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Edit: Fixed the cut! I'm SO sorry. It's been ages since I've made a proper text post on lj and finally decided to use rich text for all my styles in the document, and completely failed at the lj-cut button! I'm so sorry!
I wanted to share an academic paper I wrote last term that's going to be presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research 2012 and the Popular Culture Association Conference 2012 in March and April. I presented at NCUR last year with another yaoi paper (cited in this one), but this is a Fusanosuke Inariya/Maiden Rose specific paper and thought everyone might enjoy reading it (if you like anime academia). You can also cite this paper if you use it for any of your own yaoi academic papers.

However, if you try and plagarize this, your professor or teacher will be able to google the paper and find it listed as an abstract through NCUR, and possibly PCA. They can also find my previous one, since it's formally published with the NCUR proceedings. This is NOT something you can steal, this is my legitimate academic research I am presenting and hoping to publish through these conferences.

Otherwise, enjoy!

“Forbidden Love and Violent Desire:
Themes in the WWII Yaoi Manga of Fusanosuke Inariya”

Melissa Frennea
The University of Montevallo
Montevallo, Alabama 35115 USA

Faculty Advisor: Catherine Walsh

Fusanosuke Inariya’s yaoi manga are all marked by the distinctive plot tropes and themes found in the yaoi genre, yet are remarkably unique. Her militaristic stories, set during World War II, depict beautiful but shockingly violent scenes of passion between men, often exploiting their opposite and contrasting personalities to the extreme for visual effect and plot intrigue. Characters are conflicted, torn between their love for each other, and the societal pressures that define their love as “forbidden.” Fusanosuke draws on a combined heritage of Japanese beliefs concerning male-male sexuality, the prevailing early twentieth century German beliefs on homosexuality, and subsequent treatment of homosexuality in the Third Reich.

But what exactly were these beliefs? How do these beliefs present themselves in her manga? Do these views on homosexuality reinforce traditional yaoi plot tropes? Does Fusanosuke reinforce or depart from these traditions with her shocking and extreme stories? What constitutes “forbidden love and violent desire”?

My study seeks to answer these questions. By examining Fusanosuke’s five WWII yaoi manga (Maiden Rose, Zion no Koeda, “Netsu no Ori,” “Close Your Eyes,” and “Giglio”) I seek to understand the function of violent desire and rape in her stories, as well as to analyze forbidden love in the combined cultural contexts of Japanese and German discourse concerning male-male sexuality. In addition to studying these primary sources, I will also consult the existing body of critical analysis of yaoi, as well as the relevant Japanese and German historical research, with specific emphasis placed on WWII. From this research, I argue that the themes of “forbidden love” and “violent desire” in the WWII yaoi manga of Fusanosuke Inariya represent a complex mingling of both Japanese and German historical and cultural views on homosexuality. Fusanosuke’s thematic and cultural confluence therefore presents a reinforcement of traditional yaoi plot tropes while simultaneously subverting and breaking these genre traditions to the farthest extreme of rationality, therefore contributing to the reinvention, evolution, and diversification of contemporary yaoi.

1. Introduction

Yaoi is a formulaic, pornographic genre of anime and manga that depicts male homoerotic relationships, but is written by and for women. The genre grew out of shojo girl’s comics in the early 1970s, became popular in the gay boom of the early 1990s, and gained an international fandom in the 2000s.1 This popularity derives in part from the overwhelming sexual content, to the extent that the genre may be defined as “yama nashi, ochi nashi, imi nashi” (no climax, no point, no meaning), i.e. there is no plot other than romance and sex.2 The genre is defined not only by this lack of plot, but by these essential plot tropes:

1. Bishounen, good-looking, youthful males seemingly or actually underage
2. Rigid gender roles and depictions found in the seme (top) and uke (bottom) sexual positions
3. Rape or some form of dubiously-consensual sex
4. Lack of identification and labeling with a gay identity3

Throughout yaoi’s history, the genre has sought to maintain these plot tropes with few variations, which may include character ethnicity, occupation, and/or the circumstances that lead to sex. Yet some authors do subvert these traditional tropes, either to reinforce or break the mould, thus creating a truly unique story that stands out from mainstream, formulaic yaoi.

Fusanosuke Inariya’s yaoi manga are already strikingly different from typical yaoi, differentiated by the detailed artwork and action-filled plots. At first glance her stories, often military themed, read more like shonen boys’ comics than female-targeted romances. However, readers quickly descend into a plot of tragically forbidden love between two beautiful men, torn apart by battle, whose desire may only be expressed violently in brutally realistic scenes of rape. Intriguingly—and seemingly paradoxically—a significant portion of her manga take place in WWII, mainly on European battlefronts. Lovers from both sides of the war are contrasted against each other to the limits of plausibility: Nazis and Jews, Germans and Japanese, priests and soldiers. Not only are her characters conflicted on their feelings, but the larger surrounding political and cultural situations muddle these feelings and their behaviors.
Thus, the larger the political and cultural history of homosexuality in Japan and political and cultural history of homosexual relations in WWII, particularly from the German point of view, are applicable in an analysis of Fusanosuke’s WWII manga. The themes of “forbidden love” and “violent desire” in the WWII yaoi manga of Fusanosuke Inariya represent a complex mingling of both Japanese and German historical and cultural views on homosexuality. Fusanosuke’s thematic and cultural confluence therefore presents a reinforcement of traditional yaoi plot tropes while simultaneously subverting and breaking these genre traditions to the farthest extreme of rationality, therefore contributing to the reinvention, evolution, and diversification of contemporary yaoi.

