Oh boy, I was supposed to try to keep to the Animanga Festival schedule but I failed after the first post! Lucky for me, there are some free days throughout the festivities and that is where I’m going to be dropping these very late posts
For today’s post, I will be looking back to day two of the festival, Core Necessities, which basically means we make a list of anime and/or manga you’d introduce to first-timers. And since I like boys being cute together, I figured it would only make sense to create a list of boys’ love titles! So if you’ve ever wondered where to start when it comes to boys’ love manga, senpai is here to help you
Now then, it’s been quite some time since I last read some of these and they were DEFINITELY NOT the first titles I read while on my journey, but I think they have enough cuteness in them that if you’re wondering if you should dive into the deep end…well, you should. There are no life vests available but considering you’ll be falling into the loving embrace of boys being cute, it won’t be necessary
Beware, while the titles I’ve decided to list are “beginner” level, some contain a degree of sexual content. They just happen to be of the lightest and vaguest variety. I’ll drop more details for each title while talking about them!
Anything by Puku Okuyama is bound to have you cracking a smile!
Puku Okuyama is actually one of my more underrated favorite mangaka, if only because their work is subtly amazing. I don’t think I’ve heard too many people talk about their work, which is one of the reasons I knew I had to add their books to this list!
The other reason is just that I think all the stories they make (well, the ones I’ve read so far) are super cute and hilarious. The one I recommend as a starting point is Warning! Whispers of Love, which is a compilation of short stories starting with the two boys on the cover. Nagura is the image of perfection except for the fact that he likes to run around campus chasing after Hajime and his perfect ears. Why? In the hopes of finally being allowed to clean them of course! It’s a whole bunch of silly scenarios with cute boys blushing because they realize their cat and mouse game is more than just a game
Caramel is the only one I feel might be a level two read, if only because it contains some sexual content and the usual grievances that you find in yaoi manga. Still, it’s sickeningly sweet and turned me into a puddle of goo after all my reads because yes, I reread this one a lot!
However, if I had to say which was the most thorough story, the award goes to Ichi ni No San (second cover)! This story is about a trio of friends and how the two boys Bun-chan and Coco’s relationship changes into something deeper
Mayoke no Darling is probably the one I rated the lowest from these four, only because it’s more of light-hearted read (well, up until the end happens), so don’t expect much development. But it is very cute and fluffy
If Yukine Honami drew it, I probably own it and you should read it!
The really nice thing about Yukine Honami’s art is that it’s so easy to recognize so if I randomly find it at a book store, I’ll immediately know if I have to add it to my cart or not. And while this might turn some people away, I actually love it. Probably because all her boys are especially cute!
While Constellations in My Palm is a oneshot, Rin! is a three-volume story, so there’s more time for developing the relationship between our main characters. I decided to add these titles to this list because they’re probably one of the softer and innocently done yaoi titles by Yukine Honami. Yes, I said yaoi so there is some sexual content but it’s probably only one page and you get no details aside from who is topping
but you can guess that in the story too
Rin is about Katsura who has anxiety attacks before tournaments and the only way to make it go away is to get a good “squeeze” (hug) from his brother’s best friend, Sou. We basically follow their relationship as they navigate the ups and downs, mainly concerning the guilt Sou feels for being Katsura’s ‘security blanket’ and (down the line), a love rival. Meanwhile, Constellations in My Palm is about two childhood friends who come to live together again after being separated for most of their teen life and how they inspire each other to pursue their dreams and future
Aren’t these covers making you drool?!
Oh man, these are probably two of the titles I have that hit me in the feels every time I read them! They’re both oneshots but super adorable (and the art is AMAZING)
In Apple and Honey, we start the volume with a gay couple on a beach who is secretly dating but end up telling their friends about their relationship by the end of the day. Half the book is dedicated to how they met and how their relationship progressed. If you didn’t think curry could snag you a guy, well, this story is about to prove you wrong! The second half of the story centers around a different pair and uses the idea of “the end of the world” as a way to motivate the characters to change their lives. If you fall in love with the main couple in Apple and Honey, there is a sequel, but I’d caution you on that one since it’s full-on yaoi!
I actually ended up reading Wolf Magic because I thought it was by the same person who wrote Apple and Honey. Looking at the two styles, I sometimes wonder how I could confuse them but also there’s something about the covers that just go together. In this book, we start off with a really cute short story about Hanasaki, a yakuza looking florist and his very persistent admirer, Hata. After that, the rest of the book is dedicated to Natsuki and his journey to finding love
What do both these books and all the stories have in common? THEY WILL BREAK YOUR HEART. All of the characters have been hurt in some way because of society and/or previous partners, and all they really want is to be loved and to find happiness. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and it’s so painful to see these moments but it always makes those endings even more beautiful
Speaking of heartbreak, Sumomo Yumeka is your go-to for angsty feels
Not only is Sumomo Yumeka’s art GORGEOUS, but the stories are also almost always guaranteed to hit me with a ton of feels! Also, you guys might recognize this mangaka, since they are the artist for Makoto Shinkai’s manga version of The Voices of a Distant Star!
For this one, I definitely recommend checking out Same Cell Organism, which is filled with characters who long to be loved and to love. We meet Yokota and Nakagawa, two best friends that slowly gravitate towards boyfriends. In The Day I Became a Butterfly, we also meet these types of characters, however, I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of this book when I first read it. My problem with it is that the guys look like girls and so it felt less like I was reading BL and more like your typical shoujo. But I reread it this week and actually found I enjoyed it, especially with how we are currently redefining the gender “norms”
This book is also not just boys’ love. It features a straight couple and what I would argue is a girls’ love story, so really it’s a oneshot of romance. Some of the stories are very bittersweet and others seem a bit ridiculous but all of them are super cute
Tengu-jin is one I haven’t read in a long time but I remember it was cute in a non-romantic way so I decided to add it to the list
Have a Few Laughs with Fluffy Kotetsuko Yamamoto!
