Not Just a Fujoshi: Tora to Ookami

When it comes to manga oriented around a fujoshi main character, there are two big trends.  First, they tend to come from pretty unknown authors in fairly obscure magazines. Second, the story typically revolves heavily around how their love of yaoi impacts the heroine’s relationships. Often there’s a romantic bent to this, where the girl’s fantasies directly impact her interactions with the guy she’s into. Even titles I adore such as Genshiken and Fujoshissu! possess these qualities in part, and while the fujoshi heroine subgenre is not exactly big, it’s produced a lot of similar works.

This is why Tora to Ookami is such a fine oddity. Having ran in Betsuma, which has been home to other popular titles such as Lovely Complex and Aishite Knight, what’s even more interesting is its creator, Kamio Youko. Fans of shoujo might recognize her as the author of Boys Over Flowers, a title which is spoken of in the same breath as other big shoujo works such as Nana, and has been adapted not only into anime but multiple live-action dramas around the world in different languages. In a certain sense, this title is quite a leap for fujoshi-themed manga, skimming along the mainstream even if not directly a part of it.

What I find especially impressive about Tora to Ookami, however, is how it addresses the second trend. A lot of times fujoshi characters, whether they’re in the spotlight or on the sidelines, are fujoshi first and foremost. Their hobbies revolve heavily around anime and manga if not yaoi outright. They’ll throw out random lines from an anime, most often Gundam or Glass Mask, or just have a one-note gimmick (constant pairings or glasses, for instance). They either have, or have had in the past, personalities and appearances which tend towards the image of the shy and nerdy girl. With Mii, the heroine of Tora to Ookami, however, you get a stronger sense of a well-rounded individual where she’s certainly into yaoi but it doesn’t dominate her life, nor her approach to interacting with others.

While Mii writes BL fiction, she’s also a chef who works at her family’s small restaurant, and that aspect of her plays a much more significant role in Tora to Ookami than her googly eyes over seeing her two love interests interact with each other. She may be a fujoshi, but she’s also a strong-willed person who’s more than willing to sacrifice her social life in order to help her grandma maintain their restaurant because it’s what she cherishes. Liking BL is just a natural facet of her among others, and because Mii’s fujoshi identity isn’t the central focus of the manga, her romance is able to develop in a way where the outcome isn’t simply determined by who can accept her for being a fujoshi. Although her fandom pops up occasionally in her interactions with her love interests, especially the titular Tora and Ookami, it’s pretty much never about wanting them to act more like characters from BL manga, nor does it involve confusing fantasy with reality.

I don’t know how well Tora to Ookami did in Japan, but six volumes is a fairly decent run, and at the very least it shows that fujoshi heroine manga don’t have to be limited by the fujoshi “gimmick.” As much as I enjoy the stories which do utilize the recurring fujoshi manga trends, Mii’s character is rather refreshing because of how she has more to her than yaoi, but also doesn’t trivialize that aspect of her. She’s believable as a fujoshi, but also believable as a human being.

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