No. 6 and homoeroticism in anime

It’d be hard to watch No. 6 and not notice how homoerotic it is. I’ve now seen up to episode 5 and it’s notable how blunt it’s becoming in suggesting that Shion and Nezumi are in love. This is not a yaoi series though, it’s not a sexual or pornographic thing, I’m not sure it’s even shōnen-ai, it’s merely homoerotic in the sense that Shion and Nezumi are yet to take things that far.

That ‘yet’ is important, because it strongly feels like No. 6 is heading in that direction and, quite frankly, I hope it does. This is a mainstream series; not some low-budget trash produced for the fans-only, but a noitaminA series animated by the famous Studio Bones, to be seen by all (well, all adults.) For the most part, anime is not the best at dealing with male homosexuality, I mean, just look at the gay characters (or should I say caricatures?) in Gurren Lagann and Tiger & Bunny. No. 6 has the opportunity to become something unique, because Shion and Nezumi are relatively normal people (that ‘relatively’ is important, given Nezumi is bat-shit!)

When I watch a series like this, I’m wondering, what does the female audience see in it? What’s a girl getting out of watching two men engaged in a (potential) relationship like this?

It must be escapism, but usually with that, there’s an obvious point-of-view character for the viewer to latch onto, but if you’re a girl watching No. 6, isn’t your gender excluding you from Shion and Nezumi’s relationship? Or are you imaging what it’d be like to be one of Shion or Nezumi?

Since Nezumi is the more aggressive and therefore, presumably more masculine of the two, my first thought was that Shion was the female point of view character, but there’s a key moment in episode 5 that confuses that line of thought: Nezumi cross-dresses, basically becoming a woman called Eve for half an episode.

Perhaps, then, the draw for female viewers is that there’s no set point-of-view character to feel constrained by? Since neither Shion nor Nezumi are female, there’s no need to feel tied to one or the other, and that both can swing from masculine to effeminate portrays a relationship that is free of assumed gender roles?

For my part, what I get out of No. 6 is the same as what I get out of Towards the Terra, Ookiku Furikabutte and even Wolf’s Rain, in that they all seem to deal with male friendship in sensitive and reflective ways. I realise that No. 6 is driving (or drilling, etc) at something more than just friendship, but even still, it has a perspective that I find quite compelling.

Author: bateszi

A huge bloody nerd. I apologise in advance. I live in Cambridge, England. That's not an excuse, by the way.

50 thoughts on “No. 6 and homoeroticism in anime”

  1. “Perhaps, then, the draw for female viewers is that there’s no set point-of-view character to feel constrained by? Since neither Shion nor Nezumi are female, there’s no need to feel tied to one or the other, and that both can swing from masculine to effeminate portrays a relationship that is free of assumed gender roles?”

    I remember you mentioning watching Simoun at some point, how did you find it? I think I wrote something very similar to what you’ve said above about homosexuality in Simoun, but not sure if I can make myself appreciate watching male homosexuality -.-

    1. I’m still yet to see more than of 1 episode of Simoun. I have no excuse, but to say I will watch it before the year’s out.

      As for male homosexuality, I’ve never really understood people’s aversion to seeing it in their stories. It’s particularly something anime fans seem to hate, too. For me it’s just fiction, so, despite being straight, it’s not like I feel an aversion to it. Maybe there’s something to be said for how people (and especially anime fans) need identify with what they are seeing on the screen?

      1. i appreciate how a fiction like Brokeback Mountain deals with it. Amazing stuff. anime? correct me if I’m wrong but I’ve only seen bunch of yaois that frankly is unwatchable in my eyes. Now yuri I can actually watch as guilty pleasure.

        1. Ironically, I’ve not actually seen Brokeback Mountain. I should probably get around to that!

          Also, I’m impressed you’ve actually seen some yaoi. I haven’t, since, like you, I’m not really into what yaoi is trying to portray. No. 6 is definitely not like that, though (it’s a noitaminA anime, so is sitting alongside the likes of Eden of the East and The Tatami Galaxy.)

      2. I think generally people don’t like it because they expect it to turn into a yaoi, with all the silly and unrealistic romantic fluff. I enjoy no.6 because it’s not like that at all. Additionally, I feel like there should be more shows like it in that their relationship (and the fact that they’re gay) is not the central part; it’s simply normal.

