2018 Boys’ Love Anime Announcements

Via AnimeNewsNetwork:

Yarichin Bitch-bu

TOHO began streaming a promotional video on Saturday revealing an anime adaptation of Tanaka Ogeretsu’s boys love Yarichin Bitch-bu (Playboy Bitch Club) manga. The anime’s “first episode” will be an original anime DVD (OAD) that will bundle with a limited edition version of the manga’s third compiled book volume on September 21.

Ten Count

The wraparound jacket band on the sixth and final volume of Rihito Takarai’s Ten Count boys-love manga revealed on Monday that the manga is getting an anime adaptation.

Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu

Aniplex opened a website on Sunday to announce that Hashigo Sakurabi’s Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu. (The Most Huggable Man Has Threatened Me) manga is getting a television anime adaptation that will premiere this year.

Clearly it’s an exciting time for BL anime adaptations! Still, although we could get adaptations that toss the bring out the best in both series while minimizing their flaws, I’m pretty apprehensive about Yarichin and Ten Count in particular. I would love to see the anime throw out the consent issues in Yarichin while maintaining the manga’s irreverent, unashamedly explicit tone, and for the troubling romanticism of Ten Count to be forgone in favor of something darker and more intentional in its depiction of a relationship based in manipulation and unequal power. It’s also possible that these adaptations will be perfectly faithful to the flaws of their source material–we’ll just have to see!


“Things We Forever Pursue”: Excerpt from Comic Natalie on Akimi Yoshida

Hey everyone! Comic Natalie ran a really interesting article promoting a book about Akimi Yoshida’s work and creative influences over the course of her career, which was released around December 25th in Japan for the 40th anniversary of Yoshida’s debut as a mangaka. Based on what I can muddle out from google translate, it looks super cool, and features answers to fan questions, dialogues between Yoshida and other prominent Japanese artists and critics, and more! The article itself runs a couple of interview excerpts from the book, and I found this bit from a 1994 conversation Yoshida had with Kaoru Kurimoto (AKA Azusa Nakajima) especially neat:

Yoshida: “California Story” is based on Yutaka Mizutani and Kenichi Hagihara’s “Battered Angel,” isn’t it? “Midnight Cowboy” knew without saying that. It was the influence of the American New Cinema of the 1970’s that first inspired me to draw things.
Nakajima: Is that not just the origin of “California Story,” but the origin of Akimi Yoshida herself?
Yoshida: All origins.
Nakajima: That’s it (laugh)
Yoshida: In this case, I will do my best. Because of this, when relationships between men appear in my drawings, physical relationships are not absolute. That is the origin, so I can not imagine.
Nakajima: Surely.
Yoshida: A kiss or something comes out but it does not contain any homosexual physical relationship…
Nakajima: Because the image is of Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.
Yoshida: Yeah. So it does not lead to bed. In other words, it seems that the baby chick looked first at what she saw as a parent.
Nakajima: “Imprinting,” right?
Yoshida: That’s why it is something that I will pursue forever.

It’s super intriguing and illuminating to me that Yoshida was so strongly influenced by American New Wave cinema–one of the most striking things about Banana Fish is how much texture and character New York City has as an environment! It also shows us how she was able to imagine possibilities beyond the heteronormativity of her influences while still being constrained by them; she was able to write deeply intimate, and even romantic, relationships between men, but these relationships were still ultimately non-sexual and distanced from “homosexuality.”

Please take this translation with a huge grain of salt, as I really just lightly edited google’s translation, and can’t guarantee that it’s super accurate or reliable–I absolutely welcome any corrections! That said, I hope this is an interesting, informative little highlight, and really encourage everyone to check out the article and the book for more information about a genuinely fantastic mangaka.

Transnational Readings of Yaoi Fan Culture: Feminism, Fujoshi, and Globalization [Excerpt]

Here is an excerpt of an essay I wrote for a Women’s Studies course on transnational cultural movements during my last year of college (2015/2016); I had a lot of fun researching the history of BL cultures in Japan and the West, and then interviewing self-identified BL fans I had connected with through my college anime club and FeministFujoshi. Here’s a dropbox link to the full essay! Enjoy, everyone.

Fujoshi is a Japanese word meaning “rotten girl,” frequently used to describe female fans of yaoi: Japanese fanworks created primarily by women for women that depict men in same-gender intimate relationships (Galbraith, 2011, p. 212; McHarry, 2003). Both the terms yaoi and fujoshi first appeared in fan communities and have been (and often continue to be) used in playful self-mockery (McLelland, 2015, p.55, p. 169). Yaoi is also referred to as “Boys Love” although this term is more often used to refer to commercial products—most notably comics, but also novels, audio dramas, and games—rather than fanworks (McLelland, 2015, p. 5). For the sake of clarity, as well to highlight the fact that many fan artists go on to participate in the commercial BL industry and many artists within the industry still create fanworks (Lees, 2006), in this essay I will use “Boys Love” and its abbreviation “BL” as an umbrella term for both commercially-produced works and fan-produced works. Fujoshi represent not only a subculture, but almost inarguably a mainstream audience within Japan, with the BL industry grossing approximately 21.3 billion yen per year (Yano, 2010), and since the early-to-mid 2000s there have been an increasing amount of young people in the West becoming fans of this genre, creating thriving new subcultures. In this essay I will examine how these young people are reading and creating BL differently and similarly to the original Japanese fanbase—how they have transported and transformed this subculture.
While fan translations of From Eroica With Love, a 1979 shojo manga with (loosely defined) BL themes, circulated through amateur press associations in the US as early as the 1980s and the Aestheticism Boys Love fanzine began in 1996 with its companion website coming online the year after, events which suggest significant BL fan cultures were already developing, the first Yaoi-Con was not hosted until 2001, with the first BL original video animation Kizuna, released on DVD the year after (Pagliassotti, 2015). Interestingly enough, Kizuna was released through Ariztical Entertainment’s Culture Q Connection line of LGBT films, with the company currently describing it as “the first gay male Anime [sic] to be released on DVD in the US” on their website (Aritzical, n.d.). This release of Kizuna as media specifically for gay men demonstrates how different cultural understandings of homosexuality in the US and Japan influenced the reception of this material in these different societies. Mark McHarry touches on this in his article “Yaoi: Redrawing Male Love” in which he quotes Mark McLelland saying that “The traditional understanding of homosexuality as a particular style or ‘Way’ of enjoying sex is still faintly discernible in certain media texts which speak of homosexuality as a ‘hobby’ [shumi] or a kind of ‘play’ [asobi/purei]” (as cited in McHarry 2003). Where Western understandings of homosexuality currently emphasize a largely fixed identity which is an intrinsic and integral part of the individual self, Japanese traditions of same-gender intimacy, such as nanshoku, or sexually intimate mentor relationships between adult men and adolescent boys, leave a lingering perspective which conceptualizes same-gender eroticism in terms of behavior and free-floating desire.
The racialized and gendered implications—as well as transnationality—of BL as a cultural phenomenon are evident even from its beginnings; Tomoko Aoyama, in her essay “Male Homosexuality as Treated by Japanese Women Writers” discusses how many female Japanese writers depicting same-gender intimacy in the 60s and 70s drew from Western influences, using Moto Hagio’s early manga “November Gymnasium” and its more developed manifestation, Heart of Thomas as one example of early BL manga’s frequent use of Western settings and characters, or Western influences when set in Japan (within the context of a wider body of Japanese literature written by women), and its purpose and effects. She writes, “The setting of a German gymnasium [in Heart of Thomas] works, because it is fictitious….The choice of young boys rather than young girls, and a German gymnasium rather than a Japanese school would appear to have been made…to avoid the ‘sticky’ restrictions of realism” (Aoyama, 1988, p. 188-189). Here, she emphasizes the additional distance that a Western setting and characters—in combination with the use of boys rather than girls in the narrative—creates between the story and its author and audience, thereby allowing for “free artistic expression,” (Aoyama, 1988, p. 189) for the author to explore different, often darker themes such as death, incest and more without being held back by the discomfort of personal vulnerability; because these comics did not depict Japanese women, they created a space for their authors, and arguably their readers as well, to explore issues that affected or interested them as Japanese women more confidently.

It also worked to create a kind of Occidentalism—reproducing an idea of “the West” that is unmarked, assumed to be coherent and stable. Toshio Miyake’s analysis of Axis Powers Hetalia, an amateur Japanese gag comic depicting nations anthropomorphized as young men provides a useful lens through which to look at the use of Western settings in early shounen’ai manga that Aoyama describes; Miyake discusses the way in which the overrepresentation of Euro-American nations in the text of Hetalia, as well as the popular character pairings in dojinishi, produce unquestioned representations of existing hierarchical geopolitical relationships, thereby reinforcing key logics of Occidentalism (Miyake, 2013, para. 4.3-4.6). Although Heart of Thomas and works like it do not literally represent anthropomorphized nation-states, their highly romantic, aesthetic depictions of setting and character that tie wealth, philosophy and romance to the West certainly carry occidental implications. Aoyama describes one novella, Koibito-tachi no mori (translated to Lovers’ Forest): “Though this story…is set in Japan, European flavor is apparent…characters are treated almost as part of the extremely gorgeous and occidental props” (Aoyama, 1988, 192). Although Lovers’ Forest was a novella that preceded early BL comics, and Aoyama states that there is no evidence of direct influence, the parallels between this and early BL works such as Heart of Thomas remain clear: use of Western settings, characters and philosophies that emphasize romanticism and intellectualism.

