[Not So?] Frequently Asked Questions
1. What's a bishounen?
2. [Character] isn't a bishounen!
3. Why isn't [character name] in here?
4. [Card]? Isn't that a girly card? Why is there a guy in that position?
5. You got the description of [character] wrong!
6. [Character] doesn't really fit that card!
7. Are you going to do the Minor Arcana?
1. Do you believe all this Tarot stuff?
2. Why do you like them, then?
3. You got the interpretation of [card] wrong!
1. Hey! What about copyright?
2. What about all those people on the net who claim they own copyright on an image because they scanned it and cleaned it up?
3. But I'm not making a profit on it!
4. I don't have any money! Why would anyone sue me?
5. Don't Japanese fans write and create their own manga using characters and situations owned by other people?
6. What makes you such an authority on copyright?
7. You seem way too obsessed with copyright.
8. You took a picture from my Web page!
1. Can I put your cards on my page?
2. Are you going to make a print copy of the cards?
1. How did you make the cards?
|I. BISHOUNEN TAROT
|What's a bishounen?
'Bishounen' is a Japanese term that translates to 'beautiful boy' or 'prettyboy.' It's a traditional Japanese concept, but anime fans have appropriated the term to refer to certain types of anime characters. Anime bishounen are attractive, tend to be somewhat androgynous, and may have a somewhat ambiguous sexuality as well. The term originally referred to homoerotic elements, but in practice the usage has widened to mean just about any attractive male character.
|[Character] isn't a bishounen!
Deal with it. He's in there because I like him, and the Bishounen Tarot sounds so much nicer than the Really Hot Aniboys Tarot, although that's probably a more accurate description.
|Why isn't [character name] in here?
Because I either haven't seen the series, don't like him much, don't know enough about the character to match him with a card, or because another character fit the card he matched much better. In other words: any number of reasons. If you don't agree with my interpretations and classifications, go right ahead and make your own. I won't get mad. Actually, I'll enjoy seeing what you've done, so drop me a line at email@example.com.
|Isn't [card] a girly card? Why is there a guy there?
Well, it's the Bishounen Tarot, isn't it? They're all guys! I didn't match up cards and characters with regard to gender or sexuality (well, except in the case of The Lovers, but then those guys aren't so much bisexual as omnisexual), but to deeper characteristics of their personalities. Feminine cards in the Tarot tend to refer to what Western cultures have traditionally seen as traits that define the roles of women -- caring, nurturing, wisdom, in other words deep yet passive strengths.[*] I chose anime characters that at least in part reflected these traits to illustrate these particular cards. If this still bothers you, don't think of the cards as feminine and masculine, but as yin and yang. I won't go into an explanation of that here, but you can plug the terms into a Web search engine and figure it out from there.
[*] Yes, yes, we're now realizing that all people share these characteristics to some extent, but this isn't a page about gender issues and identities, it's a page about really hot aniboys, so I won't go into this any farther.
|You got the description of [character] wrong!
Real people don't fit into predefined boxes, and a well-drawn character isn't going to perfectly match one and only one card. I've chosen to emphasize aspects of characters that fit well with cards, with the understanding that they won't always match exactly, and probably have some conflicting traits or characteristics.
|[Character] doesn't really fit that card!
See the above answer. Himura Kenshin could fit Judgment, as someone who has sworn to no longer follow a path he sees as wrong and to atone for his past deeds, but I decided to emphasize his strength of personality and not his conflicts, and placed him as the High Priestess. (That's the Official Explanation. In reality, I couldn't find anyone else to fit the High Priestess.) Ryouji Kaji is sort of an odd fit for the Star, but part of what makes these aniboys compelling to me is that they tend to be conflicted, dark characters, none of which really fit the Star. So I pulled a few appropriate threads of character from Kaji and placed him here according to them.
|Are you going to do the Minor Arcana?
Aaagaggggghhhhhhhh! Sorry, no! I have what I like to laughingly refer to as my life, and that would take just too damn much time. But you can if you want. I'd like to see them.
|Do you believe all this Tarot stuff?
Depends what you mean by 'all this Tarot stuff.' Do I think I can tell the future with pieces of cardboard? No. Do I think I can gain deep insights into myself and my place in the Universe with them? No. Do I think they're somehow supernatural? No. They're painted pieces of cardboard (or groups of colored pixels in this case) with traditional meanings stuck to them.
|Why do you like them, then?
I'm a cultural anthropologist by training (though, alas, not by profession). The Tarot is a deck of cards that has accreted a lot of Western European folk traditions in the past three hundred years. Like many other folk practices and customs, you can learn a lot of things about the culture it arises from: what they consider important, what categories they break their worldview into, and so on.
