|Quotes • Headscratchers • Playing With • Useful Notes • Analysis • Image Links • Haiku • Laconic|
Also called Yaoi, Boy's Love is a subgenre of romance focusing on male homosexuality, for a presumptively female audience. In a typical plot, two boys fall in love and the story shows their progress as a couple. Sometimes it's just part of the scenery, although most series directly foster what the audience expects and likes.
Boys' Love series are made by women for women, though it's not uncommon for them to draw a male gay/bisexual audience. Because of this, most Boys' Love works have idealized male characters who are sensitive and nurturing. They are usually drawn in a romantic style and exist in a world where homosexuality is considered no more unusual or transgressive than heterosexuality. The genre includes all ranges of explicitness, one of the reasons stories aimed at a more mature audience don't make it to television often.
It's sometimes conjectured that gay romance appeals to women because non-female characters aren't as 'threatening' to the audience, nor are the social boundaries the same. Of course, it could also simply mean that if one hot guy is good, two or more are even better. It's interesting how some viewers, especially male ones, don't get that, even though the opposite is a well-known phenomenon.
The stories are stereotyped as having a high degree of Melodrama, especially within the younger teenager reading audience; something exploited by the manga translation market. The dynamic of an aggressive partner and a submissive one is so common in the genre that they have become the archetypes for the genre (but remember, Tropes Are Flexible!). Some Slash Fic writers go so far as to feminize the shorter guy to fit this dynamic. Many series that deal with close friendship usually develop a non-canonical Boys Love fandom.
- 1 Boys Love Works
- 2 Works commonly mistaken for Boys Love Genre
- 3 Use of BL manga/anime itself as a trope (for uses of BL tropes outside BL, see Yaoi Guys)
Boys Love Works
Anime and Manga
- Ai no Kusabi
- Animal X
- Awkward Silence
- Blue Sheep Reverie
- Boku No Sexual Harassment
- Breakfast Club
- The Carp on the Chopping Block Jumps Twice
- Chintsubu is a manga about boys with talking penises.
- The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese
- Corsair has pirates, Bishonen and dub con.
- Crimson Spell is a hybrid of Heroic Fantasy and Boys' Love.
- The Demian Syndrome
- Eerie Queerie
- Endless World has drugs, sex, and suicide.
- FAKE takes the Ho Yay inherent in the Buddy Cop Show dynamic to its inevitable conclusion.
- The Finder Series: Angsty, rapey Melodrama, mostly about a photographer who takes some unwelcome candids of a hot Yakuza boss and is punished for it...
- Fish in the Trap
- Fujisaki Kou is a BL author with roughly a third of her works occuring in the same Verse. These currently include:
- Happy Yarou Wedding which follows university student Yuuhi and Professor Todou Akira (the elder son of the Todou boss) and Akira's 5 year old son, Shouta.
- Virgin Love, Junai no Seinen and Mens Love follow the smutty romance of Todou Group employee Kirishima Kaoru and Mercury executive Daigo Mikihisa.
- Future Lovers, a two-volume manga series that's relatively realistic and down-to-earth compared to many other BL manga.
- Gorgeous Carat
- Gravitation: Despite its music-themed plot, the main focus is on the relationship between Keet singer Shuichi Shindou and angsty novelist Eiri Yuki.
- Hana no Mizo Shiru
- Haru wo Daiteita (Embracing Love) is a 14-volume manga series (and 2-episode OVA) concerning two "adult video" actors who are trying to break into mainstream acting.
- Winter Cicada, by the same author, is a series of 3 OVA detailing the romance and eventual suicide of two samurai, set in the Edo Period. It originated as a film the two main characters of Embracing Love were appearing in.
- The Heart of Thomas: one of the very first Boys' Love mangas. Written by Moto Hagio, a contemporary of Keiko Takemiya.
- Hyakujitsu no Bara (aka Maiden Rose) has added the appeal of Good-Looking Privates in spades.
- Hybrid Child, a collection of oneshots from Junjou Romantica's creator Nakamura Shungiku revolving around the eponymous "hybrid child", dolls that can gain emotions and grow when given affections from their owners.
- Hyouta Fujiyama has created a number of loosely related stories around the setting of Kinsei High, an all-boys school where "rumor has it" that 90% of the student body really is bi, if not gay. Oddly, the main stories always seem to focus on the boys who think they're in the 10%...
