top 10 (oops, 25) yaoi manga, part 5

top 25 BL: the final chapter

Doushitemo Furetakunai by Yoneda Kou

Doushitemo Furetakunai by Yoneda Kou

And here we are — at the finish line! I started out with the intention of giving you a Top 10 yaoi list, but due to my straight up inability to pare down, here are the final five of what ended up being a Top 25 BL manga (and anime and drama CD) list.

Did you miss any of the previous installments? You can check out the first sixteen mangakas and their twenty yaoi titles here:

Katekyo! by Moegi Yuu

Katekyo! by Moegi Yuu

In any case, let’s get on with the final five top yaoi…


on this page…

…you’ll find this list’s manga and moods, #21-25 (links take you to the individual entries):

  1. Not Equal by Ike Reibun
  2. Honto Yajuu by Yamamoto Kotetsuko
  3. Cut by Kawai Touko
  4. Kuroneko Kareshi… by Sakyo Aya
  5. Seven Days by Tachibana Benio & Takarai Rihito

21. Not Equal (2010) – Ike Reibun

 

by Ike Reibun

by Ike Reibun

Mood:

  1. Today I want a twisted, impossible romance. Impossible from many angles.
  2. In fact, I want to see a mangaka take on one of the most unsuccessful cliche plot conventions in yaoi (other than rape, mind you) and pull a rabbit out of the hat — convincing me that she’s taken it seriously.
  3. It’s okay if she bends (or flat out breaks) our universe’s rules to pull it off, ‘cuz I’m in an unexplained-phenomena kind of mood.
  4. Go ahead, break the unbreakable taboo. I can handle it.
  5. As to sex, moderately graphic and consensual, please.
  6. Oh, and hand it over with a side of drama CD’s, to go.

Story: A 17 year-old who grew up without his father is suddenly overwhelmed with the need to see him, the need to feel loved by the man who has always seemed to ignore his existence. However, his pilgrimage to the family home leads to some completely unexpected and inexplicable events.

not equal 1

Not Equal by Ike Reibun

My experience: I like stories that warp reality, so I was a sucker for this story’s premise. To my surprise, the story’s characters — all of them, major and minor — also won my affections, even the ones who act like jerks. I admit that I usually find stories that feature incest to be annoyingly artificial and sensationalist, so I was surprised to be lured in by how Ike-sensei approached the problem.

Mangaka: Ike Reibun marches to her own drummer. Her art is not beautiful, not by a long shot, but it is effective and carries an impressive amount of detail. Her stories range from very realistic modern day to the historical to the fantastical to the outrageous science fiction futuristic. She leans toward the dark side of things yet maintains a strong orientation toward the romantic.

Purchasing: Not Equal’s two volumes remain unlicensed. They were scanlated by BangAQUA and bl-gyaru.

hop back up to the manga list   


22. Honto Yajuu (2008)– Yamamoto Kotetsuko

Honto Yajuu by Yamamoto Kotetsuko

Honto Yajuu by Yamamoto Kotetsuko

Mood:

  1. Today I’m torn. I do want a yakuza and cop story (preferably with the yakuza as the uke), but I don’t want anything dark.
  2. In fact, I want one of those lovey dovey romances.
  3. Also, if the mangaka makes me wait for sex scenes, whether or not they’re particularly graphic, they’d better be hot when they come along
  4. Oh, and I want some quality drama CD’s so I can listen in on that action.
  5. If the story’s truly good, then I don’t want it to end too quickly, so give me at least seven volumes, and tell the mangaka to keep them chapters comin’.
Honto Yajuu by Yamamoto Kotetsuko

Honto Yajuu by Yamamoto Kotetsuko

Story: When an earnest koban policeman and the hotheaded heir to a yakuza clan meet, there are supposed to be sparks… but, hey, wait a minute you guys, not the “I like you” kind of sparks! Oh, right — this is yaoi. Silly me.

My experience: While I love Yamamoto-sensei’s work in general, this series is by far my favorite. Her art is beautiful, the setup and cast of characters are darn near perfect, and she has infused the story with humor that always gets me. She’s managed to keep the story going strong, even as she heads into volume 8, and I haven’t gotten bored or disliked a story arc yet.

Honto Yajuu by Yamamoto Kotetsuko

Honto Yajuu by Yamamoto Kotetsuko

Mangaka: Yamamoto Kotetsuko has been publishing yaoi since 2001 and has the long list of scanlated stories to show for it. Her art has gradually become more and more refined, and in Honto Yajuu it has reached the point of being pretty (in strong contrast to her earliest yaoi work, Brothers). She tends to write multiple-volume series, favoring stories with developed characters and plots with plenty to chew on. In general, Yamamoto-sensei tends towards consensual, straight up romances (that make you wait for the sex). As a result, compared to a lot of yaoi, her works tend to be easy, relatively gentle reads.

