Boys Love Subgenre
Just like the shoujo-ai label went out of style for media featuring the pure love between girls, the term yaoi is moving out to be replaced by boys love. Regardless of the complicated meaning of the terms in English fandoms, boys love is exclusively the genre of anime where men like men. This can encapsulate anything from cute fluffy romances to downright 18+ shenanigans – the only requirement of the subgenre is that one or more of its male characters has an interest in one or more of the other male characters.
As there are a number of names for media containing love between two men (often on a scale of how naked they get and who it is ultimately for), we will be using boys love to refer to anime ranging from subtext to outright romance between the gay pairs, aimed at female audiences.
Handsome man meets cute boy. The top/bottom dynamic is boys love’s favourite thing and many, many shows love pairing masculine with feminine or otherwise large men with small cute men. It’s not in every single series, but chances are high that if the anime you’re watching plays on this, it’s gearing up for boys love.
It’s for women. While yuri can sometimes be for both guys and girls, boys love is almost exclusively aimed at women. As such, any excuse to show bare chests, dripping wet hair or anything remotely hot about the male characters is deeply encouraged.
Chins. The length and pointiness of characters’ chins is directly proportional to whether the show belongs to a boys love anime or just regular shounen/seinen.
Tension. Anime that require boys love goggles to be equipped often make use of suggestive tension between characters, fueling audience’s imaginations with potentially steamy situations but quietly saying “no homo” to the side.
Action. High-stakes, high-tension shows put their characters through a lot where they need to stick together to survive. More importantly though, it’s also the genre where a lot of male characters show up – or even where only male characters show up.
Sports. Teamwork and comradery are the cornerstones of sports anime. Take it far enough, and the heated passion on the field and close friendship off the field can be seen as something more.
Romance. Since many boys love anime follow the path of how two characters meet and fall in love, romance is often a strong presence if not the only other genre the show is.
Hentai. Boys love hentai manga, doujins and audio are a bit more common than OVAs but you can bet audiences are keen to see
Here's our top 10 'best Boy Love recommendations'
1. Junjou Romantica – Misaki’s study is interrupted by an affectionate tutor; a loner professor meets an endlessly devoted student; an emotionally-empty divorcee is chased around by his love-struck former brother-in-law. These three stories play out as each man struggles to accept his feelings. An interesting romantic anime that switches between multiple couples.
2. World’s Greatest First Love – Ritsu starts a new job editing shoujo manga in the male-dominated department of publisher Marukawa Shoten. When he meets the editor-in-chief, things don’t go exactly as planned, but it goes from bad to worse when Ritsu discovers his boss is his high school crush. A cute romantic comedy that takes a look at other couples as well.
3. Hybrid Child – As an android who grows with love and forms strong emotional bonds with its owner, the hybrid child is a marvel of technology. That’s why, no matter the person, a hybrid child can help them find love or teach them the importance of relationships. A romantic, dramatic look into how technology affects the lives of three different people.
4. Love Stage!! – Izumi is the only member of his family not making waves in the world, but all that changes when he’s pulled onto a commercial set and made to dress as a girl. When he bumps into popular star Ryouma Ichijou, the actor falls for Izumi sight and scene, but Ryouma is yet to discover the truth underneath Izumi’s dress. A romcom anime through and through.
5. Betrayal Knows My Name –Yuki is an orphan with a strange ability: just by touching someone, he can see into their past and know of their darkest moments. Yuki’s eagerness to help people through hard times often makes him reveal his power, much to the anger of others. Cast aside by others, a man approaches him, claiming to be his brother. A dramatic fantasy anime with light boys love moments.
6. 07-Ghost – Teito Klein, an amnesiac former slave, is enrolled in the Barsburg Emire Military Academy because he has a rare supernatural ability. After discovering a gruesome secret about one of the officials in the academy, he attempts assassination – but fails horribly and is forced to flee. An action-heavy fantasy anime with plenty of boy’s love moments… if you bring your goggles.
7. Loveless – After the death of his older brother, Ritsuka transfers to a new school. There he meets Soubi, a man who knew Ritsuka’s brother and who used to fight with him in special spell battles. After finding out the battles are key to discovering the mystery behind his brother’s death, Ritsuka becomes Soubi’s new partner in battle. An action/fantasy series with strong boys love tones.
8. Gravitation – Shuichi dreams of becoming a pop idol, just like the vocalist of Nittle Grasper. Together with his best friend, they form a band called Bad Luck and manage to land a big contract… if only Shuichi could buckle down and write some songs. A romantic comedy with lots of music and loving.
9. DRAMAtical Murder – “Rhyme” is the fighting game everyone’s hooked on in the future and gangs in particular have taken to it in a big way. When gangless, gameless Aoba hears people connected to the game have started to go missing, he starts to investigate it and the mystery surrounding it. A psychological sci-fi anime based off a visual novel.
10. Embracing Love –Kyousuke and Youji are both former adult video stars looking to become real actors in the film industry. The two’s goals force them to compete, but rivalry quickly turns to love when they start working on a project together. A strongly adult series with plot and drama.