Reading Food in Boys’ Love Manga: a Gastronomic Study of Food and Male Homosexuality in the Manga Work of Yoshinaga Fumi
Tran, Xuan Bach
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Gastronomy is the study, not of food itself, but the relationship between food and our world. This study aims to investigate the relationship between food and homosexuality in the realm of Boys Love (BL) manga, a Japanese comic genre which depicts same-sex relationship traditionally produced by women and for women. The dissertation, employing Roland Barthes’s semiotics, offers an analysis and critique of relationships between food and male homosexuality in four manga series of Yoshinaga Fumi, a successful BL manga artist who is also openly known for her feminism and a love of food. They are The Moon And The Sandals (2007), Antique Bakery (2005-2008), Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy! (2010), and What Did You Eat Yesterday? (2014-present). Through semiotic analysis, each of the manga is proved to be unique in the way the author has employed food and homosexuality to depict characters and to tell stories. In each of these manga, food, cooking, and dining come to stand for different things, from the love and caring nature of one character to the sexuality and the way of being of another. What is significant is the fostering of gender dynamics and male homosexuality, though in different forms across the manga. In addition, it has also found that Yoshinaga, employing the ordinariness of each character’s cooking and environment, familiarises a broader readership with the erotic lives of the modern homosexual, thereby breaking through the borders between genres but also between fiction and reality.