In the little town of Warwick, Rhode Island, yaoi and LGBTQ communities united to create a memorial and overwhelmingly successful first year BishounenCon!
BishounenCon was the brand new, classy, east coast counterpart to the long running California convention YaoiCon. Like YaoiCon, BishounenCon is founded on embracing the Japanese subculture of "yaoi', or "boy's love," manga, anime, and fandoms with fancentric programing. Juné, the sponsor for both conventions, brought over veteran staff, official bishounen, panels, and main events to really give east coast a taste of what YaoiCon is all about.
Not to be an exact replica of YaoiCon, BishounenCon also embraced LGBTQ culture and communities, giving a safe space for both groups to thrive and interact. Panels like Gay Life: Fact vs Yaoi, But We're Both Guys: Unplacking BL Cliches, and LGBTQ+: Going Beyond Gay gave amazing presentations on gender and sexual variations.
BishounenCon's goal was to become the classier younger brother of YaoiCon, starting with its sharply dressed mascots by Tatouji to new programming events like the Host Club and Masquerade Ball.
Our veteran bishounen truly dressed to impress and entertain at the Friday night Host Club. Here attendees made reservations with their favourite bishounen and got to have a relaxing date with them. Each bishie brought out their unique charm for their guests and even put on skits for the entire crowd to enjoy.
Saturday nights Masquerade Ball was a nice change up from the usual convention rave. With of local dance studio Twirl the Girl, free formal dance lessons were held an hour early to teach attendees a move or two. Attendees showed up to impress and got to dance the night away to Yuri On Ice hits, participate in a cosplay contest, and even win big prizes in a Juné sponsored raffle!
Our special guest Fox E., amazing cosplayer and drag queen, hosted a Drag Show during the Masquerade Ball with some of the bishies. She stunned the audience with her Final Fantasy X/X-2 Yuna performance, costume change and all! This was many of the audience's first drag show and they had an amazing experience between Fox E.'s spirit, bishies in spandex, and even a shirtless lip sync battle.
Guest of Honor, Velvet Toucher, had a busy weekend of signings, panels, and taking in the BishounenCon spirit. She was overjoyed to meet fans of her previous work, Lost in the Snow, and encourage everyone to check out her newest work, Eden's Mercy, currently on Kickstarter.
Overall, BishounenCon's first year was a great success! Final count of attendance was 492!! The attendees were wonderful, courteous, and gave great feedback for us to improve on. A second year has not been confirmed just yet, but keep checking in on the Juné blog for updates for another wonderful year full of even more great programming!
We would like to thank once more our staff, volunteers, bishounen, special guests, and of course our attendees!
“A murder in New York. Manny Morrison, a transgender woman working at a LGBTQ help center, is left dying in her own blood. Between the apathetic police, charlatan activists, hostile politicians, and hate-fill populace; there's no hope for justice, but there's a chance for revenge.
Eden, a crime boss with big ambitions and even deeper pockets, promises to avenge his old friend by putting his men on the case. Vince, Eden’s top fist-fighter, is fresh out of jail and eager to work again, if only to prove his worth. One dead-end after another, and it's clear to Vince and Eden that this is more than just a hate crime.
Rumors are swirling around the homeless man Manny had opened her home up to. Some say he's a killer, a drug addict, or even a pedophile. In the end, the only thing that's clear is he's the key to understanding why Manny was killed.”
Set in a modern metropolis city, gangs have become the ruling authority. Separated by race, religion, and even sexual identity, no bad deed goes unnoticed or unpunished. Eden has his hands in every market from drugs and firearms to underground fights and disputed territories. He is the leader of a new category of gang in which all members are male and all members are homosexual. In a world plagued by hate and discrimination, homophobia is no exception. Eden and his gang have overcome much and aim to be on top, holding nothing back in this thrilling and erotic new series.
Velvet Toucher has teamed up with Juné manga to launch her new series under the new "yabara” genre. Juné is known for being a publisher of the yaoi, or “boys love,” type of comics. This genre is dominated by women; its origins established in the drawing of slender, beautiful men with common themes of forbidden love and dramatic romances. Yaoi’s counterpart, “bara” come about to appeal to the homosexual male comic reader with depictions of heavy muscled men and explicit content.
The two audiences very scarcely overlap, but at their core they come from the same mutual love of male-male driven stories. Steering away from older stereotypes from both genres, yabara will appeal to a much broader audience. With heavy American influences, Velvet Toucher is the best to showcase this new genre with her diverse cast of masculine men ranging from slim fit to large and rugged.
Not only does her art style appeal to both fujoshi, the LGBTQ communities, and even mainstream comic book readers, but her storytelling is vast and deep with meaning. Underlying plots, current social issues, and an understanding of the human psyche, Velvet Toucher tells the story of “identity.”
Juné will be launching a Kickstarter campaign starting February 22, 2017 to bring this new series to life. The campaign will help fund the initial printing for volume 1 of “Eden’s Mercy,” along with plenty of swag and gifts for every pledge level.
Velvet Toucher’s upcoming mafia drama promises to thrill, shock, and entice. Whether you are a yaoi fan, part of the LGBTQ community, or an indie comic book lover, readers across all spectrums are assured to be hooked to this new class of underworld gangs full of sex, violence, and mystery.