2. Existing Research

Yaoi research comprises a small but notable segment of the growing field of anime and manga academia with several authors writing extensively for both Japanese and Western academic audiences. These authors have thoroughly analyzed yaoi’s formulae, function as a vehicle for female sexual exploration, historical and cultural beginnings, and the overall significance yaoi plays in the larger homosexual context in Japan.4

With specific regards to “forbidden love,” current yaoi research notes the parallels between existing contemporary beliefs in Japan that homosexuality is deviant, deriving from Meiji era imported sexological research and coordinating legal code.5 Open homosexuality via “coming out” is rare, because of the shameful stigma attached to homosexuality, but also because the concept of the “homosexual” as one with an identity linked to sexual orientation is a relatively new Western import.6 “Violent desire” in yaoi, rape, has been explored thoroughly in previous individual research. Rape in yaoi is an expression of love from the seme to the uke; the seme does not know how to properly express his feelings for another man because of his lack of homosexual identification and the surrounding cultural stigmas.7 Thus, he imparts his romantic feelings through rape, which functions as a plot device to bring the seme and uke together as a couple.8 This journey to become a couple united through physical intimacy forms the entirety of the yaoi narrative, with anal intercourse serving as the final literal climax of the plot.9

Ample research has been conducted on both Japanese and German historical and cultural views on homosexuality. Said research highlights the existence of homosexuals and/or homoeroticism in each respective culture during WWII and other military environs. Specifically, academics have explored the extent of homosexuality in the administrations of the Third Reich and to what extent such activity was eradicated, whether within the ranks or outside in the extermination camps.

As of yet, there are a handful of reviews of Fusanosuke’s most popular yaoi manga, Maiden Rose, from the English release, however, no academic analysis of this manga nor her other yaoi manga exist.

3. “Forbidden Love” and “Violent Desire” in Fusanosuke’s WWII Manga

Fusanosuke Inariya’s five yaoi WWII manga–Maiden Rose, Zion no Koeda, “Netsu no Ori,” “Close Your Eyes,” and “Giglio”–are all linked by the themes of forbidden love and violent desire. Intense cultural pressures within the stories dictate that male-male sexuality is deviant and forbidden, thus compounding the existing tragic circumstances involving the extremely contrasted lovers. Fusanosuke uses this societal condemnation, combined with individual condemnation, of these forbidden love affairs within the stories to give reason and plausibility to the traditional trope of rape as an expression of love, thus linking forbidden love to the inevitable outcome of violent desire.

Maiden Rose (Hyakujitsu no Bara) is Fusanosuke’s most well known and longest running yaoi manga, and is the only title published in America. The fantasy story takes place in a time period closely resembling WWII. The manga revolves around Taki Reizen, a division commander and prince in a Japanese-like country, and his knight, Claus von Wolfstadt, a Saxon (German) who was a previous friend of Taki’s from military school in the West. The manga begins amidst battle, slowly revealing the closer-than-friendship bond between the prince and his knight; after each battle, Claus rapes Taki. Through flashbacks, readers learn that Taki and Claus’s relationship was at one point consensual. More recent chapters depict flashback scenes in which Taki warns his lover, stating they will have to cease their physical relationship once they return to Taki’s homeland, where such intimacy between an enemy Saxon “mad dog” and the “maiden rose” prince is forbidden.10

Zion no Koeda, set just after the end of WWII in Germany, depicts a parasitic relationship between Jewish Elijah and his foster father, a former Nazi SS officer, the Major General. Elijah imprisons and rapes the Major General, chaining him to a bed. While Elijah was once lovingly doted upon, during the war, the Major General displayed flagrant hypocrisy, killing other Jews in the Holocaust while saving Elijah as an “Honored Aryan.” Their relationship carries overwhelming elements of emotional, physical, and sexual manipulation infused with abuse.11

“Netsu no Ori,” takes place during the war, and again depicts a relationship between a Nazi and a Jew, though is decidedly less explicit than that in Zion no Koeda. Albert is a Nazi officer who becomes attracted to Ernst, a Jewish pianist, after attending his concert. As the Nazi campaign against Jews moves towards extermination, Albert saves Ernst, but keeps him as a prisoner in his house, forbidding him to play the piano. Ernst, who once served as a father or older brother figure to Albert, is now subject to the Nazi officers demands in “the prison of heat in his arms.”12

“Close Your Eyes,” is the only semi-consensual story in Fusanosuke’s WWII yaoi set. The anthropomorphic fantasy story takes place on the Eastern Front of WWII. Lindwhelm, a human-dragon “dragnel,” is set free by his human “dragoneer.” The dragoneer is the last mate for the “greedy and sly tyrant” that is the demon dragon. Cognizant that a sexual union with his dragoneer will not lead to conception, Lindwhelm then reveals that he knew it was his dragoneer who saved him. Reunited, the pair consummate their partnership.13

“Giglio” departs from the German WWII setting and instead situates its narrative on the North African front. When visited by the priest Orlando, an injured Italian soldier, Dante, suddenly escapes with Orlando as a prisoner and rapes him. Dante abandons Orlando in a cave, but the two reunite after the war. Orlando, tormented by his own personal demons, has become consumed by his attraction to men. In an attempt to have sex with Dante, Orlando discovers that his would-be lover has been genitally mutilated. While Dante may not become his sexual partner, Orlando stays with his former abuser, for “even if the war has ended, this love will never end.”14

Fusanosuke’s WWII yaoi manga are overwhelmingly violent, characterized not only by their military setting, but by the frequent scenes of rape and assault that dominant, seme characters force upon unwillingly passive uke characters. Claus, Elijah, Albert, Lindwhelm, and Dante all aggressively display sexual hegemony over their respective partners. These examples of the seme’s “violent desire” are results of societal or individual labels upon their relationship with the uke would-be lovers as “forbidden love.”

