If moé is the cancer killing anime, is yaoi the AIDS killing shoujo manga?
The weekend before the last, I spent one night and part of the following day to read the seven volumes of Mieko Koide and Akizuki Koh’s Yatteranneeze!. The manga is far better than most BL manga out there, even if it is not enough so to be good. Anyway, it was a tremendously enjoyable and nostalgic experience, as I felt like I was back to my old fudanshi days, some two or three years ago, when I loved “shounen-ai” and my affinity for (3D) guys was still a rather abstract matter.
In particular, I appreciated how the series tries to tackle several common subjects of anxiety in the life of real gay men. Unfortunately, for the most part, it does not work out very well
For example, the issue of one’s acceptance of their own sexual identity is a complex one, and it’s usually a pleasure for me to read about characters going through this kind of troubles. However, in Yatteranneeze!’s case, I felt like it was very overplayed and ended up making the uke protagonist quite disagreeable.
But one of the things that left me the most troubled is the series part were the characters have to deal with the possibility of having been infected with HIV.
It is quite unusual for manga characters, be it in male or female-oriented works, to protect themselves during intercourse. Yatteranneeze! is not an exception, and everybody has sex happily without worrying about rubber.
What was quite disturbing is the discrepancy between, on the one hand, this customary disregard for health issues in the writing of love scenes, and on the other hand the high consciousness of the problem which is induced by the presence of an AIDS arc in the manga.
It is common sense that anybody who has fooled around with a number of “nameless girls”, probably without protection, would usually think of testing themselves when they want to start a long term relationship. However, this does not seem to strike our protagonist, who wouldn’t even think about it if one of his sex-friends wasn’t very likely to be positive. The level of the character’s awareness of the problem seems not to be the same as ours.
But the moment that really stroke me as contrary to my common sense was after the announce that Masaki’s sex friend was, in fact, not seropositive. It is natural for the characters to be relieved, but I was surprised to find out that the problem seemed to leave their mind completely and immediately. This “Okay, everything’s fine, so let’s fuck now and stop worrying about the rest” attitude isn’t exactly incoherent with the rest of the story but well, at least for me, it felt quite out of place.
As the series is quite old, I wondered if the reason for this was that it had been written at a time at which AIDS awareness wasn’t so high. The series has been written between 1994 and 2000, therefore the scene I’ve been talking about must have been written around 1998. This is 3 years after the end of what we call in France “les Années SIDA” (the AIDS years), and would the author had been French, it would have been impossible to lay the responsibility of this lack of awareness to her culture. However, it does seem that in Japan, things are noticeably different. Unfortunately, many links in this Wikipedia article are dead, but it does seem that HIV and AIDS in Japan are a much smaller and younger phenomenon. It is thus understandable, I guess, that Akizuki Kou’s perception of the whole HIV/AIDS thing must have been quite different with mine.
btw, I got tested today. The results are for tomorrow.
update: I’m negative.