What She Likes…

What She Likes (2021)

On paper, Ando and Miura are the perfect high school couple. He’s sensitive and introspective, almost to the point of being severe, but not unliked; she’s a loner at school who feigns normality but has cultivated a select circle of friends off campus who share her diehard love of comics, none more than BL—short for “boys’ love,” a unique genre of media, largely by and for women, centered on idealized romance between beautiful young men. While hardly uncommon in contemporary Japan, these stories remain somewhat taboo. Good girls, it’s thought, shouldn’t be spending their free time obsessing over cutesy, and often steamy, depictions of men who love men. Such fans are dubbed fujoshi, rotten women, for their perceived prurient tastes. While Miura and others may reclaim it in private, it’s not exactly the kind of pastime she’s eager to let get out. Hence why, when Ando runs into her buying an erotic volume in a local bookstore, she’s initially mortified, only to discover he’s more understanding than most.

In private, though, Ando scoffs as he thumbs through the borrowed book. “This is pure fantasy,” his companion, a much older married man, says. “It’s not that easy the first time. You took a lot of work.” When Ando returns the book the following day, Miura asks his thoughts. “I felt it had nothing to do with me,” he replies, matter-of-factly. But despite finding the “homos” alien to his experience, he doesn’t shun Sae. In fact, he soon finds himself on a double date of sorts, and, when he’s confessed to on the Ferris wheel, despite his shock and awareness that his best friend is head over heels for this quirky cutie, he does what he’s become accustomed to doing: he lies. So begins the pair’s relationship and a rocky journey of mutual understanding.

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