In Maiden Rose, societal condemnation is explicitly stated in that Taki must abstain from sexual intercourse until marriage. Taki constantly hides his humiliating encounters with Claus to escape further embarrassment and shame for his carnal indulgences, but as Fusanosuke implies, Taki is more a victim of his own circumstances and internalized individual condemnation, unable to openly express his genuine love for Claus, just as he is unable to stop the brutal sexual advances of his knight. In “Close Your Eyes,” the relationship between dragnel and dragoneer is not explicitly stated as forbidden, but is hinted at as being unusual. Traditionally, mates for the dragon had been female, but the last mate, the dragoneer, happens to be male. It stands to reason then, that the sex is semi-consensual and the relationship is consensual because there is not the societal or individual condemnation of the relationship. The societal condemnation in “Giglio” is largely implied, although Orlando is instructed as a child by his priest to contain his immoral lusts. Readers presume that Orlando, as a priest, must abstain from sexual activity and that homosexual activity is definitively banned. This societal condemnation transforms into individual condemnation as Orlando internalizes these commandments, though he eventually discards his negativity in favor of brazen acceptance of his feelings. However, the manga hints that he may have further been sexually assaulted, gradually forcibly grinding away at his individual condemnation of his feelings. Societal condemnation is omnipresent in both Zion no Koeda and “Netsu no Ori,” heightened by the shocking and seemingly implausible romantic pairings of Nazis and Jews. Readers need not have knowledge of Third Reich policies towards homosexuality to understand that a relationship between a Nazi and a Jew would have been explicitly forbidden, homosexuality notwithstanding.

Fusanosuke uses these diametrically opposed characters in relationships that, while seemingly implausible, heighten the sense of foreshadowed tragedy and violence waiting to befall the ill-fated lovers. In general, yaoi features exotic locales and ethnically diverse characters.15 This sense of exoticism situates yaoi as a fantasy narrative, something removed from reality. Indeed, yaoi is characterized by its “anti-realism” and lack of accurate representation of homosexuality.16 However, Fusanosuke’s stories, even her fantasies, are grounded in a very realistic setting of WWII. While her pairings may seem unrealistic, each is still grounded in strangely plausible, perhaps even historically accurate, scenarios. Readers may have a difficult time believing that a Nazi and a Jew would be lovers, but viewed in light of yaoi traditions—such as the frequent use of racially exotic characters and frequent pairing of “enemies”—and knowing that the impetus for their relationship is forbidden love and violent desire, fans can reasonably suspend their disbelief when reading Fusanosuke’s yaoi.17

General plausibility for yaoi pairings is challenged, but Fusanosuke also upholds tradition when depicting her pairings. Her seme mostly conform to the general visual ideals: masculine, muscular, Caucasian, and older.18 Similarly, Fusanosuke’s uke are feminine, slender, racially exotic and youthful.19 The seme and uke are contrasted in these traits to paradoxically uphold traditional gender values—having a male and female dynamic to the relationship—and subvert these values by creating traditional dynamics in an unconventional way, a beautiful asymmetrical romance between two men.20 Zion no Koeda, and to some extent “Netsu no Ori,” are notable departures from traditional seme and uke dynamics; Elijah, a racially exotic youth takes the dominant role in a relationship with his Caucasian elder. Fusanosuke’s WWII manga, with the exception of Zion no Koeda, reinforce yaoi’s traditional racial and gender hegemony through her narrative and visual structure.21

Fusanosuke notably departs from yaoi tradition in the way she utilizes rape in her narratives. Yaoi narratives typically depict a seme who proactively pursues his uke, but because neither character identifies as gay, or because of societal pressures that describe such love as “forbidden,” the seme is unable to appropriately express his feelings for another man.22 Yaoi acts on the presumption that men are violent and sexual, combining the two traits in the act of “rape as an expression of love.”23 Once raped, the uke paradoxically realizes his feelings of love for the seme and the two can live “happily ever after.”24 Fusanosuke’s narratives, often start in the present and use flashbacks to tell the past, denoted by double-lined frames, thus illustrating a relationship in the throes of sexual violence, one that has devolved from a previously consensual romance. Taki and Claus, Elijah and the Major General, and Albert and Ernst all began as consensual sexual or fraternal partners, but their relationships degraded into violence as societal and individual condemnations threatened to overwhelm and stop the budding relationship. “Giglio” conforms with tradition, however, further sexual violence or even consensual sex is impossible because of Dante’s genital mutilation. Whereas rape traditionally functions as a catalyst to unite the seme and uke, rape functions within Fusanosuke’s yaoi as a tragic dramatic plot element.

Fusanosuke narrative extremes push the limits of readers and the genre, but are only able to do so because of the visuals. Typical yaoi features decently attractive artwork with some interestingly composed panels, but most reflect a casual, simple style indicative of the fast-paced demands of the manga publishing world. By contrast, Fusanosuke’s manga are exquisitely drawn, with attention paid to the fine details in the linework and heavy use of screentone to flesh out the otherwise flat drawings. Readers can easily recognize a Fusanosuke manga based not only on her subject matter, but in the way she draws her characters. Seme like Claus and Dante visually dominate panels, easily distinguished in their social and sexual roles by their blonde hair, tall builds, harsh countenances, and chiseled, angular bodies that exude strong, sexual masculinity. Contrastingly, uke like Taki and Orlando are emphasized as “feminine,” exotic, and submissive types by their dark, inked-in hair, refined, beautiful faces and slender figures. However, Fusanosuke’s characters appear more masculine and distinguished than the average androgynous, youthful “pretty boys” that tend to all look the same in yaoi; her drawings come with a subtle sense of strength within the characters, either implied in the lean muscles of the uke or explicitly illustrated in the rippling bodies of the seme. Her rape narratives, which otherwise might get lost in the deluge of rape tropes in yaoi, stand out as stark contrasts to what readers are accustomed to in the genre. Instead of sexual encounters that may utilize visual tricks to self-censor genitalia or present a more romantic scene regardless of consent, Fusanosuke does not spare her readers the gruesome realities of sexual assault. In a disturbingly beautiful fashion, her dense frames cluster the scene in an almost claustrophobic way, creating a tense visual narrative. Readers are exposed to the seme’s large genitalia and pubic hair while the uke’s genitalia is censored, and in a departure from most yaoi, the uke’s anus is actually depicted. Fusanosuke’s manga may only be described as pornographic when one considers her sex scenes; sometimes up to a third of a volume will be erotic content meant to titillate the viewer. Viewer arousal turns to horror as they, like Claus, discover the brutal effects of forbidden love and violent lust gone too far: the most infamous scene in all of her manga leaves Taki unconscious on the bed with a blood-stained sheets between his legs.

