Heisui’s Thoughts: Why aren’t there many guy Asian drama fans?

Heisui's ThoughtsOther

Once upon a time, I tweeted a picture of my twitter follower stats that shows the following:

Female Followers
76%
Male Followers
24%

…and wrote “Guy drama fans, where you at?”.  Response?  *cricket cricket*  Well, there was no response. T_T  I had hoped to get some of the 24% of guy drama fans to come out of the shadows and declare themselves, but nope.  Hence, this post. 😉

So, here’s the big question of the day: Are there more female than male *international* drama fans?  If yes, then why?  Why aren’t there many guy drama fans?


fnb-misc1o


In my opinion, there are more girl than guy drama fans–at least, in the international drama community.  (Edit: I really can’t speak for domestic drama fans, but I think the gender stats would definitely be different for domestic viewers.) Everywhere I look in the dramasphere, I see tons of female fans and only a few guy fans.  For instance, look at my blog.  Most of my commenters & Twitter followers are women.  I specifically remember a time when a guy fan of the drama posted on my chatbox, saying “I am a guy and I love Legend of Zhen Huan“.  I suppose the reason this stood out to me is because very few commenters on my Legend of Zhen Huan posts were guys.  Also, you can take a look at popular drama sites–most of the users are women.  And lastly, drama bloggers are disproportionately female.  I can literally count the number of guy drama bloggers on my fingers; that is how few male drama bloggers I know of!  X_X

A part of me wonders if there are actually way more guy drama fans than I think there are…it’s just that they’re not as active or visible on drama sites / drama blogs.  For instance, my blog is more oriented towards the female audience because I write from a female perspective.  I hope to include the male audience too!  But it is hard, especially if I’m writing about a drama that caters more to the ladies (such as a rom-com, reverse harem drama, etc.).  So maybe that’s why there aren’t as many male readers on my blog. (At least, I think there’s not many guy readers!? I can’t know for sure!)


lzh-misc5o57

^The ratio of girl to guy drama fans? (JK)

On the other hand, if there really are less male than female international drama fans, I think the big answer is..the rom-com.  Of course, there are plenty of other genres such as slice-of-life, detective/police/mystery, suspense/thriller, historical/period, etc.  But let’s face it, the rom-com reigns supreme amongst the international drama community.  Take a look at the popular drama sites and you’ll see that rom-coms tend to be the most watched and the most popular with international fans.  That’s not to say that guys don’t like rom-coms.  But they tend to cater more to the female audience, especially when they have the classic love triangle where one heroine has to choose between two ~swoony handsome~ guys.  A lot of rom-com tropes involve women finding their true love, going from rags to riches, or falling into a reverse-harem situation where they are surrounded by lots of hot guys.  Moreover, there are plenty of rom-coms that are all about unmarried women in their late 20’s-30’s who are on a mission to get married.  T_T”  But how many show the hero in these situations?  Not that many.  For instance, the only harem drama (hero surrounded by lots of girls) I can think of is the jdrama Moteki.  For rags to riches stories, I can only think of Celeb to Binbo Taro, in which the heroine is rich & the hero is poor. If you can think of any more guy-oriented rom-coms, let me know.  But you get my point, there aren’t many dramas that show the reverse situations for guys.

That being said, I hope it’s clear that I’m NOT saying that there are no guy drama fans at all, or that men don’t or can’t enjoy the same dramas that women do.  Also, of course there are lots of other kinds of dramas besides the rom-com.  What I’m saying is that there seems to be a difference in the amount of guy & girl international drama fans, and there must be a reason why.  So, let me know what you think!  Do you think there are more female than male drama watchers?  If so, why?

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • I wonder if the stats would be the same though if you actually looked in the countries where the dramas are made. Just because I was talking to a Japanese friend once, and he was describing how he grew up watching dramas together with his father, like a completely normal thing to do for families. (This is anecdotal of course.) Actually, now I’m thinking of another Japanese friend too, because somehow we got into a discussion about “Last Christmas” (a 2004 rom-com drama) – again, it seemed like a very normal thing for him to have watched that, and like everyone in Japan just watches most dramas, male or female.

    Maybe international males prefer to stick to what they are already familiar with? Asian dramas are a whole other world after all and maybe they can’t relate to the often very different portrayal of men?

