men) who are attracted to each show’s athletic cast of characters.

The result is that male characters in sports manga and anime have gotten hotter, but there still aren’t many female characters represented (due partially to the lack of mixed-gender sports teams in reality or fiction). This has turned sports anime into the ideal environment for fans to dream up romantic relationships between these male characters in their isolated fantasy worlds of muscle and sweat.

Short of Yuri!!! on Ice, gay representation in sports anime is extremely rare, but sports shows in particular don’t make it difficult for fans to awaken their inner fujoshi or fudanshi. The narrative of athletic stories, which posit characters as devoted best friends or fiery rivals, provide powerful emotional potential. Mix in the blood, sweat, and tears of high stakes hard work, and you’ve got dramatic grounds for romance.

There was a time when idol shows might feature a female idol with plenty of handsome male idols around, so she can eventually choose one as her lucky beau. But unlike boys’ sports shows, which have always been predominantly male, idol shows for girls have just been piling on more bishounen. From STARMYU to Uta no Prince Sama, the focus is no longer on one of the scarce female characters finding love—it’s on how the boys interact with one another.


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