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Bara as 2D Adonis Complex

November 26, 2009

I’m borrowing part of a Timothy Levitch quote when I say this: if Space Opera is a genre that epitomizes all phallic emotion in Anime, then Legend of the Blue Wolves is utter catharsis.

As one of the few and better known bara hentai of recent memory – partly because of its untimely discontinuation due to a lack of funding – it’s interesting to see such a heartfelt exploration of (credible) homosexaul desire in its main character of Jonathan Tiberius.

(See, having nothing else to blog about, I’ve decided to delve into hardcore gay pornography. Enjoy.)

If you’re not aware of the term, bara is gay hentai made primarily by gay men for gay men. Instead of the scrawny, pretty-boy bishounens that have become so common within fujoshi circles, you have your hunks, bears, and daddies – basically gay men who don’t fulfill the flamer stereotype. A good friend of mine voraciously downloads bara from various imageboards, so I’ve been exposed to it quite often and wasn’t that disinclned from watching the one-time OVA when he recommended it to me.

Legend of the Blue Wolves follows a young man named Jonathan Tiberius, recently enlisted in an ill-defined space platoon during an intergalactic war with surreal creatures that are able to assimilate with their victims. Of course, platoon means army, and army means men, and only the strongest, most ripped guys make the cut.

While I don’t mean to stoke the wrath of loudmouth otakus by equating classic shows like Gurren Lagann to gay pornography, there’s still a latent similarity between them. Like in any other quote-unquote GAR series, there’s always a sort of jingoism thrown in where the male characters resort to fisticuffs instead of listening to reason. These men need to reaffirm their dominance with brutality because it not only sets an example, but also expedites victory. And besides, pacifism isn’t manly.

In a flashback scene of a young Jonathan, he observes a pair of older men cleaning themselves off at a fountain, bereft of shirts and with sweat dribbling down their bodies. Almost unexpectedly, he becomes erect and pleasures himself to the thought of them. He imagines their “ideal flesh,” the impossibly perfect bodies he soon strives for as a young adult.

This draws parallels to the introduction of the book Confessions of a Mask, by Yukio Mishima, the prolific Japanese author whose confounding sex life as a homosexual man with a wife and kids was actually the least of his problems. The book is said to be an exploratory, semi-autobiography that channels a side of him that he seemed to be ashamed of throughout his life. A passage, where the main character as a child realizes that he’s attracted to a supposedly handsome older boy, seems to be a motif in gay fiction:

I had a presentiment then that there is in this world a kind of desire like stinging pain. Looking up at the dirty youth, I was choked by desire, thinking, ‘I want to change into him,’ thinking, ‘I want to be him.'”

Mishima himself was known for being a narcissist. He loved to work out and wasn’t timid about showing off his body. If what he writes in his book is reflective of his personal life in some way, then he certainly did achieve his “ideal flesh.”


What can be said about Jonathan’s desire for the attractive men in his youth can also be said about all of bara hentai, and maybe even for the gay men who are aroused by it. Most hentai is lust incarnate for certain people – there are a wide range of fetishes that can be achieved in art and animation that you couldn’t pull off in the real world. The brawny men in bara aren’t completely unrealistic, but there is a modicum of godlike physicality in them – the chiseled abs, well-formed legs, and oversized biceps without an ounce of fat. For lack of a better term, they have a self-reflective Adonis complex where they’re able to vicariously enjoy beauty and become beautiful themselves at the same time. Bara reflects a mindset that projects one’s own “ideal flesh” through art.

So that is why I was kind of saddened to find out that Legend of the Blue Wolves didn’t make it past the pilot episode, although it was kind of stupid of the creators to delegate most of the sex scenes to this guy. So it was their own fault, I guess.

Not sure how to end this properly, so have some 3D bara.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 26, 2009 8:37 am

    Fascinating stuff. I only have a rough working knowledge of bara (everybody looks like Freddie Mercury– check), but Confessions of a Mask is a mind-blowing book. I can only imagine the stir it caused in 1948. And yet the subjects it addresses are still fresh, especially with movies like 300 in which hairless, oiled-up muscle gods are beautifully slaughtered by 9-foot-tall Mexican drag queens. And I seem to recall that “normal” guys ate that one up like Christmas pudding.

    Heterosexuality has its own kind of complex, too, what with the “I wish to be the little girl” business. Idols are a tricky subject, and that’s almost all sexuality is about when we’re talking about anime and manga. This is a great topic; cheers.

    • December 5, 2009 1:33 am

      Goodness. It’s criminal that this entry hasn’t gotten more attention by now.

  2. November 30, 2009 7:04 am

    “it was kind of stupid of the creators to delegate most of the sex scenes to this guy. So it was their own fault, I guess.”

    I suppose ugly guys appear in all kinds of hentai regardless of genre.

    Anyway, interesting topic indeed. I have never heard of bara as a term before, but now I know.

  3. December 4, 2009 4:48 am

    “it’s interesting to see such a heartfelt exploration of (credible) homosexual desire in its main character of Jonathan Tiberius.”

    “heartfelt exploration of (credible) homosexual desire”

    “(credible) homosexual desire”

    It actually exists?

    Okay, for real though, this is really interesting. I think you’ve hit your stride with these explorations. Thought I’m not a big fan of bara when it’s exaggerated, I did like this OVA, for what it was worth, at least. I have a lot of personal beefs with yaoi, though that’s reserved for a rant about the topic for another day.

    With the Adonis Complex, I always wonder if there’s a bit of narcissism involved. Like, you want to look good and you want others to look like you in how you view them as sexy. They have to achieve the same god like physique to be the same as you.

    And ugh…yea I wish they hadn’t shot themselves in the foot and got this show canceled. It was the only yaoi I liked watching as all the others kind of suck.

    • December 16, 2009 11:56 pm

      sure is quiet around here…

      • December 18, 2009 7:32 am

        I know, right? If his Twitter weren’t so active I’d be afraid for his safety.

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