      1. Oh dear. I was hoping that I wouldn’t see any comments like this on here. But alas, I was wrong. Do you not realize that the author of this article has not said one word against the series? Or has this all just gone over your head? The writer is merely stating that homoeroticism is present in the anime, not saying that there’s anything wrong with it. You know, I’d bet anything that you’re some pre-pubescent yaoi fangirl. There seem to be quite a few of those around. I honestly don’t understand this. Being pansexual, I see all couples, straight, gay, lesbian, as the same. I’ve seen “BL” and “Yuri” animes, and although I enjoyed a select few, they didn’t feel any different to me than watching a straight romance. Save for the fact that many of them were disgustingly unrealistic and filled to the brim with graphic rape scenes. I honestly don’t understand how anyone could enjoy that. Anyway, sorry for the rant, but I felt it was needed here. Also, as a closing note, I’d like you all to know that this wasn’t written by some adult sick of young girls obsessing over two boys fucking eachother’s brains out. This was written by a thirteen year-old girl.

  2. Oh man, thank you for writing this post! As a homosexual male who happens to be an otaku (a rare breed?) I’ve been musing on this topic for quite some time. I’ve actually been meaning to write a similar article about it, though I don’t think I could produce a writing nearly as eloquent as your own.

    To start off, I must admit I have limited knowledge about male homosexuality in anime as I’ve never been inclined to watch shonen ai series, but from what I’ve seen in anime outside of that genre I’ve been very disappointed. As mentioned in your article, the majority of gay characters in anime are portrayed in a stereotypical manner, and are rarely given depth beyond their limited roles as flamboyant comedic relief. I also find it disappointing that, as far as I can tell, no explicitly homosexual male character has been given a leading role in anime outside of shonen ai, demonstrating how unrepresented they are in the medium.

    I think that you make a very important point in looking at how presumed gender roles are not as black and white in No. 6 as they are in other anime of the same vein. I can say in my experience that homosexual relationships are too complex to presume that one partner is inherently more masculine or feminine than the other. I think that the most offensive question I’ve been asked about my relationship with my boyfriend is that of which one of us is the “man” of the relationship and which is the “woman”. The truth is that neither of us can be ascribed to these roles as both of us are genetically male and we each take on roles that can’t be defined in a heteronormative manner.

    I haven’t started watching No. 6 yet (I typically wait for series to end before I start them), but I look forward to seeing how the relationship between the two protagonists develops. I personally would love to see a show that portrays an honest, realistic relationship between two men without trying to pander to those audiences that are looking for a more fetishized version of a homosexual relationship.

    1. All I can say in response to your comment is that if you’re article is as well worded as this, you’ll be fine. Thanks for contributing such a fascinating perspective.

  3. Interesting question. Even as a huge yaoi fan, I still can’t give you a black or white answer. For me at least, both Shion and Nezumi are relatable characters and their affection towards one another is highly commendable. When it comes to friendship and love, gender does not play a role. It may be against the norm but it is real and something that real does not need justification.

    1. It’s interesting, though, that you say you’re a huge yaoi fan. If gender doesn’t play a role, why are you so into yaoi?

  4. Well it’s interesting that you point out the “What’s a girl getting out of watching two men engaged in a (potential) relationship like this” question. I’ve been wondering myself why genders like shonen-ai and yaoi are generally target a female audience and is often written by women them-selfs… The movie “the kids are alright” slightly touches on that subject but doesn’t really get any point across.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. I just read about the film on Wikipedia and it sounds quite interesting (and a very modern problem to have!)

    2. Think of it as the same as why most yuris tend to target men and are mostly written by men. It is just that most of that group would mostly favor more than the other group would.

      1. Funnily enough, I had always thought Yuri fans were more commonly of the female gender. Although I imagine there are plenty of men whom like the idea of girl on girl relationships, to be a Yuri fan you’d have to scout out those relationships and watch anime of that genre. Well, there’s the possibility that I don’t know anything and I’m dead wrong. I don’t really research these things.

        I’m not particularly a fan of Yuri and Yaoi dedicated anime, simply because they strike me as ridiculous more than half the time. But characters that’re gay but never have their sexuality mentioned or it’s only mentioned once (I still like those whom commonly associate themselves with the word “gay”, though) who’re either main-characters or just fleshed-out supporter characters always manage to elate me somehow. I’m also a sucker for relationships that are never outright stated, but implied and hinted towards.

  5. I figure that girls feel the same way about 2 guys getting with each other as guys feel about 2 girls. Am I wrong about this?

