Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rise of the Stealthy Seme

With all due respect to Fujoshi and Fundashi with fetishes that can never change, but not all Seme need to be big shouldered with big muscles and even bigger voices. They don't have to be stern or angry or overtly pushy. I know Iason Mink is not all of these things. I'll leave him out of the mix for this argument, so more of you may listen to what I am proposing. More and more mangaka and novelists are realizing this and crafting characters that are so complex and subtle that it is hard to spot the Seme in the room. Conversely, the uke are no longer all timid and quivering. This is very refreshing, and to me a far more interesting read. Who wants to read what is the same story over and over again? It also never made sense to me why such strong and uncompromising characters would be interested in the timid and weak willed. This sort of attraction always smacked of Seme that aren't really the incredible lovers they were purported to be. One might argue – and more than one has – that these Seme are being protective. If that is the case, what IS up with the raping and over all physical abuse? That's real protective. And it's real manly of someone who is often twice as big as the uke. And no, that horse will never be too dead for me to stop beating.

Where was I? Ah, yes. With all these changes, how do you spot the Seme in a manga or anime? It's still easy enough. It's all in the personality. A Seme is a catalyst for significant action in a story. He's doing stuff, and usually that stuff is ahead of the curb of everyone else. He has irresistible charisma or force of personality that gets even the hesitant to do his bidding. That is NOT the same as being able to bully someone into obeying. This is the ability to make what they want to do so compelling that everyone – not just the uke – feels they must to it. They are self possessed in general. This can manifest itself in a couple of ways. Either the Seme is supremely confident of their personal abilities or they know what they want from life. Sometimes, it's both. The main thing is that the Seme brings order to a uke's life as well as love. Sometimes that is actual protection in some fashion and other times it's personal fulfillment. To bring this kind of order, a Seme MUST have control of himself as a person. Also, a Seme doesn't have to be the one always pitching sexually. He's brave enough to know what he wants and have it.

And it's time to play 'Whose Your Seme?' Some of these shows are yaoi, some of them have tons of shipping or fans creating doujinshi. Let's begin with fans Starfighter webcomic. Everyone and her uncle thinks that Cain is the Seme because of his rambunctious greeting of Abel early in the story. He certainly seemed to be have his way with Abel whenever he felt like it. But Cain does not have enough self-possession to be a Seme. He can barely keep himself in check enough to keep from fighting his fellow gunners at the drop of a hat. Meanwhile, since their first mission together, it's becoming more and more clear which one of this pair has more self control and more control over the relationship. Abel kept Cain from starting a fight with some snots that really needed a punch in the face and then there is this line during the last mission: I'm not going to let them hurt you. Given what they were facing, that's a pretty badassed Seme line to me!

I've debated about Whose the Seme a number of times but never more than with the debut of Free! IwatobiSwim Club. It is an anime (not yaoi) show with five really hot and interesting male characters who have an intense dynamic between them. The shipping began before there were trailers explaining what the show was about (basically, the adventures of a newly formed high school swim team who are trying to overcome past problems and make it to the national competition). Most everyone agrees that the show's lead hottie, Haruka Nanase (Haru) and the most recently recruited member of the team, Rei Ryugazaki are uke. Where I diverge from most is who the Seme are. The popular wisdom had Haru shipped with his closest friend and neighbor, Makoto Tachibana (one of the most complex and compelling Seme I've ever seen) and former friend and rival Rin Motsuoka While I agree that Haru and Makoto are a couple (probably for all of their lives – it's a 'till death do we part pairing), Rin is not a Seme. He has no clue who he is or what he wants. He has no self-control. All he could bring to a uke is turmoil and misery. He tried mightily to bring that to Haru as well as his own Kohai, Nitori Fortunately, Haru has a Seme that brings order and peace and love to his life and other loved ones that bring him happiness. And if Rin is not Haru's Seme, he certainly is not the big Seme for this series. That honor goes to the most stealthy Seme of all, Nagisa Hazuki . Though shorter and more cherubic, Nagisa possesses all of the traits of a real Seme. He was not only the catalyst behind the return of the high school swim club, he was also responsible for recruiting a highly reluctant Rei, the vitally important 4th man that allowed the team to move forward. He is responsible for getting the highly reluctant coach to help them. He is always rallying them when they need it most and making things happen through sheer force of will. And he is ever protective of his team. Give him five years, and I daresay that he could go toe to toe with Iason Mink himself as a Seme. Note: In the photo below, I've aged Nigas to the age of his older teammates to give an idea of the Seme he is on his way to be. Rei had better brace himself(forgive my crude artwork)Note: In the photo above, Nigasa has Rei gleefully by the collar. That day will come faster than he realizes that Nigasa will want more from him than a butterfly stroke. Rei already has trouble refusing him.

Finally, I think these changes to Seme are wonderful, because it has caused the rise of the Dangerous uke. The uke of Tightrope and Ikoku Irokoi Romantan and Tyrant Who Fall in Love could not have existed if these tropes had not changed. That kind of change is truly a beautiful thing. Observe: 


  1. I loved your stealthy seme theory. Don't think Nagisa needs to look older to fully develop as a seme. His cute and young face is what make him so interesting and different as a seme. Couldn't help remember Armin from Shingeki no Kyojin when you where depicting the characteristics of this stealthy seme. I also would include Saint Seiyas's Andromeda Shun in this category, thought i think he can go both ways in the classic saga (at Omega he is a total seme).
    Great to read it...that is a lot prejudice in the fujoshi world, and your text justo goes other way. It's refreshing :)
    Sorry about the bad english and forgive me for any misswriting, this is not my native language ^^
    Thank you! ^^

    1. I understood you just fine. Thank you so much for writing. I was nervous about posting this as I know feelings run very strongly about what makes a Seme. But I think it's important that these views change, so that the genre can grow.

  2. OMG YES. I agree with you 100% on Nagisa being a Seme. He always gets what he wants and he has his way with Rei more than not. He's the most perfect Seme ever.

  3. Nagisa is the boss!! He's got this whole innocent uke appearance, but underneath, there's a seme!! I love him and Rei-chan together! He can have anyone he wants!! Lol!! <3