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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fujoshi O'Clock: The Doctor Tezuka Edition

What time is it? It's . . . Fujoshi O'Clock, the new weekly feature at Nagareboshi Review, when I bring to you the latest fujoshi-related news and reviews and various shiny BL-flavored things. Why? Because rotten girls need love too!

This week on Fujoshi O'Clock is a little bit different from usual, since today is the last day of MMF week for Osamu Tezuka. So I thought instead of the usual news items and reviews, I'd highlight Tezuka's more boys' love friendly works for the fujoshi audience. There is not a hell of a lot but what there is is pretty significant.

Note: I'm not saying Tezuka is in anyway a BL manga-ka! He's not even close! But some of his works contain some major LGBT themes and characters to the point that there are open homosexual relationships in works made during an era where treatment of such works were novelty at best, steeped in harmful stereotypes at worst. Although even his treatment of LGBT folks isn’t perfect . . .

Don’t worry – no major spoilers for the series discussed below!

MW: In Tezuka's late seventies psychological drama of murder and chemical warfare, the main characters Father Garai and Michio Yuki are involved in a long-term sexual relationship that ends in drama and heartbreak when Yuki develops into a serial killer who Father Garai cannot stop from killing anymore. Their problems stem from the poisonous gas MW which infected Yuki and apparently turned him criminally insane.

Garai and Yuki’s relationship is certainly tumultuous, especially considering how they spent their days on Okino Mafune Island and how Father Garai’s severe guilt complex only aids in his protection of Yuki’s horrible crimes. Their relationship stems out of a problematic place, but I would not say the work itself shames them for being together as man and man so much as a Catholic priest and a serial killer. If it weren’t so depressing, it could be a wacky sit-com set up . . . or not. MW has a highly visible LGBT pairing in a work that examines the human condition and the psychology behind those who kill and the people who protect them.

Princess Knight: Not a yaoi? Okay, ya got me there. But did I mention the main character, Sapphire, is a princess disguised as a boy – a princess knight, as the title says? One could make the argument that crossdressing by itself is not LGBT-esque by itself, but consider this: how many girls do you think fell in love with Princess Sapphire thinking she was a handsome prince? Exactly. So much yuri potential, so little time.

Also, consider this: Princess Sapphire has the heart of a girl – and the heart of a boy. A proto-transgender character? A bisexual princess-turned-prince? Only the reader knows for sure – and the fanfiction writers, of course, bless ‘em.

Black Jack: I’m seriously not trolling you with this one, really! Consider Black Jack’s relationship with his old childhood friend Takashi, a half-Japanese half-black boy who donates a patch of his skin to save BJ’s life. Black Jack never forgets the sacrifice Takashi made for him, for which he refuses to ever change his scarred face to a color that matches the rest of his body, so dedicated he is to the last gift of his friend. He even becomes a surgeon due to how deeply his experience of that day affected him, partly because of how Takashi was the only one who would willingly donate his skin for BJ.

Also consider the great effort Black Jack put into to find his friend Takashi, literally flying all across the world chasing rumors of where he might be. He doesn’t even put that kind of effort into his own patients unless they owe him money. And it becomes clear that Takashi never forgot his old friend Black Jack at the end of the chapter – I won’t spoil you what happens, you’ll have to read it yourself (it’s in volume two of the manga, just so you know)! It’s not much of a reach to say that Black Jack’s friendship with Takashi is the most important one in his life – which for a fujoshi is clear markings of a future BL relationship. 

Sorry, Tezuka purists, y’all know we ship anything that moves. It’s not our fault kid!BJ and Takashi are so cute!

Astro Boy: All right, I’m trolling with this one. Unless you ship Astro Boy/Pluto – which is just a depressing thought, considering how that one ends.

Can anyone else think of any LGBT fujoshi friendly Tezuka works? Considering how prolific Doctor Tezuka is, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few more in his bibliography that qualify for this odd little list.