It’s joked that I can go on for days about the queer subtext in Fairy Tail, my most recent manga/anime obsession. It’s really not a joke: I can go on for days.
About how Lucy is always noticing other women’s bodies, calling them pretty, and ending up nude with women. About how she seems able to do a Unison Raid with just about any female mage, regardless how well they know each other.
About how Natsu is always stealing Gray’s clothes, and is far more interested in getting the attention of his male peers than his female ones. When he does, he inevitably starts a fight and gets physical rather quickly.
About how when Erza dances, it’s with women and not men: Kagura and Aceto. While wearing a suit. About how she’s assimilated herself as “one of the guys.”
About how Freed is so devoted to Laxus: praising him, doing anything to touch him (especially naked), asking him to dance – hell, Freed is easy because there are hundreds of examples. About Freed sitting alone in his room staring at naked figures of the Trimens.
About how Cana is always trying to touch other women’s boobs – particularly Lucy’s – and how she has literally never shown interest in any men in the show.
About Sting’s standard outfit including a feather boa, elbow-length gloves, and a crop top. About how he and Rogue are always in sync, able to do a Unison Raid repeatedly at a moment’s notice – it’s why people call them the twin dragons. About how Rogue sees Sting as his rock.
It would normally upset me, having to read into subtext like this. I want things to be overt. (Okay, Freed is pretty overt.) I’ve spent so much time reading into things: stories being “in the closet” while I, too, was in the closet. Too much hiding. I want things out in the light.
So why am I not upset at Fairy Tail?
It’s stolen my heart. The friendship, loyalty, and values expressed are everything I could want. The battles and dark challenges the characters face reel me in. It crafts such a good story that I’m willing to forgive the queer subtext.
The other reason is that the cis-het couples only get subtext too. There is almost no overt romance. We finally got an admission out of Gajeel that he dreamed of having a family with Levy. That was huge, because Fairy Tail really doesn’t do couples. Everything is jokes and teasing and nudges.
Since the straight folks have to imagine to get their couples, I don’t mind imagining to get my gay couples. In fact, I’m glad it’s all subtext: I can ship arguably straight characters as queer. There’s no real evidence one way or another. The fandom (at least the corners of it I’m familiar with) don’t get up in arms; instead they wonder and hypothesize and joke. It’s all light-hearted fun.
One day, I hope to find a shounen-style anime, with all the fights and battles and adventures, but with lesbians. I’ve heard Simoun falls under this heading, though I have yet to check it out. If anyone else has speculative anime suggestions along those lines, please let me know!
Featured image of Juvia and Lucy by zelkams-art.