Forbidden love and violent desire are easily understandable within the context of yaoi and more specifically, Fusanosuke’s yaoi. However, readers may still find it hard to suspend their disbelief when one examines the extremities of Fusanosuke’s subverted visual and narrative traditions and the true nature of the forbidden relationships within her stories. Because the surrounding narrative of these pornographies is rooted in historical reality, the reality of said forbidden relationships is naturally in need of similar historical accuracy. Are homoerotic relationships plausible and historically accurate within the Japanese and German culturally historical frameworks, specifically in military and WWII settings?

4. The Japanese Historical and Cultural Context of Homosexuality

Manga and anime are two of Japan’s most recent and popular cultural exports, encouraging readers to explore the homeland of these artistic forms. And while Fusanosuke’s WWII yaoi manga do not take place on the Pacific front, her manga are still heavily influenced by Japanese attitudes and culture of both the past and present. Overall, sexuality in Japan has been alternately viewed and treated positively with few restrictions, and then conversely, negatively with many restrictions. Such a conflicted history comprises much of the often contradictory and hypocritical nature of contemporary Japanese sexuality. Traditionally, male-male sexuality has been as equally celebrated as male-female sexuality, but was never believed to have been indicative of a certain individual’s sole preference.25 Similarly, male-male sexuality was never linked to female-female sexuality; no discourse or popular thought found these two to be similar.26 I.e. the concept of the homosexual is a new import to Japan, even if such individuals naturally existed.27

To some degree male-male sexuality from 1600-1868 was mainstream, given the prevailing belief at the time that “sex was neither a romantic ideal of love nor a phallic rite of the gods; it represented simply the joyful union of the sexes and a natural function.”28 Nanshoku is the period vocabulary used to describe male-male sexuality, and translates as “love of men.”29 While other homosexual pursuits largely died out by the time of the Meiji Restoration, nanshoku survived, primarily in highly homosocial environs such as the military and all-boys schools.30 Within the military, “intimate friendships among fellow soldiers” were notably “still tolerated if not celebrated.”31 Nanshoku was so widespread that a visiting British official remarked, “many officers have told me of scenes where a soldier in love with another had fought at the risk of his own life, rushing willingly to the death spot. This is not simply due to the warrior spirit and contempt for death characteristic of the Japanese soldier, but also to their passion for another soldier.”32 At the time, nanshoku “was still conceptualized as a masculine and even masculinizing practice.”33 This traditional practice and views on nanshoku came in conflict with changing ideas about homosociality, influenced by imported Western sexology.

The most important sexological import to impact views on same-sex sexuality was the concept of the homosexual, categorized as one with same-sex attractions, but also as a sexual deviant.34 Brief criminalization of homosexuality, combined with popular thought promulgated by the press, created the lasting impression of male-male sexuality as behavior indicative of the deviant homosexual.35 Post-war and contemporary views on male-male sexuality represent a highly convoluted and conflicting amalgam of traditional views of sexuality mixed with imported Western ideas about homosexuality, sexual orientation and identity, and equal rights. The idea of a cross dressing homosexual has been co-opted for entertainment as a comedic or tragic character.36 These multiple, conflicting portrayals of homosexuality in popular media are unrealistic and do not reflect an accurate representation of contemporary gay men in Japan, compounding the sense of isolation these men feel.37

5. The German Historical and Cultural Context of Homosexuality

Many of Fusanosuke’s yaoi manga take place directly on the European front, depicting sexual relationships between the unlikeliest of lovers. To what extent did homosexual relationships exist and occur in WWII? Were the highly homosocial institutions of Germany dens of homosexuality as they were in Japan?

Post-WWI, German homosexuals enjoyed a great deal of freedom and tolerance, especially in late-1920s Berlin.38 The city was notorious for this tolerance, however, this freedom only heightened homophobic views in Germany and lulled German gays into a false sense of security.39 As German public opinion moved farther from the post-war democracy of the Weimar Republic to support the extreme right-wing fascism of the Nazi party, public opinion regarding homosexuality also began to shift. This change in views on homosexuality was influenced and promulgated by Nazi SS leader Heinrich Himmler, a man whose paranoid homophobia shaped not only his own life, but Nazi political and social policy in the Third Reich.40 Prior to the Nazi rise to power, homosexual acts had been criminalized under the German legal code and remained illegal in the Weimar Republic.41 Under Himmler’s direction, several key legal steps were taken to deal with homosexuality, what Himmler believed to be a rampant disease that homosexuals were spreading in German society.42 By the 1930s, homosexuals had been re-branded as “contragenics,” on par with the Jews in terms of detriment to society.43

Himmler was concerned not only with homosexuals in Germany, but with homosexuals within the Nazi party, particularly those within his SS.45 Significantly, homosexuality was a noteworthy “problem” in the SS in the early 1930s, with several openly homosexual officers.45 The most famous of these, Ernst Roehm, was close to both Himmler and Hitler.46 Somewhere within this camaraderie, Himmler decided that Roehm posed a threat to both party and nation.47 After Himmler convinced the other officers that Roehm’s death was necessary, SS officers carried out the systematic roundup and murder of Roehm and other homosexuals in the SS on the Night of Long Knives, also known as the Roehm Purge, in June of 1934. The SS justified Roehm’s flagrant murder that night, under the guise of “homosexuality” as the crime.48 While Roehm had been an open and practicing homosexual, from then on, the Nazis used the term to slander civilians and personnel, thereby justifying any legal actions.49

After the Purge, paradoxically many gays fled to the military to avoid detection in regular society, and “homosexuals” within the Nazi party and SS continued to be a chronic “problem” for Himmler.50 Homosexuality was banned in the SS and military and was punishable by death.51 Homosexual incidents continued to be reported, although their numbers were inflated by Himmler and the SS to justify their cause.52 Surprisingly, these incidents were inconsistently tried and sentenced.53 Nonetheless, the war against homosexuals consumed Himmler to the very end; in the final stages of the war in the Spring of 1945, Himmler was still petitioning Hitler and other Nazi officers to more strictly enforce the anti-homosexual laws in the military.54