It's also a tradition still alive and continually adapting to reflect cultural changes. Today you can go into shops (and not just specialty stores; Tarot cards appear in a lot of mainstream bookstores), and pick up books and card decks specialized in just about any way you can imagine: reproductions of early decks, decks using elements of mythologies from all over the world, decks specializing in interpretations (love, spirituality) ... it seems to have no end. And the idea of an anime Tarot on the Web isn't even original -- check out my links page to see more.
|You got the interpretation of [card] wrong!
There are about as many interpretations as there are stars in the sky. Feel free to make your own deck using what you see as the correct interpretations.
|III. COPYRIGHT FROM HELL
|Hey! What about copyright?
What about it?
Okay, flip answer. Truly, all the characters I stuck in this deck are owned by their respective creators and license holders, and no infringement on commercial or intellectual value is intended.
|What about all those people on the net who claim they own copyright on an image because they scanned it and cleaned it up?
Guys, hate to break it to you, but nope. Of course it's only ethical and polite to acknowledge someone else's work, but that's not copyright; it doesn't matter how much effort you put into scanning and cleanup. Matter of fact, a court case in 1998, Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corporation, established that a reproduction of a two-dimensional work of art does not constitute enough originality to be protected by copyright. This was a British court, but the court also noted that it would have reached the same conclusions under US law. The UK, the USA, and Japan are all signers of the Berne Convention, which allows for international reciprocal copyright protection.
This whole answer is way too long already. Plug the URL http://www.utsystem.edu/ogc/intellectualproperty/cprtindx.htm into your browser and explore the UT System's Crash Course in Copyright Web pages for a good overview of current law.
|But I'm not making a profit on it!
Copyright does not concern itself with whether or not you're making a profit on it. It looks to see if you have an impact on the commercial value to the copyright holder. You could print your very own Gundam Wing T-shirts and pass them out free of charge on the street corner, thus not only not making a profit but seriously cutting into your savings account, and you would still be considered to be breaking copyright. This is because if a consumer has a choice between a free Gundam Wing T-shirt and one that costs $17.99, chances are that person is going to grab the free shirt, which deprives the copyright holder of a potential $17.99 sale. That's how the courts look at it.
|I don't have any money! Why would anyone sue me?
Doesn't matter if another person or a company would get any money from you or not. If they do not demonstrate their willingness to fight for their copyright, they lose it, at least in the USA. (I don't know about other countries.) They can't ignore flagrant copyright violation or the courts could rule that they no longer own the copyright.
|Don't Japanese fans write and create their own manga using characters and situations owned by other people?
Yup. We happen to be in luck because of the Japanese tradition of doujinshi, of tolerating and in some cases encouraging fan art and writings. They view it as good publicity. It's still illegal according to US law and the Berne Convention, but nobody's likely to make a fuss about it as long as it's kept on a small scale. So, fan pages ahoy! Just don't claim you own the copyright, because you don't, and respect the copyright holders' wishes.
|What makes you such an authority on copyright?
It's my job. Or part of it, at least. I curate a collection of slides and digital images for a major university, and believe you me we are hyper- aware of copyright laws.
|You seem way too obsessed with copyright.
Sorry. Job hazard.
|You took a picture from my Web page!
Sorry. [sheepish grin] I managed to lose the file that listed where I stole the images I didn't scan myself (note to self: in future, backing up is a darn good thing to do). If you recognize something I stole from your page, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll be happy to give you credit and link back to your page.
|IV. DOWNLOADING AND COPYING CARDS
|Can I put your cards on my page?
Yup. Don't link directly to this server, though, since it really kills my bandwidth and makes the card take much longer to load on both our pages (be nice to people with slow modems!). Instead, download a copy of the card and put it on your server. It'd be real nice if you credited me and linked back to my page, but I'm not gonna worry too much about it.
|Are you going to make a print copy of the cards?
Nope. See the copyright note above. On the other hand, if you really want your very own Bishounen Tarot Major Arcana deck, there's nothing stopping you from downloading them and printing them out. Have a ball.
|V. DETAILS, DETAILS
|How did you make the cards?
Photoshop. Simple procedure: figure out what character fit with what card (that was the most difficult part of the process, barring writing up the descriptions), either scan an image or steal it from some site on the Web, create a card frame, decide on the font to use, mess around with text effects. No biggie. It was rather fun.
You know, normally someone would put a copyright notice here, but why bother? Just about the only thing I own on the Bishounen Tarot pages is the layout and frankly, there's nothing so special about it that I should bother asserting my copyright.