In a more modern context, there is still a clear emphasis on the romantic appeal and sexual dominance of the West in BL manga. Kazuhiko Nagaike’s article “Elegant Caucasians, Amorous Arabs, and Invisible Others: Signs and Images of Foreigners in Japanese BL Manga” examines representation of racial others, particularly White people and Arabs in monthly magazines that serialize BL manga; Nagaike discusses the racial implications of the large presence of White (or mixed-with-White) and Arab characters in BL, particularly the ways in which they are consistently portrayed as sexually dominant—as the seme in, to quote Miyake, “the boys’ love/yaoi code of seme (active, stronger, penetrating character) and uke (passive, weaker, receiving character) pairings” (Miyake, 2013, para. 4.5; Nagaike, 2009, para. 9). Nagaike argues that this parallels larger sociopolitical ideas regarding the feminine East in opposition to the masculine West, framing White characters as “superior others” in BL works (2009, para. 15-16). In contrast, Arab characters, also primarily represented as seme, are inscribed as “symbols of eroticism by means of Orientalistic images of harems and polygamy” (Nagaike 2009, para. 20), certainly masculine, but still depicted in a mysterious, largely unchanging and feminized vision of the Middle East. This reaffirmation of Western dominance and representations of Orientalist ideas of Arabs in BL texts (not to mention the conspicuous absence and negative depictions of non-Japanese Asian characters and Black characters) demonstrate women’s romantic fantasies’ complex entanglement with racism, something which is especially critical to examine in the context of BL’s globalization: as Western fans read their own fantasies and desires into works depicting Japanese women’s fantasies and desires, problematic racial dynamics are reinterpreted through a more globally dominant perspective, and this creates new points of fan engagement and complications surrounding representation and power in BL fan cultures.
My own original research—personal interviews conducted over a period of approximately a week—also deals heavily with…transnationality and its implicit, part-and-parcel transformations of the source material….I found significant similarities to—as well as significant differences from—scholarship on BL fan culture both in Japan and the West, and will compare anecdotes and experiences related to me in these interviews to Patrick Galbraith’s essays “Fantasy Play and Transgressive Intimacy” and its slightly revised version, “Moe Talk” dealing with fujoshi culture and practices in Japan. I found Galbraith’s assertion that “How female fans of BL in Japan talk to one another…is not only pleasurable, but also productive of new ways of interacting with the world of everyday reality” (McLelland, 2015, p. 153) also very applicable to the BL fans I interviewed—one interviewee recounted to me a game she played with her friends very similar to Hachi, Tomo and Megumi’s “moebanashi,” or “moe talk,” sessions, which she termed “AU [alternate universe] where,” in which she created couplings or scenarios involving her friends—and, on occasion, strangers—playfully reimagining the world around her in terms of potential relationships and fantastic escapades which allowed her to engage with her everyday surroundings in new ways (A. Caliguiri, personal communication, March 13th 2015). However, one of my interviewees expressed a perspective directly counter to that of Tomo, Megumi and Hachi, stating that she did not identify as a fujoshi specifically because she associated it with “those girls who make everything into yaoi”—she went on to concede that she did occasionally find herself coupling characters from series that were not already BL, but stated that this only happened when there was a significant amount of subtext or connection between the characters, joking, “I don’t make everything into yaoi, I make yaoi into yaoi” (S. McKinney, personal communication, March 12 2015). The homosociality of BL fan culture was also apparent to me in my interviews—in the communication cited above, I spoke to two friends at once, and witnessed a great deal of physical affection between my correspondents. Additionally, toward the end of our time together we all began to exchange BL titles and authors we enjoyed, creating a kind of temporary and temporal intimacy through these texts reminiscent of Galbraith’s “surface intimacy” (Galbraith 2011, p. 214, 216; S. McKinney & E. Patel, personal communication, March 12 2015).

A few of my interviewees had actually experienced some degree of contact with Japanese fans, and frequently described the people they had encountered as more “mellow,” with one correspondent explaining, “Like you know how a lot of kids here go through a weeaboo [fanatic, often racist to some degree] phase thats [sic] more teenagers being obnoxious?? That didn’t really happen according to my [Japanese] friends” (S. Young, personal communication, March 8 2015). Another interviewee who had studied abroad in Japan expressed that an interest in BL was “less of a big deal” for Japanese fans, and that he felt interest in BL was more stigmatized in the US, with Japanese fans better understanding that BL fans could have other interests (M. Clogston, personal communication, March 14 2015). In contrast to this perspective, when I asked another interviewee if they had any contact with Japanese BL fandom, they related their experience of seeing the well-known Japanese cosplayer Reika at Yaoi-Con 2014, where, when she was asked if she knew any differences between Japanese and American BL fans, she said Japanese fans had vicious “ship wars” or fights over preferred yaoi couplings, and asked if that was common in America. The audience responded with a resounding affirmative and according to my correspondent, Reika replied, “well, I guess there’s no difference, then” (R. Wang, March 13 2015).

Marco Pellitteri discusses the spread of anime and manga throughout Europe, particularly Italy, writing, “I have recast the term [transculture] as transacculturation…to emphasize the process of cultural growth in a positive, or at least neutral, sense” (Pellitteri, 2011, p. 214). This process of transacculturation is happening with Boys Love media on a far larger, more global stage than ever before, with a growing body of scholarship exploring its many manifestations and implications, and fans exploring BL more and sometimes even in more conscious, complex ways. While researching I was overwhelmed by the amount of enthusiasm I was met with from fans of anime and manga and BL itself—nearly all the people I interviewed and several people I did not interview expressed a desire to read the finished version of this essay, and members of Davis Anime Club suggested I present on this topic at an upcoming anime convention. Transnational Boys Love fan cultures display complex negotiations of power, interpretation, and imagination that are always in play and always changing, but there are also incredible amounts of joy and excitement in these cultures: people are reconfiguring desire through politics of race and gender and nationality, people want to know more and more and more; like Hachi said of The Great Wave of Kanagawa reinterpreted through a yaoi lens: “‘This is so great! I never thought such a thing.’…Tomo commented that the person had gone ‘too far’…but this was delivered as a positive assessment, demonstrating well that play is the exultation of getting carried away” (Galbraith 2011, p. 226).

The Subversive Use of BL Tropes in Dogs and Swallows

Gido Amagakure is best known for his long-running seinen manga Sweetness and Lightning, but he’s actually explored a wide variety of genres–including BL. In his one-volume title Dogs and Swallows (or 犬とつばめ), high school student Kaede Yamada is reunited with and–this is BL, after all–falls in love with his childhood playmate Taiju Noro as he attempts to come to terms with the death of his older sibling, Asahi Yamada. Throughout the volume, Amagakure brings his trademark sensitivity to themes of grief and gently subversive portrayals of masculinity to the table while deftly utilizing classic–even cliché–BL tropes. To be clear, I’m not arguing that these tropes are narratively justified in that they “make sense in the story,” but rather that Amagakure intentionally and carefully uses these tropes to further develop Dogs and Swallows’ central themes.

First is the issue of consent; the prevalence of disrespect for others’ sexual boundaries in BL is a constant frustration for fans who find the normalization of sexual assault distasteful. Thankfully Amagakure’s characters are never actively cruel to one another, and the manga is featured on the 100% Consensual BL List! However, in instances such as Noro kissing Kaede without his consent, or Kaede protesting of pain during sex, Amagakure makes these communication problems significant thematic threads that run throughout the whole narrative, affecting Kaede’s and Noro’s character arcs. When Noro springs a kiss on Kaede in the middle of the volume, it’s largely played off as a light-hearted, comedic moment, but it also indicates that the romantic connection between the two is still immature (and, when information about Kaede’s relationship with his abusive father is revealed, suggests that he remains emotionally guarded with Kaede.) In contrast, when Noro and Kaede have sex at the end of the volume, the focus is on the two finally communicating, serving as the culmination of both characters’ development: Noro outright asks for what he wants, thereby making himself emotionally vulnerable, where Kaede, who has been consistently depicted as self-centered and lacking awareness of others, chooses to compromise.

The actual sex in this scene is beside the point–in fact, Kaede ends up getting too light-headed for the couple to continue. What’s truly significant is the emotional intimacy gained by their communication in this context. Amagakure’s depiction and framing of these interactions is by no means perfect, but it is used purposefully and sensitively, gently guiding its principal male characters toward a healthier relationship to their emotions and better communication with each other.

Secondly, Amagakure uses his characters’–and in particular Kaede’s–heteronormative attitudes (the exclamation of “but we’re both boys!” in disbelieving protest is a well-trod cliché in BL) as crucial characterization that plays an integral role in setting up Kaede’s character arc. In the volume’s 2nd chapter, as Kaede and Noro are roughhousing on Kaede’s bed, Noro ends up hugging Kaede, who protests with the classic, “you said you liked girls!” However, Kaede’s protest is used deliberately and well in this context: Kaede is consistently characterized as somewhat oblivious and self-centered–in fact, this interaction is directly preceded by Noro specifically reflecting on these qualities, and, notably, Noro never expresses any hangups about gender in his attraction to Kaede. This frames the scene with an emphasis on Kaede’s flaws, rather than implying that the idea of romance between two boys is especially shocking or unbelievable.

Additionally, Amagakure gently challenges both the previously discussed “we’re both boys” trope and the BL genre’s fantastical utopias, where heteronormativity and homophobia are completely avoided; this can be seen in how Kaede is forced to confront his fears and questions about not only Asahi’s gender non-conformity, but his own vis a vis his relationship with Noro. When Kaede meets Shimaba, a former cram school student of Asahi’s, it’s revealed that Shimaba was in (unrequited) love with Asahi and had discovered their penchant for/”hobby” of wearing women’s clothing. Through his introduction and this reveal, Shimaba provides Kaede with an older, more mature outsider perspective, in particular demonstrating an easy understanding of and acceptance of difference that Kaede struggles to grant himself as well as his sibling.

As they talk about Asahi, Kaede asks, “Did nii-chan want to be a girl?” while thinking, “I could ask the same thing about myself…because I’ve been kissing Noro.” Obviously this line of questioning conflates gender and sexuality, but it also functions as an indication of Kaede’s character growth, from knee-jerk rejection of difference to rethinking the assumptions he has taken for granted about his own identity. Additionally, through the juxtaposition of Shimaba’s relaxed confidence with Kaede’s–and, to a lesser extent, Asahi’s–anxieties and uncertainties, Amagakure depicts gender non-conformity as something that can be unremarkable, while insisting on complicating the BL fantasy (or at least, incorporating human complexity into the fantasy.)

