Quick updates

Isaac Hale of Manga Recon attended Yaoi-Con, and he was disturbed by some of what he saw. On the one hand, as a gay male he was happy to be in a gay-friendly environment. But:

Many of the cons main events were they “Bishonen Bingo”, the “Continental Bishie Brunch”, the “Bishonen Auction” and the “Bishonen Spanking Inferno” were horribly objectifying and dehumanizing. The vast majority of the con attendees were female, and sitting in the audience as a lone male as they paid money to take men back to their rooms in the Auction or get up in the “Inferno” to spank them felt unnerving to say the least. At worst, the events felt like a tame but still incredibly disturbing slave auction (the “Bishonen Auction”) to at best a cathartic reversal of power dynamics for the almost entirely female audience. Regardless, the whole experience left me feeling terribly dehumanized and objectified. Every single one of the above Main Events emphasized the power differential between the paying benefactors and the nominally gay boys they were objectifying. … Though I understand that it’s crucial to combat our society’s normal sexist power dynamics that objectify women so awfully, this is not, I repeat NOT, an acceptable way to do so.

He has plenty of interesting reflections on the panels and the books on offer, too, so go, read.

Del Rey has signed with Dean Koontz and Queenie Chan for a second Odd Thomas graphic novel.

Translators Alethea and Athena Nibley talk about translation notes and looking things up at Manga Life.

Naoki Urasawa is launching a new manga, Billy Bat, in Morning magazine. Yes, there does seem to be some sort of Batman tie-in. Japanator has more.

Reviews: Marina Neira reviews vol. 1 of Heaven!! and vol. 10 of InuBaka at Marina’s Sequential Art Journal. John Thomas checks out vol. 2 of Gantz at Comics Village. At PopCultureShock’s Manga Recon blog, Phil Guie finds In Odd We Trust to be overly bland and inoffensive. Connie reads vol. 1 of One Pound Gospel at Slightly Biased Manga. Michelle Smith checks out vol. 3 of Dororo at Soliloquy in Blue. At Manga Life, Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane reads vol. 1 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Park Cooper reviews vol. 1 of Mamoru: The Shadow Protector and vol. 19 of One Piece. Tiamat’s Disciple takes a look at vol. 1 of Love Quest and vol. 2 of Croquis Pop. Lissa Pattillo reads vol. 3 of Kamen Tantei at Kuriousity. Julie enjoys vol. 1 of Parasyte at the Manga Maniac Cafe. Erica Friedman reviews vol. 1 of Day of the Revolution at Okazu. Tangognat picked up vol. 1 of Kyo Kara MAOH! because she liked the anime, but she thinks readers will enjoy it whether or not they have seen it. Deb Aoki stirs the pot with a look at vol. 1 of Mixed Vegetables at About.com.

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  1. Naoki Urasawa is launching a new manga, Billy Bat, in Morning magazine. Yes, there does seem to be some sort of Batman tie-in.

    Knowing Nagasaki Takashi, the writer, I am sure that the Batman reference is intentional (he has never been subtle as his latest titles Dias Police (also in Morning) and PLUTO have shown) but there is no direct tie-in that I know of… It is an homage of sorts to the American 40’s a time of great cartoon characters – Mickey Mouse, Superman… And this other character time forgot – BILLY BAT.

    I’ve been dying to see this in print!! One more week!
    Oh and Urasawa isn’t the only known mangaka to move to Morning… In the coming weeks the creators of titles such as Dragon Head, Shonan Bosozuku, will Saiyuu Youenden join Fumi Yoshinaga (Antique Bakery/Flower of Life) and Fuyumi Soryu (Eternal Sabbath/MARS) in the magazine.

  2. Isaac Hale needs to take a breather and relax. Yaoi is not written for gay males, just as Yuri is not written for lesbians. Yaoi is written for females. Yuri is made for males. So you shouldn’t go to such conventions expecting them to be homosexual affairs. I think comparing convention events to slave auctions is going a bit over the top as well and inappropriate. Live and let live. If there are young ladies or old out there that like to spank guys, more power to em!

  3. I don’t think it’s fair to say who can and can’t be an audience of something, but more importantly the main defense of yaoi, yuri, and even mainstream mature leaning manga is that it is fantasy. These are drawings on a page, and there is no real objectification. No one is really being treated as a thing, hurt, raped, abused, what-have-you.

    So when real people “live out” that fantasy in a convention setting, doesn’t that make that “it’s just fantasy” argument moot?

  4. @Sesho- What if that was reversed? What if say, the same happened, but with women?

    That’s one reason why I’ve always found yaoi slightly distasteful. I’ve always understood it to be fantasy, and that’s fine as long as it’s treated so. But even so, I can see why it would be disturbing to a gay audience. It’s why I, as a female, might understand the fantasy aspect of porn, but find it hard to swallow.

    Furthermore, this goes beyond fantasy…

  5. I seriously doubt that the convention was as sordid as Hale said. I mean, women paying for men and “taking them back to their rooms”? They would have had the whole lot picked up for prostitution! And it takes two to tango. It wasn’t like the people being spanked were brought over here in slave ships. That’s what I thought was ludicrous about the whole statement. Comparing it to slave auctions when it sounds like they were just having a bit of fun. I doubt any of the guys were psychologically scarred by this experience. It sounded like Hale was just disappointed about the demographics of the show and had to write a manifesto about spanking.

  6. I don’t feel in a position to second guess Hale’s experience, but some of the comments on his post were pretty nasty, which gives me a little faith that what he writes is true.

    I don’t know if it matters if the actors were psychologically scarred. It sounds like at least one of the guests was, and I think that makes an examination of what he experienced worth talking about.

  7. I never thought “taking them back to their rooms” had a pervy connotation. I’ve been to cons, and I’m sure there are about 4 fangirls packed into each room. I assumed they were just hanging out, eating pocky and braiding his hair or something.

  8. It’s true that the majority of Yaoi is written for straight women and the majority of Yuri is written for straight men, but not all of it.

    For a gay man or woman, who enjoys Yaoi /Yuri for what it is – and may additionally relish it as a reflection of themselves in media – to be told it is “not for them” seems absurd on a lot of levels. And pretty much is exactly the point Isaac was making.



    Hungry for Yuri? Have some Okazu!

  9. Yikes…http://www.popcultureshock.com/ has been down for over a day now…


  1. […] of yaoi, I followed Brigid Alverson’s link to Isaac Hale’s post about his experiences at Yaoi-Con, and I was pretty disturbed by some of […]