Boys Who Love ‘Boys’ Love’ Manga On the Rise, Claims Article

A typical scene from a 'Boys' Love' fanfic,

Boys’ Love (BL) or yaoi manga, which often features male-male homoerotic storylines, is well-known for being popular among Japanese girls, and has also gained some popularity outside of Japan. But this article from News Post Seven suggests that BL is now growing in popularity among male readers due to its ‘homosocial’ portrayals of men in the company of men.

BL has been the subject of academic study in both Japan and the West, with critics suggesting a number of theories as to why yaoi manga has enjoyed popularity among girls and women, including the idea that it allows them to distance sexual fantasies from their own bodies. Others argue that it allows readers to reject the power equation that female readers might see as a fundamental part of sexual relationships between men and women. But how can we explain the phenomenon in men?

The article below sets out to find the answer, though many agree that it doesn’t really succeed. Netizen comments on the article reveal an array of attitudes toward the subject matter, ranging from homophobia to acceptance of an individual’s tastes.

From News Post Seven:

It’s Not Only For Female Otakus: A Look At the Psychology of Boys Who ‘Like Boys’ Love’ Manga As Their Number Increases.

Boys’ Love (BL) manga, which portrays a love relationship between two men, is currently one of the major genres that supports the fanzine market. However, before the appearance of the term ‘BL’, there were numerous female fans of fan-fiction that depicted romantic love between men, who were known as ‘yaoi’ fans [‘Yaoi’ was originally an acronym standing for ‘Yamanashi/ochinashi/iminashi’, or ‘No peak/no punchline/no point’].

From around the year 2000, these fans came to be called ‘fujoshi’ [a pun on ‘respectable woman’ that literally means ‘rotten girl’], and they bolstered a fanfiction industry aimed at women. In the past, ‘BL’ and ‘yaoi’ was something of a ‘secret garden’ — there was the impression that it was something that women enjoyed in secret — but women like the celebrity Yoshiki Risa who openly admit that they like Boys’ Love manga are also on the rise.

Yoshiki Risa admits to enjoying reading Boys' Love manga

Yoshiki Risa admits to enjoying reading Boys’ Love manga

Still, now there are ‘boys’ appearing who openly admit that they like BL. Mr. A (21), a male university student who attends the law faculty at a private university in Tokyo, had this to say:

‘I’m a member of an inter-college group who identify as otakus. When the members get together, the boys also read BL manga as a matter of course. There are some guys who openly admit that they actively like BL, and who enjoy talking to fujoshi about it. I mean, fanzines are not just erotic, there is also a lot of fanfic that consists of jokes or ‘honobono’ [‘heartwarming’]-style manga. So if one person gets hooked on something, their enjoyment tends to spread to everyone else in the group’.

A company employee, Mr. B (25), is another man who is hooked on fanzines aimed at women:

‘Just as K-On! became popular, on a deep psychological level men kind of like the ‘homosociality’ of gay fanfiction. This is portrayed in shonen manga [boys’ manga], and it’s also portrayed in fanfic, so why wouldn’t men get hooked on it? ((笑). By the way, in my own case, I prefer manga that shows the bonds between men rather than a sexual relationship between them, so of course I can read BL. It doesn’t really matter if the relationship between men is expressed as love within that.’

I see. It seems like romantic love can also be interpreted as a ‘bond’ between men.

Comments from Ameba News:
[Most upvoted comments first]


It’s homo manga, at the end of the day.


Fags…┌(┌ ^o^)┐Fags…


Does this column actually explain the psychology behind it?


Wait wait wait www So he’s saying that he’s hooked on fanfic that shows sexual acts, not only manga that portrays bonds. He’s just a queer!ww

さとまる(´・ω・`) @Twitterに生息:

Fujoshi and fudanshi [male equivalent], why don’t you make friends! w


Ah, good. I want them to read pure love manga, which has has no sexual relations and a lot of good stories, because it focuses on matters of the heart rather than lust. And I guess that there are a lot of really handsome men in it w You can get used to it! w


Saying that people are small minded and stuff because they don’t feel the same as people who like BL(°_°) People are going too far in trying to force their opinion. That’s what you call a petty person!


Some people really are petty ^^ — like people who don’t take kindly to BL, and who say it’s physiological impossibility.


Hmmm…It’s up to the person themselves, and I think it’s fine…they enjoy it…


Isn’t it OK for anyone to read BL?


What’s the problem? People like what they like.