Although this particular trope may be common to anime and manga in general, as opposed to BL specifically, the beautiful, androgynous, crossdressing boy (in some incarnations referred to as ‘otokonoko’) is a well-known character trope. Interestingly, Asahi almost entirely averts this trope: they are a working adult rather than a teenager, are not depicted as particularly beautiful, and most importantly, struggle with and question their own identity. The narrative even explicitly asks–although it declines to actually answer–whether Asahi is transgender; through this, it engages directly and sensitively with Asahi’s struggle instead of making it into a joke or a bait-and-switch. The otokonoko can definitely be a fun character, but it’s genuinely refreshing and interesting that Amagakure chooses to avoid this more conventional depiction of amab gender non-conformity in favor of a representation with more depth and nuance.

Amagakure’s use of the tropes and hallmarks of the BL genre is purposeful and thoughtful; even the most basic requirement of the genre, romance between two boys, is explored and thematized in ways that could not be achieved in a story about heterosexual romance. In particular, falling in love with another boy forces Kaede to question and confront his identity, and ultimately his own deviance from gender norms helps him empathize with Asahi and gain closure surrounding his death. Asahi “finally smiling” in Kaede’s memory at the end of the volume feels earned because Kaede has struggled for it and grown from it.

To be clear, I’m definitely generalizing about BL here–it is a delightfully pulpy genre that is incredibly diverse and rapidly changing! There are other authors, potentially even many other authors, who are playing with, subverting, averting, and deconstructing what exactly a BL text can look like. This is also not to say Dogs and Swallows is without its flaws; Amagakure mostly either works a little harder to justify his use of tropes and clichés or implicitly challenges them only by averting them, as opposed to meditating explicitly on why these tropes are so common/useful and where they fall short/normalize harmful (or even simply complacent) attitudes toward consent etc. Despite all these caveats, I found Amagakure’s more intentional use of these tropes genuinely compelling. Kaede and Noro’s relationship is messy–Noro is pushy and guarded, Kaede is oblivious and self-centered–but their stark sincerity and Amagakure’s subtle, gentle take on the genre’s clichés and conventions make this an absolutely worthwhile read.

Manga Review: Stolen Heart

Finally getting around to posting a real review for this blog! Many thanks to cyanparade on twitter for bringing this book to my (and many others’) attention.

Stolen Heart was first published in 2002, with a story by Maki Kanamaru and art by Yukine Honami, and while it definitely bears many of the common shortcomings of the early 00s era of BL (and the genre as a whole), it does have its own distinct charm. The book includes 4 stories over the course of 6 chapters, the first three chapters being one story and the fourth a spin-off, while the last 2 are stand-alone; the story cyanparade referenced on Twitter is chapter 6, and–spoiler alert–it’s the highlight of the book.

Honami’s art is lovely, with excellent paneling that reads very fluidly and balances both the story’s romantic, atmospheric elements and its humor. I especially love the look of the first story, with its deep black tones and excellent depiction of motion!

The characters are very likable, if somewhat archetypal–the ‘rougish thief who abides by his own moral code’ and ‘spoiled tsundere bocchan’ we meet in the book’s first story are endearing, but not well-developed enough to complicate any entrenched genre conventions–including, unfortunately, BL’s uh, difficult relationship with consent. This relationship is a particularly egregious example, with the thief repeatedly violating his partner’s boundaries, even beginning their relationship by drugging him in order to sleep with him. This behavior is even explicitly called out, only for the narrative to frame these protests as petulant and cruel.


Above, just to emphasize: bocchan brings up entirely reasonable parallels between his sexual assault at the hands of a stranger and his treatment at the hands of the thief and is subsequently slapped. His statement is framed as selfishly motivated and unnecessarily hurtful, acting out because he is lonely and insecure, rather than the completely correct and reasonable action it actually is, and he is punished for it by his partner and the narrative.

This is a horrible way to represent the consequences of sexual assault, and also makes it harder and harder to root for the couple as the story continues. The moments of genuine affection between them become incredibly frustrating, tainted by the complete disrespect and disregard the thief has shown for the boy he supposedly loves. It sucks, basically.

The ending of this story does raise some interesting questions regarding imperialism, monarchy, and the transfer of power; although bringing up imperial expansion from the perspective of the conquerors, even in a very romanticized and only pseudo-historical setting requires raises difficult questions that this chapter mostly ignores, I really do like the way the panels below touch on the impermanence of all political regimes. Additionally, the reveal that the kingdom in which this story is primarily set was originally stolen from the thief’s family further underwrites this conception of political power as inherently limited in and by time and space. It’s a nice bit of writing in an otherwise very, very messy story.

The next chapter, “Be Nice,” is a Cinderella reimagining with some uncomfortable possessiveness and class-based power dynamics–the protagonist’s love interest, who is also his master while he is a servant, coerces him into having sex with a couple of other nobles and then gets pissy and jealous when the protag complies with his explicit demand. The ending does soften the blow a bit, suggesting some narrative unreliability via the reveal that the thief has been telling this story all along (as if we needed more reasons to dislike this character!) It also features a gag panel with a BDSM-related subversion of the aforementioned class dynamic, which I found really fun.

It is worth mentioning that even though I tend to enjoy this flip of expected seme-uke dynamics, BDSM/kink cannot fix or compensate for an otherwise unhealthy relationship. Realistically, trying to do so will probably only make things worse, and I think it’s cruel to depict a relationship based on jealousy and coercion and then try to play off those elements of the established dynamic with a joke. Additionally, despite this reversal, the thief’s narration is not significantly problematized in the narrative–the ending may hint at more balance in the relationship, but the story we get is still the story we get, which makes this chapter a tough read.

The characters in “People Are What They Seem” border less on cliche than in Stolen Heart‘s first two stories, but I also found them less memorable. “People” is a high school story with a disorganized but earnest protagonist named Tomoyuki Naruse and Fujiyoshi, a bunny ears lawyer (er, student council president.) The relationship development between Naruse and Fujiyoshi feels rushed: Fujiyoshi ignores Naruse’s repeated requests to be left alone and Naruse demonstrates little reciprocal interest until he becomes suddenly hurt at finding Fujiyoshi in a seemingly compromising position with another student. There are also a few distateful jokes about sexual harrassment and one about incest–there is no actual incest, but Fujiyoshi and his brother are overly affectionate (in the vein of pet names and forehead kisses–it’s a little weird) and the narrative plays that ambiguity for some uncomfortable laughs.

The story does bring up some genuinely interesting questions, with Naruse declaring–title drop!–“people are what they seem” and arguing that how people choose to present themselves reflects on their character. This perspective is even validated by the narrative, with Fujiyoshi commenting that he “has a point.” However, these themes by and large go undeveloped; the narrative hints that ‘people are what they seem’ may not be a bad thing through Naruse’s burgeoning affection for Fujiyoshi, but after the climax where Naruse realizes his feelings for the prez, the story returns entirely to the status quo. The narrative fails to fully commit, instead repeatedly undercutting its own line of questioning with largely unfunny jokes. This left me dissatisfied, and is the primary reason I found this the weakest chapter in the volume.

On a brighter note–finally!–the last story is my personal favorite, and I would argue the most feminist-friendly. “Kiss Scandal” revolves around Collin Rudd, a US Senator in a relationship with his secretary, Paul; when their relationship is exposed they are forced to deal with the personal and political consequences. It’s a short story that deals lightly with homophobia, and while it does border on sentimentality at times, I still found it really enjoyable. The two men are presented as intellectual and social equals despite one being in a typically subordinate position–plus switching!


I found this afterword super charming–it’s definitely embarrassing to be reminded first-hand that these stories are overwhelmingly written by women who have very little to no contact with actual gay people and gay culture/s, but I prefer it to heterosexual arrogance in telling stories about gay or bi characters. This is a reason, not an excuse–other people may feel differently, and that’s completely reasonable!

The chapter mostly focuses on Paul’s insecurities with regard to 1. Collin potentially leaving him to marry a woman and 2. (relatedly) standing in the way of Collin’s political career. This definitely edges toward unpleasant tropes given that it’s stated Collin is bisexual, but I think the narrative manages to avoid most potentially icky implications due to the specificity of Collin’s career and the fact that Collin makes it very clear he wants to marry Paul. Paul’s anxieties seem more reasonable and sympathetic given that Collin’s career does place him in the public eye and invite extra scrutiny on his relationships, and Collin’s readiness to commit dodges the gross biphobic stereotypes (unfaithful, basically straight, etc.) that usually accompany this sort of narrative in Western media.

Unfortunately, it still doesn’t quite manage to completely avert biphobic tropes–the narrative validates Collin’s guilt over ‘hiding’ or ‘lying’ about his sexuality by not being upfront with the media and his constituents about his relationship with Paul, and publically discussing his interest in women (implicitly, doing so without mentioning his interest in men.) This comes across as clumsy, failing to account for the ways in which coming out can pose very real dangers for LGBT people. It’s meant to demonstrate Collin’s honesty and integrity to the audience, and it does do that successfully! But it relies on common, unfair assumptions about how gay and bi people should navigate the world that lack nuance and understanding. >biphobia sp?

The story starts in media res, which helps Collin and Paul’s relationship feel very grounded as the audience is welcomed into the pre-existing familiarity between the two characters. One scene allows us to literally look at Collin through Paul’s eyes, as Paul’s internal monologue works with the visuals to establish not only love and attraction, but Paul’s genuine respect for Collin’s political ideals and ambitions. And even better, it’s made clear that this respect runs both ways when Collin suggests that Paul could run for office!

