Yuri Talk: Foreign Exchange

I always wonder why the EuroNippon (and other similar) pairing is so fascinating.

WARNING! The adverb “usually” is utilized quite a bit in this post.

Yune and Alice

Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

The foreign exchange trope in yuri (and other forms of romance) has a Japanese girl/woman hooking up with a another girl/woman of, usually, European descent. Sometimes the foreigner is American or of a different ethnicity but most of the time she is European and a blonde. The trope usually has the foreigner showing interest in the local, rarely is it vice versa. The interest usually stems from the foreigner’s interest in Japanese culture and sees the local as the epitome of Nippon ichi.

Shizuku and Eris

Eris and Shizuku

The foreigner is usually the more energetic of the two though her intellect and level of formal courtesy differs per person. The one trait they all have in common is an intense desire to learn as much about Japanese culture as they can. When these ladies do end up meeting the local girl/woman the experience can be often summed up as love at first sight. From then on it is the foreigner being attached to the local using whatever methods she can find to get closer to her with the success ratio differing depending on how accepting the local is of the foreigner’s affectionate advances, rather how she approaches the local.

Shino and Alice

Kiniro Mosaic

I find it fascinating that the foreigners are usually of English or French descent. Their Japanese speaking knowledge stems from books, school courses or a Japanese parent who married their other European parent.

Squid Girl and Cindy Campbell

Squid Girl

On the rare occasions where the foreigner’s interest in the local is not culturally related it can safe to say all bets are off and the formulaic flow of the trope changes course bringing unpredictability with it. Basically we do not know whether this foreigner is interested in the local for romantic reasons or otherwise.

French-Japanese Alliance ftw!

Girl Friend BETA

Again there’s something about this trope that fascinates me. It is inexplicable in that, yes it is adorable, but in a different sense than a basic cute yuri couple. Perhaps it is because I see myself in the foreigner who really likes the Japanese. It could be that deep down I too would like to enter a romantic relationship with a Japanese beauty…what if that is secretly why the froeign exchange trope is so appealing and continues being used in not just yuri but other romance shows…Something to think about maybe or is it just cute like all other yuri tropes? As always do share.

Update: I should have known it this trope uses the “opposites attract” principle to tell a romantic narrative. I still would like to date a Japanese woman though.

About OG-Man

Yuri and Slice of Life are my anime passion.
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14 Responses to Yuri Talk: Foreign Exchange

  1. anoncpm says:

    I think it stems more from the fact that the Japanese culture is actually very private. In reality, I mean, not as portrayed in anime/manga. We are somewhat of a mystery to them, and, in some respects – complete polar opposites to them.

    About the blonde hair thing, I think that’s actually pretty simple – blonde hair is practically the complete opposite to the Japanese norm of jet black hair and eyes. Which is why Euro characters always tend to have blue or green.

    I’ve traveled to Japan a number of times, the first time I was treated as some kind of an alien, because I acted as I normally would if I were at home in England. I spoke my mind, I was outgoing, something most Japanese are not.

    I’m not being biased or stereotypical here or anything here, I’m speaking from experience and from what others have told me (friends I made in Japan / pen pals). For example – when speaking to someone of Japanese, they prefer you to speak quietly, something I didn’t know upon my first trip there, so I was generally met with dis-approval when I asked for directions, even when asking in Japanese.
    I guess this is why foreigners are usually portrayed as loud and outgoing, and generally a nuisance.


  2. Cytrus says:

    The outgoing foreigner and the shy yamato nadeshiko shape a natural yin-yang on several levels, so they just naturally fit each other. It’s very potent ground for romance stories, though you need your characters to rise above their respective stereotypes for the story to come to life and be truly memorable.


  3. elkat4 says:

    I think this trope stems from an opposites attract romantic formula. You take a stereotypical, black haired, quiet and reserved Japanese girl and introduce her to blond haired, loud and expressive Western girl and watch an impossible pairing bud. It’s an easy source of comedy, seeing as the two girls come from countries with different cultures and provides the “exotic foreigner” fetish/moe character. While I’m not a fanatic for this type of pairing, I feel it’s the type of pairing the reflects myself the best, being an America with a passion anime and (most of) Japan’s culture. I know I’m certainly guilty of using this trope (one of the Characters in Pretty Witch Academy is named Arthur P. King- guess what her least favorite nickname is, is from England and is paired up with the Japanese Hikari Kintaiyou).


  4. SuperNovaLochness says:

    Hmm, I did have this thought on looking back on the foreign exchange person + JPN local yuri couple utility as a passing thought but I never thought about it so deep ’till you brought it as an full post.

    Gotta say, I actually didn’t think too much about it. For explaining the more energetic foreigner partner, it would be probably b/c the Japanese are typically culturally/socially polite and reserved so perhaps all the reservedness helps amplifies their view on foreigners who are significantly more outgoing in social/cultural interaction.


  5. yurimylove says:

    things I learned from watching Kinmoza, Hanayamata, and Grilfriend Beta:

    • all foreign blonde girls can speak fluent Japanese (even if some of them speak with a funny accent)
    • all blonde girls like to drink milk (as evident in the PLOT)
    • blondes have more fun — when they’re playing with Japanese girls
    • even blonde vampire likes dancing with Japanese girls
    • gentlemen prefer blondes, and so do Japanese girls XD


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