Try not to discriminate against people. This is just the same as racism or abuse of human rights. Men should eat what they want, read what they want, and love who they want. They should live freely.


I don’t have any particular interest in BL so I don’t read it, but if someone likes it then there’s no problem. If you wake up and it’s no harm to you…then…w I won’t put up with people butting in over what someone likes doing.


I understand that there are still a lot of people in society who have bad feelings about BL, but I think it’s weird for other people to say this and that about people’s interests.


Japan has been like this since the old days. Can’t be helped.


And why are people who say it’s disgusting reading this article anyway, I wonder? If someone was really disgusted by it then I don’t think they’d stay on the page (^ー^)


Such peace


So fudanshi are on the rise, huh? Just what I’d expect in Japan.


There should be even more fudanshi! ww


Sick. Disgusting. Are all young men sick in the head these days?

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    I guess “Fu(腐)” has been becoming more popular in Asia these days, with the impact of Japanese BL and aniki(兄贵 which is actually GV star from the States ) culture. In China, young ppl now use the word “基佬” which means “gay friends” to describe good friends of the same sex who spend lots of time together. It doesn’t mean they are gay, but just people are more open-minded to the idea of homosexuality.

    • besudesu

      Oh that’s really interesting. That kind of fits this idea of ‘homosociality’ as being a reason why men who are not necessarily gay might like BL — I guess it’s basically a bromance, right?

      • Steve

        besudesu, I think you’re right… But for me, two men seems more romantic, and less sexual. No two people can ever learn to understand each-other like two men can.

        • linette lee


  • …maybe females like reading it because they think two guys over each other is a turn-on just like straight dudes think two girls together is a turn on………? Strangely enough, that’s the only thing that stood out to me in this article lol.

  • linette lee I don’t know. I don’t know how is it a turn on two dudes making out. lol….

    Maybe one of the dude looks like a flower boy or something. Imagine two rambo making out? aik…o .O

    Men get turn on watching two girls making out. Actually two pretty girls making out will turn anyone on. I will watch. Very sexy and not ugly at all. >.<

    • dim mak

      linette the lesbian… who’da thunk it

      • Steven

        Nothing kills my boner more than seeing two women make out, and I’m very open a bi man. There’s nothing romantic about it to me. I think of it as kinda obscene, and revolting.

        It isn’t logical and I’m not homophobic, it’s just that everyone’s normal is different.

        • Ruaraidh

          Bis always end up with guys,.. Or so the saying goes.

    • TSDown

      Perhaps boys who are not as strapping, charming or brawny desire to be in similar relationships depicted in boy love comics. It may be a way for them to fantasize being in the presence of men who have qualities they believe are exemplary of what society’s concept of an ideal man should be. The longing and/or satisfaction to be close to someone rather than to be driven by lust.

      Just as women may project themselves in a boy love relationship, boys may yearn to be either of the two parties involved; however not because the result is sex but rather to be a part of that world – a variety of romance that could be difficult to develop between a man and a woman. That is my best guess.

      I believe that in many societies women are perceived to be sex objects, or who personify sex, which is why it appears more acceptable by both genders. Mainstream entertainment often encourages this view, including comics in Japan. It may be entrenched in the mind when people grow up in that environment and come to believe that women should be weak, submissive and inferior. As a result it is less common for men to be seen as sex objects and intimate relationships among them would, on a subconscious level, feel unnatural or repulsive.

      Or maybe women in Japan simply want to reverse roles and harbor a secret wish to dominate men. They may also fantasize about being men, given the bias in Japanese society and culture. Just another guess.

    • Rayna

      Are all homophobes this stupid are you just special?

  • god

    i know the reason for declining birth rates. japan is turning gay

  • dim mak

    All those philosophical explanations for yaoi’s popularity

    Couldn’t it be that girls just like yaoi for the same simple reason many boys like lesbians – because 2 is better than 1?

    Gimme your opinions ladies

    • besudesu

      Hmm….it is probably slightly more complex than that. The protagonists portrayed in yaoi are often quite feminine, and possibly allow women to imagine themselves in the position of the protagonist and express themselves sexually without the constraints of their gender in a way they feel they can’t in real life. There is a whole fantasy and storyline surrounding what you are imagining as the climax, Dim. Plus, these are comics — there is no evidence to show that it is a common fantasy to watch two real men in the throes of passion. The male fantasy of two women together firstly usually involves two real women, and secondly the fantasy involves the man as onlooker, ie the scene is performed for the benefit of the man. The women don’t really desire each other, they secretly desire the man — or so the fantasy goes. In yaoi, the structure of the fantasy seems somewhat different, since in this case one of the men is effectively the female reader, if you see what I mean. I’m sure that a yaoi expert will come and prove me wrong on this one, but this is my basic understanding of why the genre has been popular with girls.

