#PrideMonth2020 special; Why the Doukyuusei series will always be special for me, but also my view on problematic media

{This is a lengthy introductory part to my thoughts about problematic bl/yaoi stuff and a part of my mini review for Doukyuusei. Spoilers for said manga, and light ones for Sora to Hara; mentions of problematic content and themes}

This mini rant about the author was caused by a tweet I saw, stating that the Doukyuusei series are the purest cutest BL ever and are a welcome addition to non-problematic representation (paraphrasing, but you get the idea). Here is some context for why that statement is utterly wrong and why it’s not the end of the world in the end. Nakamura Asumiko is an author that I have been following for many years, ever since I was a teen and long before the Doukyuusei movie came out and took the internet by storm with its wonderful adaptation of the manga by the same name. My stumbling into BL and GL (or yuri) works have been a weird one; as I focused a lot on just reading whatever I managed to come by and stuck with it, if I liked the characters or art.

Problematic take; disclose and cancel the ones that deserve it and educate yourself, not attack authors over fictional stories/characters, whenever you feel like it doesn’t fall into what you personally like in fiction. They are not responsible for your actions, you are, but you can choose to not support them.

Perhaps it is the reason why I am desensitized to a lot of tropes and settings that are now deemed as problematic. After all, my view has always been to punish the real people who act in unforgivable ways, not fictional characters, stories or authors for portraying certain events in their stories. Fiction has always been one to explore. If every story or character were polished and perfect, there would be outcries of how everything is the same and boring. I’m not sure if many feel the same, but dark stories like this are somewhat fascinating in explorations of morality, shapes of love or human psychology and the darkest places it can take you (look at how a lot of people were gripped by Killing stalking or Evangelion. In the very yaoi and bl scene, series like Sekaiichi Hatsukoi and even Given have elements that are condemned by some people). I agree that it’s important to educate yourself on why certain aspects are wrong and unacceptable in real life, but there’s a difference between that and wanting to erase everything you don’t agree with. There’s also the whole idea that Western and Asian queer media are completely different species, as well as the fans perception of each. Many stories that I read are problematic to western fans, but it’s important to highlight that no fiction is exempt from this and there will always be something that someone will find problem with. It’s impossible to appease everyone.

Even Nakamura Asumiko herself is no exception, as cute and wholesome as the Doukyuusei movie was. A lot of people don’t know this, but her works often explore questionable, dark and really messed up topics (from age gap relationships between a teacher/student to rape or even incest). There are many ways and different angles to view this issue from. However, TLDR; nothing is purely good by all standards, problematic content can be enjoyed without acting on what you read or see in it, but understanding of the issues is important, feel free to enjoy the movie and the manga series, fiction is fiction, but please be responsible for your own actions.

Finally moving on to the review! Here’s some reasons why Doukyuusei is pretty great and you should read it nevertheless:

  • It portrays relationships to their smallest details and doesn’t dance around certain problems LGBT relationships face

Hikaru and Rihito’s relationship begins in high school and the two grow closer as Hikaru offers to help Rihito to practice singing. Not everything is sunshine and flowers however, as both deal with confusion and jealousy among other things in the package that is their first relationship ever. Hikaru gets jealous and questions Rihito’s motives to sing better, as if suspicious that’s doing it for the music teacher Harasen. The tables get flipped when Rihito storms off out of Hikaru’s concert cause he thought he was flirting with a girl as he traded emails with a girl. The manga clearly portrays fights and doesn’t choose sides (both characters mess up and patch things up), choosing healthy communication over dramatic big gestures or one sided guilt. It even mixes the healthy with the dramatic, as Hikaru shakes Rihito back into sense shouting about how worried he was when Rihito ignored him. Of course, these problems don’t always stick with exclusively with heterosexual couples, however one of the partners worrying over their gender is a pretty exclusive part. The atmosphere created in the story is light and heavy at the same time, the scenes move in rapid fashion, but linger on the important moments. We, as the reader, are just as on the edge of our seats as Rihito feels, until we get the reassurance in Hikaru proclaiming Rihito how much he loves him in the latter half.

  • The art style is unique and mesmerizing, the first BL that completely dragged me into the story

The visual appeal of both the manga and the movie are attention grabbing images that amplify the more romantic and poignant scenes of the pair’s relationship, especially with its carefully crafted expressions of confusion, hurt or shock. Nakamura Asumiko’s unique style and way of anatomy is something that can be taken note of in all of her works. It adds charm to the comedy of the series with more simple expressions, but remains beautiful as need be. The Doukyuusei series were the first that I ever got invested into and the unique art style played a large part in it. The character designs are attractive to look at and the manga panels are flow well with the tone of the scene that is being portrayed. The covers are noteworthy as a clever way of portraying both the careful dynamic of the pair and the beauty of the art.

Hikaru’s and Rihito’s dynamic in the story is interesting, as one starts up with a more passive role, reminiscent of the traditional “uke” character. He retracts from Hikaru’s advances and worried about their relationship and his own worth. He’s unsure as opposed to Hikaru who’s bubbly and wears his emotions on his sleeve. Nevertheless, Rihito opens up to Hikaru and the two strenghten their relationship at the end of volume 1, as both decide to try harder for each other’s sake.

Doukyuusei portrays the start of the love story that stems from a chance encounter. It’s a sweet story that pays attention to both parties and their romantic scenes and feelings towards each other are not brushed under the rug for laughs or pushed as confusion. In my humble opinion, the Doukyuusei series is worth the both the praise and the attention that it gets.

3 thoughts on “#PrideMonth2020 special; Why the Doukyuusei series will always be special for me, but also my view on problematic media

  1. Yes! I love Nakamura Asumiko’s way of exploring and the style of storytelling, their previous works were what actually got me into watching Doukyuusei. Also, fiction as a medium and its relation to reality is a very compelling topic, thank you for writing this piece!

    Liked by 1 person

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