A Beginner’s Guide to Yaoi

Hello readers!

I’m Shrutianime (you can call me Shruti) and I just got accepted as a writer for The Otaku’s Blog. A big hug to the staff here! Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu~ There are surprisingly very few posts on Yaoi and as a 120% Fujoshi I thought I’d start off with a simple guide to  Yaoi for beginners.

Even the most deep rooted Japanophiles and anime fans are occasionally hesitant to try out new genres and themes. Even I find it difficult at times to adjust to different genres and sub-genres, art styles, plot lines and new mangaka.

About 60% of the anime community I mingle in has a prejudice against Yaoi. Understandable, especially when you look at it from a deeper perspective. Where I come from, anything even remotely sexual is looked down upon and everyone shies away from it. Thankfully things are changing and everyone’s views are turning more liberal and open. 

When I first came across Yaoi and Shonen Ai, I had absolutely no clue as to what it was and how to start. It does get mind boggling when you are new to graphically explicit homosexual scenes. Luckily a couple of Fujoshi friends of mine popped in to help with the jargon and suggested a few manga for those interested in this genre but clueless about the basics. I really appreciated it and thought that others would need help too.

The Vocabulary:

The Yaoi/Shonen Ai realm has a lot of Japanese terms which are usually used as-is (just how we like it). When you begin to read without a basic understanding of the Yaoi Dictionary, the stories (especially those short one-shots) just fall apart and you simply lose interest (even if it is smexy). Here are a few basic words with their meanings which will help you complete the journey to becoming a Fujoshi (or even a Fanboy) in no time.

    • Yaoi/Boy’s Love/Shonen Ai: These terms imply Homosexual love between males. While Yaoi is considered to be more sexually explicit, Shonen Ai tends to be more platonic and often has deeper plots. Fans in Japan use the term BL meaning Boy’s Love whereas international fans prefer to use Yaoi.
    • Fujoshi: This literally means Rotten Girl. Female fans of Yaoi are referred to as Fujoshi. (points to self)
    • Seme: A martial arts term brought into the Yaoi vocabulary. It points to the “attacker” or the more dominant person in the coupling. Also referred to as the “top” or the “male” of the relationship. Usually they are more masculine. Another word used is “Tachi”.
    • Uke: The opposite of Seme, Uke specifies the “docile” person, the “bottom” or “female” of the relationship. Typically shown as feminine and graceful males to distinguish them from the Seme. Parallel to “Tachi” is “Neko”.
    • Bara: This is a homosexual genre aimed towards male readers unlike Yaoi whose target readership is female. The men in these are invariably muscular and “manly” and appeal to male readers who dislike the feminine Bishonen portrayed in BL manga.

Manga Suggestions:

I can guess with my experience that while a few people like  excessively angst filled plots, others like lighter ones. Yaoi is often angsty and at times, pretty pointless. But a few great mangaka out there provide lighter and simple plots along with fairly decent events spicing up the story. For appetizers I suggest the following (in no specific order).

Junjou Romantica

      • Junjou Romantica (Nakamura Shungiku): Why yes, it is a very standard suggestion, but for a good enough reason. The characters are not hollow and the comedy is well executed. Because of a relatively lighter story, beginners find this series very comfortable to deal with. Plus, there are loads of teddies!!
      • Sekaiichi Hatsukoi (Nakamura Shungiku): Based parallel to Junjou Romantica, those who cannot get enough of teddies in Junjou, can look forward to bunnies here instead. Even the anime is a good watch as the Seiyuu do great justice to the characters.
      • Komatta Toki Ni Wa Hoshi Ni Kike (Abe Miyuki): Even the mangaka herself laments about the unnaturally long name of the series. But no complaints there. It is more of a Shonen Ai genre as of now. A school based storyline with a few clichés but the personalities of the lead characters turn up the spice factor and help you overlook them.