Ok, so I told myself that for these categories I’d only drop at max four titles and their covers but honestly, Kotetsuko Yamamoto is such a big name in boys’ love manga that it was so tough to choose which ones!!
For sure I knew I had to add New Beginnings, which is a oneshot about two childhood friends who are reunited in high school. Keigo was always a shy kid and it was Chihiro who always defended him and was his pillar. When Keigo moves overseas with his family, he comes to realize he loves Chihiro as more than just a friend. After not acclimating to the new location, and thus turning into a NEET, Keigo’s parents agree to send him back to Japan. There he comes to live with Chihiro as both their parents were friends. It is such a cute story of these two dorks (or maybe just one dork) falling in love!! If you have read Honto Yajuu, you might be like “Aki?!”
And for nostalgia’s sake, I knew I had to add Lucky Number 13, which is the first title I reviewed on this blog! But also because it’s so cute!! Basically, the story follows Satou Hiroshi, a cute boy who has a predisposition to extreme clumsiness and bad luck, and his boyfriend Tsumabuki Kasumi, a 6′ 5″ tall baseball otaku who pretty much has a helluva time dating our tiny Hiroshi!
After this, I wasn’t really sure which titles to include so I decided to reread a few and found that both Toritan and Masakadou E Irasshai were some of the cuter and mostly SFW titles to share. Also, it’s only a coincidence that they both have birds in the stories. Toritan is about the local “detective” Inusaki Nozomi who has the ability to speak with birds and one day falls in love with a crow?! Meanwhile, Masakadou E Irasshai is about Bird shop owner Masaka who ends up being confessed to by exchange student Fon-kun who is eleven years younger than him!
All of her stories always make me laugh because they’re so cute and embarrassing. You have been warned
The Boys’ Love QUEEN Rihito Takarai
So Ten Count is on its way to getting an anime so if you haven’t heard of Rihito Takarai yet, here she is. And here are some of her other titles that you guys NEED to read!
While Seven Days isn’t written by Rihito Takarai, it is illustrated by her and I just had to add it because it’s a very sweet story. There is a rumor that if someone asks Seryou Touji out at the beginning of the week, he will say yes. Curious about this, cute-faced Shino Yuzuru decides to ask him, not really expecting a yes. Except that’s exactly what happens and we get to see their one-week relationship. It’s very cute but also bittersweet since both of our characters are suffering from love (but I won’t spill, ya gotta read it!)
I mentioned at the beginning of this post I was going to keep things SFW but it’s a bit tough when it comes to Rihito Takarai (but would this even be a good list if I didn’t add her?!) so I’ll give you all a warning now. The next two titles, while not as raunchy as Ten Count (pfff, is there anything raunchier than that title? don’t answer LOL), but there are some elements of sex so if that puts you off…you’ll know when to start skipping scenes
Hana No Miyako De and Hana no Mizo Shiru are actually the same series. Hana No Miyako De is the short story of Motoharu and Hazumi, who love each other but have to part ways because of their duties to their family. Hana no Mizo Shiru is the story of Hazumi’s grandson Misaki Shouta and his budding romance with law student and science lab volunteer Arikawa. Expect flowers and cute smiles!
The last cover on the list is called Kakemakumo, Kashikoki, which is a title I kept asking myself if I really wanted to add. When I first read it, I was under the impression that it was a boys’ love title, but between then and now it turned into a shoujo (maybe). The book is about Handa Shin and the Fox Ginrei, who accidentally get married because of something Handa said while Ginrei was getting married to a fellow Fox being. From there, they have to work together to break their marriage so that Ginrei can get married to his actual fiance
It’s a little weird because I can totally see the feels and bond these two guys have but it’s like Takari is gay blocking us at every turn! So it’s sort of a shounen-ai title…It’s on my shelf I had to add it!!
OK. This list thing is getting a little out of hand! As you guys can see, while I tried to make my list have variety, I also mainly created it using mangaka that are well-known in the genre. One reason is that they’re at the top for a reason, but also, I just really like all these stories and often find myself rereading them so they were the first to come to mind. If you need more titles and think you can handle the next level, I would also consider checking out more of each author’s works!
Actually, I had fun making this list. I might actually make one or two more
But I’m curious, if you read Boys’ Love, do you think this is a good list? What are some other titles you’d add? I know I’m a bit behind on some of the newer BL titles (I’m thinking of one specifically that’s been getting great reviews but didn’t add it because I haven’t read it yet)
Instead of closing this post, why not head on over to another Animanga Festival post? Here are other Core Necessities posts that went out this month!
- So You Wanna Play Otome Games? – Five Otome Game Recommendations for Total Newbies with Naja (BlerdyOtome)
- Anime & Manga I’d Introduce to a First-Timer with Takuto (Takuto’s Anime Cafe)
- “….It reads the wrong way…” : Introducing Manga to a First Timer with Auri (Manga Toritsukareru Koto)
- A Beginner’s Guide to Anime and Manga with Sam (A Nerdy Perspective)
- Beginning Your Anime Adventure with Magi by Chris (Galvanic Team)
- Core Necessities for the Slice of Life Genre with Jack (Animated Observations)
- Overcoming Social Anxiety in Comedy Anime/Manga with Alfredo (Slice of Alfredo)
- My Pick For Your First Time with Iniksban (In Search of Number Nine)