With Juné Manga's upcoming "yabara" kickstarter project, winter anime hits like "Yuri on Ice," and psychological online manga like "Killing Stalking," the definition of "yaoi" has become much more of a grey area.
At its core, yaoi is defined as romantic relationships between two male characters. These stories are predominantly made by women for women. Beginning in the 70s, the boys love genre would depict "bishounen," or pretty boys, having platonic relationships with one another (what some would consider "shounen ai" today). These would progress into more explicit contents in fan made doujinshi, slowly becoming regularized in the manga form as well.
For many years yaoi was not considered "gay manga" as it did not depict homosexual relationships in realistic ways. Intending it to be a fantasy, mangakas would create overly dramatic plot lines, features, and content that would never be found in the real world. These fantasies appealed and catered to the female aesthetic and desires much more than males, thus male readers grew to have a distaste, and even offense, for the genre.
"Bara" was created as the male counterpart to yaoi, made by males for males. Instead of having feminine features, these men are extremely muscular and hairy. Exchanging less plot for more sexual fantasy, the contents are mostly explicit.
In more recent years, the blending of the two genres has been occurring more and more. Moving away from stereotyped plots like dubious consent or overly feminized men, modern changes such as this have started to resonate with both fujoshi fans and the LGBTQ community. Many authors are now exchanging these known yaoi tropes into more realistic human relationships with plots such as traumatic pasts and less social taboo. Works by artists such as Sakira, who draws very muscular bara men with plenty of sexual content, have grabbed the attention of both sets of fans for her ability of comedic storytelling and unique art style.
With modern streaming and subscription services, the ability to watch and read online with same day releases has caused anime and manga fans alike to flock to these digital sources. The blending of cultures and fans has caused both positive and negative effects for the yaoi, LGBTQ, and general otaku communities.
Last season's hit anime "Yuri on Ice" caused a rift with these communities and sparked debate on what the definition of yaoi truly is and where does one draw the line. Modernizing the yaoi genre and getting rid of social stigmas can cause people to argue "is it yaoi?" or "is it just a relationship that happens to be homosexual?" Some have come to define modern yaoi that if the relationship between the two males is the main plot source for the story, then yes it is a yaoi. If there are much larger plot points and two characters happen to be homosexual, then it is just a subplot romance, thus not a yaoi.
It has truly become a definition in the eyes of each personal reader. Where someone draws the line may vastly vary to someone else based on their upbring, lifestyle, or even just their personal taste. The best part about having an expanding grey area are the debates themselves, if done in healthy open minded settings. Talking about issues and social awareness can be massively helpful and healthy when done under the right circumstances. Now while this is not always done in the most positive ways, as most any disagreement can lend itself to, the community itself still encourages everyone to be as respectful and open minded to any and all.
Whether you spell it yaoi, yai, yoai, or simply yaoi, the big question is: where do yaoi comics go from here? With an ever expanding yet smaller world, there are thousands of plots, artists, and genres to choose from. Whether you enjoy the beautiful bishounen, muscular baras, or even a blend of both, chances are there is a story out there just for you.
In an industry full of every kind of love story imaginable, Juné launches its own original content with a fresh new genre.
The yaoi genre has been defined as the depiction of boy's love written for women by women. It is chalked full of slender, beautiful men with common themes of forbidden love and dramatic romances.
Bara, yaoi's counterpart written by men for men, shows muscular manly men with much less plot driven story lines and a lot more sexual encounters.
The two terms are rarely aimed at the same audience and yet, at their core, come from the same foundation of male-love driven stories.
DMI's president Hikaru Sasahara, known for being a constant innovator in the manga industry, has found a way to join the two genres with the new term "yabara." It may seem as simple as combing yaoi + bara = yabara, but this new genre has even more hidden behind some clever wordplay.
Steering away from the old stereotypes of mature older semes, pretty boy ukes or even just two overly muscular hairy men, yabara will appeal to each and every body type. Race, age, shape, and size will be explored on new levels to appeal and even broaden the reader's experience to the male love genre.
Not only will yabara combine the art styles of yaoi and bara, but it will combine its audiences as well. Yabara content is made for the comic book audience as whole. It's intent is to appeal to all the fujoshi, fudanshi, LGBT community, and indie comic book lovers.
Yabara breaks away from typical plots of both yaoi, known for stories like hidden office love affairs, and bara, known for a whole lot of sex. This genre will bring the male love genre to the masses with modern romances, current events, and true to life tragedies.
Juné's very first yabara title is not only the first of its kind, but it will also be DMI's first originally produced yaoi title. DMI has produced original content once before with the novel "Vampire Hunter D," making it into a manga for the first time back in 2007.
"Eden's Mercy," by Japanese mangaka Velvet Toucher, was announced at Yaoi Con 2016. This title will be made in America and produced in English before it will be later translated into Japanese.
Giving English speaking audiences the opportunity to read works from their favourite mangakas first, without having to wait for translations opens up new opportunities for the otaku world. With the announcement of companies like Netflix putting more money into original content, Juné plans to keep with its own trend by producing original yaoi works from both local talents and Japanese artists.