Yaoi Cosplay: Girl on Girl but Guy on Guy?

_MG_5167

Yaoi isn’t anything new. It’s been around since the early 70’s in Japan, but taking a look at its influence on cosplayers today; it seems strangely topical… There’s just something so obscurely relevant about two girls dressing up as two guys and enacting a relationship that’s becoming more and more widely accepted every day, but with a bit of a rapey twist.

Junjou.Romantica.full.255048
JunJou Romantica manga art.

Yaoi is a genre of Japanese fictional media with a storyline that revolves around the romantic and erotic relationship of two male characters. Originally featured as fan fiction of popular mangas in shojo (girl’s) manga magazines in Japan; Yaoi material was initially made by women, for women.

Please Note: THIS IS NOT PORN, there is enough weird shit out there in the anime/hentai world of internet porn to occupy millions of suss 50 year old men who love hello kitty for all the wrong reasons, Yaoi is not a part of that category.

So Yaoi is primarily targeted at a female audience, and while this could be a simple case of ‘boys like girl-on-girl so girls can like boy-on-boy’ there seems to be more to it when young female cosplayers dress up as their favourite male anime characters to do a Yaoi themed photo shoot.

“If we have characters that match up between us two and that we ship [pair together], we’ll do a shoot but we also do cannon straight characters and some Yuri (girl-on-girl anime) characters as well…we might actually be doing a Yaoi cosplay tonight,” says Tayla Tomlinson with her friend and fellow cosplayer Hailey Marie Elliot.

Tayla, 19, and Hailey, 18, are both growing figures in the South East Queensland cosplaying community, their Instagrams and Facebook fan pages have an impressive following where some of the photos from their Yaoi cosplays receive lots of attention.

10799289_1517372011854837_1253904401_n
Tayla Tomlinson’s Instagram photo featuring Tayla and Hailey doing a Yaoi cosplay of Kuroshitsuji II characters; Alois and Ciel.

“We like to put all our Yaoi photos on our Instagram and stuff after a shoot. Our followers on there are quite big fans of Yaoi. My most liked photo on Instagram is a Yaoi photo of us two [Tayla and Hailey],” says Tayla.

Tayla and Hailey both cosplay quite often and post photos or short videos of themselves as a particular character on their social media sites, but for the more intimate Yaoi cosplay shoots they prefer a partner that they know well.

“If your with someone that you are comfortable with and you’re shipping each other then I find it fun but if some random person is cosplaying someone that you would ship your character with, I wouldn’t really want them just coming up to me and touching me,” Hailey says.

“Yeah, if it is someone you know and you’re comfortable with it’s easier , like I am really comfortable with Hailey so we can pretty much just do whatever,” Tayla agrees.

10800203_1517371425188229_2062721391_o
One of the photo’s from Tayla and Haileys popular Ciel and Alois Yaoi shoot.

Yaoi cosplay shoots really aren’t something spontaneous that these girls can smash out in an hour after seeing some fan art of their favourite characters trying to wrestle each other’s one eyed snake. The whole process takes hours and they have to set boundaries so no one gets too ‘handsy’.

“It all starts with finding a character you like and a friend who is also interested in doing a character from that anime/manga and see if they are down to cosplay with you and get photos. Then organising a place and time and a photographer and making sure you talk about boundaries and comfort zones and what you would like [poses ect.], maybe showing photos of fan art you would like to re-enact. It’s all about being comfortable and having fun really. Then once the photos have been edited and sent to us we always credit the photographer and each other with links to everyone’s accounts,” Hailey says.

10811856_4568969838606_1351321631_n
Hailey Marie Elliott and Ryshelle Bransby as Marco Bodt and Jean Kirschtein [respectively] from Attack on Titan. Photography by James Niland.
Yaoi started off its life as fan fiction and it seems to be a tradition that has continued into the cosplaying world with most cosplayers staying away from cannon couples and shipping their own characters together when preparing for a Yaoi cosplay.

“Most girls I know just get two characters they like from a normal manga and just cosplay it as Yaoi,” Tayla says.

But why is Yaoi so attractive to these young girls?

“I got into Yaoi because it has more romance than most guy and girl couple anime and I think it attracts girls because some ‘get off’ from it and others like me just like a good romantic story,” says Saga (real name Mary Dickinson) a 23 year old cosplayer from California that has turned her personal Facebook account into a cosplay fan page called ‘Cosplayfan Girlzz’.

Debates on online forums such as yaoiotaku.com discuss the female attraction to Yaoi and try to uncover a satisfying solution. Though, it seems fan-girls are

pretty evenly divided between those who watch for the apparently more intricate storylines and those that just find two anime guys making out super hot. (http://www.yaoiotaku.com/forums/threads/1047-why-to-many-girl-like-yaoi).

The discussion of why young women are attracted to Yaoi material is also somewhat popular in the academic world, with a multitude of academic authors including; Antonia Levi , Ian Buruma, Sandra Buckley and Patrick Drazen all stepping up to the mark to take a swing at the cultural conundrum, but each one not really able to give a solid answer.

10807389_4568969958609_1685586433_o
Photography by James Niland.

So maybe we don’t have a definitive answer to why these girls like to watch and read these stories of guys that look a lot like girls that are in love (or at least one of them is) and then dress up as their favourite girly guy to take photos so thick with sexual tension that you feel a little suss just looking at it.

But if you think about it for too long it’s like falling down the rabbit hole of beautiful anime eyes, delicate male figures, confusing cosplay costumes and all the best bits of non-consensual sex.

Either way Yaoi has well and truly found its way into the mystical world of the female adolescent cosplayer, lets not be assholes; everyone has a hobby.

Written by Locke Fitzpatrick

Categories: Home, Other WorkTags: , , , , , , , ,

Locke

Journalism ~ Art ~ Banter

https://www.facebook.com/Laurent-1382862808700372/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s