It’s New Year’s, and Ryo, Rumi and Toshiaki have gone to a shrine to pray and make wishes for the new year. Ryo and Rumi share their wishes with Toshiaki, but he refuses to share his because he says he heard that if you tell someone your wish then it won’t come true.
Later they run into Keiichi, his childhood friend Reiji, and Reiji’s younger sister Yukari. Rumi is thrilled to see that Yukari is a “real priestess” and insists on taking pictures of the young woman in her shrine attire. Toshiaki and Ryo think Rumi’s reaction is funny, but when Toshiaki sees that Keiichi isn’t at all amused by Rumi’s behaviour, he scolds himself for “falling so far” and becoming so used to Rumi and Ryo’s world that he can apparently no longer just what is normal and what’s not.
Keiichi and Reiji invite the trio inside for some New Year’s soup, and we see that there’s some attraction between Keiichi and Yukari. However Reiji insists on getting in the way, much to their annoyance.
Sitting around a table, Rumi and Yukari discuss spending money on New Year’s goodie bags, bags with a random assortment of items inside. Neither girl really likes the bags, but Yukari confesses that she buys them anyways every year. Rumi’s inner monologue then inisists if she’s going to buy items with a hit-and-miss value, she’d rather buy and trade BL prints.
Later as they’re walking home, Ryo discovers that he’s pretty broke. Toshiaki teases him by saying people often buy a lot of things around New Year’s, but Ryo says that he and Rumi are often broke at other times because they spend a lot of money on thin volumes of doujinshi.
The series jumps forward to Valentine’s Day, and Ryo tells Toshiaki that he’s too busy shipping his BL OTP to have a girlfriend. He opens his shoe locker to find no love notes waiting for him, but wait, Toshiaki has one!
Ryo and Toshiaki go to the meeting place described in the letter, and a cute girl named Miyuki is waiting for Toshiaki. Ryo jokes that just because she presents as female doesn’t mean she won’t have a penis, and honestly this episode is worth it for the still shot of Miyuki with a “secret” censor over her crotch. Toshiaki is not pleased with the joke, but he knows he just has to go for it and find out what this girl wants.
Toshiaki approaches Miyuki, who presents him with a really elaborate hair accessory. She tells him she loves making them, and she’s always thought he had beautiful hair so she wanted to make something for him. And honestly this girl is talented – the hair accessory is gorgeous!
Ryo recounts the story for Rumi later, and she gives him some chocolate she found him at a convenience store. It’s got some artwork on it from an anime Ryo likes, and he’s super excited that she was able to find it for him because he hadn’t been able to find it.
Ryo asks Rumi if she gave anyone chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and Rumi confesses that she gave them to her favourite BL character, even though she knows the chocolate will of course go instead to the series mangaka.
Toshiaki watches the two of them gabbing and he muses to himself that he doesn’t know why they aren’t dating yet. They have a lot in common and many of the same interests, so what’s missing?
Ryo tells Toshiaki that he’s thinking of getting a part-time job. Toshiaki is suspicious of there being BL-related motivations for the decision, and in a way he’s a not wrong: Ryo wants a job so he has spending money for the next Comima convention.
Just then Daigo sticks his head into the conversation and asks if Ryo would be willing to help him out by working for him as an assistant at the event. Ryo knows that Daigo is connected to one of the authors he really likes, plus he needs the money, so he agrees to help out.
At the convention, Ryo is struck by the differences between himself and Daigo. They’re both fudanshi, but Ryo feels that Daigo is much more popular with females and is a little jealous. However Daigo points out that Ryo was getting his share of attention from the ladies too, and sure enough, them being together at a stand selling BL doujinshi has drawn some attention. Ryo is absolutely horrified but Daigo encourages him to play up the perceived attraction for sales.
Just then Rumi arrives to snap a picture of Daigo with his arm around Rumi, and she teases them by saying maybe they should share one of the drinks she brought them instead of having one each.
After the event is over they go out for a drink together. Daigo asks Ryo how he got into BL, and Ryo says that in his first year of high school, he found a fan-created manga anthology for a series he liked which had BL content in it. He initially wasn’t into it, but realized the material was pretty good and the genre grew on him from there.
Ryo asks Rumi how she got into liking BL, and she says that both her mom and older sister are fujoshi too, so it was natural that she became one as well. Daigo teases Ryo by saying that he is Ryo’s kindred spirit, but Ryo’s not impressed.
Afterwards Rumi and Ryo leave together and bump into Toshiaki. He asks that they’re doing, and they tell him they are back from Comima and are going to check out some new volumes of BL. Toshiaki comments that they’re on a date together, but Rumi and Ryo both deny the remark.
My thoughts: For an episodic series about a topic not covered much in anime, Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu isn’t terrible. I was hoping for a little more with the last episode, ie something which would end the series on a nice note, but it was still just as episodic as the other episodes. It was nice to see how Ryo and Rumi got into BL, and I guess that will have to do for a “series finale” episode.
I did also wonder why Ryo and Rumi aren’t dating. I don’t know if there’s enough manga content for a second season, but I got the impression that there’s the potential for that to happen if Fudanshi were to get another season or two. They definitely get along very well and have a lot of the same interests in common, and their personalities seem to compliment each other.
Story: Fudanshi doesn’t have much of an overall story. Rather because it’s an episodic series, the series revolves around themes like Ryo going to Comima, meeting new people who like BL, and the differences between Ryo and “normal” people like Toshiaki who aren’t into BL. More than anything I think this series is about exploring BL subculture, and in that aspect it succeeds with flying colors. I knew nothing about BL or the boys love genre, and I’ve finished this series feeling like I at least have a basic understanding of it now.
I had started the season hoping that Fudanshi would push the envelope a little in terms of which topics it addressed, and I feel like the back half of the season was more successful in that regard. In particular the episodes about cross-dressing were somewhat tastefully done and not used to harass individuals who do cross-dress, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender.
But there’s still a long way to go. There’s still the stigma around being gay or individuals who present as being homosexual. Yujiro was somewhat of an exception, as his feminine behaviours were accepted by his peers, but other characters including Ryo just could not stop themselves from seeing two guys together in the flesh as being “wrong.” There’s also the problem of groping/sexual harassment still being used for comedic purposes too.
Characters: Some of the characters are a little flat and one-note. Ryo for example is pretty straightforward, but he’s all about BL, all the time. Rumi is much the same, as adorable as she is. They’re cute and funny, but they’re boring.
That being said, I did like that Ryo and Rumi were such extreme fans of BL because some of their reactions and the terms they threw around (shipping, having an OTP, etc) were totally relatable to me (and presumably many other fans of anime and nerd culture as well).
My favourite character was Toshiaki, and I wish we’d had more episodes focusing on him. As a non-fudanshi he was the “normal” character of our main trio, and I was a little sad that he always seemed relegated to the role of being the supportive best friend.
Music and Animation: The animation was pretty meh, pretty average. Nothing super special. The still panels which were often used to convey reactions or capture expressions were well done and very detailed, but any animation which conveyed movement was nothing special in my book.
The music was alright too. Again nothing special, nothing that really stood out as being exceptional. The ending theme did grow on me and I eventually found it to be a little catchy, though it’s far from being my favourite theme.
Overall: If you want a cute series about a topic that’s often ignored in mainstream animation, then this might be the series for you. Just don’t go into it expecting anything mindblowing or above average. I’ll be watching to see if Fudanshi gets a second season, but I don’t think I’ll blog it if there is one.
Final Score: 7/10