TGS 2009: Sekkusu! Part Two: Final Fantasy Sekkusu!
In some of the more completist comics stores here, you can get fan-made manga that features characters from venerable game series. I discovered this corner of fan culture on my first trip to Tokyo when I was browsing for Final Fantasy stuff at a comic/pop-culture store in Shibuya called Mandarake. I flipped through the fan manga shelves marked "FF" and found three surprises.
1. The art is often very good, much better than I expected from amateurs.
2. Many of the comics featured the Final Fantasy characters having sex.
3. A lot of the aforementioned sex is gay sex.
I don't know why I was so shocked by items 2 and 3. (I guess because I was a dumb, horny virgin.) After all, the most famous benefit of creating fan fiction is that you get to make the characters have sex, and if you're going to stray from the officially sanctioned script, you might as well do it with gusto. I'm also guessing that the straight stuff sells more quickly, so my occasional sample is probably skewed in favor of the less commercially popular man-on-man action. (I have no idea to what degree that theory is correct, though—homoerotic manga isn't exactly a rarity, and there is definitely a thriving market for it.)
There's probably a slew of much crappier fan-manga online, but I've never bothered to explore that subculture on the web. I like the print editions better because it's amazing that these amateurs go to the trouble of having their work printed up with a full-color cover and distributed around the country. There's no way this is makes money. It has to be a labor of love—they needed their vision of Jecht getting it on with Tidus executed in print.
Another strange thing is that over time, the fan-manga community seems to settle into a consensus of which male-male pairing from each game is the hottest. For instance, the aforementioned Jecht-Tidus coupling outnumbers other Final Fantasy X duos by a wide margin. Something about this May-December romance hits a nerve with the amateur artists. The jury is still out on Final Fantasy XII—there's a little more variety in this game's fan adaptations—but Basch and Balthier seem to be the frontrunners. Here is a picture of them kissing.
I'd provide more pictures, but the kissing is about as far as I can go without causing our sponsors, the good people of Geritol, to withdraw their support. The comics can get pretty graphic. There's nothing, though, that approaches the level of garden-variety hentai manga, where naked torsos and bodily ephemera splash across the page with hedonistic abandon. The heterosexual game manga are generally more restrained than hentai, and the gay stuff is of a piece with the rest of the homoerotic yaoi genre, which typically does not emphasize graphic sex as much as hentai. (N.B.: Yaoi is usually intended more for female audiences than gay male readers.)
Lest you think this is a Final Fantasy thing, I'll point out that there are a ton of different games featured on the Mandarake fan-manga shelves. RPGs and fighting games are well represented, and adventure games—a genre that means something a little different in Japan—are also popular. Jones asked me if I had found any Mario manga porn, a good question. I've never checked for it.