Ore to Mahou no Koibito (PC)
I posted the top screencap on twitter earlier today with the caption, “Straight nerd bros: here’s how it looks when men are sexualized in the same way as women superheroes.”
It’s tough to expand on your thoughts on twitter without tweet floods, so here’s some context and explanation based on responses to this image:
These screencaps are from a sexually explicit visual novel called “Ore to Mahou no Koibito,” sometimes translated as “Me and My Magical Boyfriends.” The top image is of the protagonist’s mentor, Banga. The bottom image shows the protagonist, default name Simba, on the right, and one of your potential suitors, Rikioumaru, on the left.
There are a couple things that I find significant about the top image. The first is that he hits a lot of the common complaints about super-sexualized costumes for women in comics and games: impractical costume, clothes-straining bulges, improbable physique.
The second is how comparatively rare he is. You’ll find similarly beefy characters in a game like God of War or superhero comics, but they do not relate to the viewer in the kind of sexual way that Banga (or Bayonetta) do. If you want to avoid Banga, all you have to do is not purchase gay porn visual novels. If you want to avoid Bayonetta and her spiritual sisters in comics and games, it’s probably quicker to ask where she isn’t than where she is.
At any rate, sexualization goes deeper than idealized physiques and skimpy costumes. The best indication that a character is sexualized is how they relate to the viewer: it’s what separates a Conan movie from a PG-13 muscle-worship vid. (CONTENT WARNING: muscles, embarrassing monologues)
It’s also what unifies the potential boyfriends in Ore to Mahou no Koibito, more than their physical features: they’re mostly buff and hairy, but one’s a bear furry and one’s a much “twinkier” wizard.
The question of whether or not Banga is a power fantasy came up on twitter a couple of times. To act as a power fantasy, Banga would have to be the character we’re intended to identify with. In gay media, the line between desire for a character and identification with a character can be fluid, but Banga is not the intended point of identification in this game.
However, we are intended to identify with Simba, the main character. Our decisions are the main character’s decisions, and only his (often flustered) internal monologue is made available to us. The Simba is pretty beefy, but that’s only a component of the power fantasy that our control of him offers. In this game, the power fantasy is not physical (or magical) power, but the power to choose from abundant romantic and sexual opportunities.
The main character is also pretty rarely seen, except in detailed drawings for specific events. This matches up with strategies that gay media uses in non-interactive media: in movies like Trick and web series like Where The Bears Are, the main character is more clothed, more verbal, and a bit less secure than the “hot guy,” who’s more often barechested, quiet, and composed. The main character’s internal state is emphasized over his physicality, and the reverse goes for the hot guy.