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The Paranoid Reader and the Nonsexual in No. 6

(In my attempt to procrastinate a Haikyuu!! post I’ve been meaning to write for months, I present to you an excerpt from a final paper I wrote for one of my literary theory classes last year. Yeah, I’m that girl who always finds a way to connect her assignments to anime. No shame.)

In the anime and manga world, there have been countless debates on whether, No.6, a series by Atsuko Asano, is considered to be BL. BL, or boys love, is a genre of stories that depict romantic and sexual relationships between men. But although No.6’s main characters are both male, and they engage in acts that may be considered homosexual, Asano adamantly refuses the BL label. In her attempt to pull the series away from the charged label BL, Asano opens up the possibility of seeing it as queer. No.6 is a queer text because of its rejection of paranoid reading and exploration of nonsexual romance between men.

Anime Editorials

No. 6 and homoeroticism in anime

It’d be hard to watch No. 6 and not notice how homoerotic it is. I’ve now seen up to episode 5 and it’s notable how blunt it’s becoming in suggesting that Shion and Nezumi are in love. This is not a yaoi series though, it’s not a sexual or pornographic thing, I’m not sure it’s even shōnen-ai, it’s merely homoerotic in the sense that Shion and Nezumi are yet to take things that far.

That ‘yet’ is important, because it strongly feels like No. 6 is heading in that direction and, quite frankly, I hope it does. This is a mainstream series; not some low-budget trash produced for the fans-only, but a noitaminA series animated by the famous Studio Bones, to be seen by all (well, all adults.) For the most part, anime is not the best at dealing with male homosexuality, I mean, just look at the gay characters (or should I say caricatures?) in Gurren Lagann and Tiger & Bunny. No. 6 has the opportunity to become something unique, because Shion and Nezumi are relatively normal people (that ‘relatively’ is important, given Nezumi is bat-shit!)