More likely than not, if you are a fan of boys’ love manga, anime, and fanfiction, you’ve heard of the term “fujoshi”. For those who have not heard of fujoshi, fujoshi is a Japanese term that directly translates into “rotten girl” in English. This word describes women who derive pleasure from creating and reading about love between men. Since its first appearance in Japanese online forums in the early 2000s, fujoshi as a concept has spread globally and helped foster friendships and communities among fans of boys’ love media. Many women also use the word fujoshi as a form of self-identification.
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However, while fujoshi has become the poster child for female otaku in the media with shows like Genshiken Nidaime, Barakamon, and Kiss Him Not Me prominently featuring fujoshi characters, not all female otaku identify as fujoshi. In fact, being called a fujoshi can be insulting for some, especially those who do not engage in boy-on-boy fantasies.
Anime Kiss Him Not Me (Watashi ga Motete dousunda) promotion video
But never fear, in Japan exists a word to describe the non-fujoshi female otaku who may love a character from an anime, manga or game but doesn’t ship them with another boy.
This word is yumejoshi.
Breaking this term down, yumejoshi directly translates to “dream girl” with yume meaning “dream” and joshi defined as “girl.” This term can also appear as yumejo. In the article “They aren’t “Rotten”, Even Shining! Exploring the Sparkling World of FUJOSHI” previously featured on featured on nadechworld.com, writer and anime otaku Maririn writes,“‘to girls who dream
The point of view is important when distinguishing the difference between fujoshi and yumejoshi. Unlike fujoshi who occupy the position as the third party watching and creating romantic relationships between two male characters, yumejoshi occupy a first person position and imagine themselves in relationships with their favorite character. For the fujoshi, pleasure resides in possessing the rotten gaze over their beloved coupling (or in English fan terms “ship”). Yumejoshi, however, enjoy the imagined mutual gaze between themselves and their favorite character.<3>
At times, yumejoshi view their favorite character as their boyfriend. Another point of contrast is what media fujoshi and yumejoshi consume. While there are commonalities, fujoshi tend to read boys’ love media more while yumejoshi are seen as consuming media called otome games, otome CDs, dream novels, and dream manga. (These are of course all generalities, and media consumption does not always follow so-called identifying terms like fujoshi and yumejoshi.) While these mediums are typically oriented for a female demographic, according to Pixiv dictionary, not all media genres such as josei, ladies, and shoujo manga are made with the yumejoshi in mind.<4>
In fact, the history of yumejoshi is intertwined with the dream novels and dream manga. Dream novels are a type of novel published online that allowed readers to insert their own name as the protagonist’s name. These novels were typically romantic in nature and written for and by women and included both original and fanfiction. The first dream novel appeared on a fansite for the manga Harlem Beat in 1997.<5> Since the late 1990s and into the early 2000s, dream novels attracted attention with fans creating manga and illustrations as well that allow the reader to become the protagonist. Around the early 2000s, yumejoshi became a word used among fans.
There are largely two types of works in what can be called the “dream” genre: original character input type and self-projection type. In the former, yumejoshi experience the work of fiction from the third person perspective or, in other words, experiencing a different world vicarious through another character with an established personality. These dreamers share some qualities of fujoshi in this regard. For the latter, as revealed by the name, yumejoshi maintain their own sense of self and enjoy entering a world of fiction as themselves.
<6> At the core between both, however, is pleasure and enjoyment.
As games and anime like Uta no Prince-sama, Ensemble Stars, Touken Ranbu, and A3! among others continue to pump out handsome men, the potential dreams for yumejoshi are ever expanding and flourishing. If boys are to be ambitious, girls can keep dreaming!
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A weekend hikikomori with an expertise in fujoshi culture and anime. Dreams of writing her own Boys’ Love manga someday.