Wowie Yaoi

Okay, it’s not quite pronounced the same. It’s pronounced ya-oh-ee. But if you say it fast it’s close. What is it you ask? Yaoi is a Japanese graphic form of m/m romance, often referred to as Boy Love or BL. Think comic books with more nekkidness. 🙂

I’m certainly no expert in the genre, I only discovered it about a year ago myself thanks to Kris who offered to send me a book and I was totally hooked. I thought I’d share my thoughts as a relative newbie to the medium with you and maybe someone will give it a try or some of the “experts” in the house can share their recommendations with us.

Format: Generally yaoi is read back to front and in the shape of an S, you start in the upper right hand corner and end up in the lower left. It took me a couple of books to get into the groove but now it’s “normal”. Some books are also a collection of 3 or 4 shorts rather than one longer story but there are also many series out there.

1Saihoshi_compilation_cover_by_stkosenArtwork: There are numerous styles like any art form, some I adore such as that by artist Ayano Yamane above or Košen (on the right). Unfortunately the books are mostly black and white. I would kill for a full-color version of Crimson Spell or Saihoshi.

Characters: Yaoi heroes fall into two categories – the alpha male (seme) who is ALWAYS the top and the beta male (uke) who ALWAYS the bottom. There are no switches in yaoi. A seme would never take it up the butt. He’s usually taller, stronger, more aggressive and sexually experienced than the smaller, prettier, virginal uke.

Themes: I haven’t read that many books but the over arching theme tends to be opposites attract or power imbalance.  The poor orphan and the rich benefactor, the boss and employee, the popular boy at school and the quiet artist/nerd, the teacher and student, older man and younger boy, the warrior/wizard and prince, etc. etc.  Rarely are the couples of equal social status or socioeconomic status. 2junjou_series_1-_junjou_romanticaOf course there are variations on the theme, but I’ve seen these ones come up over and over again. Gay for You (GFY) or straight (bi?) guys who suddenly decide to have gay sex are also common. In a few books the characters identify as gay, but I find that less often.

Sex: Oh yes, there is smexin’, plenty of it and in some books it’s VERY graphic, in others it’s more discretely drawn. However much of it starts off with dubious consent or “dub-con” which may border on rape and go on for several scenes or an entire book/series. There is also plenty of underage sex, by North American standards. Teenagers in high school or younger (14 or 15) are often the protags and adults with younger teens is not uncommon,  be sure you check the blurbs if that’s an issue for you. (The little brownhaired boy on the left looks about 12 but he’s 18. They are often drawn to appear younger.)

Lube & Condoms: Lube is like a yaoi version of a blue diamond. RARE! You rarely see lube in yaoi and from time to time the self-lubing ass crops up. No, not in a paranormal sense. 0_0 If lube is rare, condoms are non-existent. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in anything I’ve read.

3The-kiss-death-note-yaoi-7742596-429-357Anime: Yaoi anime that can be found on-line and Junjo Romantica is a great one which is not very explicit but follows the books really well. Hey, I learned to say “I love you” in Japanese thanks to that show. Sensitive Pornograph is another one that is very faithful to the book but is definitely NSFW.

Fantasy: I am not a huge fan of epic fantasy, swords and sorcery type books. I’ve never read Lord of the Rings (fast forwarded through to the battle scenes in the movies to get to the elf – yes, I’m shallow). However in yaoi form I adore it. Who knew? Maybe because it moves quickly. The first book I read was Saihoshi by Košen and I fell in love with the artwork and the story. Another amazing series is Crimson Spell by Ayano Yamane. Here’s an example of finding the appeal of a sub-genre in another format.

4dfd1e35f97713 Dislikes: 1) I find the over-reluctant seme annoying and some authors draaaag it out. I don’t mind “no, don’t” a couple of times, but after 6 months, either stop having sex with the guy or just go for it . 2) Sometimes I don’t “get” the Japanese cultural mindset that can be part of the books. Doing anything, including having sex with someone, to protect your honour is difficult for me to understand. I find this more in yaoi novels than manga. 3) It’s not cheap, in a $ for minutes entertainment sense it’s overpriced compared to a novel.