    • I think the stats would definitely be different domestically in each country…probably the amount of guy/girl fans would be more equal. Which is why I am talking about international drama fans, not domestic drama fans. Hm good point about the different portrayal of men in Asian dramas. Also maybe it’s harder for male fans to connect with really perfect prince charming heroes (as in rom-coms)?

  • It’s a female dominated community for sure, i don’t know what’s going on in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China and other drama-producing countries, but the international audience is definitely dominated by women, male audience is an endangered species, but not extinct. Women also have a big plus after night-shit dramarathoning, they can hide dark circles with makeup, us, men, wear proudly our drama signs underneath our eyes with the writing on the forehead saying “i watched 8 episodes last night”! XD The oppa [regardless of drama nationality] factor plays a highly important role and it appears to be stronger than the noonas i’d worship anytime 😀 Everyone promotes oppas since oppas sell and they are always in the spotlight. It’s apparent everywhere, i’ve only found just a very few other dudes to talk about dramas and i can’t always participate in discussions except for dramas themselves, music itself, actors/actresses themselves and of course fanboy about my noonas, but my part in conversations doesn’t last long since the oppa factor always pops up, “oppa’s abs is so awesome”, “oppa did this”, “oppa did that”, “oppa’s new hair looks nice”, i can’t say anything since such a topic doesn’t interest me at all, the oppa factor always surpasses me anytime since it always gets infused with tremendous amounts of fangirling, which isn’t bad at all, but i can neither do it nor participate 😛 At the end of the day, i am proud of watching dramas and talking about them 😀

    • night-shift* lol

      Plus i have to agree with Sean ” I never got the feeling you were writing specifically for a female audience”. As for everything i wrote it wasn’t targeted at anyone, just some personal observation applying to me and not answers to “If so, why?” 😀

      • I never write specifically for a female audience, but I think some of my posts can turn out to be biased towards the female perspective. For instance, when I’m talking a lot about oppas, it may be harder for the guy fans to relate.

    • Lol about your “drama signs”. 😛 Good point about the oppas vs. noonas discussions. I suppose it’s hard for international guy fans when most female drama bloggers are fangirling over the oppas and not so much over the noonas. I still ‘fangirl’ over my favorite actresses, but it’s not quite the same as fanboying over an actress. Thanks for your input Kwon!

      • Nah, he’s just an awesome villainous hyung to me, plus he’s “nothing” compared to 18-25 yo “oppas” around with all the fangirls screaming like dinosaurs before the comet rain XD I’m just trolling around by using my hyung’s talent 😛 It doesn’t even bring views 😀 It’s minimal, silly and gets me out of boredom for a few minutes and instead of keeping it to myself i thought of sharing it XD

      • Hm, i replied something, but i don’t see it anywhere now, hope it arrived, but in case it didn’t… Well, i said something like (but in a slightly lengthier and a little bit different way this time) : Bae Soo Bin’s legion is no legion at all compared to 18-25 yo “oppas” whose fangirls scream like dinosaurs before the comet extinction rain XD He’s my talented villainous hyung with a wide variety of expressions, there’s not a single “oppa” that would become oppa and dethrone my ultimate noonas! As for the BSB “articles”, they are something between a small tribute to BSB, trolling mood and a minimal, silly and short-time article approach to keep my brain drama-functioning, especially during exams period. I will keep this up, it doesn’t bring views, but all these silly thoughts have finally found their way towards BSB’s direction; always with respect XD Almost every line he says is KwonSangSeung-able into these tiny articles xP I have neither the potential nor the desire to write oppa-oriented articles, i just wanna turn BSB into a modern and down to earth human-looking Terminator sent back through time to punish the innocent and the guilty as well XD

  • I’m not so sure there’s such a big absolute difference, I myself am a guy and I know many other guys who watch dramas. I think the biggest difference is that watching dramas is something that we do on our own time, but not something we talk about. I know a few male friends who have watched 16 summers (I actually watched it because a male friend told me it was good), but other than him asking me if I liked it and me saying “yes it’s good”, we don’t really talk about it more deeply.

