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Lovers and (Boy) Friends: Shifting Identities in Japanese BL Manga


As academic scholarship on the Japanese popular media genre known as Boys’ Love has been focused upon the genre’s fan culture and female readers, this thesis project aims to move away from the fans and to the texts in order to explore how the genre is in conversation with changes in societal understandings of same-sex sexuality in Japan. Following brief introductions of four portrayals of men that are commonly found in Japanese popular media, three contemporary manga titles are analyzed to explore how the authors negotiate the narrative conventions of the Boys’ Love genre with the shifting understandings of same-sex sexuality vis-à-vis the visual appearance of the characters, the role of these characters in their fictionalized societies, and the settings wherein the narratives take place.

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