Obviously this is still very much a romance; Paul’s line about love taking precedence over dreams above is sweet, but definitely idealistic and sentimental. I think skewing more realistic in this genre is more a different kind of moe than trying to tell a story for gay/bi/queer people, but >value in women’s media/medium, and it’s still genuinely pleasant to read a romantic, mostly light-hearted story where the characters are equal partners who respect and admire each other. There are definitely other BL mangaka who are doing this and doing it well, especially in recent years, but it’s enough of a rarity that I’m excited and pleased every time I encounter it.

I like these characters and find their affection for each other satisfying and believable, and that’s never marred by rape jokes or disrespect played off as teasing the tsundere; that’s a pretty low bar, and it’s important to remember just how low it is, but these are tough times and I do try to count my blessings where I can!

Stolen Heart as a whole is a really mixed bag–it has solid visual storytelling as well as some genuinely interesting, thoughtful thematic beats, and the last chapter is a delight! But it also features multiple stories that misrepresent consent and sexual violence in deeply frustrating ways, which isn’t something that can be easily swept aside. If you can find it used or at a library (…unlikely, unfortunately) and none of the issues above are hard limits for you, it’s an enjoyable way to spend an hour or so, but it’s absolutely not something I would recommend to everyone.

Some titles I would recommend for BL fans who find some aspect of the story or storytelling appealing but are put off by the skeevy relationship dynamics:

  • Heart o Nusumu no wa Dare da (Who Will Steal Your Heart) – a mostly low-key, romantic and sentimental story ft. a master thief
  • Hashire! Ouji-sama (Run, Run, Prince!) – political intrigue with bonus democracy
  • Rin! – also illustrated by Yukine Honami, with character growth and a sports story (archery) outside the central romance, very sweet! Available published by Juné, currently out of print but still available used for an affordable price.

I hope this post has been useful and/or entertaining for all of you–thank you so much for reading and for continuing to follow the blog!

Yuri!!! on ICE and Boys Love?

Hey, everyone! Someone over on tumblr asked me what I thought of Yuri!!! on ICE, the imitable, the incredible, the sensation that rocked anime fandom, and I’m pretty happy with my reflection on the relationship between the series and the BL genre, so, crossposting! Let me know in the comments if you have any additions, fact-checks, alternate perspectives, or if you just enjoyed the post! Thanks so much everyone.

yoi ask

Hi! Thank you for this question–I adore Yuri!!! on Ice. It’s a little embarrassing how much I love it, actually. Since I’m answering this question on this specific blog, it’s important to me to be clear that I don’t think YoI is BL; the anime is TV-original, so it’s not marked for a specific demographic the way most manga are, and neither Sayo Yamamoto nor Mitsurou Kubo have previously worked on BL projects. Also, Yamamoto in particular has depicted same-gender sexual and romantic attractions/relationships in her previous directorial works Michiko and Hatchin and The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, so to me it seems more likely that she’s continuing in that vein rather than having…suddenly developed an interest in BL.

Matt Thorn, an awesome translator and shojo manga scholar, has actually said that YoI feels more like yuri than BL to her. I can’t say whether I agree, as I just…don’t read yuri (I wish I did!) but I think it’s a fascinating take on the series.

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No. 6: A Queer Rejection of Boys’ Love’s Normative Sexuality?

no. 6 bateszi
I wanted to share this post the usual way one goes about these things on WordPress, but share links were nowhere to be found! Screenshot and hyperlink it is.

Hi, everyone! To get straight to the point, I found this fantastic essay excerpt from Kiara of Bateszi Anime Blog today, and it got me thinking so many exciting things that I wanted to share it with all of you! One argument it makes in particular about how the anime adaptation of Atsuko Asano’s No. 6 functions as a queer text really struck me, so I want to dissect that here and offer my own alternative perspective regarding No. 6‘s relationship to both BL and its queer potential. If my comment on the post itself makes it out of moderation (as the blog hasn’t been updated since last August, I’m not sure anyone’s still paying attention!) you may see a few points recycled from there, but I’ll try not to make this post too repetitive.

To briefly summarize the post, Kiara begins by describing the ‘paranoid fan,’ an audience that is suspicious, actively looking for hidden meanings in the media they consume in order to fit these texts within their own expectations and desires. The post then links the paranoid fan to BL via engagement with the construct of the seme and uke pair, arguing that the paranoid fan (usually, but not necessarily, straight women consuming and creating fandom content), so badly want texts to conform to their pleasure that they flatten all interactions between male characters in media into homosexual romantic-sexual couplings, regardless of whether this interpretation is supported by the text. Kiara argues that No. 6 rejects and disrupts this mentality by having no clearly defined seme or uke, and through the ambiguous nature of Rat and Sion’s relationship–the portrayal of their feelings for one another as irreducable, impossible to categorize, and, contrary to the genre conventions of BL, non-sexual.

Our current society believes that “if you don’t love someone romantically, you love them “platonically,” which means that you want to be friends and not a “couple,” because only romantic-sexual pairs can be couples with a primary relationship” and this is very problematic.[4] This is the very reason why No. 6 is not labeled as BL, because even in softer BL, actions are laced with sexual tension and there is no such thing happening in No.6. It is because of this habit to expect sexuality that Asano took it upon herself to do make a queer series that breaks the romantic-sexual/platonic dichotomy.

This is a SUPER interesting reading of the anime (Asano’s original novels more heavily suggest that Sion’s feelings for Rat include sexual attraction); I’m especially intrigued by the post’s analysis of how Sion’s socialization to interpret his own emotions through a medicalized lens defuses situations which might otherwise suggest sexual desire. Kiara cites the scene where Rat pushes Sion down onto the bed during their first meeting as an example of this, and although, if I remember correctly, this specific form of defusion doesn’t appear after Sion and Rat escape No. 6 in the first episode, the anime still resists clear confirmation of whether or not their relationship includes sexual desire. For example, after Rat and Sion dance in episode 5, Sion reaches out and touches Rat’s neck, expressing how much he cares for Rat and causing Rat to swallow. In another series, this might have been a tender, romantic moment, with the gulp indicating strain from suppressing sexual desire; here, it is ominous. The music, camera angles, and Rat’s expression all create a sense of unease rather than one of sexual intimacy. 

Rat gaping in horror and disbelief after Sion reaches out to and touches him

However, I’m not sure I agree with Kiara that this absence of sexuality represents a queer refusal of the overly strict, normative sexual models inscribed in fandom engagement by the ‘paranoid fan.’ For one, on a more nitpicky note, I lean more toward characterizing fans who “[constantly] search for the homosexual” as playful rather than paranoid–Patrick Galbraith has done some great ethnographic work in this vein with fujoshi in Japan, and his essays “Fujoshi” and “Moe Talk” are great reads if you can get access to ’em.

I also believe that in addition to the hypersexualization of gay identity in society (e.g. gay people being characterized as inherently sexual and predatory; Tatsumi Kanji’s Persona in the Persona 4 visual novel is a good example of this what this stereotype looks like in Japanese media) gay relationships are often desexualized in order to portray same-gender desire as ‘safe’ and ‘normal,’ or in order to erase its significance altogether. We can see examples of this in the treatment of gay & bisexual women in Japan, where romantic affection between young women is viewed as a non-sexual, non-threatening, natural phase which will inevitably give way to properly heterosexual performance in adulthood, as well as that of gay & bisexual men in a Western context. I’m definitely not an expert on how, or to what extent, this issue manifests in Japan, and would welcome any insight from commentors more knowledgable about this issue than I am, but I just don’t quite buy that the absence of sexual attraction in the No. 6 anime is subverting an influential media paradigm regarding gay relationships, even specifically in contrast to BL–that it is necessarily or inherently queer.

In my opinion, where No. 6 truly shines as a queer text is in its critique of the state and the connections it draws between freedom of desire and freedom from state repression. It does not deal overtly with homophobia, the structural, systemic marginalization of people based on their sexual expression, but in specifically positioning the love between Rat and Sion as the keystone of a narrative about revolution and freedom from an oppressive state (one that attempts to sanitize and control human emotion, no less), it pursues a queer thematic project. In No. 6, the narrative gives credence to Rat’s insistence that boundaries between people matter, exposing Sion’s naivete and privilege when he proposes attempting to use the city’s own oppressive institutions to save the lives of its citizens, but ultimately validates his commitment to a destruction of No. 6 which acknowledges that “we’re all human beings.” Social differences imposed and encouraged by the state do have significance, but they are also arbitrary and can be broken down. What’s left in the world without a wall is not perfect, but it is potential. The potential for a society which can allow the freedom to feel. And to love whoever you choose.

Scarlet Beriko’s Jackass! Licensed by SuBLime

Very excited to see Scarlet Beriko getting an official English-language release! Jackass! is definitely not without its faults, but it’s also one of the few BL manga I’ve found that not only features a gay character, but a gay character who engages with gay culture. I am not at all an authority on Japanese youth gay culture, but Katsumi’s characterization does feel funny and honest to me, and the inclusion of both his lightly unconventional gender expression and his job working with other gay people in a gay district as more than a throwaway joke is kind of remarkable.

The main story, featuring the characters pictured above, has less feminist points of interest, but is also less problematic (no teacher/student relationship.) It’s a really fun romp, with lots of very teenage emotions and hormones, and a little bit of kink positivity. Definitely something to look forward to and consider purchasing if you can!

Ever-Growing List of 100% Consensual BL Manga

Exactly what it says on the tin. This list isn’t comprehensive, but it’s growing all the time. For anyone and everyone who’s tired of “your mouth is saying no but your body’s saying yes” and other methods of ~forced seduction~.

This list wasn’t created to shame anyone for what they like, but it is meant to be a useful resource for people who may be triggered by or uncomfortable with the depictions of rape and sexual assault frequently found in BL, as well as anyone else who, for any reason, prefers stories that feature consensual sex.

I didn’t originally compile this list, but the OP would like to remain uncredited. I have read everything on the list and can personally vouch for its accuracy and general awesomeness. If you have any questions or concerns (especially if you’d like a warning added to one of the manga or you catch a slip-up) please shoot me an ask!

