Bara

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Synonyms: Geikomi/ gei comi
See also: Yaoi, Boy's Love,
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Bara (ばら or 薔薇, literal meaning "rose") is a genre of manga and other artwork that target a gay male demographic. The art style emphasizes 'masculine' traits, such as large muscles and hairy bodies.

The term arose from a Japanese magazine titled "Barazoku" (薔薇族, "rose tribe") that ran from 1971 to 2008, and was Japan's first commercial gay culture magazine.

Some specify that only erotic media can qualify for the "bara" genre, and take issue with the label being applied to SFW media such as My Brother's Husband.[1]

The use of "bara" has also been contested.

“It’s not a word Japanese people use,” Tagame stated. “The gays don’t use it and it’s definitely a foreigner’s term for us.” He walked us through the term’s many transmutations: its origins as a hetero slur similar to the English “pansy”; its radical re-appropriation by the Japanese gay media in the 1960s and early ’70s, evident in the titles of magazines Bara and Barazoku; its eventual expiration amidst a newly politicized discourse surrounding homosexuality in the ’80s and ’90s; and its recent misappropriation by Western Internet circles as a term for gay manga.

From the interview transcript:

Tagame: […] the word has come back to life, unfortunately, and I have to say personally, I’m sort of against it. I don’t call my own work ‘bara’ and I don’t like it being called ‘bara’ because it’s a very negative word that comes with bad connotations.

Me: So then, do you call it just “gay manga” or is there anything more specific?

Tagame: No, no, no, just “gay manga.”[2]

Further reading

References

  1. rottenboysclub (May 2, 2018). "U know what fuckers? Bara isn't a genre of yaoi. (thread)". Retrieved February 13, 2019. In Japan, “My Brother’s Husband” isn’t even marketed as gei comi / what westerners call ‘bara’, as gei comi is specifically gay erotic/porn manga. “My Brother’s Husband” is just a general audience comic, in a regular/non-porn comic magazine, intended for a mostly STRAIGHT audience  (Archived version)
  2. I see that the wish to move away from the term "bara" is gaining some ground, Nov 8 2014