    I’m not sure I can talk about what alua was speaking about for international males since my friends (myself included) are either Taiwanese, Chinese, ABC, and most of us speak/read so we can watch without subtitles and obviously are familiar with the culture. Some of it may be that dramas are just such an element of our lives we don’t think about it. We go home and parents/relatives are watching the “old people dramas” (yes that’s what I call them) like Feng Shui Family (風水世家) or Night Market Life (夜市人生) etc etc, whereas we will watch newer stuff, but some drama is always on. Maybe because its so familiar to us we don’t talk about it?

    Maybe it would be more accurate to say that the drama blogosphere is female dominated, but I’m not too sure about the actual viewing stats, which are probably impossible to get anyway.

    Also, I never got the feeling you were writing specifically for a female audience! I mean I guess if you say you ARE female so it must be for females? But honestly I have never felt that way, your writing seems really digestible to anyone who wants to read about dramas! Ok, maybe sometimes I felt like that, but I have to confess, I was rooting for Yu Wen Yong X Ariel Lin (I forgot her character’s name lol, snow-something) too haha.

    Keep up the awesome work Heisui!

    • To clarify, I’m never writing specifically for a female audience, but sometimes my reviews may be biased towards the female perspective. Like you mentioned–an example would be when I just wrote on and on about Yu Wen Yong in my Lan Ling Wang reviews. 😛

      It’s great to hear your perspective on this! I do think that some international fans (who are watching foreign dramas outside of their culture) view dramas as more novel. There is also this feeling I get at times that the intl drama community is almost like a sub-culture…and one of its common practices is for drama fans to talk, talk, and talk about their favorite shows/actors. Hence, drama blogs.

  • As an American woman learning Korean and watching Korean dramas, I have to watch (most) things subtitled so no one but me is randomly watching dramas at my house. However, most of my Japanese film and television series come from a number of male bloggers who (as far as I know) came into the scene from reading manga and watching anime. Looking over those blogs, I would assume most commenters there are male. Anime isn’t my thing but I think most readers/viewers just simply follow their tastes in action, mystery, crime, etc. and the cultural/sexual context doesn’t really matter. I follow bloggers for information about films and television that I wouldn’t get in my day to day life and I imagine guys do the same.

    • I also first got into dramas due to anime & manga, so I can relate haha. There isn’t really any difference in the amount of international guy/girl fans for anime/manga, at least in my experience.

  • It depends on the genre. If you blog more about Action police dramas or historical dramas, there will be more males. But the popular genre internationally are romance comedies which the audience more female-oriented.

  • Hi! I agree that it seems to be more females talking about dramas, but it also seems like there is a higher ratio of males (at least in relation to jdramas) in the world of providing things, such as subtitles.

    As for Japanese viewers, I think the ratio of male viewers is much higher than it seems to be (at least from the people talking) in the international community. I think this is due to a number of factors, such as people just watching whatever happens to be on TV (I have experienced this with multiple families too), a much higher percentage of much older viewers, and possibly the lack of subtitles for the dramas that many international male fans seem to enjoy. Personally, I have just as many male Japanese friends who watch dramas as female ones.

    By the way, NHK has an archive where you can find information on many of their dramas by searching the title of the drama here: http://www.nhk.or.jp/archives/digital/ In addition to information on the cast, staff, and plot, as well as comments and so on, there are stats (including gender) regarding people who liked the drama (based on their activity on the site).

    For non-Japanese speakers, you just put the drama name in the search box in the middle of the page (copy it from somewhere), click on the result you want, and click on the gray button in the popup. This brings you to the main information page on the drama. If you click on the gray button underneath the main picture that has a bar graph on it, it shows the percentage of viewers categorized by gender and age, as well as a map showing by prefecture.

    • Thanks for sharing about the archive! Yeah age must have to do with it too…I assume younger viewers are more likely to be online & possibly on drama sites. About jdrama subbers, I never thought about it before but I think you’re right. Wonder why that is.