While those accused of homosexuality in the SS or military may have survived due to technicalities or inconsistencies in prosecution, for most ordinary citizens accused or found guilty of being a homosexual, the gruesome, inhumane realities of the Holocaust awaited. The “pink triangles” made up a small, but still significant number of the minority groups and were systematically demonized, prosecuted, and executed under Third Reich contragenic policy.55

6. Japanese and German Beliefs as a Lens for Analysis

Fusanosuke’s yaoi manga represent a conglomeration of her own Japanese historical and cultural influences and the German historical and cultural influences visible within the worlds of her narratives. Homoerotic love in these stories draws from the prevalent Japanese attitude post-Tokugawa era that homosexuality is deviant, combined with the similar pre-WWII German views. Her manga also reinforce nanshoku as pure and masculine, depicting a beautiful, albeit tragic, romance between two attractive men. This view of yaoi, and by extension, homosexual love, as pure love reflects the contemporary view that women have in Japan: love between two men is beautiful and pure, and gay men are the ideal lover for females because of their empathetic abilities, derived from the conflation of effeminate physical and emotional traits with gay men.

Fusanosuke’s romances between Albert and Ernst, and Elijah and the Major General, no longer seem so absurd when one analyzes homosexuality under the Third Reich. It is not only plausible but highly likely that homosexual relationships involving Nazis represent some sense of reality during the war. Moreover, Nazis officers or Nazi sympathizers may have engaged in sexual relationships with gay camp prisoners; however, there is no evidence to suggest that these homosexual Nazis engaged in relationships with Jews. Indeed, the limits of reasonability are still stretched within these relationships, but the truth that there were gay Nazis does lend a sense of irony to these absurd and conflicting romances.

Intense sexual relationships on the battlefield, which previously may have seemed out of place, are legitimized in light of similar relationships in the highly homosocial military worlds of early 20th century Japan and Germany. Further, as seen in the relationship of Claus and Taki, there is a sense of honor and chivalry associated with love between soldiers, a feeling of compassion and willingness to die for love. Sexual frustration and tension is heightened by the stress of world-war scale battles and combined with the close fraternal relationships of soldiers to create a recipe for the passionate, sometimes violent love affairs readers witness between Dante and Orlando and in “Close Your Eyes.” Within all these trysts, the historical and cultural pressures manifested as cultural or individual condemnation of male sexuality, create a tragic relationship as doomed as the wars in which they fight. Beautiful tragedy to the point of hedonistic decadence pervades her stories. Fusanosuke depicts these passionate, decadent love affairs in a realistic, detailed way, paying close attention to period technology, clothing, and weapons. Thus, while elements of her narratives may still seem implausible, the story is most historically accurate, allowing readers to focus on the plot and dynamics between the lovers, instead of focusing on the implausibility within her stories.

If the author’s narratives and visuals are rooted in some sense of reality, one must consider the reasons behind lending this sense of reality to stories within a genre that is characterized by its unreality. Fusanosuke utilizes these cultural realities to heighten the contrast between consensual and non-consensual love, and the contrast between happiness and tragedy. This heightened contrast within her beautifully drawn narratives lends an alluring sense of forbidden love and violent desire, coupled with tragedy, to these evolving themes and tropes.

Yaoi is a highly formulaic genre, one whose formulae relay a standard sense of reliability to readers. Nothing is too unexpected in character design, plot, or romance. So while the genre rarely changes, readers are comfortable in this stagnation, knowing that at least the story will feature a passionate sex scene between two gorgeous youth, and confident that despite a stale plot, they will still be experience visual gratification. Work like Fusanosuke’s rather bluntly breaks the mould, both visually and narratively. Plots this in-depth are scare just as readers are not accustomed to the pervasive violent beauty—almost to the point of discomfort—within her manga. Familiar plot tropes are still there, but does Fusanosuke reinvent yaoi plot tropes or is she merely distorting and exaggerating these narrative and visual traditions to the extreme for titillating effects? Her WWII manga uphold genre traditions of the seme and uke, exotic locales and characters, and rape as an expression of love. Fusanosuke’s intensely violent and realistic depictions of rape push the plots and readers to the extreme, distorting what would normally become a happy relationship post-assault into a tragic cycle of abuse and forbidden love. This sense of foreboding tragedy intermingled with decadent lust—which may be the cause of said tragedy—is one of the oldest yaoi plot tropes, one of which has largely died out in contemporary yaoi narratives.56 Thus, Fusanosuke employs contemporary ideas such as yaoi trope experimentation and subversion, taken to the extreme in her WWII manga, while simultaneously using historical and cultural semi-realities to reinforce some of the oldest yaoi traditions.

7. Conclusion

Fusanosuke Inariya’s WWII yaoi manga are tragic dramas of unlikely lovers doomed by societal and individual pressures that label homosexual romance as “forbidden love,” creating a catalyst for scorned love, hurt feelings, and pent up emotional and sexual frustrations that are expressed as “violent desire.” Yet while her dominant masculine characters are unable to properly express their feelings for their lovers, and rape them as a result, each seme regrets that the relationship has degraded into one characterized by abuse. Rape may be exaggerated for visual and narrative effects, but beneath all of the violent desire and forbidden love is a genuine romance that has merely devolved, with the implication that because these characters once had consensual relationships, they might reject labels of deviance and recapture what was lost, repairing their own war-damaged souls along the way. Fusanosuke’s yaoi remain hopeful of these renewed, loving relationships that may still yet blossom, challenging historical and cultural prejudices within the narratives and within reality. Her yaoi reinvents the formulaic genre in a disturbing yet beautiful way, utilizing archaic tropes to distort and break the stale traditions of contemporary yaoi, furthering the continued evolution of the genre into diverse representations of homosexuality in Japanese and international artistic literature.

8. Acknowledgements

I wish to thank Catherine Walsh for serving as my research advisor for this project as well as Dr. Kelly Wacker for her continued advice, and most importantly, Fusanosuke Inariya for writing and drawing these intriguing and beautiful yaoi manga that inspired this paper. Maiden Rose is the first yaoi I bought, and I will forever remain a fan.

