Fuji TV announces Japan-first lesbian drama, but it may be an outdated portrayal?

Fuji Television has announced a drama series featuring a lesbian love story as its central theme — a first for Japan.

But a prominent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activist has slammed the show’s promotional material for portraying an “out-of-date” image of same-sex couples.

“Transit Girls,” which is set to debut on Nov. 7, tells the story of two girls, aged 18 and 21, who become stepsisters when their parents remarry. The girls, played by actresses Sairi Ito and Yui Sakuma, clash at first but then fall in love.

A promotional photo for the eight-part series features the two lead actresses lying in bed together, apparently naked, looking into each other’s eyes and smiling.

Is it outdated?

But Maki Muraki, the leader of nonprofit organization Nijiiro Diversity,which promotes workplace equality for LGBT people in Japan, believes the show is sending out the wrong message.

“Having two girls lying naked on a white sheet and using words like ‘forbidden’ is a little out of date, I think,” Muraki told The Japan Times on Thursday.

“The things we do are not about sex. We face a lot of difficulties in our life, for example in the workplace. To be told that the image of us is one of sex doesn’t make me happy.”

Fuji TV describes the show as “a heartwarming straightforward love story, but the main characters are both girls.”

It says it is the nation’s first ever drama dealing with the theme of “girls’ love.”

But Muraki believes Japan still lagged far behind other countries when portraying LGBT issues.

“It’s new for Japan, but America has had programs dealing with these issues since around 2006,” she said. “This isn’t something new.

“In America they have programs like ‘Modern Family,’ where it’s taken for granted that LGBT people bring up children. Rather than being sexual, it shows LGBT people in their everyday lives and that’s a positive force. If it’s just about sex, I can’t think of that as positive.”

Other efforts by Japan

The new show comes in a landmark year for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in Japan.

In March, Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward became the first locale in Japan to recognize same-sex partnerships as the equivalent of marriage.

Setagaya Ward then announced in July that it plans to follow suit by issuing certificates recognizing same-sex partnerships as early as November.

New Minister for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hiroshi Hase also said earlier this month that he plans to promote support for sexual-minority students in schools.

(via JapanTimes)

  • Comments

    • Krys

      I heard about this a night or two ago and I knew not to expect much from it. Japan takes very, very small steps towards social progression and having this as a new drama is a step. You can’t expect them to go full throttle Modern Family. It took America many years to arrive at the place it’s at with regards to this, and it’ll take many more years to advance from current social misconceptions about same-sex relationships.

      • Tenshi Ippikiookami

        I think it’s difficult everywhere :(. If you listen to politicians in usa just twenty years ago talking about gay marriage, they said horrible things and no one was in favor of it. and nowadays it looks way better. I hope the drama centers on the relationship and how love is just love :)

    • At least Japan is moving forward. It’s still a new idea in East Asia. Some countries on earth are just hopeless.

    • surfboardt

      On the one hand, progress is progress and it’s better than nothing. On the other hand, I definitely agree with some of Maki’s critiques. Good representation of LGBTQ should be able to focus more than just sex because it’s far from the only thing that defines us, and I personally feel like a big reason why people have a hard time wrapping around the idea of LGBTQ is because they immediately jump to sex act rather than considering how we’re pretty much the same with the exception of nuances that comes with being a minority.

    • nothingsover

      I’m glad to see some progress, but I do agree that the promotion is quite sexual rather than depicting it as a “normal” couple. Normal romance drama promos might have a couple holding hands or something instead. I’ll definitely be watching it (finally a chance to watch a lesbian couple in a Jdrama)! I’m so glad that LGBTQ are getting some visibility but Japan still has a long way to go.

    • eplizo

      Well, it’s a good first step so far. It remains to be seen how the rest of the drama will play out, so it’s not fair to completely jump the gun. However, I agree that the promotional image isn’t the best thing to use as representation. It should be about humanizing them and their emotions first and foremost like most other dramas do. I’ll wait to see how it turns out though.

    • Omnirosa

      I think LGBTQ representation would do better being slowly introduced through side characters. At least then an audience can be built that’s receptive to them as who they are rather than pretending LGBTQ pandering to people who want to watch something scandalous is representation.

    • asjan

      I remember they have somethin like girls love` in “last friend” drama (2008).. but its jut took a small part on it, and actually its not about sex.. its completely about love-friendship relationship. And i really love this drama, and the response from public are quite good at that time (with average rating 17%, i’ll say that it was a big success).

      And they’ll make this one.. never think that it’ll be a spin-off of last friends, but since the production was from the same television (fujiTV), i will say that it may have the same plot. wich is mostly about love (and i believe its not all about sex).. and imo .. the story of this new drama look really interisting. i’ll watch it for sure~

      • nothingsover

        Last Friends was quite different because Ueno Juri’s character had gender identity disorder, and should therefore be considered transgender rather than lesbian.

    • ari

      Wait, so…they’re stepsisters and they become lovers? That’s gross & I’m pretty sure that qualifies as incest. Maybe that’s where they were trying to come from with the “forbidden” angle? (I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, here…)

      I’m bisexual & American, so I feel like this is a good first step especially for Japan, but they need to start trying harder… Japan desperately needs better representation for LGBTQ people.

    • Hermione48fan

      Why they don´t see the drama before judging it?. Maybe is not just about this but it has a good story and ending that will make more people accept it.