Also feel free to submit more titles and I’ll review them and add them on! The criteria can be found here. Enjoy!

Tenki Yohou no Koibito – The turbulent relationship between a straight-laced newscaster and his eccentric weatherman. baka-updates download buy

Free Punch – 1-2) Yamada runs away from home and goes to hang out at the school until things cool down. Unfortunately he runs into his homeroom teacher who takes him home. 3-5) Ikeda moves into his dormitory to find out his roommate Kazuma has a terrible personality. Note: The first story features sex with a minor and a teacher/student relationship, and therefore doesn’t make the list. baka-updates buy

Mr. Mini Mart (LICENSED) – Shy Nakaba has been a shut-in ever since gossip at school destroyed his reputation. But when his mom snags him a job to help him break out of his shell, he’s forced to face a co-worker who knows a thing or two about courage and commitment! Can Nakaba stand tall and speak up for what he truly wants? Mr. Mini Mart serves up a sweet-and-salty story filled with brave confessions and bold crushes! Will the past catch up to a boy who wants nothing more than to hide away forever? Or will the future finally shine with the promise of brand-new beginnings? Note: tw homophobia, social anxiety

Mahoutsukai no Koi – Without worries about girls or money, halfheartedly living Nishizaki meets the love of his life on campus. A lover who bites his lips when happy… Araya is always troublesome, gloomy, and without desire. Thinking of him, Nishizaki’s teeth always hurt… baka-updates buy

Kira Kira – Kaji Ryouta, who aims to be a cameraman, is currently living with his creative upperclassmen. This person who appeared at his studio appartment and unexpectedly ended up living in his room was someone Kaji admired in high school, someone he fell in love with, confessed to at his graduation ceremony, and was spectacularly dumped by – upperclassman Miyata Makoto. That person. And…? Kaji starts his second love in this omniverse series that details the sparkling emotions of those that surround the two. Note: ONGOING baka-updates buy

Koko Kara Dousuru – What Hikaru no Go would have been like if everything had been less fraught and also not at all supernatural. Note: w/r/t story three (pgs 136-167) Touga is a god and initially quite pushy, and at one points says something along the lines of “if you kiss me, isn’t it understood that you want to go further?” After they talk it out, though, he cools down and resolves to wait. baka-updates availability note buy

Work In – Iizuka’s gay, and unfortunately for him it’s an open secret among his co-workers, who all but whisper about it the second he turns his back. Even worse, he begins falling for his new boss, Takase–at least until they go out drinking one night and Iizuka wakes up the next morning with no memory of what happened. Note: tw homophobia baka-updates scanlator buy

Sugar Code – When Takagi Akira, an owner of an apartment, was in town, he ran into a scene where a man, Oodoi, saved an old man from a gang. Akira fell for Oodoi’s manly courage and took him in his apartment. Oodoi found Akira’s apartment comfy and spent time there. Akira thought Oodoi’s manly act was now part of the past… But when Akira was harassed by mobs and about to sell his apartment, it was Oodoi who saved his life. Truth is, Oodoi is a yakuza and… Note: There’s a line in the omake (chapter 4.5) about touching Akira while he’s asleep; skip. baka-updates scanlator buy

Spell (LICENSED) – When second-year college studsent Takamasa Natori gets dragged to a double date by his friend, Takeda, he meets Junpei Kisugi. The two hit it off instantly; and while both are guys, they are soon getting along as if they have known each other for years. But when Natori hears that Kisugi is bisexual, he doesn’t know what to think. The two remain friends but things heat up when Natori runs into Kisugi’s current and slightly jealous lover Tohru?

Soko ni Suwaru na – Hayama was lovers with his roommate. He went on a trip abroad and when he returned he expected to be greeted by his lover but instead found a strange man named Namikawa. The stranger told him he was to be his new roommate. The truth is, Hayama had been abandoned without knowing about it. Namikawa felt sorry for him, and started to develop a feeling of love and jealousy toward the pure and timid Hayama… This is the story of a true love that helped heal the wound of being abandoned. baka-updates availability note buy

Sono Mama De – Tsuji and Aizawa have been friends for years—until one day, out of the blue, Aizawa kisses Tsuji and confesses that he’s in love with him. Tsuji wants to stay just friends, the way things have always been between them—after all, love can be messy, and things are just better keeping the status quo—but will they really be able to do so, or is it love-or-nothing between them? Note: tw homophobia baka-updates Note: Out of print

Apple & Honey (LICENSED) – Natsuki sees the world through a lonely haze. So, why is strange and popular Komano suddenly circling him with a sly smile? Is his attention a cruel joke…or is something delicious bubbling just beneath the surface? Apple and Honey mixes summer heat and sweet desire into the perfect treat. Will the beach bring a secret couple closer together? And can the end of the world mark the beginning of lasting love? Note: first story continues in Apple & Honey: His Rose Colored Life

Apple & Honey: His Rose Colored Life (LICENSED) – Sequel to Apple & Honey. Note: rose to tumblr fame for containing the phrase “Mother, Father, I’ve become a fine young homo.”

Tear Drop – After breaking up, Kido Yuusuke decides not to get serious about relationships anymore and goes out with accountant Kamiyama Kouki just to have some fun with no strings attached. Kouki respects Yuusuke’s wishes and maintains his distance; it’s exactly the type of relation Yuusuke was hoping for, but after being touched by Kouki’s kindness, Yuusuke starts to want more than just a good time with Kouki… baka-updates scanlator buy

Sono Te no Netsu wo Kasanete – Nagisa Takakage just opened a restaurant, and finds himself with a strange regular customer. All the chefs agree that Kouga Nagisa is a real looker, and nobody minds that he shows up to ask them questions at work. After Kouga gets himself drunk at the restaurant though, Nagisa is forced to take him home, and finds things heating up a bit. Note: Takakage kisses Kouga while Kouga’s drunk because he thinks Kouga’s coming onto him. Kouga falls asleep like five seconds later though and*** the moment that happens Takakage s t o p s lmfao fuck there is something horribly wrong with the world when I get so excited when someone does what they are supposed to do I’m sorry I’m sorry!! baka-updates scanlator buy

Rinjin wo Aisou – Kazuhito is a model student and he has a troublesome neighbour who always sleeps during classes. One day, he sees him in the streets and without knowing why, he decides to stalk him…Note: the “stalking” is way less creepy and way more harmless than the summary makes it sound. baka-updates availability note buy

Soredemo Yappari Kimi ga Suki – Young couple Hirota Naoki and Yoshizawa Hiderou have a dog-and-owner relationship, with Hirota always taking care of the clumsy Yoshizawa. But when Hirota gets sick at school and tells Yoshizawa not to follow him home, is there anything “the dog” can do to be helpful to his “owner”? Note: Chapter four features an age difference of 24 to 16. baka-updates availability note buy

Merry Checker – Blogger, Shio, meets up with some friends he met online through his blog. He is going to meet Miya (supposedly female), a blogger he hasn’t met yet. He is surprised to find out that Miya is a very tall man who has a very calming effect on others. baka-updates scanlator buy

Mizuiro to Pinku, Sore Kara Daidai – Mizuki has started dating a reticent junior from his club, Momonari, and he is finally going to Momonari’s house. Anticipation and uneasiness, in the house with just the two of them, they try to ascertain their love but… It’s the prologue of a clumsy couple in love. – Note w/r/t to the end omake (pgs 214-222): Kitagami is definitely pushy here. The eventual sex is consensual, but I wasn’t entirely happy with how he acted there. baka-updates availability note buy

Non Tea Room – Renji and Kenta are musicians, they meet each other thanks to the friendship between their bands. Each musician has different reasons to play, be it love for the music, a strong desire to surpass their fears on stage or even just for someone’s approbation. While these bands are struggling to be known in such a competitive world, Kenta is struggling with a different problem in his love life; can he be a replacement for someone else? baka-updates scanlator buy

Lucky Number 13 – Satou Hiroshi is the kind of polite, innocent, cute boy who’s popular with guys and girls alike. But word-of-mouth has it that anyone who dates him will be plagued by a series of unfortunate events and near-death experiences – eventually being forced to institute a break-up ‘under pain of death’… Will bespectacled, ‘uncool’, baseball-crazy Tsumabuki Kasumi prove these rumours wrong or experience them first-hand? But after falling for Hiroshi’s cute smile upon their (rather weird) first meeting, he’s determined to tempt fate and find out whether he can finally break out of this unlucky streak and strike it lucky in his love life! baka-updates scanlator: v1v2 buy

Sore wa Isshun no Hikari Dewanaku – Quiet, sweet story of an emotionally shuttered university sempai and his conversationally clumsy junior. Sharing the same last name and a love for classical music brings them together a little. But will this be enough to bridge the gap between the sempai’s secret sorrow and the junior’s awkward naivete? baka-updates buy

Twinkle – What sort of relationship do Andou and Ichinose actually have? Note: ONE-SHOT baka-updates scanlator availability note

Sumanai!! Masumi-kun – Shiraishi Shoutarou, a novelist, just learnt that his young and honest editor-in-charge, Osanai Masumi, would marry his precious daughter. But his daughter went missing right before the wedding! So now, Shoutarou is living under the same roof with the man who was supposed to be his son-in-law… Note: The end omake (Chapter 5, page 35 onward) features a panel of imagined non-consent. It’s told from the POV of a side character and is not necessary to the plot. baka-updates scanlator buy

Yorokobi wa Hizu no Ue – Orito Kouki was working in his mother’s pub and saw an unexpected customer, Mitsuru. Mitsuru was the elder brother of his college friend, Yuzuru. Mitsuru looked totally different from Orito’s impression of him. Mitsuru suddenly kissed Orito and asked Orito to keep his visit to the pub a secret from Yuzuru. Note: In the last chapter, there’s some surprise kinky sex that starts off badly; there’s no pre-negotiation and Orito is definitely a hot-headed jerk. It turns out fine, but still deserves a warning. baka-updates availability note buy