9. References

1. McLelland, Mark, “Why are Japanese Girls’ Comics full of Boys Bonking?” Refractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media 10 (2006-2007), http://blogs.arts.unimelb.edu.au/refractory/2006/12/04/why-are-japanese-girls%E2%80%99-comics-full-of-boys-bonking1-mark-mclelland/ (accessed January 21, 2011), 3-4.
2. Ibid.
3. Frennea, Melissa, “The Prevalence of Rape and Child Pornography in Yaoi” (paper presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, Ithaca, New York, March 31-April 2, 2011).
4. McLelland, Mark, Male Homosexuality in Modern Japan, (New York: Routledge Curzon, 2000), 61-88.
5. Ibid, 26.
6. Ibid, 43-44.
7. Frennea.
8. Ibid.
9. McLelland, “Why are Japanese Girls’,” 3-4.
10. Fusanosuke, Inariya, Maiden Rose Volume 1, (Gardena, CA: Digital Manga Publishing, 2010).
11. Fusanosuke, Inariya, Zion no Koeda, (Japan: Super Be-Boy Comics, 2009).
12. “Netsu no Ori,” in Zion no Koeda (Japan: Super Be-Boy Comics, 2009).
13. “Close Your Eyes,” in Kinyoku Reisou Gunpuku Special, 2009.
14. “Giglio Chapter 2.” Reijin Bravo, September, 2007.
15. Nagaike, Kazumi. “Elegant Caucasians, Amorous Arabs, and Invisible Others: Signs and Images of Foreigners in Japanese BL Manga.” Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific 20 (2009). http://intersections.anu.edu.au/issue20/nagaike.htm (accessed September 25, 2011).
16. McLelland, Male Homosexuality, 71.
17. Nagaike.
18. Ibid.
19. Ibid.
20. Wilson, Brent, and Masami Toku. “’Boys’ Love,’ Yaoi, and Art Education: Issues of Power and Pedagogy.” Visual Culture Research in Art and Education. http://www.csuchico.edu/~mtoku/vc/Articles/toku/Wil_Toku_BoysLove.html (accessed January 21, 2011), 5-7.
21. Nagaike.
22. Frennea.
23. McLelland, “Why are Girls’,” 4.
24. Frennea.
25. Pflugfelder, Gregory M, Cartographies of Desire Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse 1600-1950 (Berkley: University of California Press, 1999), 23-24.
26. Ibid.
27. Ibid.
28. Crompton, Louis. “Pre-Meiji Japan 800-1868,” in Homosexuality & Civilization (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2003), 416.
29. Pflugfelder, 24-25.
30. McLelland, Male Homosexuality, 25-26
31. Ibid, 25.
32. Ibid.
33. Ibid, 26.
34. Ibid, 25-26.
35. Ibid.
36. Ibid.
37. Ibid, 43-44.
38. Ibid, 3.
39. Plant, Richard, The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals, (New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc, 1986), 44-45.
40. Ibid, 68.
41. Ibid, 88.
42. Ibid, 33.
43. Ibid, 91.
44. Ibid, 102.
45. Ibid, 66.
46. Ibid, 62.
47. Ibid.
48. Ibid.
49. Ibid, 67.
50. Ibid.
51. Giles, Geoffrey J. “The Denial of Homosexuality: Same-Sex Incidents in Himmler's SS.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 12 (January-April 2002), 256.
52. Ibid, 265.
53. Ibid, 256.
54. Ibid, 266.
55. Ibid, 288-289.
56. McLelland, Male Homosexuality, 71.



( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 1st, 2012 03:01 am (UTC)
This seems like quite an interesting paper, and I'll read it in-depth later, but just a heads up, the LJ cut isn't working properly.

Edited at 2012-03-01 03:03 am (UTC)
Mar. 1st, 2012 03:54 am (UTC)
D: it was supposed to be! Ugh, I finally switch to rich text after years of HTML and the cut button fails me.
Mar. 2nd, 2012 08:29 am (UTC)
Haha, the exact same thing happened to me too, and there was about 10 comments telling me how to do an LJ-cut before I caught it.

And now for the paper:
I think it's incredibly cool to connect an interest you're passionate about with academic study, and I admire your courage to go public with your interest in yaoi. The research you've done is very interesting.

It makes me sad when people are turned off Maiden Rose because they think it's the typical Rape is Love trope; like you said in your paper, Inariya-sensei keeps the tropes but subverts them. Rape, while linked with love, is nonetheless portrayed as a bad thing (evident from the bloody rape scene), and the ukes, while effeminate looking, is surprisingly full of strength. I'm not really fond of the censoring of the uke's penis though, because it feels too close to the "het relationship but with (invisible) penis" thing present in some yaoi. However, the contrast between uke and seme makes for interesting dynamics I absolutely adore.

I think Taki and Klaus's relationship is an example of true dubious consent, where there's willingness but obstacles to express/allowing consent. Given Taki's status and of course the attitudes toward homosexuality during the time period mentioned in your paper, Klaus's frustration giving way to violent passion makes sense. I must say I don't feel very optimistic about them getting their happy ending because there's this atmosphere of hopelessness and tragedy in the story.

Thanks, I enjoyed reading this analysis ^^
Mar. 2nd, 2012 04:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading it!

Personally, I feel that Taki and Claus are eventually going to reach a peace in their relationship, where they kinda just throw caution to the wind and indulge (very much like in chapter 21, though it's before they reach Taki's homeland, where it's very evident--despite being embarrassed--that Taki is aroused and connecting on an emotional level with Claus) themselves emotionally and physically.

I very much see the story and external plots within the geopolitical situation causing something to happen to them. In a sense, I'm getting a very Romeo and Juliet type tragic love. Which, Fusanosuke's manga follow very old yaoi tropes in that regards, and one of the earliest yaoi tropes was for a lover, or both lovers, to die. Which is terribly upsetting to think about, but I'm still going to be hopeful. Maybe Taki will move to Klaus's land and grow roses with him.

