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Okay, got to mention Beyblade as the first time I came across the Yoai and Yuri thing was via that anime, so bare with me if it crops up.
Why it is not so Great?
You know not all Japanese animated porn is Hentai right? Hentai is just the EXTREME porn, the hard core (its name means along the lines of "abnormal" sexual acts). So sites like Hentai tube listing all the Japanese porn as "hentai" are wrong. BUT westerners don't seem to care on the label - the word Hentai will get them porn and porn is linked to Hentai, the two go hand in hand for non-Japanese. Yet in a Japanese magazine store, they may have different classifications, yet be in the same shelving area or mixed in together.
Well the same is said for Yaoi and Yuri, and 6 years ago when I last took anime seriously (as a anime nut entirely) the classifications of what is and isn't Yoai and Yuri were dissolving. Shōnen-ai for explain, is something we all knew back in 2001/2 yet few anime fans seem to know exist. Its name (according to wikipedia) simply means "No climax, no point, no meaning". And the basis of yaoi is set up scenes... To explain the full concept of Yaoi, just look it up on wikipedia its as good as any site to explain the complexity behind it. Its "boys love" remember that much, aimed at the 24 year group love (hence why a lot of Japanese fan artists will age teenage characters to this point in their life), so it shouldn't be about teenage boys, though modern terms it does.
Note here; there was no age limit for Japan until 1999, which it became 13, so young teenagers younger then 16 are not seen as child porn in Japan and it can be shocking and/or when Westerners forget their westerners and it is illegal. Though technically its not of real teenagers, so it will rarely get you in trouble and is "art" or some crappy explanation that I forget half the details of. Hence another reason yaoi is popular - it can serve your perverted thoughts and not get you into too much trouble... Unless that has changed in the last half a decade.
And it is ALL about the set up, shamelessly, nothing else. The easiest way to remember what Yaoi is to note the boys almost always have rosy red checks, something also seen in porn anime and manga. The art styles share common traits except Yaoi is not intending to be out right porn in most cases (because its no longer Yaoi anymore, its porn). But it will use erotic things... Lollipops - always red or pink, its a sex symbol (the penis) and ice cream - always white (I'm not explaining this one, if you read the last brackets, you've guessed what this represents). The boys (or girls in Yuri) are always kissing, and if not in their normal clothing - have either loose causal clothing (normally showing the chest) or strapped clothes. Animal features are popular in some circles, anthropomorphing a character is something I'll never see the point to. But its almost always a rabbit, dog or cat (mostly rabbit or cat). Its target audience are girls (not guys, thats man love, not boy love) hence why the guys are often doing things a man out of manly pride wouldn't do (lazy example - wear a dress).
And it gets on my nerves at least. The amount of time and effort you have to put into a yaoi image is shameless, yet the artists who make those images rarely do the same for their non-yaoi work. That much has improved, I used to have to search long and hard for decent non-yaoi images and they were 90% of the time yaoi images... Now thanks to westerners learning the style of Japanese art, and don't like doing Yaoi, theres more of the stuff around. Even when you found the single character picture, it was always on a yaoi artists sites, and while he was on his own, he might as well have had a second boy in the image because the style remained - it was a yaoi image it felt like even with just one character in it. It always made me wonder why they did this, and you couldn't find a straight couple pairing anywhere if you didn't like yaoi. It felt like the style of fan art was being pushed into your face.
But when Beholder-sama eventually hosted our website for Beyblade, he told us for the sake of the fact he is Japanese, we must also be prepared to accept it. There were 4 or 5 of us, can't remember, and I was the only one who hated it, so I had to put up with it and request it when we had nothing to offer - I even had to submit my own Shōnen-ai image to help our gallery along. And the image I drew wasn't for that gallery originally, I just told them to count it as that classification to fill the space. Thats a funny story when you think about it actually... And ironic.
And so I'm forever left at odds with Yaoi and Yuri. Most of the fan girls who seek it out are young teenagers to begin with you are following a trend or looking for an "excuse" to see two hot guys in one image. When you say "well why does it HAVE to be two guys?" you open your mouth to the typical "discrimination against gay-ism" or whatever and simply stating "its not your tastes" get you no sympathy. Yaoi lovers will literally kick you out of your group sometimes, and as far as their concerned there is no love for the non-believers. Fortunately there are decent enough members amongst them, but out right stating you hate it is sometimes a "red rag to a bull" effect. Its like they WANT someone to say it. Half the yaoi fans are old enough by western standards to have sex, so why are they looking at this kind of thing anyway? Yaoi is picked up in particular because its "just a set up" it might not leap out at parents against porn straight away and they'd over look it, so young girls can get away with it on a certain terms. Thats the whole point of the yaoi notion - you can get away with it.