- Free Fall Romance
- Ordinary Crush
- Ikoku Irokoi Romantan AKA A Foreign Love Affair: a romance between an Italian sailor and a man of the Japanese yakuza.
- I Shall Never Return: A relatively early example from the mid-90s; it's notable for averting or subverting many of the more common BL tropes, possibly because of the Uke x Uke relationship type.
- Junjou Romantica: A comedic romance which gives us three couples for the price of one, all three very different but all touching on the theme of Second Love.
- Keiko Takemiya is the Grand Dame of the genre. Her works include:
- In the Sunroom (1970), the first known Boys' Love manga story,
- Kaze to Ki no Uta (The Song/Poem of the Wind and Trees) (1976-1984), one of the most influential of the early Boys' Love manga,
- The Door into Summer (1975), one of the first Boys' Love stories to be made into anime (in 1981).
- Kawaii Akuma (and its sequels).
- Kirepapa is an OVA with a romance between a man and his son's high-school aged best friend. The second OVA focuses on his son and an older man.
- Kizuna is widely regarded as the series that popularized the Boys' Love genre.
- Koisuru Boukun, a.k.a. The Tyrant Falls in Love, a spin-off from Challengers.
- Koutetsu Sangokushi
- Kusatta Kyoushino Houteishiki
- La Esperança is an example of religion-induced melodrama, but it's pulled off quite well.
- Legend of the Blue Wolves
- Let Dai
- Liberty Liberty
- Little Butterfly
- Love Mode: a long-running series about the owner of a men-only "dating club" (read: brothel) and his clients, employees and friends.
- Love Pistols revolves around highschool kid Norio, whose life has been turned upside down ever since he discovers that primates apparently aren't humanity's only origin. About 30% of humanity are actually descended from other animals such as dogs, cats, snakes, bears and even mermaids. Includes male pregnancy.
- Love Stage is a collaboration between an Eiki Eiki and Zaou Taishi about an otaku and an idol.
- Marginal: Sci-fi and dystopian series by Moto Hagio set in a world where there is apparently only one woman and the rest are men.
- Mirage of Blaze
- Off Beat: One of the few OEL Manga examples.
- Okane ga Nai: One of the more explicit and violent ones, around the themes If I Can't Have You and the Stockholm Syndrome. Stands out for being one the few Boys Love Genre manga written by a man.
- Papa to Kiss in the Dark
- Patalliro! An early and long-running satirical manga (1979 ? ongoing) and a rare example of a shounen-ai series by a male mangaka. Also one of the first BL-flavored anime to be produced for television (in 1983-84).
- Prince Charming
- Rules Universe: A series of manga and doujinshi focusing on Hikaru, his friends, and their love lives.
- Saezuru Tori wa Habatakanai
- Saint Beast based off a series of audio dramas (generally considered shounen-ai although the audio dramas are more explicit than the very tame anime series).
- Sakende Yaruze
- Sakura Gari: Yuu Watase's dip into Boys' Love.
- The Secret Agreement
- Seikimatsu Darling
- Seitokaichou ni Chuukoku: Campus Romance
- Sekaiichi Hatsukoi: A spin-off of Junjou Romantica set in the same universe but with new characters at its core story. It features cameos of characters from the previous series.
- Senobi no Housoku: A one volume shounen ai story.
- Sensitive Pornograph:
- Seven Days
- Shinkuu Yuusetsu
- Sorenari Ni Shinken Nandesu
- Under Grand Hotel: an explicit BL manga set in a U.S. prison.
- Usotsuki wa Shinshi no Hajimari
- Walker Universe
- The Weatherman Is My Lover: A romance between a straight-laced newscaster and eccentric weather "fairy".
- Wild Adapter: a subtext-only Noir action series that walks and talks like Seinen and wasn't marketed as BL in the U.S.
- Wild Fangs, Wild Rose and Wild Wind, part of a series by Yamagishi Hokuto involving half-human, half-beasts.
- Wild Rock by Takashima Kazusa is set in prehistoric times and is a common Boys' Love Gateway Series.
- ZE: About the relationships between the different Kotodama-samas and Kami-samas(dolls)
- Zetsuai 1989 and its sequel series Bronze: Zetsuai Since 1989: One of the greatest classics of the genre, by Minami Ozaki. The series began as yaoi doujinshi for Captain Tsubasa, and was spun off into an original tale brimming with melodrama; the word "zetsuai" is a made-up compound meaning something like "desperate love" or (Ozaki's favoured English translation) "everlasting love".