Purchasing: This unlicensed series includes seven volumes and is still ongoing. It’s currently being scanlated by September Scanlations.

hop back up to the manga list


23. CUT (2003) — Kawai Touko

Mood:

  1. Today I want something emotionally intense, something psychological.
  2. Yaoi is littered with characters suffering from traumatic experiences, but the trauma itself is rarely taken seriously. I’d like to see a mangaka spend a volume trying to deal with it differently.
  3. Perhaps she might portray two schoolboys struggling to overcome wounds from the past, wounds they must come to grips with if they’re going to build sane and healthy futures.
  4. If she can spin that scenario into an effective romance, well, that would fit my mood perfectly.
  5. Given the theme, moderately graphic sex with some darkness and a touch of BDSM would be probably be appropriate.
  6. Manga only is fine.
Cut by Touko Kawai

Cut by Touko Kawai

Story: Chiaki and Ei go to the same school but don’t know each other. That is, until Ei happens to overhear Chiaki and his stepfather doing, um, very inappropriate things. Both boys carry scars and a loneliness that the people around them cannot understand or penetrate. But perhaps if these two wounded young men get to know each other…

Cut by Touko Kawai

Cut by Touko Kawai

My experience: I am biased here; my background is in psychology, and while I’m usually content to read stories that address psychological wounds superficially (I don’t ask that my literature be overly in sync with reality), sometimes I really want to see an author taking the topic head on. Did she do it perfectly? No, but Kawai-sensei’s story comes closer than most. While this isn’t exactly a cheerful read, I do find it uplifting and like the way I feel after I’ve clicked the last page.

Mangaka: Kawai Touko is one flexible mangaka. Most of her stories are lighter than this one, and she pulls them off well, too. Her art style isn’t exactly pretty; it’s a bit sharp and sketchy, yet somehow the characters are very attractive. I own a couple of her other titles, but this book has, sadly, been out of print for quite some time.

Purchasing: Yep, published by Juné but out of print.

hop back up to the manga list


24. Kuroneko Kareshi… (2012) – Sakyo Aya

Kuroneko Kareshi... by Sakyo Aya

Kuroneko Kareshi… by Sakyo Aya

Titles (each volume has a separate title; here they are in order): Kuroneko Kareshi no Asobikata (2012); Kuroneko Kareshi no Amaekata (2013); Kuroneko Kareshi no Nakasekata (2013); Kuroneko Kareshi no Aishikata (2013 – ongoing).

Mood:

  1. Sex, beauty, and a touch of magic, real magic, are the order of the day.
  2. Wrap them up with a large dose of catnip and an uber-dominant seme who finally meets his match.
  3. How about a famous actor and someone who works behind the scenes?
  4. Today I can stand a bit of noncon, but the overall focus had better be on the love story.
  5. Did I mention cat tails, ears, and the rest?
  6. And to complete my happiness, I’ll take this sexy story with CD’s so I can have the full, panting surround sound experience.
Kuroneko Kareshi... by Sakyo Aya

Kuroneko Kareshi… by Sakyo Aya

Story: In this universe, there are werecats. Shingo uses his status as a werecat as an excuse to live a lazy, promiscuous, carefree life. However, when he catches the actor Kagami’s eye, both his status as a seme and his lifestyle without emotional attachments may be in jeopardy.

My experience: This story’s sex scenes are just about the juiciest I’ve ever seen, I’m thoroughly in love with the two main characters (although it took awhile for the seme to grow on me), and there are even occasional megane and magical cat transformations. Nothing’s missing. I admit, there have been some moments where I’ve been irritated by the seme’s actions, ones that felt artificial and seemed only to be there to create character conflict and drive the plot forward. However, the washboard abs and nosebleed-inducing make-up sex tend to distract me from my frustration pretty quickly. Sakyo-sensei puts standard yaoi elements together well enough and gives her characters enough life to make the story charming. Or maybe I’m just taken in by the cats and smex… Okay, I’ll admit it — a big part of the reason why Kuroneko Kareshi made this list is because characters can transform into cats and the sex scenes are so great. But some days I just want to fully experience the full on romantic girl-porn only available in yaoi. Along those lines, this story is truly among the very best.

Kuroneko Kareshi... by Sakyo Aya

Kuroneko Kareshi… by Sakyo Aya

Mangaka: Sakyo-sensei began as a shoujo mangaka in the mid-90’s but only published her first shounen-ai title in 2009. She tends to like sweet romances with a thread of darkness woven in (so you don’t choke on all that sugar). Of the beautiful art on this list, hers is one of the most delicious of all, both for her characters’ looks and the stunningly explicit sex. In fact, her art has been getting noticeably more beautiful as the series continues. Note: some of her work is published under the name Ukyou Ayane, including the first set of stories in this werecat universe: Nekoka Danshi no Shitsukekata (nowhere near as good as this series).

Purchasing: This series is still unlicensed. A number of scanlators have worked on this series; you can link to the scanlators for the individual titles from Sakyo-sensei’s page on MangaUpdates.

hop back up to the manga list


25. Seven Days (2007) – Tachibana Benio (author) & Takarai Rihito (artist)

Seven Days by Tachibana Benio and Takarai Rihito

Seven Days by Tachibana Benio and Takarai Rihito

Mood:

  1. And now for something completely different… the “once in a blue moon” has come, which is to say that today I don’t need a story with sex. Or, maybe after the Kuroneko Kareshi series I just need to detox a bit from all those overwhelming pheromones.
  2. In any case, today I’m looking for a pure shounen-ai schoolboy romance.
  3. I’d like for the boys to start out as straight strangers, be thrown together (even if it’s an artificial plot device), and then each struggle separately with the “what is going on here” question.
  4. I don’t need a saga, but it would be good for the story to last a couple of volumes, and I’d really like a pair of drama CD’s to go with ’em.

