Hello! Welcome back to my little corner of the internet, hope you’re all doing well. I’m embarrassed to admit that I intended to complete this post for Pride month, and we’re halfway into August. But I have a bad habit of going off the rails, be it when writing or speaking, because things I’m talking about seem connected at the time. But in hindsight, I realize they are not that connected, or it’s not as relevant to the main point, and I just lose focus. One of my friends still teases me saying “So I dyed my hair purple,” because once I rambled for 20 minutes on irrelevant stuff just to get to that point. I’ll take this chance to apologize to her once again.
Look at me trying to make a point on why I had to postpone a post, yet I’m talking about my friend. Damn! I was 1500 words into writing this one when I realized I started talking about things that would do better in a different post and had to restructure what I wanted to say, in a way that makes sense.
Phew, this is where I finally explain what that ridiculous title is supposed to mean. There’s this thing I call the gay check, where people ask if a show is ‘gay’ to decide whether they’re gonna watch it or not. If you’ve lurked around animanga spaces long enough, I’m sure you’ve encountered this at least once. For those of you who haven’t: some people perform this check so that they won’t watch the said show if the male protagonists have ‘something’ going on, whether implied or canon.
I’ve encountered the “Is it gay?” comment so many times, and worse arguments for that matter, rolled my eyes in response a whole 180 degrees before going on about my day. But there was one striking moment that I still play around with in my head from time to time. I made it sound like it was a huge, dramatic event when it’s not, it just raised important questions in me is all.
Since we don’t have Funimation in Turkey, I’d visit Horrible Subs’ website from time to time if there was a series I was interested in and I’d also occasionally check the comments users leave under the shows. I also wanted to look at what others said about The Case Files of Jeweler Richard because it was a show that I started for the heck of it, but came to love a great deal. There, I saw a dudebro in his natural habitat, doing the gay check because, you know, there are two good-looking men on the promotional poster. You can also take a look at the image and play a guessing game yourself. I do it for fun too.
This dudebro continues to provide some sort of reference as to what he considers ‘not gay’. He watched Yuri!!! on Ice, detected no gayness in it, and enjoyed the series a great deal. Now, this bit was what got me writing the additional 1k that didn’t connect to the main point. I’m still going to bore you about queer portrayal another time, but today, I’m going to talk about genres.
I talked a bit about liking singular works vs. liking the genre in my previous Omegaverse post, so I won’t go into detail once again. However, I’ll add that I understand why people might not like BL as a genre. It is a world in itself with all the tropes, themes, narrative, and fandom culture. Sure, you may find a title or two that would be interesting and fun. But it feels different than liking the genre, where you can read anything and everything, or find something to enjoy in even the most generic of works.
So rather than the age or gender demographics, to me, a genre is exactly those: the tropes, the character archetypes, arcs, and of course, subversions and parodies of the said aspects. And what probably makes someone love the genre or not. In that sense, technically, I don’t categorize series like Jeweler Richard, Banana Fish, or Yuri!!! on Ice as BL. They are action and/or sports series that have a romantic sub-plot. And the couple in question happens to be two men.
I think this need for labeling stems from queer relationships being portrayed in very few series. We get so much variety and so many different portrayals for heterosexual relationships that we are comfortable with them all, ambiguous/implied or not. But when it comes to shows like Banana Fish, whether it’s a BL or not has to be examined and strictly defined. On the other hand, I don’t see anyone debating, let’s say, whether Naruto is a romance series or not despite having so many romantic sub-plots. We see “different”, and we feel the need to put a tag on it.
The ones who insist on the BL label, from what I can see, do so because feminine-coded genres (or media or hobbies, in general) are still looked down upon and belittled. And that comes with a tendency to counterargument with “But it’s more than that!”, “It’s different from the usual BL/GL/shoujo/josei!!” or, “Women write good action series, too!”, as if the said genres were bad or lacking in the first place. There is constant erasure of queer characters/relationship implications, and I understand why some insist on these labels.
Hence, I’m not trying to sell Jeweler Richard with a “more than gay” argument, because you know what? It is gay. In the anime, the tone of Seigi and Richard’s relationship is left ambiguous, sprinkled with lots of instances that can be read in a homoerotic subtext and be interpreted both as friendship or romantic love. However, I’ve read detailed comparisons between the light novels and the adaptation, and the readers of the LNs say what Richard and Seigi have a slow-burn romance indeed. It really wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t, anyway. The audience should be free to interpret what they consume however they want.
I’m just wondering, though. Why isn’t the show getting the same treatment as any other mystery-of-the-week series? Why do some feel the need to check whether a show is gay or not when that’s only a portion of the whole thing? How much of “Well, I don’t wanna watch this! It’s preference!” is genuinely preference or implicit prejudice? Or is it just me making a mountain out of a molehill? And isn’t it interesting that I haven’t seen anyone gay-checking when it’s women on the poster/cover?
These questions aren’t meant to be accusatory, I know an outsider asking these and demanding an answer makes zero sense unless we ask them ourselves and answer as honestly as we can. I just find value in asking myself why I like the things I like. In the end, I’m one of the many, random strangers on the internet, and these are just my two cents. Hitting you with the obvious again, ha!
In the end, The Case Files of Jeweler Richard isn’t even some magnificent masterpiece that I think everyone’s missing out on. I loved it a lot, but over the years I think I’ve gained some sort of sense that can distinguish between what feels good for me and what is something everyone can enjoy. Animation-wise the quality is average, and even as an anime-only person, I can tell it was rushed and condensed too much into too little space. But it also has lovable characters and great chemistry, an intriguing theme centered around valuable gemstones, the cast is above average when it comes to their diversity. Above all, I think it offers a pleasant time during your stay.
As always, thank you so much for reading! Especially for giving my BL posts a chance when I know (or at least, presume) that some of you are not interested in the genre. What do you think? Did you ever, consciously or unconsciously did a gay check before? I’d love to hear your thought on it. If not, thanks for stopping by and see you soon!
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