- Cold Series
- Don't Worry Mama
- Esu, otherwise known as S, is a detective and yakuza light novel series.
- Immoral Darkness
- The Man Who Doesn't Take Off His Clothes
- Sleeping with Money
- The Only the Ring Finger Knows books are many people's Gateway Series into this genre, due to their interesting (if generic) plot and light romantic scenes. There is also a manga.
- Sukisho, which started out as a novel, and expanded to an anime and Boys Love Game.
- Absolute Obedience
- Animamundi: Dark Alchemist
- Dream Savior Gakuen
- Gakuen Heaven, which was later adapted into a Bleached Underpants TV series, and a manga.
- Hana Ki Sou
- Hadaka Shitsuji
- Kichiku Megane
- Lucky Dog 1
- Miracle Noton
- Morenatsu is akemono example
- Silver Chaos
- Silver Chaos 2 Artificial Mermaid
- Sweet Pool
- Togainu no Chi: adapted into a manga and anime. Both of which have plenty of Ho Yay subtext/text, although only the visual novel has any explicit scenes.
- Honeydew Syndrome
- Pink Black has the main characters Sifris and Terence being rather close in promotional and extra art. It's already been stated by the creator that it is this.
- Teahouse features three main male pairings. Be warned, it's NSFW in spots.
- Tripping Over You
- Yaoi Tales is essentially Disney fairy tales...but yaoi.
Works commonly mistaken for Boys Love Genre
Anime and Manga
- 07-Ghost frequently dances right on the edge of this trope without coming right out and saying it. Teito and Mikage's relationship teases at it, and Kuroyuri and Haruse darn near imply it. Not to mention Hakuren's outright statement that he does "not like women", with a couple of exceptions. C'mon, if you don't take it THAT way, you're dense.
- Axis Powers Hetalia. Despite being a major Cast Full of Pretty Boys and having two not entirely confirmed canon male-on-male pairings (Germany×Italy and Sweden×Finland if you ask, not to mention the Ship Tease with Spain×Romano, America×England, GreecexJapan, etc., the story doesn't revolve around those relationships and Yaoi Fangirls are not the original, fully intended demographic. The webcomic is a little ambiguous, but it's quite safe to say that the manga (as well as the anime) isn't BL, since it was published in the same magazine as Rozen Maiden.
- CLAMP loves Yaoi Guys and Ho Yay (they have their own Ho Yay page), but so far they have not published any official Boys' Love. CLAMP works that are particularly yaoi-esque include:
- The currently suspended series Legal Drug which is essentially a very slow-moving Boys' Love story.
- Subaru and Seishirou of Tokyo Babylon are more or less in a romantic relationship, although it might not be the kind you imagined at first.
- Unsurprisingly, CLAMP has their beginnings in shounen-ai doujinshi, one of the most well-known of which is of Jotaro and Kakyoin from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, of all things.
- D.N.Angel ship teases Satoshi and Daisuke like crazy. It's officially a shoujo manga.
- Game X Rush: At times it seems to run on Ho Yay, without ever crossing the line to actual Boys' Love.
- Gankutsuou: Albert's relationships with the Count and Franz are dripping with subtext, though it's more text on Franz's part.
- GetBackers: Let’s just say there is a reason why this series provides the default image on the Ho Yay page’s Anime section. Not only does it have copious amounts of Ho Yay between its many beautiful male characters, but the artist of the manga is also a self-admitted Yaoi Fanboy, and the anime contains [dead link] several [dead link] suggestive artworks [dead link]. In fact, one of the most commonly asked questions about GetBackers is whether or not it’s a Yaoi series. The truth? It’s actually a gritty Shounen manga with tons of Fan Service (for the guys).
- Golden Days has shounen ai elements but it was published in Hana to Yume.
- The lead of Hana Kimi is only dressed like a boy, but Boys' Love romances abound among the supporting cast.
- Hands Off! due to the absurd amounts of subtext between two of the male characters, which gets mentioned a lot - but is completely about ESPers.
- Karakuridouji Ultimo, while heavily in the Shonen robot genre, and not to mention being authored by the creators of Shaman King and Spider-Man, is becoming more and more known for its Boys' Love subtext. The main character Yamato's best friend Rune becomes Evil due to his jealousy of Yamato liking somebody else. This... leads to some surprising and horrifying situations. Whether this was intentional or not is unknown; don't think anybody would have the guts to ask Hiroyuki Takei or Stan FREAKING Lee about this.
