Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi – What’s Love Got to Do with It

I should start this off by saying I really, really do enjoy yaoi. It gives me something that is very difficult to find anywhere else, and I love it for that. But. That love is not unconditional. Like any genre, there are less than savory aspects that I would rather ignore. Of course it’s the manga that revel in those cliches that make me cringe that actually get animated. So. Here we go, the things I dislike (so far) about Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi.

There are certain things you find in pretty much every yaoi manga ever. At some point one (or both) of the leads will say “But we’re both guys” like it is some great revelation. In some cases, it is, but mostly it just illustrates that he is not Gay. He just has gay sex (more on this another day). There will be blushing, usually from the uke, but that is not set in stone. And, more often than I would like, there usually is some sort of sexual harassment, if not outright rape.

Let’s take a look at that last one as it applies to Sekai-Ichi. Episode 2 has an obviously unwanted/unexpected kiss—pretty straightforward sexual harassment. But in the context of the show it is meant to 1) enlighten Onodera and 2) show us Takano still loves him. Of course! It makes perfect sense. Then in episode 3 things escalate to full on rape. There might not be any penetration (here is where the fangirls collectively sigh in disappointment), but you don’t need penetration for sex, and consequently rape.

So why does Takano rape the person he supposedly is in love with? Well, in yaoi-land, rape comes in two flavors, generally: 1) rape that must be defended against, and 2) rape that shows he’s in love. Basically, when he rapes you, it means he’s in love, so much so that he just can’t control himself around you. Because that’s the only way to express love, with sex. It’s not like they could just talk or something, nope. It must be physical.

I will refrain from going down the sexism angle there (because that is a whole post by itself, let me tell you), since I want this to be more of a primer, if anything. Probably am not succeeding there. But onwards!

So why doesn’t Mr Rape Victim (the show calls him Onodera, if you’ve lost track) report this to the police? Because he *gasp* might have enjoyed it! Which totally makes it okay, because sex is just a method of physical gratification. No trust or intimacy or emotions, nope, just physical sensations. So rape + enjoyment = not rape (this will be on the quiz). And, as is often the case, it is the rape that makes our protagonist realize his own feelings. Cue happy ending with puppies and unicorns beneath a rainbow.

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  1. Posted May 1, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I agree, this comes up way too often in anything that isn’t straight couple relationships. Always hated it too.

    • Chronolynx
      Posted May 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      At this point I just actively avoid any yaoi title that gives me Rape Vibes.

  2. Posted May 1, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I would argue that rape in yuri-land has the same meanings as in yaoi-land, but with the added bit that both options are open if the attacker is female, whereas only a malicious one is possible if the attacker is male. Strawberry Panic is probably the best example for this, as it has very, very clear instances of both options, and its something more people are familiar with as opposed to some other works that feature this bifurcated approach to rape.

    I haven’t seen the reverse in yaoi-land (e.g. a female attacker is inherently malicious); I can think of only a couple of instances in which females making sexual attacks upon males in yaoi manga, and in both it ended up being borne out of mistaken identity combined with too much alcohol, and we were meant to a. not take the attack seriously, and b. sympathize with the mislead female attacker when she realized her mistake and was wholly mortified.

    I dream of a day wherein a non-rape-tastic BL/yaoi title gets an anime adaptation… isn’t it so lovely to have dreams?

    • Posted May 2, 2011 at 2:17 am | Permalink

      I share the same dream with you, I do. Still waiting for Takarai Rihito’s Seven Days (which to me is the best Yaoi manga ever existed) to be animated. *sigh*

      • Chronolynx
        Posted May 2, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        Yes. Somebody, anybody: Seven Days needs an anime adaptation. Something must be done to counterbalance the shit that gets animated these days. We need our Aoi Hana!

        • Posted May 3, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          I would loooooooove a BL Aoi Hana. Shimura has done a little bit of BL before… is it too much to hope maybe she’d do some more?

