Why yaoi has become so popular is the subject of considerable debate. The beautiful, androgynous young men of yaoi fiction, with their long hair, long limbs and slender, hairless bodies contrast sharply with the stern, muscular, short-haired males in men's manga, many of whom are sadistic or misogynistic by Western standards. Some cultural observers argue these stories allow Japanese women to escape the bonds of a society that restricts them.
Timothy Perper, co-author of the article "Sex, Love, and Women in Japanese Comics" in "The Comprehensive International Encyclopedia of Sexuality," maintains that yaoi, "explores female views of masculinity and of the male body in ways that do not degrade or threaten the female viewer and which allow her to focus enthusiastically and openly on all the sexual-romantic things that men do."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday July 02, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 60 words Type of Material: Correction
Animation -- A caption in the index of Wednesday's Calendar section incorrectly identified an image from "Cardcaptor Sakura" as "a popular yaoi manga about young male lovers." Yaoi manga are graphic novels that depict romance between young men. The image was actually taken from the animated version of "Sakura," and the story is primarily about a female character's magical adventures.
Gutierrez offers a more straightforward explanation: "Because there are no women, there's no one for you to feel jealous about. You can just enjoy the story without projecting yourself into it or worrying about the annoying female characters who often pop up in anime and manga. Plus, your typical yaoi guy is going to be extraordinarily beautiful, so you can double your enjoyment adding a second guy."
Tokyopop's Kiley has an even simpler reason for yaoi's popularity: "The teenage girls that I run into think these guys are hot. They're comfortable with them because they're not macho. In my opinion, yaoi isn't really about guys getting together. It's meant to portray relationships that are heterosexual at their foundation."
Where: The 13th Annual Anime Expo, Anaheim Convention Center, 800 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim
When: Main events, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. (or midnight) Friday to Sunday; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday
Price: All four days, $50; one day only, $25; two days only, $40; Child: $20 (12 and younger)