February 12, 2023
By Shelley Pallis.
Ichi and Tae are a pair of those perennial manga clichés, “childhood friends.” And, this being the self-aware, post-modern 2020s, Ichi has read enough manga to know what that means. Now that they are teenagers, they are sure to find themselves struggling with their feelings for each other – can they still be friends? Or can they be more than friends?
Ichi is sure of it – he wants to be more than friends, and we get to see him as he bashfully hems and haws and stammers his way around trying to talk about a new area of conversation with the girl who has been his companion right through their childhoods. But he puts his foot right in it when he blurts out that he “is in love, too,” at exactly the wrong moment. Because now Tae thinks that he has confessed his feelings not for her, but for her secret hobby, boys’-love manga.
In case you’ve been living in cave for twenty years, “BL” manga is a sub-genre, largely aimed at female readers, of homosexual romance, snipping out the unwelcome female love interests of many a tale, and instead concentrating on the transcendent twofer of two men falling for each other, like Brokeback Mountain with big eyes. And fans of BL are often known as fujoshi – originally a pejorative term meaning “rotten girl”, now jokingly claimed by BL fandom as a badge of honour, a bit like nerd, and otaku and weeb.
“Toako’s” manga story gently pokes fun at the assumptions and misunderstandings of mainstream media, by pushing Ichi unceremoniously into an unsure position. Is Tae a pervert? Is she a lesbian? Does he stand any chance with her…? Or should he, you know, give those BL manga a go and see if he becomes part of that small but significant number of boys who read it, too.
Much like several other modern manga in the Azuki Café stable, such as Natsume & Natsume and Turning the Tables on the Seatmate Killer, I Fell for a Fujoshi is firmly aimed at Generation Z – a readership that is so used to the tropes and traditions of manga cliché that they are ready to enjoy a work that deconstructs them. Ichi has a steep learning curve ahead of it, and seems blissfully aware that it might lead anywhere but towards the relationship he thought he wanted with Tae.
I Fell for a Fujoshi is available to read from Azuki.