    1. I don’t think it’s that obvious, but I’m not a girl, so :)

      At least with guys watching 2 girls, it feels like a more physical thing?

        1. I think it can be a physical thing with girls, but not necessarily, and not always (or even usually) exclusively. Also, the anime/manga series being discussed is a story with same-sex protagonists who are attracted to each other, not porn (which, as I understand it, is what men are most interested in seeing in regard to two women together). The physical aspect of their relationship would not be a reason in itself to watch the series, because there is not much of a physical aspect to their relationship. :)

        2. I think part of it is the physical aspect (I know I’m guilty of appreciating it)… But for me I think the thing I like the most is the way that the best yaoi has no strictly defined role for the characters unlike straight romances. There is more charater diversity, character can be dominate in some areas and less so in others and they can switch, it makes it more realistic. I get sick of one personal being powerful sexually and otherwise, it doesn’t really seem realistic or desirable. Of couse a lot of yaoi is similar, in that there is one strong male in charge and a weaker male who requires help of some kind but some have flexible or dynamic personalities that make stories (especially romance driven ones) really interestin… Sorry for the poor wording and such but i wrote this on my ohone so… Best i can do

    2. But i think it’s easier for women to understand women’s sensuality and not so easy for men to understand the appeal of men’s sensuality. Maybe that’s why it’s generally accepted that man are turn on by two girls… ?

  6. Interesting take. I haven’t watched episode 5 yet, but it’ll be interesting how Shion deals with the previous relationship he started developing with his female childhood friend. Even in that relationship the show was very upfront (like when the friend said “I want you to have sex with me).

    Did you see the second season of Genshiken? There is a great deal of guy-guy relationship sequences, but all in a dream sequence, fantasy setting. Still it addressed female desires for guy-guy relationships in a very direct way.

    1. Yeah, she definitely cares for Shion too, but I think No. 6 intentionally set-up its characters’ ambiguous ideas of what it means to be in love and to have sex so to explore Shion’s and Nezumi’s feelings for one another without the burden of ‘real world’ politics bringing things down.

  7. I’m also a huge yaoi fan but I have difficulty understanding why. I am not turned on by watching two men getting it on in real life, but in manga it’s completely different. And it’s not because one is viewed as the ‘man’ and the other is the ‘woman’, I can’t see them that way at all. When I watch No. 6 all I think is “Nezumi is hot!” It’s exciting to see a relationship developing between two characters no matter what gender they are, as long as you’re attracted to one of them. Anime and manga that concentrate on heterosexual relationships never really seem to get there; if you’re lucky by the end of the series maybe they’ll hold hands and blush. What I like about No. 6 & yaoi manga in general is that there’s no beating around the bush. Women are usually portrayed as being shy and embarrassed about any kind of physical contact in japanese media so it gets to be kind of annoying. What I want to see is something that reflects what being in a real relationship is like and that just isn’t possible if you omit any romantic/erotic interaction between characters or don’t take into consideration that women have desires as well. Does this make sense to anyone?

    1. I agree that in a lot of the manga/anime I’ve seen, male/female relationships tend to be very slow and anti-climactic compared to the shounen-ai/yaoi relationships. Sometimes it is nice to see it take its time but I think if there could be some kind of happy median it would be great.
      Also, I have read a lot of comments about how stereotypical the female points of view are, or wondering why girls are interested in the shounen-ai relationships, and I think both problems are kind of the same. Girls don’t really think that differently from guys but in most manga we are usually misrepresented. Often times it seems almost easier to relate to a male character because they are more real.
      When people wonder who the man is in a homosexual relationship they are still using an antiquated thought process because really, particularly in today’s society people are pretty open and I think everyone knows people who twist those ideas on their heads without actually being gay/lesbian/bi. Guys who are scared of spiders and like to cook or girls who can’t do housework or hates pink frills,or thinks snakes are awesome. I really don’t think there is any difference at all between the ways guys and girls think. Unfortunately most authors don’t seem to get that and the unrealisticness of the female characters sometimes makes it hard to enjoy it as much for the girls. When we read about two (mostly) normal guys in a heartfelt relationship however,oftentimes it is easy to put ourselves in the shoes of one of the characters (especially if the other character is a bishounen)
      I think that a lot of people even female authors like the ideals of the perfect princess heroine and the dashing knight hero but that’s not always how the real world works, and while its nice to read some fairy tales, I like to read about things that are more realistic as well.

