The Highschool Life of a Fudanshi – Mid Season Review
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.
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: The Highschool life of a Fudanshi is an interesting beast, one that doesn’t much have a place in Western culture and sensibility, but I’m still glad was brought over for the few BL (Boy’s Love) fans who do exist here. In fact, as the series has progressed it’s made it perhaps a bit more clear on what exactly a Fudanshi is, although viewers entirely unfamiliar with the more foreign aspects of Japanese culture will still struggle to identify with any of the characters presented.
Linny: Its niche subject matter has likely doomed it to have limited appeal in the western market but thanks to it, curious viewers can use it as a way to explore the Fudanshi subculture and lifestyle in Japan. The characters in it are very limited in their roles and personalities, unsurprising as this is a short form comedy anime. You either have characters who are the titular Fudanshi, their hapless and observant friend/s, or clueless classmates thrown into BL fantasies by the Fudanshi minded characters. The lack of character development is understandable due to the very nature of short form anime but this also means that what you see at first glance is what you’re probably going to be stuck with all season. If the characters don’t click with you initially, the chances of that changing are slim to none.
Tom: Outside of our lead Ryou and his new friend, Rumi, a fellow BL lover, many of the other characters feel almost interchangeable. The vast majority of the supporting cast exists for little more than periodic BL pairing and teasing. Their characteristics and personalities are often glossed over and their appearances are so fleeting, so one note, that it makes it difficult to remember anyone. It’s a shame, as I feel like Fudanshi could have wider appeal if it managed to strengthen its cast with more memorable and unique characters.
Linny: A lot of the jokes in the series tend to fall into what might be considered politically incorrect humour when viewed through western sensibilities and this might earn the show some backlash from people who find BL inspired humour offensive. There’s no denying that this show could offend those less aware or less than comfortable with the Fudanshi subculture.
Tom: Much of Fudanshi’s comedy remains unimpressive and it was only by the sixth episode that anything outright funny happened. The concept of Fudanshi, never really gets expanded on enough to make it approachable, or more importantly, enjoyable for unfamiliar viewers. In some ways it feels like much of the appeal of the show are in jokes geared for the active BL fanbase.
Linny: There are a LOT of jokes in each episode, it’s just that the jokes might not land well or fly over the heads of non Japanese audiences. Your enjoyment of the comedy is heavily reliant on your familiarity with the subject matter and your attitude towards jokes around same sex sexuality.
Tom: Perhaps further relegating Fudanshi to its limited appeal is the simplistic, often mediocre, low-budget animation. Characters don’t always look quite right and there’s severely limited character movement much of the time, making Fudanshi far less pleasing to look at than many other anime this season.
Linny: While I did notice that the show had some issues depicting faces properly, there were also several instances where it did a great job of presenting its humour in the form of chibi reactions. Any flaws in such short form shows is often expected and taken for granted by those who have watched a ton of these. Unless you are extremely new to the world of anime or are particular focused on animation quality, Fudanshi isn’t the worst out there.
Tom: Ultimately, Fudanshi never manages to generate content that has a wider appeal beyond the BL crowd it depicts. I can only really recommend it to that specific crowd and there seem to be enough in-jokes to keep it amusing to that very specific audience. It’s unfortunate Fudanshi couldn’t find a way to make itself more approachable and welcoming as I think there’s possibilities within this concept for some really fun humor.
Linny: My takeaway from the show is pretty much the same as Tom’s. While I applaud Crunchyroll for bringing over such a niche show, and giving western anime fans a chance to experience some of the more niche parts of the anime and manga industry in Japan, it’s hard to call this show a must watch. By all means, do try it if you are intrigued by the unique premise and who knows, you may walk away a converted Fudanshi yourself. And for the Fudanshi that already exist on this side of the world, do try this out and let me know how you feel about the portrayal of Fudanshi in this show.
The Highschool Life of a Fudanshi is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.