The Representation of Sexuality in Manga

Japanese manga in particular has cultivated a global fanbase while pushing creative boundaries regarding representation. Pioneers like Takemiya Keiko and Yamaguchi Ryoko crafted yuri narratives in the 1970s that tenderly portrayed girl-girl affection, cultivating an early queered fandom. Meanwhile, boys’ love genres like shonen and yaoi emerged independently, generating unprecedented gay male visibility. Works like Junjo Romantica continue building international audiences by frankly engaging queer themes formerly taboo.

It would prove illuminating to analyze narrative and stylistic choices within such genres, tracing artistic evolutions alongside shifting sociopolitical climates. For instance, one could investigate changing visual vocabularies surrounding gender non-conformity and transitions in works like Wandering Son or My Brother’s Husband (Satonaka, 2015; Kizu, 2019). How do illustrations of intersectional identity negotiate complex subjectivities in sensitive yet nuanced ways?

Considering cross-cultural reception and fandom practices could reveal much about globalizing queerness. Platforms like Tumblr incubated vibrant transnational online communities thriving on manga appropriations and translations. Exploring community formations through this digital lens may untangle dynamics of inclusion, gatekeeping and cultural exchange that broaden representation’s reach.

Manga provides a rich unconventional text through which to interrogate identity categories’ fluidity. I hope unpacking its stylised disruptions alongside real-world activist campaigns against increasing intolerance proves a thought-provoking avenue for collaborative study.

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