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The boy addiction: A Yaoi Experience

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So, I've noticed that yaoi (yOW-ee) is pretty under-represented on Japanator, and it's also the subject of much fuss and disdain considering our general reader demographic. For the girls, though. For those closet-freaks that hang out in the corners, lurking and waiting for the next pretty-boy anime or male idol post, for the next BL show to come out and wonder if it'll get posted or even mentioned; I'm here to give you the goodies.

You probably already had the goodies, but I'm going to share the wealth all around anyway. Considering all the straight ero there is out there, including the always-hideously hilarious tentacle action, you would think that a couple of boys having fun wouldn't faze anyone, right? 

For some reason, there is something about "boys love" that doesn't sit right with a lot of anime fans. They'll say that watching a naked dude in a straight hentai is totally alright, but not when there's a second one introduced without a girl in between them. Doesn't that strike you as odd? Personally, I'd like to think that anyone watching multiple men have sex, with or without women involved, has a bit of homo in them. 

With that in mind, and with the promise of delicious stories and images, I invite the few, brave and proud to click past the jump and check out my crash-course in yaoi, or boys love! 

BL (or Boys Love) as a genre is growing in popularity and becoming increasingly accepted throughout the anime fandom. To those who have been boy addicts for a while, there isn't as much licensed material out there as we'd like, but it's there.

There seems to be this invisible, unwritten distinction between soft-core, non-explicit boy love (BL/shonen-ai) and lots of action in the nether-regions (yaoi). This is a fake distinction, as Yaoi and BL are both interchangeable and cover all the spectrum. If one is more "hardcore" than the other, it should be described as such, the way any other type of ero would categorize it.

That being said, I'm basically carrying you through my personal experiences throughout this article, starting with the manga (later turned anime) that started it all: Gravitation. It's one of the most well-known BL, monstrously popular back in the early 2000s when I got my hands on it (along with many, many other young girls and women). I remember reading it for the first time, and not even thinking about it as pornographic in the least; I just thought it was adorable. I shared it with a girl friend, hoping she wouldn't think I was a pervert for liking it, and it turned out she liked it too. 

Gravitation

A lot of people (mostly girls, of course) are weaned in with something soft and cute like Gravitation (TokyoPop), and more recently Sukisyo and Loveless have played that role on the "next generation" of boy addicts. Then we start getting braver and ready to go deeper. Sexy, hunky cop stories come our way, such as FAKE and Yellow (that was the next wave of BL for me, in any case). So I went from reading about a straight kid that wants to be a pop star (I'm looking at you, Colette) and falls in love with a male novelist, to a straight cop that falls in love with his partner (in both instances).

After that, the addiction tends to get more intense. You (as I) start to go online and download doujinshi of your favorite shows that "slash" their male characters, especially cult stuff like Death Note, or more popular shows with big male casts like Hetalia, or even small male casts like Saiyuki, Pandora Hearts and Ouran High School Host Club. When you get to that point, you start to have preferences as to which dude is going to be the uke or the seme ("bottom" or "top", respectively). You start to watch non-licensed short stories that involve a whole lot of butt-lovin'. Then you just move on to the next step: in-between. 

Hakkai

Another medium rising in popularity is in the form of games. Recently, Togainu no Chi and Lamento have been popular games (even if the Togainu anime flopped in my eyes), and there are many more where those came from. The games range from shy, soft cuteness to hardcore bloody messes. Whatever you like, take your pick. A lot of these aren't necessarily licensed here, but are PSP or PC games you could purchase online and play without a problem (well, besides the possible language barrier). 

Once you get all the things you wanted, you don't want to just stop finding new material, you know? It's hard, because there isn't a heck of a lot of yaoi out there; but you have to do with what you've got. You start watching shows with lots of pretty boys, and make your own Slash stories (or read them online) to get your fix. You hit the book store and check out the next DMP, BLU or June release. There are even proper novels published, with just a few pictures printed throughout whenever something steamy happens.

Nowadays, one of the most popular licensed and watchable BL manga-turned-anime out there is Junjou Romantica (BLU). It is currently my favorite, and while it's definitely boy on boy romance, it has a lot of depth that could be appreciated by a wider demographic. The manga is definitely much more girl-oriented, but I think the anime was toned down (by a lot) on purpose. I also think that people are scared of animating penises, but that's a whole other story.

Junjou

Unlike most series I've seen in general, Junjou follows the stories of three different couples. The timing is pretty wacky, because you follow the individual couples' stories in chronological order, but the chapters are mixed in a way that isn't fully timed correctly. I should also mention that while the three couples involved don't mix with each other, they are all connected in different ways, which is what makes the timing complicated. I like this extra aspect of the series, because it shows the author (Shungiku Nakamura) really thought things through before putting out the books. 

It also could be said that a current "fan favorite" is The Tyrant Falls in Love (although my favorite is Hey, Class President!). There are currently two manga volumes out for that series, and a third on the way (coming in May). The author has written previously popular titles such as Little Butterfly and Challengers, and she really struck gold with this spin-off story about the violent homo-phobe falling in love with another man. It really is adorable in this case. That sort of depth doesn't always work, but I feel it's very rewarding when stories like this turn out so good.   

Depth (of story, not necessarily just the characters) is one of the things that sets BL apart from other forms of ero and will probably keep it that way for a long time. Most of this stuff is written by women, and they apply feminine thoughts, feelings and mental (and physical) situations to the men they draw. One of the things that turn me off to BL is how unrealistic it is, and how obvious it is that I am reading (or watching) something that is supposed to be manly that was fantasized and drawn by a woman. 

Tyrant

The problem is also not so much that emotions or feelings are involved, because I understand men can also be quite complicated. Men are frequently emotionally underestimated, and I'm not trying to say that emphasizing feelings and whatnot is a fault of BL. My mental distraction occurs when it becomes painfully obvious that no man (even a gay man) was involved in the writing of that dialogue. 

Because it is created by women, it appeals to most. It works in some cases, and it's great when they're short (very short, max six to eight volumes or two episodes), because it provides very little time for complicated situations. When it comes to longer series, it just becomes drab and the situation or setting becomes more distracting than the good stuff. In the end, when you're trying to enjoy something more explicit, you just really want that sex, you know? 

When it comes to most hentai, some of the situations are ridiculously impossible, or they involve monsters and other denizens that pull you into "suspension of belief" mode; and you very easily accept the circumstances and enjoy the show. When it comes to BL, the settings are generally meant to be realistic and every-day, but then they quickly become overly serious, too complicated, too focused on words or social problems. For this reason, I have cut down my involvement with the yaoi world quite a bit, because it's hard to enjoy something that makes me frustrated to read. 

Hey, Class President!

In case you're wondering, every title I've mentioned in this article is licensed and should be available to you easily via Amazon, Borders (or Walden Books), etc. If you go to your local book store, you can usually tell where the yaoi is in the manga section when you see the clear-wrapped books with shinier covers and/or cheesy titles (Little Butterfly, Treasure, Gentle Cage, Desire). They are also usually taller than your typical manga volume, even if they aren't much thicker (hurr hurr).

If you've enjoyed my general sort of overview and reading into my experiences, I am glad to have provided an insightful and interesting interlude! Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below, and don't be afraid to love your men who love other men!

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Kristina Pino
Kristina PinoContributor   gamer profile

Kristina is a freelance photographer and writer from Miami now moved to Japan. She's a hardcore nerd culture enthusiast, Disney fan, sunflower admirer, and book slinger. Tweet her @geekerydo. F... more + disclosures


 


 



Filed under... #BL #Ero Week #Japanator Original #Sex #yaoi

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