  • I think it’s because a lot of famous Asian drama especially K-drama focus on romance and guys think that it’s girly. I don’t have male friends or male colleague who watch K-drama even though it’s all rage here now. They prefer Western drama like Criminal Minds, CSI, Breaking Bad or Sherlock. If they watch Asian drama, it’s like Nodame Cantabile which is really funny or Kindaichi Neo as the result of growing up with anime and manga

  • Some of it is lack of exposure, or the worry that such things are stereotypically girly. I’ve gotten a couple of guys onto dramas, although I wouldn’t call them diehard fans; it was more the specific ones I found. For example, one of my sister’s crazy exes (before he was an ex) sat through pretty much all of Japanese Hana Yori Dango with her, and seemed pretty engrossed by it. I’ve also gotten a couple of guy friends to watch City Hunter by marketing it as “Korean Batman”. The one who I finished it with also liked Sungkyunkwan Scandal… and while he appreciated the deeper themes of the drama, I honestly think he just really likes to look at Park Min Young ;-). Guys might be fans for reasons that are just as shallow as ours, if they are only exposed to them.

    So the answer iiiiis.. evangelize! Use creative marketing strategies! There are dramas for everyone! Go forth and bring asian drama-induced happiness to all!

    • Hey jubi! LOL I see you’ve had great success in converting guys into drama fans! For some guys it might be easier to introduce live actions to them, if they’re already familiar with anime. Like Rurouni Kenshin (granted, that was a movie trilogy but..), xxxHOLiC, etc.

  • I guess I can only speak from people I know, so the guys I know watch HK dramas, since they’re mostly action / more family oriented, with some romance thrown in. But they don’t really talk about them, it just seems like ‘something to do’ during the day, as a way to pass the time.

    Also, if rom-coms are catered for females (like you said, difficult decisions picking between 2 great guys!!) then wuxia is the opposite. In wuxia stories the hero always have like a bunch of girls falling for him LOL, I’m sure the guys enjoy those stories more. 😉

    • Lol I never realized that about wuxia. I always thought that more guys were into wuxia because of its action/adventure/fantasy elements.

  • As an addition to the test, it’s always a matter of mood, circumstances a period in one’s life, it’s not necessary that the male audience will always search for police, horror, law, historical, etc dramas, rom-coms are a strong combo for male audiences too, well, at least for me, they have fun, they have romance and they have my noonas, but sometimes (many) they are an oppa-fest in the ongoing first-second lead struggle XD Although i’d always root for a horror movie and/or drama with turned off lights to sense the eerie vibes even more lol, let’s see, will it redirect me now?

  • Long time no post; see you’re still going strong, Hei.

    For sure there are more female than male Drama fans. I think what happens (with the Japanese fan community) is that guys get to the anime stage mainly from the videogame influence and then never get past that into the live action. I know myself it took me almost 20 years before even giving live action JDrama a chance, which really sucks since I immediately regretted not having watched all of these great shows years ago.

    I have a few friends that are serious anime fans (shows, cosplay, etc) but they have zero interest in live action. There’s something about males that once they get the fantasy land of Japan going, they could care less about the reality. It was the same for me. It’s really their loss though because the real world is a hell of a lot more interesting. In fact, after transitioning to live action (and filling in the lost history of JDrama I missed for the past 20 years) I’ve almost completely lost interest in anime. I think if I had actually gotten into live action JDrama when I was in my teens I would have ended up trying to go teach English in Japan right after highschool, so maybe it’s best it never happened since I wouldn’t have the life I do now, which is pretty good.

    Anyhow, that’s what I think happens; most guys get into anime from playing videogames and that’s their extent of interest in the Asian entertainment world; just the fanboy stuff and that’s it.

    • Hey Colin! Watching anything lately? Hmm that’s really interesting. Because I actually got into dramas through anime/manga! I think it may be easier for female anime/manga fans to transition to dramas because there are lots of shoujo live action adaptations, whereas there aren’t as many shounen/action live action dramas.

      • Oh been watching a bunch, lots of movies actually, old and new. Hers a list of stuff:

        Drama (current and complete)

        I’m Home:
        KimuTaku at his finest yet again. So awesome.

        N No Tameni:
        So good; never sa that ending coming.

        Mother Game:
        If you like a story about a super beautiful Japanese girl struggling against all odds with great writing, this is for you.

        She:
        Not bad; Mayu Matsuoka is always good to watch.

        Movies:

        Eternal Zero:
        One of the best war movies I’ve ever seen. Made me cry.