- The subtext becomes so strong that when Part Three comes around, Viz Media pulls Ultimo from Shonen Jump.
- Black Butler is officially Shonen despite the rampant Ship Tease and Does This Remind You of Anything? and the little fact that both times Sebestian had sex, it was with women...
- Kyo Kara Maoh is a series about a boy who becomes king of the demon realm; in the process of doing so, he accidentally proposes marriage to another man. It's officially Shoujo.
- Loveless was originally published in Monthly Comic Zero Sum, a magazine that was looking for crossover shonen/shoujo readership (although it has since turned into a shoujo mag), so it's not officially considered BL. It has the added bonuses of Nekomimi, Shotacon, and a pair of Schoolgirl Lesbians. Not to mention all the Nightmare Fuel and Mind Screw.
- Monochrome Factor is ridden with pretty boys and Ho Yay in the anime and is sometimes labelled as a shounen-ai even though it's officially a seinen.
- Manga sites often mistakenly tag Nabari no Ou as BL. You can't really blame them though. Not surprisingly, it's serialized in the same magazine as Black Butler.
- Rare Shonen example of a male-male romance: No Bra, a Manga where a guy falls in love with a Wholesome Crossdresser.
- No. 6 does this with Nezumi and Shion. Things essentially get more Ho Yay fueled with every episode/chapter including a "good-night kiss" and a "good-bye kiss". It has fans that always ask whether it's a shounen-ai or not. It's really a shoujo/shounen series. The novel was written by Asano Atsuko an infamous writer of BL-ish novels she claims are 'children's books'.
- Pandora Hearts has multiple instances with Ho Yay and the main character's friend having a huge infatuation with him and often fights with the main love interest for his affection as a result. Regardless, you can interpret it as Ho Yay, overprotectiveness or something else entirely.
- Peacemaker Kurogane has an incredible amount of Ho Yay subtext/text (?), a Bishonen main cast and the one female love interest is very boring so it's not surprising some would consider it Boys' Love.
- Princess Princess does this with having the very feminine guys dress up as girls to be adored by the male population of their school. Not to mention all the Ho Yay between Tooru and Yuujirou. It's officially shoujo even though it's sometimes tagged as shounen-ai.
- Saiyuki is a shounen manga about four pretty guys traveling together on an epic journey, spending most of their time in close proximity. There would be too much Ho Yay to list even if the mangaka wasn't a former yaoi doujinshi artist who deliberately adds to it.
- Tactics. The characters are so gay that the authors themselves have made yaoi doujinshi of them. (Specifically, "Lovesick".) Kantarou and Haruka in particular are the most notable example, and its more apparent in the manga than in the anime but still there. It's not shounen-ai though.
- Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru mostly have males in the cast, very occupied in confess their mutual admiration for each other and even have a pet dragon called "Sodom". Several sites tag this series as shounen ai but officially is shoujo.
- Vassalord features hot gay vampires licking each other, and on-screen kinky gay sex. It's officially Shoujo.
- The four Bishonen protagonists of Weiss Kreuz and their opposite numbers are all canonically heterosexual, but their status as terminal Doom Magnets combined with copious amounts of subtext has gained it a reputation as a Boys Love series.
- Yami no Matsuei (aka Descendants of Darkness) has a rather complicated Love Dodecahedron involving most (male) main characters, but focuses mainly on the love/hate triangle between the psychopath Doctor Muraki, Tsuzuki Asato, and Kurosaki Hisoka. It's officially Shoujo.
- Adekan by Tsukiji Nao, is a historical shoujo manga set in the Meiji era, featuring Yoshiwara Shiro, a sexy umbrella maker with a distinct hatred of underwear, and Yamada Kojiro, an uptight but kind-hearted police officer. It is especially notable for its impossibly detailed art, as well as the sheer quantity of steaming Fanservice and innuendo. It's so blatant that the series could almost be considered as a BL on its own, though it never crosses that line.
Use of BL manga/anime itself as a trope (for uses of BL tropes outside BL, see Yaoi Guys)
Anime and Manga
- In Empowered, Emp tries to freak her male teammates by showing them X-rated yaoi Doujinshi starring themselves. They decide they're flattered.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment in this strip of Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures.
- In Questionable Content, Marigold gets annoyed at Hannelore for mixing her yaoi in with the rest of her manga. Pretty soon they're watching yaoi anime together.