3 Likes: 1) Part of the appeal is I know exactly what I”ll get. The seme always behaves the same way more or less as does the uke.  2) Some of the artwork is beautiful, and some of the smexin’ is pretty hot for a graphic novel. 3) It’s a fast read, great for carrying in your purse to appointments. (People shouldn’t be reading over your shoulder anyway. Give them the evil eye or let them get an eye full.)

Please share some of your favourite books and websites in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.  I think Ingrid is a bit of an on-line yaoi guru. 😀 Perhaps she’ll share some of her secrets with us. I know some people have given yaoi a try and just don’t find it works for them. I never would have guessed it’s my thing but I really do enjoy it. 5Prince-of-Tennis-Yaoi-sasunaru-5371078-341-348

Where can you get it? Book Depository is an amazing source, of course there is Amazon and other on-line retailers and I’ve found larger comic book stores in my city carry a fair bit but it’s more expensive than BD. If you’re a newbie I’d start with some of the recommendations I’ve listed below and I hope others will add to the list. ETA: Ingrid had kindly volunteered to compile a list based on the comments left which we will then publish in the site. Thanks so much Ingrid for taking that on. Mwah!

Yaoi that I enjoyed

Crimson Spell 1 & 2 – Ayano Yamane (3 not yet translated to our dismay)
Saihoshi: The Guardian – Košen
U Don’t Know Me – Rakun (this is actually a Korean version of yaoi and this book is hard to find or expensive)
Junjo Romantica Vol 1-10 – Shungiku Nakamura
Love/Knot – Hiroko Ishimaru
Love a la Carte – Haruka Minami
Chocolate Surprise & Mr. Flower Bride – Lily Hoshino
Black Knight Vol. 1-4 – Kai Tsuragi

Yaoi Anime

Junjo Romantica Season 1 & 2 (Covers most of the series)
Sensitive Pornograph (NSFW)
Veoh has a gazillion links if you search “yaoi” but unfortunately I don’t recognize any of the titles, but some are short clips if you just want to try it out.
YouTube you’ll also get a lot of yaoi videos, but again, it’s a bit hit and miss.


I’m a HUGE yaoi fan. Alot of great recs here, but I didn’t see Totally Captivated by Hajin Yoo. ( And I love most of Takanaga Hinako’s work (You Will Drown In Love, Bukiyou na Silent). Naona Bohra has some great stuff too (if you don’t mind a little gore in some) (Fingertips Love, A Bird in a Dream).

My favorite scanlation site is Dangerous Passion. Weekly updates and they usually pick pretty manga to translate. (


Sone of them will always be in my heart, Love Mode is a classic I love to reread it, Kazuma Kodaka’s Kizuna, Yamane Ayano or the unforgetable Youka Nitta; Keiko Konno and Yamada Yugi have quite realistic plots


I have a volunteer who will put together a list of “recommended” YAOI books. Ingrid has offered to do so. If you would like to leave your list of recommendations here on the post (I want to stress the books should be your “recommendations – not just books that you’ve read) she’ll list them alphabetically and we’ll set up a new listing of Readers’ Recommended YAOI books. Tracy you only have to go through the list you sent me and update it.

Thanks everyone. (I guess Tam is still asleep)

Nice, Tam, I was taken by surprise and oh, this brings back memories! It’s so great that yaoi is widely known now, not like back in the old days when I had to send a pic of my passport to confirm my age to join an online yaoi comm. When was that, 1998? I’m 31 now. 😀 The love hasn’t died it has just evolved into m/m, I’ve grown away from the uke/seme and the cutesy stuff but I’m happy to say that yaoi have evolved immensely, now there is hard yaoi and muscle yaoi. XD I strongly recommend anything… Read more »
There are, actually, couples with reversible roles in yaoi. Not many – but there are. Haru wo daiteita by Youka Nitta, Haito Diamond and Neji no Kaiten by Sadahiro Mika, The Man of Tango by Okadaya Tetuzoh, Dog Style by Motoni Modoru, etc… I actually prefer switch yaoi. What I really, REALLY hate in yaoi is whining uke. I like them feisty. XD As for my favorites: Yamane Ayano’s Finder series, almost anything by Kazuma Kodama, Sadahiro Mika (you MUST read Under Grand Hotel), Masara Minase (this one for artwork, mostly), Kawai Touko, Zetsuai 1989 & Bronze by Minami Ozaki,… Read more »

Hi guys

You should know that this post is Tam’s but it seems that I should put together a list of Readers’ Favourite YAOI books and include it with the rest of books in the Readers’ Favourite Gay Books. I will need a volunteer though – do I see a hand up?? I can’t ask Tam (she will kill me because she’s already doing enough for the site) so if there are any YAOI experts out there you would be doing a great public service for your fellow YAOI fans.