  8. Well… I am a yaoi fan for many years. No.6 is not yaoi, but they have a strong bond most stronger than usual, is not friendship, is love, but is not “that” kind of love. It is an inexplicable love. It´s a Boy´s Love.

  9. I, to answer the boy who wrote the article, keep imagining myself as Shion, because, I’m sorry, Nezumi is hot.
    But the sort of ‘boy love’ is actually quite deep, which i think is quite a nice change. i mean, most boys in anime aren’t particularly soft, while, though Nezumi can be quite tough, there’s this side to him which Shion brings out. I love it.

  10. Welp, they kiss.
    Not much more to say, and Shion is obviously not into Safu, and in so many words told Nezumi that he loved him & sealed it with a kiss.
    I hope he doesn’t settle for Safu.

  11. I wanted to comment on what do girls/women get out of watching two guys be together. For me it doesn’t matter what the genders are. I enjoy watching characters and people fall in love and form a relationship. To me it’s not about the gender, but the relationship and watching it no matter which way it turns.

  12. I also wanted to answer the question about what women get out of it– I absolutely adore this series, and in fact appreciate it all the more for it being two men in that position than I would a man and a woman. I’m not sure if you’ve looked much into BL/yaoi/slash/whatever you want to call it, but the majority of fans in that genre are female. So actually this series, because of that, I would almost expect to appeal more to women than to men. I will admit that I’m a BL/yaoi fan so those aspects of the anime made me love it even more. It’s not about female point of view… actually, to be entirely honest, I’m usually turned off by female point of view in anime. Far too often there’s some simplified version of what a woman should be that’s presented. They should be girly and like cooking and need some strong man to make things better for them. Or they should giggle and simper and wear short skirts and be submissive. Or they should be seductive and sexy and wear ridiculous clothing. Or they should be almost manly in how bad ass they are or be strong but in the process an unrepentant bitch…

    None of those povs appeal to me in the least. I actually find it to be insulting after awhile. For the reason that women povs are so infrequently done in a manner that actually appeals to me or I feel any empathy with, I tend to gravitate to male povs where they’re more often well-rounded or more sympathetic. Or at least less pathetic. Plus I don’t look for similarities in our hobbies or anything– as another commenter said, I enjoy watching characters/people fall in love or form a relationship. I don’t care about the gender, but when it’s a same sex couple I tend to enjoy it more because if it’s well done then the creators often put more thought into why these characters fit well together or how they complement each other. And there’s more thought pt into how they can stay together. There’s usually more questioning of the relationship and whether it will work, and thus there’s usually more character development in which they grow stronger together or for each other, thereby cementing the bond even further. In that manner, it’s also often more romantic. Sometimes in heterosexual couples, there’s this base assumption that boy + girl = love, so people don’t bother to put any effort into the characters connecting or having chemistry aside from “Oh hey she has boobs and I like those because I’m a guy so yeah baby let’s get together and figure this out.”

    I’ve watched the whole series and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate the way they seriously and, as you said, sensitively dealt with the issue of male friendship/bonds/even love if you see it that way. (Which, to be honest, by the end of the series I do think the two of them are in love, in whatever form you want to interpret that.) It is way too prevalent for characters in any way approaching the GLBT line to be completely over the top or caricatures, and I am extremely impressed with the way these characters were not treated in that manner. I’m extremely impressed with the way even the cross-dressing of Nezumi for parts in a play was dealt with as something that was just another fact thrown into the mix, in the way it would normally deal with “Oh he’s also into kendo” or “And by the way she’s a fantastic cook.” It was just… normal and nothing to make a big deal about. Like, “okay cool, so he does that. So anyway what was up with him collapsing?”

    I only wish there was more to this series. I am desperately hoping for a second season or some other continuation. I’m so in love with this series on multiple levels that I really want to support it. And the fact that it was a mainstream studio that produced it and it wasn’t categorized and thrown off to one particular clique of fans or another makes everyone involved in the project gain that much more respect from me, and makes me a hell of a lot more likely to check out future works they do and support them in any way I can. It’s that important to me that a series like this was done. Because, honestly, I would have liked this series regardless, but the relationship between Shion and Nezumi made it a million times better to me and have upgraded it from “that was fun” to “I will pimp this thing to everyone I know.”