But by far THE worst thing about yaoi is the amount of shipping fans will pull onto you. For beyblade, it was always Rei x Kai, Takao x Kai if you were japanese, or Yurei/Tala x Kai for the thrid and final option (hence why most cosplayers are girls and usually one of these 3 characters). Most of the characters got ignored. And believe me, half the reasons why the Japanese fangirls never picked up the last vol. of Beyblade was due to the fact they found out that those pairings never happened - the guys were all very straight and never married each other (lol). Rei of all characters I'll never understand why he was paired up - he was the most straight of all, he just shared a LOT of scenes with Kai (because the anime tended to feature the characters with the ones on par with each other level wise). The shipping wars get on my nerves with this note in mind, why can't a couple who are straight have a chance? The fact most of the girls who love the stuff will end up marrying and having a straight relationship anyway confuses me.
What happens when you worship Yaoi anyway? Well some girls do seem to grasp the life-long statement yaoi loving makes upon you - the same statement Japanese fangirls share. Its hard for a westerner to explain to other westerners, easier for a Japanese to explain to a westerner and automatically known by the Japanese themselves without stating it. But theres a cultural relationship in Japan to yaoi the west lacks, mostly due to our paranoia towards gay and lesbians, but mostly because the fans have the naivety that their Japanese counterparts don't have. So when I hear at a convention a vendor getting fangirls to yell out the word "yaoi" I turn to my friend and asked him, "Do they even know what their declaring when they yell that?". To which my friend agreed (my friend has been to Japan himself on a couple of occasions) that they might reconsider their thoughts if they knew some of the extent that this word is suppose to mean culturally in Japan. And these girls were mid teens and younger. barely 16 and possibly younger...
Not I thought much of that vendor anyway - he was selling fancomics from Japan, a insult to some Japanese fanartist who create these comics for their own means, and not so someone else can sell them on for their profit. If I could have the artist who create any one of those comics, he'd be picking himself up off the floor after that artist had finished with him. I've been through fanart stealing, just don't do it, its not worth the hassle that comes with it, its why most Japanese artists have been disabling right click on their site since 2001/2. And selling a fancomic even in our countries is copyright infringement the way he was doing it anyway (I saw a One Piece fan manga there which I know means he isn't afraid to break the law) and he could get in trouble alone for that much, there are ways he could not have broken the law, but his way was illegal (you had to see what he was up to).
Lastly, going back to the comment that guys are doing things men wouldn't do... A tough guy like Kai wouldn't be sympathetic and loving as he was in those fanarts. The same girls who in the Beyblade fandom were cribbing about Mary-Sues and "out of character" (OOC) in fanfiction were okay with the OOC yaoi pictures. It doesn't make sense. Actually, some of those not complaining I once read their fanficitons for... All of them were 12-16... Talking about rape, sex and bondage between characters of the same age as them... Was more then just creepy and scary. One girl's fanfiction noted that BIOVOLT were consisted only of young males and the two adults in control were raping the boys to make them win their battles, I got as far as the first three paragraphs and stopped because it made me sick, simply sick and she was just 14 years old, not old enough for sex herself.
So at the end of the day, if you love yaoi, thats fine... But there are many of us who can't stand it, for various reasons. Mine is I'm sick of it and just want non-yaoi artworks, I don't even want a straight couple anymore, I want a decent image of a character. Don't force it upon everyone else and understand just because you like it, doesn't mean its "modern" or "right", most fangirls shouldn't be looking at it due to their age, the rest are only looking at it because its trendy. And understand that there is a certain cultural influence that westerners lack. Love yaoi because you want to love it, understand that not everyone does and don't force your opinion into fact (shipping). Do that, and everyone gets on fine.
Non-yaoi lovers CAN live with yaoi lovers, if the yaoi lovers respect their place and non-yaoi lovers respect theirs. ;-3
It feels like beating a dead horse at times with yaoi fangirls. I keep well away from them these days because thats where the rabid fangirls mostly hang out. And I hate rabid fangirls more then I hate yaoi. I don't mind myself being a fan, but I don't go to their level anymore, it just creates a lot of hate for you. Been there, done that, got fed up with it, I want to get away with it. I couldn't stand that cowboy film about gay cowboys because it meant enduring something I don't like for longer then I wanted to being "in my face". Funny thing is, up until the Beyblade days I had NO cribs with this kind of thing, its just the amount there was that put me off for life.
Thank you yaoi fangirls, for forever making me turn my head from this kind of thing.
Another reality is a lot of the girls only love yaoi openingly while their on the net, off the net they keep things tight. You're speaking about western countries where gays still get beaten by the people who can't accept it for various reasons occasions. So unless they feel safe (conventions or amongst friends) it remains a secret.