The Highschool Life of a Fudanshi – Preview
The Highschool Life of a Fudanshi:
Original Air Dates: Jul 5, 2016 to ???
Synopsis: Sakaguchi is a high school boy who’s often entirely misunderstood. He goes to bookstores and buys yaoi (boy love romance) manga. This causes most people to think he’s gay, but in actuality he’s a Fudanshi, someone who enjoys reading boy love romance. Trouble is Fudanshi are normally girls.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Fudanshi doesn’t look great. It’s quality is quite low, with simplistic animation that just barely gets the point across. It’s not horrible to look at, but with anime one of the main draws is the bright, colorful and vibrant visuals and Fudanshi just does not have that going for it. Rather all bets have been hedged on its comedy, which is where Fudanshi’s other big problem is.
Linny: The problem with Fudanshi’s subject matter and comedy is that it’s very culture specific. The terms used may confuse those still new to or less familiar with anime and Japanese culture and the whole humour of the series is very much dependent on your familiarity with terms and topics like Fudanshi, BL, etc. Even if you do understand them, the theme of the show is such an alien concept that unless you find yourself chuckling just reading the synopsis, you won’t find the show all that amusing.
Tom: Fudanshi doesn’t really come close to fitting in with Western society and sensibilities. The whole concept of Fudanshi will be largely foreign to audiences here. For those not in the know, Fudanshi are individuals who see themselves as straight, are not attracted to the same sex at all, but get pleasure/enjoyment from reading same sex stories (in this case specifically guy on guy romance) because they like to bask in the happiness of others. Although Fudanshi normally refers specifically to women (it’s quite rare for a guy to be into it.) At least that’s how the show explains it. The trouble of course is that this concept is completely foreign to Westerners. It doesn’t help that media representing the gay community is still largely absent and what little of it there is doesn’t have nearly the same prominence as yaoi and yuri does in Japan. This makes Fudanshi an extremely, extremely niche series as the content will fly over most people’s heads.
Linny: There are some parts in the episode that are more accessible such as the humour around Sakaguchi and his friend, Toshiaki Nakamura. Sakaguchi delights in sharing Toshiaki’s embarrassing secrets anonymously on social networks despite his objections. It gets to the point where Sakaguchi is typing away even as Toshiaki is voicing his objections to it. There’s also some humour aimed at how Sakaguchi is frustrated at people’s assumptions and judgements of him based on his book purchases but it didn’t make us laugh.
Tom: I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some people find that characterization offensive. Sakaguchi is heavily into Yaoi manga, but staunchly refuses and becomes irritated with accusations that he’s gay. Because he’s so harsh with his dismissal it could almost be read as finding homosexuality disgusting or rude. That’s not to say it’s the intent of the show, and I think reading it like that merely speaks to how tone deaf this kind of series is coming into the Western climate. But it’s certainly a concern with Fudanshi as it struggles to find any kind of footing here.
Linny: I have to second that Fudanshi has the potential to offend out here in the Western hemisphere with Sakaguchi extremely against being labelled as a homosexual. Again, like Tom says, the show doesn’t actually show or say anything that is outright hateful but there’s always the worry that someone, somewhere will take offense. I’m interested to see if this show ever gets a decent following or one at all because of its niche appeal and all I can say is that unless the synopsis itself made you laugh, there might not be much in this show for you.
Tom: Fudanshi might be a decent watch for people more familiar and enamored with the more foreign aspects of Japanese culture. It’s never terribly funny, unfortunately, and its topic is too unusual to recommend to more close minded viewers, but it may still prove an interesting watch for anyone curious about the Fudanshi subculture in Japan. Despite my misgivings about Fudanshi not gelling with Western sensibility I am happy this show was translated and released in the Western market. While I feel it’s appeal will be niche, I enjoy the notion that people curious about other cultures still have access to entertainment that doesn’t normally have a place in our society.
The Highschool Life of a Fudanshi is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.