    • Chronolynx
      Posted May 2, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      Hmm, I will certainly be on the lookout for these mythical females of which you speak. It’s rare enough to see a vagina in the world of bishie love (but it does happen!), but surely such a thing must exist.

  3. ectholion
    Posted May 1, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Wow, shows that present Love can come from rape… wow, that’s really twisted and frightening on soo many different levels. I mean are they saying that homosexual love is a bestial thing? or that homosexuals are barbaric? I don’t see any appeal to a type of show that glorifies rape in any way, that being one of the most violent and evil crimes possible to commit. Or that, that type of behavior is acceptable to treat someone you love or care about. Great post, i think you well fleshed out this less savory element very well. I enjoyed the read even if the content made me cringe :)

    • Chronolynx
      Posted May 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      After thinking about it a while, I think I’ve figured out how it works. Because we the audience know they are the Designated Couple, anything unsavory either party does is moot, because they are Destined To Be (a sort of Shoujo Calvinism).

  4. Yaku
    Posted May 1, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    While I admit in some stories it’s a guilty pleasure (mainly the dark ones, with yakuza or demons and that kind of stuff) I admit this is also a pet peeve I have with yaoi. In fact I have many pet peeves with my favourite genre and I realize a lot of yaoi books (licensed) don’t put a lot of thought into story as long as there are pretty boys making out. It grinds my gears because it’s like they think we fangirls don’t need anything else.

    But yes the rape crap really gets to me. Then again this show has Katsuyuki Konishi as a voice actor so I’ll watch it even if it’s crap (damn, I fell into their trap)

    • Chronolynx
      Posted May 2, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      Rape as fetish certainly has its place, and that is fine. It’s when rape somehow leads to love that I get all bothered. Of course, that is hardly the only unsavory trait the yaoi in general seems to worship. But, then, I come looking for actual relationships in my yaoi, as opposed to just hot guys having sex. Which I suppose at least partially contributes to the rape in these sorts of stories. On the one hand the author knows the relationship isn’t gonna just happen overnight, but on the other hand she needs to draw the sexy scenes to get readers. And rape is the most profitable solution.

  5. Posted May 1, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    This is why I had to wait and see if Sekaichi Hatsukoi was any good. It looked very promising but knowing that this is a BL title, things like these were bound to happen which is very, very disappointing. There’s just no way I can root for Takano if he’s like this. I understand that BL is mostly fantasy but the implications are pretty dangerous. Oh well, surely some people will still enjoy this and forget that rape is rape and is just downright horrible. So I’m dropping this show, it might seem like a pretty extreme reaction but I can’t see myself enjoying this much.

    • Chronolynx
      Posted May 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      There is still the chance that the B romance(s?) will be good, though, so I wouldn’t completely write it off yet. You could do what I did with Junjou Romantica and just skip the main couple’s episodes.

      • Posted May 3, 2011 at 1:58 am | Permalink

        Hahaha, I remember skipping the main couple because I liked the other two better too. I’ll try that with Sekaichi Hatsukoi I guess, it might work lol.

  6. Posted May 2, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    I would like to read your potential future posts on yaoi rape, sexism, gendered sexuality in anime, etc!

    I’m not a yaoi fan myself and haven’t read/watched enough to know, but I do recognise the problem you’re talking about. I find the “what if it was girls/what if it was hetero” question interesting (reminds me of a post about how messed up Bakemonogatari’s main couple would be if you genderswapped them). There seems to be a bit of a trend to portray guys’ sexuality one way and girls’ another – girls are more likely to be about emotional connections surpassing taboo, guys are more likely to have physical needs? Either way it’s a misleading stereotype.

    Plus it kind of spreads the idea of “be afraid of gay people, they will rape you”, at least to a Western viewer, because I have actually encountered this attitude in people (not explicitly).

  7. Locke
    Posted May 3, 2011 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    I’ve long given up on following yaoi. It’s usually just glorified rape or the dynamics of the relationship are simplified to ‘seme/uke’. I hope for the day when a realistic, well written and high quality BL/yaoi will be released but that doesn’t seem near if Japan remains entrenched in their gender roles.

