The High School Life of a Fudanshi | 腐男子高校生活
Ah, the elusive fudanshi – that is, men who like yaoi. Some say they are nothing but the stuff of myths. Sightings are rare, contained to cousin’s-friend’s-brothers and online message boards. Or so we thought, until one brave anime debuted to share their story. To bring solidarity to real fudanshi everywhere. To change the world forever.
That anime is The High School Life of a Fudanshi, which chronicles the everyday happenings of male BL-lover Ryō Sakaguchi. This very solid premise for an anime runs a full 12 episodes (though, as a teeny microscopic little footnote, each episode is only 4 minutes long, and that includes the end credits song.)
“A wounded tiger is the most dangerous beast of all,” remarks Yut-Lung. Presumably that’s proverb for “Man, those dudes are fucked.” Ash Lynx has got bullets to pop and bodies to drop, and boy ain’t taking prisoners.
It wasthe probably the most anticipated yuri anime this year. Based on Saburouta’s popular yuri manga running from 2012 and concluding just last month. I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that the 12-episode anime doesn’t cover the full story, but we’ll go with what we have.
Our leading ladies are Yuzu Aihara, a blonde and outspoken gyaru fashionista, and Mei Aihara, a beautiful but stone cold bitch. Yes, they have the same last name, and no, it’s not a coincidence, but don’t worry: they aren’t sisters. Sort of.
There’s no point in a drum roll when the opening credits are comfortably explicit, but for the sake of thematic uniformity: is it gay?
Well, goddamn. The cards are in Dino Golzine’s hands now, and his favorite card game is torture-dungeon-murder. (Guess how you play.) This episode was so brutal, it transcends snarky commentary. Luckily, two can play at the game of being an asshole, so I’ll try my best.
The 39-episode animated masterpiece about the girl-prince and her Rose Bride is not only ground-breaking as a yuri anime, as a 90’s shoujo it is virtually unrivaled. Ostensibly a magical girl anime (that isn’t), or a romantic fairy tale (not quite), it burrows into a dark juxtaposition between fantasy and reality, tearing apart the motives and ambitions of its cast while the unknown actuality of the setting looms ominously over them, swaying between purgatorial and theatrical.
To review Utena with any modicum of authenticity is a heavy project for which I am unworthy. When engaging any media, I adore picking out parallels, meaningful transitions, reoccurring symbols and themes, and emphasizing the significance of the details. But Utena is so overwhelming on all accounts that a analysis of that sort would better be a thesis in format. Its wicked surrealism makes the whole experience metaphysical to the point that you’ll have no idea if the plot is what it is, or something else entirely, and its intricacies would be impossible to describe exhaustively.
So first, let’s take a step back and focus on what’s really important: is it gay?
I love the sassy title of this episode, but don’t believe it for a second. Sure, things don’t exactly go as planned for some, and for others, things go as planned but still suck. But the game is on, and the players have upped the ante. We aren’t quite finished with our Banana Fish sleuthing this episode, but we’re also rolling in a range of baddies who, for the record, are probably all out to kill one another in addition to our team of heroes, so no one’s safe and things are getting charmingly nasty.
Bandai/Namco’s Tales series has always been quite the collection. Lovely little anime games that bounce between cute and silly and darkly epic – though most of it will waiver in the awkward in-between. They are solid games without quite ascending to masterpieces, but usually embedded with little gems of plot conceptualization and character dynamics that raise them overhead simply mediocre.
At any rate, I had been a few years away from the series, but the siren’s call of alleged gayness in a more recent installment drew me back.
A Steam sale later, and I finally got my hands on Tales of Zestiria. I met Sorey, our upbeat protagonist, and Mikleo, his closest friend. Perfect, they’ll do. I’m youthful, optimistic. Ambitious. Ready for yaoi.
Welcome to California! Not only has the game board expanded, so have the number of players. The most important introduction is the titular “Rich Boy”, but a few more side characters popping in to say hello make this a relatively chill episode. The cogs are definitely moving in the background, but first thing’s first: detective work and gay jokes.
Pack up, boys and girls, we’re road tripping! Banana Fish pretends to chill out for a filler episode, kicking the audience out of the vehicle in the middle of fucking nowhere (officially known as Cape Cod) for some backstory and character development. Ensue the usual hilarity of unleashing city folk into the boonies – murder, knife fights, horrifying recollections of child abuse. Weirdly, the guns don’t seem out of place, though. This is America.
Banana Fish continues to brutally launch itself through a hefty plot, no mercy and no prisoners. It’s clear we have a lot of plot to cruise through, and the ride is going be bumpy with minimal breaks for downtime. It’s a two-way pull: Ash and Eiji are simultaneously being pursued, and doing the pursuing. There’s a lot going on, but so far, the direction is smooth enough to not reduce viewers to motion sickness. For a gang drama with a growing cast, that’s no easy feat, but the main driver is Ash – though Eiji is ready to ball up and take the wheel.