        L DK:
        Garbage. How the heck this ever became anything I’ll never understand.

        World of Kanako:
        A masterpiece.

        Still the Water:
        Perfect.

        Story of Yonuseke:
        A 100% realistic Japanese version of Forrest Gump, but better because it’s not so over the top.

        Snow White Murder Case:
        Very good mainstream kind of movie.

        Wood Job:
        So good, just a feel good enjoyable movie.

        My Pretend Girlfriend:
        Surprisingly intense. This movie is not what you think.

        Blue Spring:
        Takeshi Miike at his finest.

        Monster’s Club:
        Art house insanity. Would make David Lynch jealous, which is saying a lot.

        And that’s about it.

        I think guys that get into games and anime end up falling in love with the fantasy too hard and just can’t get past it. They’re there to escape reality; last thing they want is to break that dream world.

          • I can usually find stuff on dramago.com, myasiantv.com, and dramacool.com. Between those 3 I’ve been able to watch these. And yeah, it is a lot. So much for giving it up!

  • Hi again! I’m late to this discussion but I must say I lean toward Sean’s explanation. Guys, in general, just don’t seem to like dwelling on things more than necessary. You already see that in shopping, dining and other daily activities. They grab whatever they need, eat whatever they want and watch whatever they like, and that’s that. They don’t see why they have to take snapshots of their turkey burgers from multiple angles or ramble on about an undying love for Ha Ji-won. People like Kwon Sang Seung and samsooki are a rarity. Not that this is a complaint though. There’s a simple beauty to that kind of life.

    • Hm I get where you’re coming from. But I also think it’s ironic that there are plenty of male anime fans who can ramble forever about anime, blog about anime, and pretty much do everything-anime. So I wonder why that phenomenon isn’t the same for male drama fans. Hmm. Then again the “culture” of dramas vs. anime/manga is different, I suppose.

  • Hi. I’m a Drama addict and I’ve been watching Jdramas since 2005’s Densha Otoko. I’ve watched some of the greatest dramas in Jdrama history, some of which I’ve traced back to the early 90’s (GTO!) and 2000’s (Beautiful Life!). There’s also a chance that we’ve watched the popular Jdramas like HYD (and all its movies and sequels), Gokusen, Orange Days, Taiyo no Uta (Movie and Series), and 1 Litre of Tears.

    We didn’t have fast internet nor did we have many sites that stream so I either bought DVDs (pirated, fansubbed) or had to torrent my shows. Anyway, let me stop here or else I’ll write all the reviews of all the Jdramas I’ve watched.

    I started with Anime and anime movies, of course, then I moved my fandom over to Ongaku (JMusic) which then mixed with Eigaku and eventually lead me to watch Jdramas. My classmate let me borrow his copy of Densha Otoko since he told me it’s about the story of an otaku who falls madly in love with a supermodel. I was 14 or 15 then and me and a few classmates were all self-proclaimed otakus. I’ve since fallen in love with Japanese actors and actresses.

    I could never forget Shun Oguri’s name or Itou Misaki (real name is Anzai Tomoko, I based my first official email off of her initials :P) and other legendary actors and actresses which I really don’t want to start off or else I’ll end up writing paragraphs like I’m doing right now! >.<

    My point is that I'm a male fan. We're rare, I know, but let's be proud to be rare! Real men know what to watch and these shows…they all gave my life meaning in one or more ways.

    P.S. Currently watching: Honey and Clover LA for the first time. I also love the anime series and the movie.

  • I’m a guy , and I watch Asian Dramas. But for me , I grew up watching TVB dramas from HK, and I speak Cantonese , so I never watched them with subtitles either. Also , i grew up watching it with my family , so it was never anything special. To me , watching dramas is just like watching a movie with my family.

    For along time , I only watched HK dramas b/c watching a drama w/o needing subtitles was just my comfort zone , so I never ventured out of it. I started watching other dramas like Kdramas recently, but I find that kdramas emphasize romance a bit too much so Im turned off from it. Now I only watch TVB and Chinese dramas from the mainland.

    Theirs probably a lot more guys then you think who watch Asian dramas , but they probably don’t feel compelled to blog about it at all – its like family time watching a movie together. Theirs nothing special about it to those of us who grew up watching them regularly.

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