And in the end, if it's "the world" that does their relationship under, I'd rather it be that than because of the internal degradation of the relationship.
Mar. 1st, 2012 03:30 am (UTC)
Echoing the previous comment. I'll give this a proper reading later, but please fix the cut! Thanks! :D
Mar. 1st, 2012 03:37 am (UTC)
Wow. Incredible. Thank you so much for sharing this, it's fascinating. I just skimmed it, but I plan on reading it more carefully later. I can't imagine all the work you must have put into this. Also, I admire that you are brave enough to write about an interest that I think most of us fans keep private, or just between other fans. Out of curiosity, what was your professors first reaction to the subject?
Mar. 1st, 2012 04:06 am (UTC)
They were really cool about it and about as interested as someone can be when they have no idea what you're talking about. They've been very supportive, as has my whole department (though I'm not sure they know the content quite so much). I think both advisors could understand my passion for the medium, both as a fan and as a research subject, though it is a big thing to admit I actually like this, despite all the rape, shota, and kinda messed up love (though, I don't read yaoi to see what I want in a relationship because a) there's a lot of unrealism b) there's abuse and rape and c) I'm a lesbian). It's all very convoluted, but I think my professors can support ANY topic if you're passionate about it, and could see that it was a legitimate research subject. Which there is a TON of yaoi analysis out there right now. Nothing this specific for Fusanosuke, most of it focuses on gender roles and some of it is starting to analyze fandom and reader response (especially international) to the genre as a whole. I've decided to focus on depictions of rape and it's use as a plot element. Fusanosuke's manga... when I first read it, I was rather shocked. And then I fell in love and there wasn't any going back. So I wanted to analyze her work because it's quite different than any other yaoi I've ever read, and has hooked me in a way that nothing else has for yaoi. It's also very interesting how popular she's getting, even knowing her stories are perhaps some of the most violent (and repeatedly violent) romances in the genre.
Mar. 1st, 2012 07:31 am (UTC)
I've read this with a great deal of interest, especially the section on attitudes to homosexuality in historical Germany, as there are aspects of the Luchenwald section of the story where I was trying to figure out whether some attitudes were accepting of homosexuality as such or simply more 'homophiliac' instead.

Thanks for a fascinating read, which has definitely enriched my enjoyment of Maiden Rose (even if it fills me with a certain amount of foreboding for what Taki and Claus's eventual fate may be....)
Mar. 1st, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC)
It is very curious when one considers how much research Fusanosuke must have done (I presume). I couldn't make it to Yaoi Con to ask her about any of this (and the convention never returned my emails asking to hold conversation with her via email or Skype for the purposes of my research), but discovering what I did about nanshoku and especially about homosexuality within the Nazi military, I am almost positive she has to know about some of these historical accuracies. I feel that both views on homosexuality (her native Japanese historical view and her probably studied German historical view) have very much informed her work. There's a lot of detail and care taken with the WWII clothing and weapons, something that is obviously the result of extensive research, so I'm confident the same care was taken when researching the backgrounds a character like a gay Nazi might have. These stories read unplausible at first, but they've never seemed the whimsical absurdity that most yaoi has, where it just always feels contrived and unrealistic. Paradoxically, Fusanosuke's stories have always carried a strange sense of realism to them, perhaps because the love is treated so realistically when you think about the pervasive negative attitudes towards homosexuality at the time in her stories.

It's my belief that Taki and Claus will end up with a happy relationship. While most yaoi follow the rape > drama > happily ever after (where things start off bad and get better), Fusanosuke's yaoi start off good, get worse (because of the external and internal pressures about the love being forbidden, and a pure and simple inability for anyone to properly communicate, too), but I believe they will get better. All of her shorts have ended on a semi-happy note with some form of acceptance between the lovers. Especially for Maiden Rose, seeing all the flashbacks, it's very clear that Taki love Claus, but he feels he can't be with him because it's wrong. Claus doesn't understand this (because it was never properly communicated and they don't TALK) and essentially forces him because it's like, "I want sex, we're gonna have sex." Claus genuinely regrets raping Taki, so I feel that we're going to start moving towards the phase where they will start to accept each other and work towards a more healthy relationship.

However, that's what Taki and Claus will do, whether the constraints of everyone around them and the geopolitical situation in Maiden Rose will allow that... we'll just have to wait and see. But even if it's a tragic ending for them, I think if they're together, it won't be such a sad ending (though I hope it's happy!).
Mar. 1st, 2012 11:04 am (UTC)
why so awesome *A* will read this again later :)
Mar. 3rd, 2012 06:14 am (UTC)
This was really nice to read. I've been contemplating a graduate thesis on Maiden Rose, so seeing another person working on Fusanosuke is exciting!

I have one completely sidetracking question that I wanted to ask because you've probably thought about it a lot. What, for you, connects Maiden Rose with the WWII era specifically? (Asking this as someone who has always felt it has more in common with WWI with inter-war/WWII influences)
Mar. 3rd, 2012 06:03 pm (UTC)
Several times they reference the "Great War" which is undeniably a reference to WWI, despite the fantasy setting. The geography references our geography in reality, though things are different. Maiden Rose feels like it takes place between the 10s-40s, probably closer to the 20s or 30s by the looks of weaponry, but WWII does technically begin in the 30s, especially on the Pacific front, so I felt it was alright to classify it as as WWII-esque story.

Also, one of the final days I was writing this, Sentiero came out and I was all "alsjdlsajdlja >< WHAT IF IT COUNTS AS 'YAOI?" and it would affect my paper, but it's interesting to consider the amount of WWII stuff she wrote. I didn't include Paladium (sp?) because it didn't contain sexual content, which I'm using to differentiate between shonen-ai and yaoi (I only use "yaoi" because that's what we use in America, "BL" is used academically, but it's more of a Japanese term, though yaoi does mean different things in Japan to some extent, but I digress).

If you need a proper citation for this paper, if you write your thesis on Maiden Rose, I can write up the citation for where it was presented. I've also got a proper citation now (published) for my previous paper. If your university has access to the NCUR proceedings, you can download the .pdf from the University of Asheville, North Carolina NCUR proceedings page. But I'm happy to help give you a citation (these are Chicago style since I'm in an art history department).