Komatta Toki ni wa Hoshi ni Kike

      • Himegoto Asobi (Yaya Sakuragi): Sakuragi sensei’s artwork is amazing as usual. This is a newer ongoing offering and seems interesting. This manga traces a gradually developing relationship between a  easy going shop owner and a serious paediatrician.
      • Doushitemo Furetakunai (Yoneda Kou): This one is on the more angsty side and is set in a workplace. Two men reconcile with their past and get together. The series has a set of Drama CDs as well, which can be heard while you read the manga. Gives a sort of animeXmanga mash-up feel.

Merry Checker

      • Merry Checker (Suzuki Tsuta): An ongoing series. Two bloggers with clashing personalities come across each other during a meet. Both turn out to be completely different from their online avatars and end up staying the night together. Sweet story with humour.

I hope you all try these out. If these series caught your interest and this post helped, I would be glad to offer more suggestions depending on your specifications. Happy reading to all!

About ichigoparfaitchan

An anime and manga fan, I also love music, cooking (and food of course), nature, history and making friends... I thought I'd share my thoughts with people and make my own blog..Not my first blog but my first serious attempt at continuing one! ^__^
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17 Responses to A Beginner’s Guide to Yaoi

  1. 99.9% of yaoi fans are there for the sex.

    • Cely_belly says:

      I’m glad you posted about this. I have come across a few other posts introducing new fans to yaoi and I always learn something new. Words like Bara…I didn’t know that. I just recently discovered I’m a fujoshi! >.< But despite the terms, I think it is good to spread a little knowledge on the subject. Too many yaoi prejudiced out there. Thanks for the manga recommendations ^^ Merry Checker sounds interesting.

      Btw, congrats!! It's nice to meet you Shruti. Looking forward to hearing more from you!

      • shrutianime says:

        Thanks so much!! Nice to meet you too Cely! :D
        Yay! Glad to see another Fujoshi around *smug smile* There are very few out there, sadly. Merry Checker is worth a read, hope you try it out.

    • Cely_belly says:

      Pretty much XD
      Nah but that’s not me . . cough cough.

    • shrutianime says:

      A few actually like the plot and personality development, but they probably fall into the minority group. XD

      • Cely_belly says:

        Yeah. I noticed. It sucks. I am enjoying the personality development in Merry Checker. Only 2 chapters left! ^^ I think I find it more satisfying to build up to the happily ever after(or so it seems). Some stories can be really cute, but really short. The more explicit, the shorter the story….well, from what I’ve read/watched. I also haven’t come across much controversy. For example: the many issues that arise from being gay. A little more realism would be nice.

        • shrutianime says:

          Ah there are a lot of those.. full of issues.. They usually fall into the “excessively angsty” category though.
          And yep, shorter the story, the more explicit it gets.. They need to finish off the whole climax reaching scene soon right XD

  2. Akemi takahashi says:

    What chapter is that in the Black butler picture. I dont remember reading that part

  3. Alice says:

    Thank you whoamygod! Can you help on how not to get flustered whenever that’s seen- it’s just, gah! Everything just shudders and cuteness is just -dies-

  4. Kira-kun says:

    I’m glad you posted this because it helped my friends understand what yaoi is finally.

  5. anon says:

    Hi shruti,
    First of all, this article of yours is really well written and provides all the basic information a person venturing into this world will like to know. Also, do you know japanese fluently? how did you learn?

    And secondly, are you from India? ‘coz I am and if you are also then its great to see a fellow Indian fujoshi.

    • shrutianime says:

      I’m so sorry I haven’t been able to reply. Busy busy life >_<
      I don't know Japanese fluently, but I can understand spoken Japanese, learned it through years of anime watching. Subtitles are under-rated! I am planning to learn formally though and give the exams as well~

      Also, I am from India!! And I'm super glad to see another Indian fujoshi, we're a rare breed.

  6. jyoti says:

    r u an indian fujoshi?? same here. dude im so glad to have found someone who is indian as well as a fujoshi. contact me @jyotimeena10 at Twitter.

  7. Merumero says:

    Where is the Super Lovers Manga?

    Its very unique and romantic. Lel

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