  13. I’m intrigued by what you commented about No. 6 and I think you’re spot-on about one of its attraction for girls – that there is liberty from constructed gender roles, which is what we experience in mainstream society. As a bisexual girl, I find an accurate visualization of certain ideals in the BL/shounen ai/yaoi genre. No. 6, to me, is special because as you mentioned, it is quite different from true yaoi yet preserves so well the purity which is the essence of boys’ love. I believe there has always been an undercurrent beneath the workings of this modern society we’re so used to, this seeking by a certain group of people for an alternative. I found this alternative in BL.

    One problem that disturbs me about mainstream perspectives of same-sex relationships is that they easily – sometimes authoritatively – superimpose heterosexual logic onto the homosexual participants. It’s true that masculine and feminine roles are assumed, just as yaoi uses seme and uke roles, but – I can’t express it well – it is on a different level from that in heterosexual relationships. When I watch No. 6 (I’m at episode 11), I feel terribly attached to the bond between Nezumi and Shion. Like many girls attracted to BL, I seriously find it ‘beautiful’. Two lives, with their individual strengths and vulnerabilities, who found and supported each other. A relationship so straightforward and natural. An equal relationship that makes the prospect of any heterosexual relationship pale in comparison.

    BL, as an alternative perspective on gender and relationship roles, promises a potential new world that does not need to adhere to current social conventions. No need to bear the weight of the ‘courtship, marriage, family, retirement’ path that humanity has followed all this time. No need to tolerate whatever social baggage attached to a female body as well. It however, is not about turning into a guy or anything like that. What is ultimately sought after is a gender-free body and mind, which is expressed wonderfully through the stereotypical ‘bishounen’ or beautiful boy who has the androgyny quality both physically and emotionally. Sexual and asexual, feminine and masculine, strength and grace at the same time. In a BL relationship, a new future can be drawn from the basis of such gender-free characters.

    Ironically, the gayness in BL and yaoi is completely catered for girls and has little to do with actual gay relationships even if some gay readers do enjoy the genre (I know a friend who does). I think BL, after its development into a genre and style, becomes a safe place for its participants to project themselves. The sexiness of yaoi, even if it is superficially generated by how hot the characters are, comes from a more mental cue, at least for me. The fact that it is part of the BL genre – which means I assume that there are other readers who subscribe to similar gender beliefs as I do, the settings of the narratives (for example, the dystopia in No. 6 – like the scene where they danced among the ruins was crazy fantastic), the no-female cast and the fact that the medium is manga/anime – which I believe is significant in experiencing the contents in metaphorical ways that ‘real’ TV cannot present precisely because it is ‘real’, these factors made BL and yaoi great platforms for the expression of erotic energy, in particular among others, that no other form of popular entertainment has ever done for girls, a certain demographic of them anyway. It supports the suspension of reality together with the constructive manifestation of an alternative identity in a private yet shared space.

    I can hardly find a point of view for myself in the female characters from anime, with the exception of Alita from ‘Battle Angel Alita’. If we talk about a desired avatar or representation of self from the anime world, I’d more likely find identification in boy/male characters like Suzaku from ‘Code Geass’ (although I may like female/non-engendered characters like Dragon Kid from ‘Tiger and Bunny’) . It is noteworthy that the norm for shounen characters is already relatively feminized compared to male stereotypes in say, Hollywood media. Another exception would be the anime ‘Maria-sama ga miteiru’ where the all-female cast is perhaps, an embodiment of true feminine charm. Nonetheless, it is safer just to say I can identify with multiple personalities that somehow just seldom connects with conventional female anime characters like Misaki from ‘Kaichou wa maid-sama’ or even cross-dressing female leads like Haruhi in ‘Ouran high school host club’ – the latter can potentially be a turn-off because the heterosexual logic remains there all the time. An important development, happening as I write, is CLAMP’s latest manga ‘Gate 7’ in which the lead character ‘Hana’ represents a sort of female idealized androgyny – this is a matured extension of RG Veda’s Ashura I believe. CLAMP, especially in the series X, captures idealized gender roles and relationships from a girls’ pov very well, and their body of work makes an interesting study.

    Finally, as you mentioned, there are low-budget yaoi trash all the time. Yet this is why manga is so compelling – it can accomodate my highest purity and most wicked fetish, which is so much more embracing of the spectrum called human nature. It’s not necessary that desires and thoughts need to be carried out in real life but there is satisfaction in them being addressed and made clear. I didn’t mean to write this much but I did. Apologies for any messiness in the expression of my thoughts.

  14. As a girl, I enjoyed No. 6 so much! I loved the relationship between Nezumi and Shion :)
    I didn’t see any problem with it and neither did I wish to be Nezu or Shion, I just really like how their fate brought them together again and again, I think they were meant to be together – not as “friends”, not as “lovers” – something more than that. I seriously wish for a second season, I can’t accept the ending of the first season ;_;
    thanks for the inspiring review !

  15. i love this anime because of the story and most importantly because of Sion n Nezumi///< this series has a lot of fan service for shonen ai lover like me ….. heeee :D Tehee ~

    1. It isn’t fanservice. Not in the least. Every ‘romantic’ moment between Nezumi and Shion was crucial to the plot, not something the directors threw in last minute to make the fangirls squeal and drool. Seriously. Are you calling their entire love “fanservice”? Because if you are, you really need to go back and watch the show again. Thank you.

  16. Nezumi and Shion is one of my favorite depictions of a gay romance in anime. Despite having a particular appreciation for homosexual couples in fiction (both male and female), I am not fond of the BL/yaoi genre in general… or even shoujo-ai for that matter. As you have mentioned, the portrayals of the characters are often overly stereotypical and confined to rigid gender roles. The more “masculine” character (whether male or female) also often demonstrates questionable ethics and forces himself (or herself) onto the more passive “feminine” character… and this is somehow supposed to be sweet and romantic. I’ve admittedly watched/read quite a bit of yaoi, hoping for something different, and almost all of it seems to adhere to the same unfortunate tropes. With perhaps one exception I can think of off the top of my head, I’ve pretty much given up on finding anything worthwhile in the genre.

    I actually found this article in search of an anime similar to No. 6 in terms of the portrayal of the main relationship (despite not using “No. 6” in my search request). As a pansexual woman, what I really long to see in fiction is a relationship between same sex characters that is not the focus of the story; I want to see a romance between two characters of the same sex treated the same way that a romance between characters of the opposite sex is treated in any other story (outside of the romance genre, which despite enjoying some romance, is not really my thing).

    In other words, while I do enjoy portrayals of heterosexual couples, almost every television series, anime, manga, comic, novel, or film features only (or in a few cases, primarily) heterosexual relationships. I find this to be a very narrow representation of the world, and it excludes the experiences and perspective of anyone who is not heterosexual.

    I guess this is part of my answer to the question presented in your article: why I, as a woman, enjoy stories involving a romantic/sexual relationship between males. The other part is that I prefer relationships that are equal in terms of “power” and more or less absent of gender roles (or at the very least less dependent on them). There are fictional straight couples that are like this, and I appreciate that – but I still find them to be relatively few and far between. When the two characters involved are both the same sex, I think that traditional gender roles just naturally do not apply as much, if at all. As mentioned, BL/yaoi (and shoujo-ai) does not hold much appeal for me, but I ship characters who meet this criteria, and read fanfiction involving them that is written well and in-character.

    When reading/watching stories involving same-sex characters (or heterosexual characters, for that matter), I may relate more to one character than the other, but I don’t think I “assume” their point of view in regard to the relationship any more than I would for any other aspect of the story. I do tend to get immersed in the characters, but that is just a natural part of experiencing any story for me. And even with a straight couple, I might relate more to the male character than the female, because I relate to characters based on their personality, interests, and way of experiencing the world – not so much their sex or gender.

    Of course, I’m sure that different women have different reasons for appreciating portrayals of gay couples… this is just what I have concluded about my own reasons for having an interest in stories like this.

  17. Wow. This whole discussion is awesome. I’ve seen so many threads on issues like this filled with negativity, but this has been an honest-to-goodness open discussion with lots of acceptance. Perhaps a mild rebuke here or there, but overall I’m impressed.

    I read through most of what everyone has said, and since no one seemed to be coming from quite the same place as me, I thought I’d offer up my thoughts.

    I, personally, like watching relationships where both parties are male because I like males (and I’m female, btw). I have no problem with two girls together, but I’m not interested in them. Watching two guys form a relationship of some kind is typically more enjoyable for me because I can usually understand what *both* parties see in each other. In other words, I can find both males attractive, and feel more connected to both of them in that way. I can superficially understand what a guy sees in a girl (or a girl sees in a girl), but I’ll never feel any emotional tie to her in that way. I can connect to a female character through her feelings for a guy, but when you can understand the feelings both ways in a relationship, it’s just more powerful. I suppose what I just said won’t make sense to some, because since I’m not a man that obviously alienates me from understanding two male characters in a big way, but I’m also not Japanese, and if you are not Japanese and still connect to anime and manga characters, maybe you’ll get a little bit of what I’m saying.

    Speaking of the culture that produces this stuff… A few people mentioned that the portrayal of girls got on their nerves. I’m in the same boat. I think I find the guys easier to relate to even if I’m not one because of that. I like assertive characters better. And those seem to be male more frequently. You do get assertive girls thrown in. Usually with a whole load of other stereotypes. But, hey, where are there NOT stereotypes, right?

    So that’s just my two cents. I totally agree with what most everyone has said about No.6, btw. I wish I could find another show like it. Most tactfully explored same-sex relationship I’ve seen so far in anime. Loved it. Desperately want Nezumi to come back because I feel cheated of resolution. Part of me loves it more for that reason because that’s life.

  18. For me it doesn’t matter if it’s yuri, yaoi or het IF they are well-written (meaning sexuality not played for laughs, no rape, believable and not pathetic characters etc). I read mostly -since it’s hard to find any good non-heterosexual romance in anime- because I want to feel the doki doki. As far as sex scenes are concerned, I like being a voyer (and I don’t like it when the subject involved in such a scene is looking back at me, like in real porn, thus I prefer manga).

  19. you guys are all sick no.6 anime is not about sex or boy and boy relationship its about friendship. I have watched all 11 episodes 10 times so I know what im talking about, unlike some of you who have only watched 4 or 5 episodes I understand the psychological animes such as this one since I research it

    1. Wow. It is so obvious that you don’t know what you’re talking about that I’m laughing out loud. There are SO many things wrong with what you just said. First of all, why would speculating about homosexual relationships in a show make us “sick”? You sound a bit like a homophobe, honey. More than just a bit, actually. Secondly, no one said anything about sex. The author’s point was that there was no sex, that they handled a homosexual relationship in a non-smut

    2. Whoops, sorry, I hit post before I was finished. Let me pick up where I left off. As I was saying, the author’s point was that they handled a homosexual relationship in anime in a non-smut filled manner, and how they respected that. Thirdly, if you’ve really seen the show as many times as you’ve claimed to, then you would realize that Nezumi and Shion quite obviously have some serious sexual tension going on between them. And that kiss? Please, guys don’t kiss each other like that without romantic intentions. Girls, maybe, but definitely not guys. It wasn’t just one kiss, either, it was two kisses, a long, romantic dance scene, and many hours of painfully obvious sexual tension. Also, when Safu, a pretty girl who he’d known for quite a while, asked him for sex, he refused and didn’t so much as want to kiss her. Where, with Nezumi, he happily kissed and touched him. And this isn’t coming from some obnoxious yaoi fangirl. I don’t even really like yaoi. It doesn’t portray gay relationships in the right way, whereas I think that No.6 did. My last point is about how your comment came across. You claim to be extremely knowledgeable about psychological anime such as No.6, and try to portray yourself as an intelligent person. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but when you incorrectly accuse everyone on this blog of being “sick” for having a mature discussion, use incorrect grammar and don’t even bother with correct puncuation or spelling, and rant without even having a legitimate reason, it doesn’t exactly make you look like the sharpest knife in the drawer. I, for one, am glad that the media is finally coming around and portraying homosexuality in a positive light. You can sit around in the corner where no one can hear you and mope about it, or you could join the majority of the new generation and fight for equality. Your choice, hon.

    3. If the two characters in question were not of the same sex, this would not be an argument. You would likely not consider it “sick” to discuss the relationship between male and female protagonists, and most likely, no one would even doubt that there is a romantic relationship implied. I suppose that is because it would be the expected outcome when two main characters of the opposite sex are involved, and it would be generally unexpected when the main characters are both male – particularly when the story is not designated as “gay” or “yaoi.”

      But that is the beauty of No. 6. It depicts a romance between two male protagonists that is not really the “point” of the show but is nevertheless clearly demonstrated. Yes, Nezumi and Shion do develop a friendship as the storyline progresses, but there is also a mutual attraction. Nezumi’s fast growing attachment to Shion is pointed out by other characters, who is shown struggling to accept how he feels because love is considered a weakness in the West Block.

      Also, they kiss twice – once initiated by Shion, once initiated by Nezumi. There is nothing wrong, of course, with male characters having a strong platonic friendship – but there’s also nothing wrong with a romantic attraction between same sex characters, and that is the case here. The depiction of their relationship is tasteful, and I cannot recall any crude replies posted here.