I looked and had probably close to 30 articles on yaoi, all from major authors in the field (like McLelland, Pagliossott, etc) and a Fusanosuke manga--Zion no Koeda--came up ONCE in a list of the different races of semes and ukes, and even then it was listed in Japanese so I had to match kana and figure it out. But it was never discussed, only listed. I have by no means exhausted all the yaoi research available in English, but my sources for this paper and my previous one comprise the very best researchers on the topic.
Mar. 25th, 2012 04:59 pm (UTC)
Sorry it took me so long to reply to this. I slightly forgot that I hadn't already. *sheepish*

I should probably state first that my feeling is that the timeline is so distorted from our reality it's almost impossible to draw definite parallels from anything, despite how hard fans try. The work is set in 1928, smack-dab between the two wars that fans are most likely to drawn on. Still, just from my interpretation the nature of the war they're fighting itself--the political machinations and interests; the tenuous parallels to the Russo-Japanese War (but then that ended so differently); a Russia on the brink of political upheaval; the unification of pseudo-Germany (but then that's happening way too late), and the social climate of many of these countries--all this really strikes more of a chord as a parallel of WW1 rather than WW2. But again, it's so distorted.

Wow, sorry for the wall of text. I spend way too much time thinking about this manga and I love running into others who've also put a lot of thought into it. :D

As for the citation matter, since this is unfortunately still very up in the air right now for me, would you mind if I contacted you through your lj inbox should the need arise? If it does happen then I would undoubtedly benefit from it, but I don't want to trouble you for something that isn't decided yet.
Mar. 27th, 2012 05:32 pm (UTC)
Actually, my email is artistmf [at] yahoo.com and I keep up with my email way more than my lj nowadays. I've also got AIM: peaceofhope214 and stay on top of that chat too. Even if not for the paper, I always love a good intellectual chat abot yaoi and this manga.

It is true that the parallels are perhaps more in line with WWI than WWII, though I think the period between the WWs in real history comprised a similar upheaval in Russia and Germany. Maiden Rose does seem to have more of a character of nation building, and particularly the Japanese side of things strikes me as more Meiji era than Taisho or Showa in their approach to the Western nations. Perhaps a revised version of my paper would be more of her "World War" manga leaving off which one. If Sentiero or "Code Leviathan" turns out to be more of a "yaoi" than a "shonen-ai" story perhaps a longer version of the paper might include some of her newest work since she has again returned to the world wars and is again pursuing a dragon theme.

I definitely think Maiden Rose carries the flavor of WWI and the turn of the century nationalistic, but I felt that putting the WWII label on it--despite the time period, and I did make sure and note it was a fantasy story--wasn't such an anachronism based on the "Great War" reference, though I would be interested to know if their "Great War" was WWI or perhaps more along the lines of the Russo-Japanese war.

If anyone is a weapons specialist, I would love to analyze the time period based on the mechanics of the war and see how much research Fusanosuke has done. I imagine she's been thorough, since military stories in these time periods seem to be a favorite of hers.
Mar. 29th, 2012 03:26 am (UTC)
Great! (Alas that I do not have AIM chat though)

I agree with a lot of that. With Russia and Germany, it's more the shape of the upheaval rather than the upheaval itself that makes me want to draw the analogy with an earlier time, but certainly a lot of these problems were ongoing. The "Great War" issue is the biggest one for me too, although I don't think it would quite be the Russo-Japanese war even though I think there is an allusion there. What struck me a lot since I first read the manga is how Taki's country is so obviously Japan, and yet carries a strong resonance with Chinese history (which was coming through the Century of Humiliation at this point). The 100 Years Treaty definitely smacks of the "unequal treaties" that various forces were pushing onto China in that era.

I'm not a weapons specialist but they're about as mixed as ever when it comes to time period from what I know. Both Klaus and Berkut's guns are right for the era and Berkut's is especially appropriate having been the standard issue for the Russian army. On the other hand, the Onokami tank is an Elefant, and that was first produced in 1943, 15 years after the stated year of the manga. I think there should also be at least one more loader manning it, but maybe you can get away with one? I'll admit I just don't know about the practical side of tank operation.

One other thing that pushes the time back a bit is the military uniforms as there is very little camouflage to be seen in the series, which should have been being mass-produced by WWII.
Mar. 29th, 2012 03:57 am (UTC)
Yeah, I was thinking that definitely the style of their uniforms, especially at Luckenwalde are way more WWII than earlier.

Also, Japan had it's own unequal treaties back in 1863 I think it was, and they spent the majority of the Meiji era trying to get it repealed and revised.
Mar. 17th, 2012 06:47 am (UTC)
Holy shit. That's pretty much the first thing that came to mind when I finished reading this. I remember you saying on deviantart.com that you had written a paper on Fusanosuke Inariya's work, and I had been trying to figure out where in the world to find it. Leave it to me to completely forget that I belonged to this LJ group (I know you have a million watchers, but this is Shinigami-no-Miko by the way ^^; ).
This has to be one of the most insightful and impressive pieces of work I have read regarding this particular genre of Japanese art/literature that I have ever seen and to be specific to Fusanosuke was awesome because her work is just so unique. I gained a lot of insight and knowledge from this paper and I hope you're going to keep it posted in this little group for a while because I'd like to read it again when it's not almost midnight and I can devote more lucid attention to it.
The amount of work you put into this is absolutely stunning and I can only imagine the time that went into gathering all of your resources. Thank you for this, it's helped me understand things in Fusanosuke's work much better. Right now it's specific to Maiden Rose, but it will also help me further when I am able to seek out her other titles. Awesome work ^_^

Edited at 2012-03-17 06:49 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 22nd, 2012 07:02 pm (UTC)
Um... not sure you're making sense. No offense, but your English sounds like it came out of an online translator.

Don't repost this paper on your blog. This paper wasn't about war, it was about a homoerotic Japanese comic.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )