June 23rd, 2009

Paul Neyron rose 2

learning more about yaoi, other rambling

Well, I was looking at the ComputErotika website to try to figure out when the Indigo Knights series will start.  As I skipped around, I ran across a bit with Jet Mykles talking about what yaoi is.  Here's a link she gave: http://katrina-strauss.blogspot.com/2008/02/what-heck-is-yaoi.html.  I found Katrina Strauss' post quite helpful.  Here's a good definition she gives: "Sooo....what is yaoi? Answers will vary as to what constitutes as "yaoi", though the common thread is that its roots lie in Japanese manga. Some will say it's any homosexual relations depicted in manga or anime, or fan pairings of characters from those genres, but in fact there is a certain dynamic that makes yaoi unique from other M/M and slash. One partner is assigned the role of "seme", a martial arts term for "attacker". The seme is the top, and usually tall, handsome, more masculine with squared features, narrowed eyes, wide mouth (often with a cigarette pursed between his lips) and aggressive to the point of being brute -- in other words, your alpha male. The "uke", which means "receiver", is your bottom. The uke is traditionally shorter, younger, more slender and feminine (though both parties are usually "pretty" aka "bishounen") with big doe eyes and full, pouty lips. Uke personalities can range from naive virgin who is shocked and begging for mercy when the buttsecks starts, to fiesty seducer who uses his uke wiles to spur his seme's testosterone on. As yaoi has evolved, these traditional assignations have been twisted and blurred, but then the twist lies in the original archtypes. For example, an older uke devirginizing a seme, or a uke narrowing his eyes and pinning his now wide-eyed seme against the wall while the seme blushes fiercely...those are twists on what you'd usually expect in yaoi, but then a yaoi fan would find those scenes brilliant because we've seen it portrayed the other way around so many times!"

"...Yaoi took stronger hold in the 90's when bored Japanese teenaged girls (likely tired of the aforementioned sexualization of the "Japanese schoolgirl" and seeking revenge) watched anime, read manga, or played video games aimed at their brothers and said "Hmmm, these characters are hot. How about they stop fighting, put down their swords, or step outside of the giant robot and just get it on with each other???" Only they weren't content to simply write about it -- they illustrated it, with the seme/uke characteristics as described above taking hold as the preferred art style. Doujinshi circles emerged (doujinshi = fandrawn manga) and those girls have since grown up and moved on from slashing Gundam Wing, Final Fantasy, or Weiss Kreuz (to name a few culprit fandoms) and now create their own original series, championing yaoi as a legitimate and marketable Japanese genre..."

And she explains this: "Fanfic-wise, look for the X rather than the / (slash) between names; e.g., Sirius/Remus means it could go either way, whereas SiriusXRemus specifically means that Sirius is the seme and Remus is the uke. (At least it's supposed to. I do come across supposed "yaoi" fic writers who have fallen into the misconception that yaoi automatically equates to anime/manga pairings. I nearly threw my laptop across the room upon recently opening a SephirothXCloud fic, only to find Cloud topping Seph. If you must insist on writing CloudXSeph, girls, go for it, but for the love of yaoi please label it correctly!!!)"

That had been confusing me -- I realized the "x" was supposed to denote a couple long before I learned that the "x" meant something about who took which role -- now I know the distinction.  I have some issue with things being that stylized, but I tell myself that the art form has certain conventions, and that it has little or nothing to do with reality.  Fortunately, a lot of the fictions are labeled well enough that I can pick and choose what I want.  Generally, I'm looking for "lemon" -- and I don't want to read it if it doesn't involve consenting adults.  I don't like "death-fics" that kill a character off in different ways than they get killed off in the original source material.  And I don't want to read about the characters being tortured.  Heck, I don't like original fiction in which a character is tortured.  I'm okay with some angst if it's justifiable.

In m/m fiction, I read a variety of genres mixed with the romance -- mystery, action-adventure, paranormal, humor if it's done well.  I like Goths, I like characters who are genuinely tough, but I really have what some would consider an unfortunate liking for light and fluffy, too.  Years ago, a friend in a fairly Goth phase was appalled that I grew daffodils with the cultivar name 'Yellow Cheerfulness'.  I thought she was taking it a bit too seriously.  So, that kind of thing.  I don't think absolutely everything needs to be gloomy.  Sometimes I just want a fun escape.  I don't like stories with men who act like very emotional women, but I don't mind reading a sweet romance in which there isn't any horrific threat to the characters.  Nothing too sappy, but sometimes just a simple romance is okay. 
Paul Neyron rose 2

another recent read

Disclaimer: I was given this one for free, so keep that in mind.  I hope my take on it doesn't come off as ungrateful at all, as I did like the story.  Which novel?  Somebody Killed His Editor.  This was billed as a romantic comedy.  I didn't really find it laugh-out-loud funny, though there were some amusing moments.  Adrien English gets better lines in his series.  Heck, Jake Riordan has gotten better lines -- he's come up with some memorable ones.  I'd say that's the author making some of his other work hard to top.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  This new series is a mystery series, too.  There's quite a sense of the characters being menaced, as they're isolated, with one of them a killer.  I didn't figure out who the murderer was, but I almost never do.  The narrator, Kit, starts out being sympathetic enough, but is revealed to be more and more of a jerk as the story goes along.  He doesn't quite cross the "moral event horizon" (as TV Tropes puts it), but he came pretty darned close to it, as far as I was concerned.  I rather liked the long-suffering J.X. Moriarity.  The way Kit tells it, J.X. is all in the wrong, but you can tell that Kit is completely unreliable about that.

There are some pretty funny observations and takes on the writing industry.  **spoilers**  The "paranormal demon Regency" bit made me smile, partly because that's the kind of thing I'd probably read.  The satirical look at the authors and the plots of their books was well done, and really very entertaining.  So it turns out to be more of a mystery-satire than a romantic comedy.  The narrator is clearly unreliable, which makes it fun to figure out what's closer to the truth than his view of it.  He's nothing like as lovable as some of the heroes in Lanyon's other books, which I think was somewhat deliberate.  It's all right to have a hero with plenty of faults, if he manages to redeem himself sufficiently.  I count being bitchy as more of a good point than a flaw, and Kit can be fairly bitchy.  The story ended up being quite different from what I thought it would be, but it was well done and very readable.  I'd definitely keep up with the series -- I want to see a lot more of J.X. Moriarity, and him really working together with Kit.

For me, an example of a lovable hero of Lanyon's is Perry Foster in The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks.  Perry was just adorable.  Sweet-tempered but stubborn, bright and determined, he was a great little hero.  I don't know if I said anything about that book at the time I read it, but that was a good one.  Mystery in a spooky old house, understated romance, creepy other tenants.  That was just what it said it was -- mystery with some romance.  His Partners in Crime stories do pretty well as equal parts mystery and romance.  "Snowball in Hell" was very nicely balanced that way -- I've repeatedly praised that novella for the characters and the romance.  "Cards on the Table" was a good mystery/romance mix, and I enjoyed it.  I liked Finn in "Lovers and Other Strangers."  He'd had a bad time of it, but he wasn't self-pitying.  He needed time to recuperate, but managed to stay very busy investigating anyway.  I didn't guess who the villain was in any of those, but as I said, I don't usually.  Plus I'm probably concentrating more on the romance in any case.