Asako Patricia Saito
Gaming, myths, and men who love men: A convergence of cultures in Dynasty Warriors BL texts
Asako Patricia Saito (PhD Candidate, Asia Institute, The University of Melbourne)
“Boys love”, or “BL”, is a female-dominated subculture which eroticizes the relations between men. Although its origins can be traced back to Japanese shōjo manga (girls’ comics) from the 1970s, it is only within the last decade or so that BL and its fans have become increasingly visible in the Japanese media landscape. Lesser known in Japan, however, is its popularity among fans outside of Japan. To illustrate the transnational nature of the BL fandom, this paper examines the convergence of cultures in BL texts created by contemporary Chinese, Japanese, and Taiwanese writers. The texts take inspiration from the beautiful male characters in Dynasty Warriors, a Japanese game series which features historical figures and events from the Chinese Three Kingdoms period. By referring to historical records, BL texts, and interviews with the people who wrote them, I demonstrate how a Chinese myth is linked in a transnational semantic chain with the contemporary worlds of Japanese gaming and BL. In this process, I hope to highlight the multi-directional and transnational trajectory of culture flows within East Asia.