      • dim mak


        I always figured the perceived deviance of homosexual relations gave it a “cute & naughty” edge that ppl find so appealing

        May I ask what Beth thinks of boylove manga :3?

        • besudesu

          You may indeed, even though that’s a bit cheeky :p Sadly I have no opinion because I’ve never read any. In fact I’ve never read any manga, apart from one volume of a manga called ‘Hot Gimmick’ because I thought the English title was hilarious. Needless to say, it didn’t live up to my expectations.

          Still, I think that manga is a pretty amazing medium — and I think that BL kind of epitomizes it in the sense that it can be completely detached from reality and yet still represent things that people can feel and relate to.

    • linette lee

      I think women want to the vulnerable side of men. It’s a fantasy. I don’t think it’s attractive to see real men making out. I mean..not me. But I guess in comic book the men look very feminine and vulnerable.

      • Relivash

        But aren’t men being emasculated in current societies? Wouldn’t this vulnerable side be more open in public?

      • im vulnerably waiting for you
        with all kinds of vulnerability and possibility.

  • Dan

    What about boys who translate BL manga because they’ll take any gig they get?

    • besudesu

      Ask no questions, take the cheque. (I’ll stand by that as long as ‘translate BL manga’ doesn’t get replaced with ‘become drugs mules’ or something else illegal. ) I eagerly anticipate a thread for ‘Boys Who Love Translating Boys’ Love Manga For Boys Who Love Boys’ Love’.

    • Guest

      I can sorta relate – I’ve translated erotic doujinshi based on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Except I did it for free, because I’m nowhere near professional level yet. Doing whatever it takes to expand my vocabulary – just the other week I learned the word 交尾!… eh, I’m sure it’ll come in handy at some point. Not sure if it’s gonna come up on JLPT N2 though..

      • That was me BTW. Not sure what happened there. Lest y’all think I’m ashamed or anything 😉

        • besudesu

          Oh not 交尾…please tell me it was a nature documentary….(?_?)

  • Flora

    I’m a longtime fan of BL/yaoi myself, and a lot of people here are correct – we like it for the same reason guys like to watch two women.

    Plus, I also like to read hetero smut manga, and female leads are often portrayed as very needy & somewhat annoying (not all, but a good chunk). Story is also a big part of my fandom, and nothing on this Earth could get me to sit through that.

  • Kate

    I like the boy love in Ouran High School Host Club ^_^ Hikaru and Kaoru are really cute and funny >:)

  • Cleo

    I googled for Akihito and found this

    • besudesu

      Sure you’re not using Bing?

      • Cleo

        no there’s some famous manga couple with the recipient named Akihito – I think the pages are flurried on youtube videos such is their popularity


      And you’re googling Akihito why? Nothing better to do with your time I see. You’re either the greatest troll ever, or you’re mentally disturbed. Either way you’re a sad case.

      • dim mak

        the first mistake was talking to cleo

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  • Rhea

    I’ve always suspected that male otaku like moe slice of life stuff (K-On, Yuru Yuri, etc.) because of the deep homosocial friendships/relationships, so the rise of fudanshi being absolutely no surprised for some of the reasons stated. As a queer girl, I read mostly yuri, but I like BL stories as well once in while, especially those which have deep emotional relationships. I could do without the comically huge hands, though.

  • asfd

    Straight men can watch gay porn and get off on it too. I’ve heard some even say that when they watch gay porn, they feel like they are in some sort of mutual circle jerk with other guys and enjoy that sense of mutual horniness. Even though they are totally straight. Remember, even if you’re watching heterosexual porn, you’re still watching someone of the SAME sex getting off and naked too, and you’re getting horny from it. ACTUALLY out of all the porn types out there, straight guys enjoy shemale porn (men with penises but who look and dress like women, having sex with regular looking men) a LOT, even if they would never do it IRL. Most shemale porn is digested by heterosexual men, while most homosexual men are actually turned off by shemale porn. SO. People are just weird 😛

  • MizKiwi

    @It’s homo manga, at the end of the day.

    This has got to be the most productive comment ever

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