The ritualistic death in (and of) the male friendship: Dismembering embodiments of inter-male homosocial relationships in Beastars


Bromance in media often poses as a farce, but, oddly, also fortifies queer intimacies among men. According to Michael DeAngelis (2014), bromance acts with a dual function: ideologically and mythically. It plays a crucial role in representations of male-to-male friendship through its paradoxical capacity to both reinforce hegemonic norms and refuse heteronormative ideal for men. Imaginative illustrations of the antinomy of bromance is seen in anime, or Japanese animated cartoons whose most popular genre, shonen, depicts the hybridized goal of bromance to solidify male homosociality that often gets borderline homoerotic (if viewed through a queer lens). To demonstrate the hybridized capacity of bromance in media, this study presents a metaphorical analysis of the bromantic inter-male homosocial bonds in Beastars (Matsumi, 2019-2021), an anime featuring anthropomorphic animals. From an analysis based on bromance media studies, three thematic metaphors emerged: proximity, perversity, and concealment. These metaphors illustrate a reverence to “soft masculinity,” an East-Asia-formulated androgynous male performance which indirectly dismantle hegemonic representations of men by preventing the figurative death of the male-on-male friendship at the hands of the heteronormative gaze.