Nouka no Muko – Kawano went back to his hometown because his father fell ill. He decided to resign and stayed behind to take over the family farming plantations. However, he didn’t inform Nagaura, his lover, about his decision until much later. Feeling insecure about their future, Nagaura decided to do something about their long distance relationship. baka-updates availability note buy

Love Machine: Etowa (LICENSED) – Anti-social Kokuyo seems to always wind up in the hospital due to overwork from his busy writing career. Unable to bear Kokuyo’s lifestyle problems any longer, his friend Saeki gives him a “replicant,” a male android named Shiro, who can monitor his health and do his daily chores…among other things. At first, Kokuyo can’t hide his irritation toward the bumbling Shiro, but eventually his feelings begin to change. Will Shiro’s puppy-like devotion and dogged perseverance win over Kokuyo’s heart in the end? Note: Out of print in English

Otokogokoro – Average 30-something office worker Saki Hiroyasu finds himself dead on his feet with fever one evening, fainting into the arms and auspices of 18-year-old college student Shinomiya Jun. No frills, no bells or whistles, this is just the simple tale of these two lovebirds’ budding romance! Note: Saki gets pretty pushy in the first sex scene, as well as in ch5 of Tokimekigokoro, but otherwise this is great. baka-updates buy

Soba ni Oitene – As far as Yuzu remembers, since his childhood, Icchan would always come to his rescue just like a Prince in shiny armour. But Yuzu has grown taller than Icchan! A huge Princess and ultra popular handsome Prince?! A story about schoolboys, will their love bloom? baka-updates buy in Japanese Note: Licensed by Juné but unavailable, potentially expired license.

Toki no Maigo o Sagashite – An orphan since his parents died in an accident when he was 16, Akito lives with Kou’s family, his childhood friend. But following an accident, Akito becomes amnesiac, unable to recognize people close to him, places that were familiar to him, or any events of his past. Kou, who had been in love with him for a long time, takes care of Akito like a mother, trying to help him recover his memory. What if the amnesia was a new beginning for their relationship? baka-updates scanlator, availability note buy

Rutta to Kodama – Rutta changed from a delinquent to a nice guy because of his new roommate, Miyagi Kodama. Kodama was unsure of his own feelings after Rutta’s confession. After seeing Rutta’s injuries caused from excessive fighting, Kodama finally decided to face the truth and accepted him. baka-updates buy

Star-like Words – High school student Subaru wouldn’t reject a sexual favour, but dating is out of the question when he’s not in love. Stumbling upon a beautiful painting in school, he knows he’s found his first love – the artist behind the work. But winning the heart of his love interest isn’t going to be easy, particularly with his promiscuous lifestyle! Note: Warning for attempted rape; in chapter 5 two other students Subaru used to have casual sex with ambush and sexually assault him. He’s saved before they succeed in their goal and all sex between the main couple is completely consensual, but please be aware before you read! baka-updates scanlator buy

Does the Flower Blossom? (LICENSED) – Sakurai Kazuaki. At age 38, he’s single, overworked, and starting to feel a bit miserable about his life. One day a young college guy at a train station bumps into Sakurai and wrecks his magazine. Fate — or coincidence — has it, Minagawa happens to own the same magazine at home, and instead of apologizing for the damaged item, he invites Sakurai to his house and replaces it with his copy. “What an arrogant young kid he is!” Sakurai dislikes him immediately. Yet, despite feeling annoyed and frustrated by Minagawa’s rude and arrogant behavior, Sakurai soon finds himself a frequent visitor of the secluded household… Note: TW for discussion/mentions of suicide.

Bikkuri suru hodo Doji na Koi – Nao and Tom have been friends since childhood, Nao being the caretaker and Tom being the clumsy airhead. Their high school lives have been fairly uneventful—that is, until Tom suddenly confesses to Nao one night. Though Nao points out the obvious “but we’re both boys…?” The second story deals with two college students who’re doing a room share. Shimizu Mikio is in his second year of college, and has started rooming with the fluffy, energetic Sawamura Souta. But the more they’re together, the more Miki starts to notice something: Souta seems to like him. baka-updates scanlator buy

Metro Dog – Shinoda is still reeling from the sudden separation from his wife when one evening he’s lured into a peculiar little shop by the smell of coffee. There, Asukura, the shop’s proprietor, converses with him about the beauty and usefulness of broken things. Despite himself, Shinoda keeps coming back for coffee… and conversation. baka-updates buy

Graduate: Winter, Spring (LICENSED) – Shards of memory with a brilliant radiance. As the seasons turn, two boys’ hearts are changing. Winter brings them close to each other, little by little.

No Touching At All (LICENSED) – On his very first day at a brand-new job, shy Shima is trapped in the elevator with a hungover mess of a guy…who turns out to be his boss! Togawa’s prickly exterior definitely puts the rookie recruit on edge, but it doesn’t take long before Shima’s every waking thought is invaded by his overbearing yet totally thoughtful superior. Will Shima put aside a history of disappointment in order to take a chance on a complicated relationship?

Anata no Jinsei Hikiukemasu! – An elite businessman exerting himself at a publishing company is demoted to the manga editorial department, which is out of his field of experience. Moreover, his first responsibility is a comic artist that no one can handle… baka-updates buy

Bitansan Renai – There’s a guy that’s been on my mind – Michinaga. One day he told me, “Taka, I have a crush on the teacher.” But it hurts me to see his pained expression. Forget about that teacher. Forget about love that’ll never bloom. Choose me instead… Taka and Michi, Michi and the teacher, the teacher and Taka’s older brother… Where will all their one-sided feelings take them? Note: chapters 2 and 3 feature implied, off-screen non-con (one of the characters is blackmailed into having an ostensibly sexual relationship with a stalker.) baka-updates buy

Dear Green – Yajima Yukari and Otoumi Hiroshi know they must one day reveal the truth about their relationship to an important person: Ryouko. Especially after she sent invitations to a celebration of her upcoming wedding. How will she react when she finds out that her best friend is dating her ex-boyfriend? baka-updates buy

Dear Green: Hitomi no Ounowa – Prequel to Dear Green. Eight years ago, Yajima and Outomi met in high school, through Ryouko, Yajima’s best female friend and Outomi’s girlfriend at the time. Ryouko remained in their home town, but Yajima and Outomi moved to Tokyo and remained close friends through university, and after Yajima dropped out. Yajima feels comfortable with Outomi – unlike with his girlfriend. Then one day Outomi kisses another guy just to see what it would feel like, and Yajima gets agitated beyond what seems reasonable for even a close friendship. baka-updates buy

Sono Kuchibiru wo Hirake – Tamaki is in love with Shinji. He’s a spoiled, arrogant and self-centered guy and lately he’s been playfully clinging and getting too close to Tamaki to deal with tension. Thinking that this can’t go on, Tamaki is determined to distance himself from Shinji, but it just makes him want to see Shinji all the more… Note: ONGOING baka-updates buy

Kimi Note – For some reason, Miyasaka finds himself absolutely enamored by the scent of his attractive male classmate Sawatari. But when he tries the cologne Sawatari recommends, the effect just isn’t the same–it has to be on Sawatari or the cologne won’t have the same effect. Note: the last chapter, a oneshot unrelated to the main story, features a few rape jokes and so doesn’t make the list. baka-updates buy

Slow Starter – A story about two boys, Kiyo and Ino, who go to different schools but take the same train every morning. As time passes by they become aware of each other but never engage in conversation until one day when Kiyo oversleeps in the train and is awoken by Ino. From that point on they begin talking to each other and eventually become good friends… baka-updates scanlator buy

Kiss Blue (LICENSED) – When Tomosaka realized he was in love with his best friend Noda, it seemed the most natural thing in the world. He couldn’t even remember when he’d first started falling in love. He had his feelings, but he couldn’t express them… because Noda was his best friend. A story about the delicate thread that separates friendship and love.

Yabai Me de Minna Yo!! – The person Aiba Misao loves is an onnagata in taishuu engeki, named Yumedono Ginnojou. He fell in love when he saw this person on stage, believing him to be a girl. Thus, when the plain Oosato Ginji is transferred to his school, he fails to recognize him as his much-admired Ginnojou. However, Ginnojou finds love, becomes even more enthralling and makes a big break in a commercial. A long-distance relationship, a frustrating love… Complications turn these two people into adults! In addition to the title series, also included is a hard love story where East meets West on the streets of New York! baka-updates buy

The Object of My Affection (LICENSED) – Wakamiya has been chasing Yasunari for five years! So in order to get closer, he joins Kanon University’s basketball team where Yasunari plays. As Wakamiya draws ever closer to his tempting teammate, will he realize the change that has come over him?

Kakko Warukute Kakkoii Kimi – Ever since they were little, Yukihisa and Takashi have always been together. However, Takashi recently started acting strange towards Yukihisa by refusing to come near Yukihisa, baffling him. Takashi offers no explanation for his actions, causing Yukihisa to be filled with doubts about their friendship. What can Takashi be hiding from Yukihisa that’s causing him to keep 1 meter away from him? baka-updates Note: this manga was licensed by DMP under the DokiDoki imprint but is unavailable/an expired license.

Endless Comfort (LICENSED) – On the two-year anniversary of the death of his mother, Masaki Kuzumi returns to the beautiful manor home where she once lived. There, he meets the kind, devoted dog trainer Yuu Kanai and instantly responds to the younger man’s sweet nature…but something behind Yuu’s smile hints at a secret darkness that Kuzumi knows all too well. Can these two men band together and shine the light of forgiveness on all of their past regrets? Note: Major trigger warning for childhood sexual abuse–it’s represented respectfully but still potentially VERY triggering.