Tracy has already sent me a list of books. 🙂

Tracey D

I adore yaoi. I started a discussion on Amazon on 11/28/2007 and we have over 7400 posts. As a matter of fact, many of the posters enjoy m/m novels, too, so our conversations have strayed off topic quite often.

I’ve read about 114 yaoi manga and enjoyed 98% of them. Some of my favorites are Love Pistols, Junjo Romantica, Hybrid Child, Brothers, Lover’s Flat, and Black Knight.

Some online stores to buy yaoi manga, besides Amazon, are, and

Where are Asami, Akihito and Feilong?! *lol* Great post Tam! The first pic immediately caught my eye. *sighs* I love Yaoi although I don’t own many of them and have read even less if that makes sense. I’m truly picky and only go for those that I like the artwork of – yeah, I’m that shallow. You didn’t mention Ayano Yamane’s Finder series! *shocked* 🙂 I’m sitting on pins and needles here waiting for at least a tentative release date for the 5th and last part. Proud owner of the first 4 parts, especially the first one that has found… Read more »

Hi Lilli,
You don`t have to wait for Viewfinder part 5.
Go to – Ayano Yamane – You`re my Love Prize in Viewfinder – part 5 + the first chapters of part 6.
I´m sure it doesn`t bother you that it`s in english *lol*.
The translators site of most of the Finder-books is


Thanks for the info, simsala. 🙂 Does that mean there is a 6th volume in the makings, too? I’ve always thought it’s only 5 volumes. *bounces up and down excitedly*


You`re welcome Lilli.
Yes,there is a 6th volume.I was surprised too.


I`ve started years ago with reading yaoi but stopped almost enterily as I dicovered the m/m romance genre.If someone is intersted in yaoi and wants to know something about stories,authors etc. you`re welcome to ask me.For now I would recommend all books by Myamoto Kano.Very mature and “adult” artwork and stories for yaoi. (Beware;not every book of her has a happy ending !). You don`t have to buy the paperbacks.Most of her work is downloadable for free at or Mangatraders has more than 1400 downloadable yaois on the site. Try to avoid the whole teacher/student- crap.It`s not worth… Read more »

Very important !!!
The downloads are NOT illegal.
The translation groups delete their translations when the book is published.

Alexi Silversmith
HUGE Yaoi fan. Huge. Can’t even explain how obsessed I am. Yaoi is what brought me to M/M. I have too many favourites to list, but tops for me: Fujiyama Hyouta – GORGEOUS artwork, really well written. Lover’s Apartment, Love Spell, Sunflower, Freefall Romance, basically everything. Kamo Nabako – Ukes are a bit wimpy, but the artwork is ridiculously cute. I especially like Suteki na kegawa ga nakute mo and Koi wa Ichiya ni Shite Narazu. Mishima Kazuhiko – probably my number one favourite mangaka. Unique, lovely artwork, and she does the reverse seme trick – the uke is usually… Read more »

Have you tried Love Mode? It’s not for everyone with some of the protagonist being 16 or 17 but I love it to bits!

Eerie Queerie is also good, imo. Tho, I don’t think there’s any smexing, just some teenagers in love, ghost, and cross-dressing. 😀

Also, Fake! I LOVE LOVE LOVE me some Fake. It’s the first manga I ever read.


So I am the yaoi guru? I guess I’ll have to prove my reputation right then.

My source for online yaoi is:
Some of the above mentioned stories are there so you can read them online first before buying (the cheap option).
Or here:
I am not that familiar with this site but is has a lot to offer.

As for anime I also love: Okane ga nai ( and Ai no kusabi.

For pictures there is :
Those are not work safe *grin*

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