This is part of the series:
I’m sure many of you are reading through Strangerataru’s Illustrated Guide to Weekly Shounen Jump. It briefly looks into the rich history of popular and significant titles in Shounen Jump. Upon reading it, I cannot help but feel completely nostalgic. Particularly even more nostalgic with regards to how Jump has ‘nurtured’ a fujoshi culture throughout the years. A lot of the titles mentioned in the article have been been important breeding grounds for fujoshis. Whether young or old, they all started somewhere. And many of these fujoshis would start their first doujins out of inspiration from a Jump title.
Feeling inspired, I’m writing a series of posts that looks into the relation of Jump’s top titles and how this magazines have helped culture a demographic that fantasizes their heroes as lovers. We’ll look at how Jump has unknowingly set fire unto the hearts of girls and made them grab their pens and wrote page upon page of parodies of their favorite Jump titles. Just like Strangerataru, we’ll look at it through the periods and see how they stumbled upon fujoshis, their nonchalance towards the culture, and eventually how they embraced and acknowledge their following. So, let’s look at it this way.
1. 1968-1979: Innocent Beginnings
2. 1980-1984: The Captain Tsubasa Fantasy
3. 1985-1989: Men and their poses and cosmos
4. 1990-1994: Move aside Son Goku, it’s all about Rukawa x Hiei x Kenshin. TOTALLY!
5. 1995-1999: You can’t shake them down.
6. 2000-present: Giving it up to fujoshis
To start things off, we’ll look at the beginnings of Jump and the beginnings of Fujoshi culture. And so our story begins in 1968 until 1979.
1968-1979: Innocent Beginnings
Contrary to what many foreign fangirls believe, Jump didn’t start out gay. It wasn’t always gay. Funny as it sounds, but nowadays, when girls talk about how a story in Jump turned gay there is another girl who would answer “Well, that’s Jump for you. It’s always been gay.” No ladies, it wasn’t.
Like almost everything else in the early 60s, Jump was very innocent in its beginnings. Their stories were fueled with heroism and chivalry that most rabid fangirls nowadays wouldn’t particularly enjoy it. They published bulky robot stories and a boy surviving from an H-bomb. When you’ve got simple illustrations and simple plots to tell a tale, it’s beyond your wildest imagination that there could be something going on in between.
Things were really simple back then.
However, there was something brewing outside of Jump that was opening girls’ minds to new possibilities. It may have started with the likes of Toma no Shinzou (Heart of Thomas), a boy’s love story written by Hagio Moto. Hagio-sensei, along with her other friends such as Keiko Takemiya introduced to the world a different love story, one in which boys, basking in innocence and purity, find love for another boy. This genre is what we would all know as shounen-ai, a sampler of what would become yaoi.
One cannot deny the popularity of these stories. Sure, the sexual tension may not be to everyone’s taste, but a romantic story is still a romantic story. And if it’s a good one, regardless if they were gay or not, it will definitely be read. These ladies were master story tellers of their time. The tension of their forbidden school romances brought ideas to many readers. Suddenly, a friendly embrace seemed to mean more than just a greeting. Lines like “I will always be by your side” were no longer laced with camaraderie but romantic companionship.
As more stories like these were published, female readers start to notice these romantic patterns. Since it was born from manga, it is something that stays in manga. The emotions felt and scenarios imagined remain in the realm of fantasy and were never brought out to public. Everything that was in shounen-ai stayed fervently in their hearts and was alive only on the next shounen-ai manga that they read. It is here where the delusional world of the fujoshi began.
The presence of shounen-ai in the manga industry would bring a great effect unto the female readers of Shounen Jump. Due to the simplicity and straightforwardness of many Jump stories at that time, the idea of a ‘pairing’ was still beyond their imagination. However, a few years after this period, at a time when shounen-ai has become more popular and acceptable among female readers, Shounen Jump will face a different following for their magazine: the fujoshi.
Note: I’m currently writing this piece as an analysis inspired by the aforementioned post. It is based on observed trends and personal studies that I have made for previous fujoshi-related articles I have strangely submitted to my professors in my university. As I am writing this off the top of my head, there may be some important aspects that I may have missed. Feel free to leave a comment to either add some interesting data for this discussion. For all I know, I might turn this into a dissertation. Lol. I mean, I know people who have been approved grants in Japan when they study popular culture such as this. lol. You’ll never know. ^_~