Merry Family Plan (LICENSED) – Typical school boy Shibutani has always had trouble staying interested in his girlfriends, but when mild-mannered Yoshizumi transfers to his class, his interest is strangely piqued. As Shibutani tries to get to know his new classmate, he finds Yoshizumi to be awkward and even hostile. Other delightfully-crafted stories include a high school boy with a bizarre mask fetish deeply in lust with his dentist; a boyfriend’s jealously over the close relationship between his lover and a best friend; and a couple who are overtly pouting over who should be on top in the bedroom. Note: Warning for homophobia in the first story, skip chapter 4 (it features a relationship between an adult and a high school student and, at least in the scanlation, an ableist slur and a joke about childhood sexual abuse–it’s n o t worth It.)

Amato Amaro – Economist Vittorio Conti wants to see what having sex with a man is like, and does what any reasonable person would do in his situation: ask his bodyguard if he wants to give it a try. Straightlaced Armando Pagani refuses at first, but for how much longer? baka-updates scanlator 1-4, availability note buy

Ashita Naku – Ichimura has just quit his job of eight years and lost his girlfriend. While feeling bummed out and uninspired, his best friend from college appears on his doorstep. But maybe there was more to their friendship than meets the eye… Note: ONE-SHOT baka-updates availability note

Nidome no Koi – Fujiwara is a man of unusual tastes—he finds plain-looking, borderline unattractive men appealing. And Karahashi, his lover and middle school teammate, has started to be insecure about this. What will he do to keep Fujiwara’s attention? baka-updates availability note

Harapeko Usagi to Koisuru Ookami – Shirou wants nothing more than to pet a fluffy rabbit, but his cold and stern expression betrays him and he’s never had the chance. So when he finally gets his chance to hold one such fluffy rabbit, you think he’d finally be content, though now it seems his attention has been caught by the young struggling uni-student Kou. He’s cute just like a rabbit, but he’s not a rabbit, so then what is this feeling? Note: I have not verified whether the full volume makes the list baka-updates scanlator buy

Hana no Migoro ni – A short sequel for Hana No Mizo Shiru portraying Misaki and Arikawa’s life after the events of the main plot. baka-updates buy

Kimi ga Iru Basho – A young man lives in a small town where he owns a small grocery shop and struggles through life alone with his small son. His childhood friend moved away after graduation and appears suddenly years after at the threshold of his shop without money or occupation and puts his life to utter chaos. baka-updates availability note buy

Me wo Tojite 3-Byou – Chibana Manabu has a habit of closing his eyes and counting to three whenever he finds himself stressed out, whether it’s about his drag-queen father or the feelings he’s harboring for his childhood friend. Kaji Hiroto is carefree and enjoying his days with Chibana, hoping they’ll last forever and maybe even turn into something even more eternal. But lack of communication and a fear of rejection can only lead downhill. baka-updates scanlator buy mangaka’s original dj

Invisible Stars (LICENSED) – (Sequel to Silent Voice) Seduced by sweet words from the upperclassman he admired and respected, Hikita fell for Imai. Through repeated kisses after baseball practice, they both fall more and more in love with each other but… 

Ouji Hiroimashita – Ginga, who comes from a poor family, picks up Ouji, a son from a noble family. Soon after, Ginga tries to avoid Ouji due to their different lifestyles, but Ouji becomes extremely attached to Ginga, suddenly kisses him, and says “I love you!” baka-updates buy

Mazu wa Hitokuchi – Oda and Hasegawa are childhood friends bound by a very special secret: Oda’s a third-generation pig farmer on a farm that raises FLYING PIGS. But when a nosy reporter starts investigating tales of upward-mobile porkers in the area, the two must band together (and thereby grow closer in doing so) to protect Oda’s family’s livelihood as well as the good-luck-giving swine. baka-updates buy

Waltz With a Black Cat – Hirose is mad. Once again his boyfriend Matsui has cheated on him, with the sorry excuse of: “Sometimes I wanna see a girl’s boobs more than a guy’s dick.” Crying at a nearby shrine, Hirose curses Matsui… And the next day, outside Matsui’s apartment, he finds a black cat with a scar just like Matsui! And Matsui seems to have disappeared… Note: ONE-SHOT baka-updates availability note

Lovers’ Doll – When Shin hears about a doll known as the “bloody doll” from his friends, he can’t help but be curious. Instantly falling in love with the figurine he decides to buy it, but there are rumors about the doll and how it got its name. It can supposedly move and talk and some former owners even claim it drank their blood. Unfazed, Shin buys the doll anyway, only to find out that the rumors might not be as ridiculous as they sound… Note: warning for physical assault–some punches are thrown but played for laughs and there’s one serious instance at the end chapter 4. baka-updates buy

Hishoken! – Secretary Saito Yo was transferred to a new director named Nabeshima Hisatsugu after a recent reorganization. However, the supposedly “never worked a day in a company” Nabeshima had his new secretary totally wrapped around his finger! Not only that, Yo was further devastated when Nabeshima commented that Yo wasn’t what he thought a secretary should be. Shocked and frustrated, Yo carelessly blurted out while he was drunk one night that Nabeshima should “take advantage” of his services. Then the next day, Nabeshima totally changed his attitude—!? baka-updates buy

Koi to Kaerou – Bad drunk, four-eyed tsundere Takahashi Kyouya returns to his hometown after four years of absence to find his childhood friend Hino Motoharu waiting for him. Oblivious to Kyouya’s feelings towards him, Motoharu is more than happy to have Kyouya back. However, the love that sparks one impassioned night in the midst of the Karatsu Kunchi festival doesn’t seem to have any intention of being suppressed. baka-updates scanlator buy

Koisuru Futari no Taion – Not a day has passed without a man for the handsome designer Kanbe. His absolute requirement in choosing a guy is their scent. He’s gone out with countless guys already, but has yet to find the one… Wait, there he is! Takahashi-kun, a delivery man, stole his heart and his nose, and Kanbe made a move on him right away. Takahashi-kun is like a puppy wagging his tail at Kanbe with all his heart, but Kanbe starts to feel guilty for what he has done…? Note: Kanbe makes a crack about STDs in chapter 4; unrelated b-story in last 2 chapters doesn’t make the list baka-updates scanlator buy

Vanilla Resort – Mutsu is a famous mangaka in the adult manga department, but he’s extremely shy. Akiharu’s job is to look after him. When Akiharu catches Mutsu in a compromising situation, he offers his help. With pocket pussy in hand, jerking Mutsu off has become part of his job, and Akiharu is getting really aroused. baka-updates scanlator buy

Kira Kira no Hibi – 1-3) Every morning, high school student Nanami catches sight of this one surfer he secretly begins to admire. Incidentally, however, it is later on a certain day that they reunite in a classroom! Turns out that this one-year-older senpai, named Shuu, is in fact one who, while characteristically mature, is unsociable to the extent that he’s even notorious for being someone difficult to approach. Even so, for some reason, Nanami becomes the sole person that he can smile at and laugh with, over and over again… 4-5) In order to overcome his debilitating fear of cats, Natsumi Hayato goes to visit a cat cafe. But could his reaction to one of the staff he meets there be even more difficult to conquer than his phobia? baka-updates scanlator 4-5 buy

Sayonara, Itoshi no My Friend – Tatsuo is a makeup artist for a fashion photographer and is sick and tired of the models fawning over the new hairstylist, Haga. One morning, he comes across one of the models running out of Haga’s room with tears in her eyes and has a long talk with him about how rude and antisocial he is. That’s when Tatsuo realizes, Haga doesn’t really know how to treat others and doesn’t even have a single friend – until now? baka-updates scanlator buy

Omairidesuyo – Miza Yuuji is the so-called ‘beautiful priest’ of Uguisuzaka Shopping District, loved and respected by all not only for his skills as a Buddhist priest but for his demure demeanor and kind air. While he professes to have pledged himself to the cloth, vowing to remain unmarried and celibate for life…he’s harbored a crush on his best friend Saburou since middle school. Now that Saburou’s back in town, taking over his parents’ tofu shop after an eight-year absence, Yuuji must deal with feelings he thought he’d long since moved past—and that’s when he gets drunk one evening in Saburou’s presence. Note: ONGOING baka-updates scanlator buy

Tsuzuki wa Mata Yoru ni – Popular host Akusawa Fumi and renowned detective Futagami Takaharu have been classmates throughout high school and college, and also been lovers at some point. They met again two years ago, and have since rekindled their sexual relationship. And while it proved to be as hot and fierce as ever, in truth there might perhaps still be a little more to it than just that..? Note: ONGOING baka-updates scanlator buy 

Ai ga Matteru – Kiyohito continually cheats in all his relationships. One day, a man named Hisashi comes stumbling into Kiyohito’s bar. Hisashi’s got less morals than Kiyohito, but despite being a crazy guy, Kiyohito can’t bring himself to hate the guy. When they are together, everything feels good…?! Note: Hisashi’s ex uses a homophobic slur in chapter 2; in chapters 3 and 4, Kiyohito ties Hisashi up with packing tape to keep him from running away–this is mostly played for laughs and never gets sexual. baka-updates scanlator buy

So Cute? – 1-2) Morizono is a wine dealer. His daily routine consists of taking pictures of Mon-chan, his beloved cat, to post on his blog and harbouring an unrequited love for Onodera, the chef of an Italian restaurant he’s currently working with. As per usual, he goes to the restaurant but Onodera happens to find out that he’s the one running Mon-chan’s blog! When he thinks that his chance has come, he realizes that he loves Onodera so much that he can’t bring himself to confess!! baka-updates scanlator buy

Okubyou na Koi – Fujimori and Matsuda attended the same high school and college; unbeknownst to even himself, Fujimori had made it a habit to hang around his senpai under the pretext of enjoying the delicious sweets that Matsuda was so good at making. But after Matsuda moved to Toyko for work, Fujimori cut off contact with him. 5 years later, they reunite unexpectedly and… Note: TWO-SHOT baka-updates availability note

No Color – Sakamoto is a serious and introverted law student. Iida works construction and is always making too much noise. The lives of these two drastically different neighbors are about to collide. baka-updates buy

Canis – Kutsuna Satoru, a hat maker, picks up a man collapsed on the side of the road named Kashiba Ryou, who came to Japan to die. Note: ONGOING baka-updates scanlator buy

