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Yaoi-Con, subtitled “A Celebration of Male Beauty & Passion in Anime & Manga,” is an opportunity for yaoi enthusiasts to get together without distractions (unlike, say, New York Comic-Con, where you have to coexist with video games, movies, cars, and a bunch of comics you really don’t care about). This weekend, a couple thousand yaoi fans will crowd into the San Francisco Airport Marriott Hotel to enjoy panels, guest appearances, a scavenger hunt, and yaoi-specific events like Bishie Pictionary and a Bishounen Auction (one of the more controversial aspects of Yaoi-Con).
It says something about the importance of this event that Viz Media (the largest manga publisher in the U.S.) opted to launch its new yaoi manga imprint at Yaoi-Con rather than at NYCC. Digital Manga, which skipped NYCC altogether (as they have for the past few years) will also be there. Guests at this year’s con include Japanese manga creator Fusanosuke Inariya (Maiden Rose) and American artist Jo Chen, who draws yaoi doujinshi (fan comics) when she isn’t working on Buffy, Runaways, and Thor. Chen’s doujinshi In These Words has been picked up by the Japanese publisher Libre and will run in their magazine Be Boy Gold.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of Yaoi-Con, and while it is much smaller than most anime cons (with attendance that stays in the four digits), it has become well established as one of the moveable feasts of the manga lover’s year. And while I have never been, I have a feeling that Yaoi-Con is the ideal con, the one place where everyone in the room has something in common—and it’s something the rest of the world knows nothing about.