    • Chronolynx
      Posted May 3, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      While there are any number of good yaoi manga out there, very few of them have a chance at being animated.

  8. Posted May 4, 2011 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    This is why one just skips straight to Brokeback Mountain. No fuss, all good.

    It’s really too bad though. The subplot and the insight into manga publishing in this show was pretty decent, really. I only gave this show the 3 episode test out of principle, but honestly, I recognize at least small elements I’d be able to enjoy if they were totally divorced from the incredibly boring yaoi romance, which as you say, is literally just all the worse yaoi conventions copy and pasted.

  9. Chalulu
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 1:50 am | Permalink

    While I do agree that rape is somewhat glorified in this series , I don’t think that it is used to as a device to make Onodera realize his feelings for Takano . I think the viewers can clearly see that Onodera is somewhat conscious about his feelings for Takano when Takano reveals that he is “Saga Masamune ” ;and that his nervous laughter 10 years back was only meant to hide his embarrassment and he wasn’t making fun of Onodera at all . As soon as Takano gets on the elevator after enlightening Onodera that he is none other than Saga , Onodera has himself speculating whether he actually truly misunderstood Saga and whether Saga still loves him ;for a splitting moment he even wonders if they could get back together .Onodera clearly had feelings for him and was avoiding being alone with him throughout episode 3.In the same episode,he was also shown to feel uneasy and jealous when he saw Takano smoking and laughing with Yokozawa at the office premises much before the rape happened . In my opinion,the rape in episode 3 is shown as a plot/device to make Onodera go more into denial and hate Takano’s play-boyish ways even more.
    As for the reason why he didn’t complain to the police , I feel its because there was no proof of it . There is no evidence of a penetration because it didn’t happen in episode 3 .The only person who saw Ritsu coming out of Takano’s house was Yokozawa and even Yokozowa had not witnessed the act itself . Also, he would surely not stand up for Ritsu since Takano is his buddy and love interest. Also given Ritsu’s pessimism for life in general,he is more likely to think that the police or the company officials might not believe in a newbie like him and would be more prone to supporting Takano as he had been working there for a year and was somewhat responsible for the department’s success.In my opinion, a person like Ritsu would simply feel that going public about the sexual harassment would cause him more embarrassment than being a quiet victim of the act .So I don’t think that the reason he didn’t take any actions was because he enjoyed it .

  10. Rin
    Posted July 10, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Most of you guys keep talking about how there are points you dislike about it but seriously… you all watched it and im sure you smiled in the end. The author is desperatly trying to show how hard it is making manga and anime. I am not sayin you are “dissing” the show. I’m just inquiring that the author needs all the support he/she can get. Based on my oppinion its cute in its own way. ^-^ I hope you guys wont misunderstand what I mean. I just want the author to know he/she I’m thankful for their hard work. =] It definately paid off.
    ~ Rin

  11. ciel
    Posted September 28, 2011 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    I think you guys did not watch the anime properly or read the manga. What you are talking about is not rape but sexual molestation. There is a big BIG DIFFERENCE. No offence. Even if i agree in the fact that there is a lot rape in yaoi.

4 Trackbacks

  • […] my reaction would’ve been the same had I not read Chronolynx’s post about sexual harassment and rape’s use in Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi, I do think I am going to use […]

  • […] will always be necessary, and dissenting opinions are valid and useful. I would like to acknowledge the blog post on Sekai-ichi hatsukoi (from which the opening image is taken) that made me start writing, as well as the blog post […]

  • By Chrono’s Yaoi Picks on May 16, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    […] my earlier post about Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi, you might notice I have more than a few problems with yaoi in general. […]

  • By Left Unsaid: 3. R Word | the beautiful world on February 18, 2013 at 1:46 am

    […] of sexual assault in books like Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey and shoujo hetereosexual as well as yaoi […]

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