I Love You, Coward – Due to his scary face, Shougo has been alone since entering university. But unexpected events lead him to become close with Hina, from the same university. Shougo, elated at the fact he’s become friends with the cool and kind Hina, finds out that Hina breaks out into hives when people treat him with affection – a “love allergy”? baka-updates scanlator buy

Kou’un no Rihatsushi – Suffering from unrequited love, Todou Tsukasa, also called “the moody pillar”, walks into a barbershop. The cheerful barber not only gives him a sexy new haircut, but also advice on how to better carry himself. Tsukasa takes that advice to heart and goes on to fame and success. But he never forgets the barber who helped him when he needed it, and so, he keeps dropping by the barbershop. However, confidence didn’t come with the new haircut nor the fame and success, and his feelings are neither conveyed nor understood well. Note: ONGOING; skip chapter 6 (oneshot unrelated to main story that doesn’t make the list); in chapter 5 Tsukasa pulls a “I can’t stop myself/hold back” though the sex is still explicitly consensual; homophobia and references to sexual harassment of a minor in V2. baka-updates scanlator buy

Natsu Kimi ga Saku – Shinobu grew up in a town so small that he didn’t even have any classmates in elementary school. Without any friends his age, he spent his time learning about flowers with a local horticulture expert. Now that he’s moved away to a city, he still sticks to himself, since he never really learned how to make friends. That is, with the exception of Yukihito, who came up to him one day and became his friend. The trouble is, now Yukihito means the world to Shinobu, and he doesn’t know what to do about it. Note: Chapter 2 features sex where one party is in significant emotional distress (unrelated to the sex itself.) Please use caution when reading! baka-updates buy

Tsumaranai Otoko – 1) A Boring Man After getting dumped, Hashimoto, an ordinary businessman, is approached by a popular and successful co-worker. 2) Sweet Room Kotobuki is famous on campus for his beauty and brains. Will he ever find a roommate who isn’t disillusioned when he sees what Kotobuki is really like? 3-4) Let’s Tie Hands Firmly When Atsushi quits his job in the city and returns to his hometown, he finds his younger friend, Satoru, all grown up and a little distant. 5) Always Hand in Hand Sequel to ‘Let’s Tie Hands Firmly’. 6) A Troubled Man (continuation of “A Boring Man”) Note: Story 3 features a relationship between an adult and a minor and a respectful depiction of sexual trauma baka-updates buy

Focus – A young photographer, Hirami Yuichi visits an island for an exhibition and meets the gallery’s owner, Asahina Jun and fell in love at first sight. Even with a direct approach, it doesn’t reach the heterosexual Asahina. However, one day when Asahina talked about his past with him, he was moved and he hugged him. Getting closer or staying away, both of them make it hard to leave. A painful love story that will squeeze your heartstrings. It is Nishi Noriko’s debut piece! baka-updates scanlator buy

Smile, Kudasai! – Fast food part-timer, Tachibana Souta receives a love confession over the counter from one of the regulars, a salaryman named Kanzaki Tooru. Because he was causing a scene over the register, Souta relents and gives him his email. After that, he gets messages from him every single day. He thought nothing of them at first, but they’ve been coming in persistently and Souta slowly came to anticipate these messages. But one time, when Souta rejects Kanzaki as per usual, the man tells him, “I won’t come to see you anymore.” Before he knew it, he had fallen for him. ❤ Note: ONGOING baka-updates scanlator buy

Shiro no Koro – A city boy transfers to a country school. Note: ONGOING baka-updates scanlator buy

Sex Friends – I was reunited with an acquaintance from my college days at work. If I were to listen to him, he made a career in showbiz based on nothing but lies. So we had sex like he was using it keep my mouth shut, and just like that we became sex friends… Note: ONGOING baka-updates scanlator buy

Neon Sign Amber – An expressionless club doorman meets a flashy boy at one of the many parties the place gathers. As someone who’s always been considered quite boring or an emotionless person, Saya-chan with his clumsy personality will make this man a more vivid one. baka-updates scanlator buy

Kimiiro Eden – Iga is a famous landscaper. But for some reason, he was left out of a big project and was appointed to be foreman of a small garden in the outskirts. Growing tired of it, Iga couldn’t accept that fact but when he met a client named Asakura, something in him is starting to change… baka-updates scanlator buy

It’s Only Love (LICENSED) – Izumi is a dedicated single parent haunted by his past while trying hard to make a future for him and his son. First suffering the crippling loss of his closest friend after their junior high graduation in what was an ego destroying personal rejection of their friendship, he then went on to lose his young wife due to complications of childbirth. Thankfully, his seemingly tough yakuza brother in law, Sawaragi, was there to lend a hand when he needed it most. Things seem to be going swimmingly well until his childhood friend makes a sudden reappearance, throwing Izumi into emotional turmoil. Just what is Takatsudo playing at, wanting to hang out like close friends again after all this time? Izumi’s determined to find out just what is going on before his heart is crushed beyond repair this time… Note: Features drunk sex and drug trafficking.

Seinen wa Ai o Kou – 1-3) Hiding the fact of being gay for years, high school student Kaede has a thing for his friend, Okuda.”I must never let him know about my feelings,” decided Kaede deep down in his heart. Where will this mixture of feelings lead to? baka-updates scanlator buy

Yoake e no Senkou – Tozaki is a university student who aims to be a lawyer and works as part-time staff with Kuze who is Tozaki’s boss. Tozaki needs to get his essay back from Kazu so Kazu asked him to get it back from his house!? baka-updates buy

Koi to Kedama to Otonari-san – Ichinose, who is not very good at socializing, meets his next door neighbor, Tsuchiya, and his pet cat. After becoming good friends, Ichinose is extremely grateful to Tsuchiya. However, Tsuchiya, full of feelings for the other, desperately tries to hide his desire…!? baka-updates scanlator buy

Hashire! Ouji-sama – A kingdom’s ruling faction sends out a secret agent to find the kingdom’s missing prince. Love begins to grow between the missing prince and the agent sent to find him but political intrigue intervenes upon their arrival in the kingdom. Note: Unpleasant gag in the last chapter where Dyun hires someone to take pictures of his partner in secret. Also: BL, now with bonus democracy! baka-updates availability note buy

Heart o Nusumu no wa Dare da – The love story between a policeman and a man on the wrong side of the law. By day, he’s a gentle coffee shop owner; by night… A charismatic master thief?! Note: Police officer doesn’t know cafe owner is the master thief during 1st sex scene baka-updates scanlator buy

Doushite Namida ga Derunokana – Jr. high student Izumiya is surprised by a sudden kiss from his handsome classmate Hayakawa. Leaving him completely confused, Hayakawa suddenly leaves town, but the two reunite again in high school. As the two continue to part and reunite, Izumiya’s feelings start to stir… Note: Recurring slapstick gag where Hayakawa non-consensually kisses Izumiya and gets punched for it baka-updates availability note buy

Ever After – A collection of oneshots based on fairytales/folklore. However, in this case the main characters are all men. Drawn in the accustomed gorgeous style of Est Em, Ever After brings us an interesting and sensual twist of all these classics. Note: Skip chapter 2 baka-updates scanlator buy

Inu to Tsubame – Kaede is still mourning the loss of his brother when he is suddenly reunited with his childhood friend, Noro. As they get closer, Kaede shares his suspicion that he may have caused his brother’s death. After hearing this, Noro recommends animal therapy and lets Kaede use him as a pet dog. But one day, the dog suddenly kisses his owner…? Note: Deals respectfully with themes of gender/sexual identity, suicide, and grief; features one non-consensual kiss in Chapter 2 (Noro gets a water bottle thrown at his head for it) baka-updates scanlator buy

Goodbye Lilac – To high school teacher Kasai, Kato Reiji is a troublesome, yet cute student. Despite being confessed to by Kato, Kasai does not overstep student-teacher boundaries. Spring goes by and he sees Kato off at graduation. A few years have passed and Kato is now a teacher himself. And he happens to come to the school that Kasai works at… Note: Features drunk sex, dubiously consensual attempted drunk sex between Kato and a nameless patron at a sex club, revenge porn, and discussion of vore, basically, during a love confession  baka-updates scanlator buy

Ame to Kiss – Ever since he was a child, Maeda Taiki looked plain and shabby, and has never been popular. For these reasons, he wanted to at least have a good sense of fashion as an adult. So before he knew it, he became a shop attendant at a fashion mall. He has now found someone that he likes…. an employee at the fashion mall’s main department, Yagii Haruhisa. Not only is Yagii kind and handsome, he’s friendly with everyone he meets. He’s someone that Maeda simply can’t help but admire. However, Maeda is aware that he doesn’t stand a chance of loving someone like Yagii… That is, until an awkward question from Maeda causes Yagii to steal his first kiss?! Note: Yagii is sweet but pushy, a coworker/love rival attempts to kiss Maeda against his wishes, there are a couple token ‘no’s and ‘wait’s in the final sex scene I’m letting slide because they come across as denials/requests for specific actions rather than the sex in general, but it’s not addressed in the narrative and is definitely something to watch out for baka-updates scanlator buy

Ai Koso Subete – Ritsu first comes to know Katagiri as a customer of the flower shop he works at. Their relationship begins to change when he finds Katagiri dejected over a failed romance and comforts him. Note: discussion of past financial abuse (YMMV, but it’s close enough to be potentially triggering) baka-updates scanlator buy

Ou-sama no Koi Asobi – Corporate spy Makino slips into the company Prad as a temporary worker, but is discovered by prospective CEO, Kamina. Ever since then, he is forced to live at Kamina’s place? Instead of punishment, what awaits? A mature love story brought to you by Fujitani Youko. Who will emerge as the winner in this showdown? Note: Makino is initially blackmailed into living with Kamina, who is very affectionate and pushy at times, but the romance develops naturally and the sex is consensual; ONGOING baka-updates scanlator buy