      So basically, you’re the one with the problem. Although I would still argue that there’s nothing sick about characters having an active sexual relationship, that’s not even what is being discussed (as there is nothing to indicate that they have done more than kiss). It’s really sad, I think, when a romantic relationship can be considered something beautiful between a heterosexual couple – but when it is a homosexual couple, many people automatically seem to consider only the sexual aspect of it, and regard it as dirty or degrading to the characters. As far as I am concerned, -that- is what’s “sick.”

  20. As a women who enjoys m/m relationships or even just m/m friendships that I wished were relationships. I personally think that what women get out of it (or at least I do) is that if you first take the sexual component out of it – the interaction between the two characters is more realistic.

    I’m not explaining this very well. Men and women (before you even bring sexuality into it) are forced into quite defined gender roles (western society) that for the most part I just don’t think fit. Nothing that is stereotypically ‘female’ has ever appealed to me and I became aware of this issue but had I not there is a possibility I would have just conformed.

    Women characters across all mediums, and I’m being very general here, are in my opinion something just doesn’t exist – a made up fantasy that women don’t identify with at all. So when it comes to a m/m relationship it’s actually much easier to identify with than a m/f one because its a partnership of equals.

    I’ve still failed to explain myself properly, it’s not really about the gender, it’s about the people. I mean just look at the Hollywood version of a romantic comedy? uggh

    1. Yes! I tried (failed miserably, like train wreck miserably) to explain the same thing above, unfortunately i didn’t see your comment beforehand. Anyway yeah, i totally get what you’re saying and i agree, the static character dynamics are really a huge chunk of what pushes me away from straight relationship stories… That and the the fact that i cant help but be a bit of a fan girl. Sorry for the poor grammar, wrote this on my phone.

  21. I absolutely loved this anime and I also think that the way they potrayed Nezumi’s and Shion’s relationship was just so perfect!! It was realistic and simple and I was so so so happy that the plot did not revolve around their sexual orientation. The plot was actually really good, which is so rare to find in shounen ai anime. I’m so glad I found this anime, I don’t know how I survived this long. Overall, I think the creators handled Nezumi’s and Shion’s relationship beautifully!

  22. What I like about BL is that the setting is relieving. Because of that certain distance to your gender you don’t feel the urge to compare the characters to yourself. There’s less potentially negative tension and it doesn’t keep you reminded that you could have a role in the show yourself. Sometimes you just don’t want to be a hero of a show so you don’t have to suffer from comparing yourself to the same gender or feel responsible.

    All you do is watching and enjoying it freely to observe how the characters are doing – without being part of it. It’s like watching cute animals – you don’t see the female gender or feel the point of self-comparing to a role, you just enjoy the fluff. Additionally, there’s sexual attraction to the opposite gender, too.

    So there’s fluff, the holy distance to not feel forced into comparing a person to yourself and even sexual attraction. It’s a perfect way to feel full enjoyment. And you don’t have to fight stereotypes of a gender. In a male-male-relationship everything is possible and it doesn’t depend on the gender anymore because it depends solely on the character of the protagonists.

  23. And even if you compare yourself to one of the protagonists – it doesn’t matter if you’re the strong one or the weak one since they’re both male. You’re not expected to empathize with a female lead because there is no female lead in BL. You can compare yourself to both guys without the feeling to be excluded to do so – no matter who you choose.

  24. I’m. Girl I loved it and watched it because the plot on my opinion was amazing but more than that was that they loved each other so much that it actually got me to the point of crying over them for over 3 months after finishing because if you read the manga it does say they are in love with each other and maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic but everything they said to each other broke my heart sorry that’s just my opinion hopefully no one feels offended XD

  25. I actually really liked this anime being a female that’s not into yaoi. I liked the plot tbh, and thought Nezumi was super cool. I guess this is my very first homosexual ship in my anime-watching career, because it seems like really close friendship and just hints, rather than some semen jumping on some uke because he can’t display his emotions any other way, lol. Unlike normal yaoi this was much more gentle which appeals to me, because I read a lot of shoujo manga, and appeals to others because its a “refreshing” type yaoi.
    Now onto why girls like yaoi. The answer is quite simple. Since homosexuality is still somewhat “taboo,” its just adds a whole new dimension to a romance for some girls (not me really but a lot of fangirls.) It’s different and its still the romance genre, that’s what makes yaoi so appealing.

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