Story: Shino is a third year (senior) with a pretty face but a rude personality, and he’s tired of girls throwing themselves at him for his looks and then running away as soon as they figure out what he’s really like. Seryou, a first year (10th grader), is tall, beautiful, and famous for accepting girls who ask him out on Monday, dating them for one week, and then breaking up with them on Sunday. When Shino happens to be the first to talk to Seryou on a Monday morning… well, you can guess where curiosity, a bit of jealousy, and a big mouth lead to, right? Thus begins the seven day countdown.

My experience: Seven Days is one of the only shounen-ai that I have loved wholeheartedly. Let’s face it — I like my BL spicy, so I favor yaoi. However, these boys’ awkward courtship dance is sweet enough and compelling enough that I forgave its lack of skin. True, I’d love to see a subsequent sex-filled dj… but a girl’s allowed to dream.

Mangaka:

Tachibana Venio (author) — Seven Days was Tachibana Venio’s first yaoi manga (she had previously written one yaoi novel, Girou no Koimizu). In her three manga, she has worked with three different artists. However, this is the only one that has been scanlated. Her novel has been translated, but I haven’t actually read it.

Seven Days by Tachibana Benio and Takarai Rihito

Seven Days by Tachibana Benio and Takarai Rihito

Takarai Rihito (artist) — aside from a couple of Prince of Tennis dj’s, this was Takarai Rihito’s first shounen-ai title. Considering how little work Takarai-sensei had published at that point, her art was already surprisingly pretty, with its long, lanky characters and sweet, angular faces. All three of her main yaoi/shounen-ai titles so far have been strong and very distinct: Seven Days, Hana no Mizo Shiru and Ten Count (ongoing). She has been both author and artist on Hana no Mizo Shiru and Ten Count. Takarai-sensei builds complex characters whose flaws are interesting, and in her yaoi, at least, she seems to favor slice of life stories.

Purchasing: Juné (print & ebook); volume 1 may be in print; both avail by ebook (2 ebooks = cost of 1 hard copy, at $6.12 each)

hop back up to the manga list


so much yaoi, so few entries…

Rutta to Kodama by Fujitani Youko

Rutta to Kodama by Fujitani Youko

Whew! And with that, this list of top 25 manga (and their 22 mangaka) is complete. I have to admit that while it’s satisfying to have finished it off, it’s frustrating, too. I find myself looking over the list and thinking, “Wait! Where are Sex Pistols and Super Lovers, Rutta to Kodama, Mousou Elektel, and Sono Koi ni wa Wake ga Aru? Where are Hana wa Saku ka, Henshin Dekinai, Koi no Mannaka, and Usagi Otoko, Tora Otoko? Why is there nothing by Suzuki Tsuta, Tenzen Momoko, or Yamada Yugi? What the hell happened here?!” The more I look at the list, the more “where are they” titles pop to mind. In fact, last I counted, my missing-from-the-list list was well over 40 titles long.

Flutter by Tenzen Momoko

Flutter by Tenzen Momoko

After my temper tantrum, as I stood panting in the middle of my living room (I really need a life), I consoled myself that this simply means that more posts of yaoi blissfulness are waiting to be written. I should be glad not to have run out of good boys’ love goodness, right?

Usagi Otoko, Tora Otoko by Honma Akira

Usagi Otoko, Tora Otoko by Honma Akira

After joining me on the tour through these 25 stories, I wonder, what titles are on your “where are they” list? Which manga would you add if there were a 26th story here? Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments area below.

Thanks for joining me on this sprint through the various moods of BL. I hope you will come back and join me for more joyful yaoi in the future.


 Top 10 (oops, 25) episodes 1-4:

18 thoughts on “top 10 (oops, 25) yaoi manga, part 5

  1. #24 – I LOVE this one. It is really one of my favorites, though Kagami has not managed to grow on me yet, I am a Shingo fan girl for sure 😉

    I would love to see your take on Sex Pistols. I think I like this one, but it is one of those that has so many characters and so many names that I find myself getting lost.

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    • SPOILERS — Kuroneko no Kareshi…
      Yeah, I guess that while Kagami can be a real ass, I end up feeling for how hard he’s working to keep Shingo from running away. I mean, he’s so completely committed to drawing Shingo in closer, and you do get those moments where you really see him emotionally affected by Shingo’s rejection, especially after that first confession. So even though he often acts like the stereotypical arrogant, overbearing seme, there are times when he’s allowed to be very human, which doesn’t always happen with those high-powered seme characters.

      —————————————————-
      It did feel weird leaving the Sex Pistols off this list. It’s such a classic. Honestly, it’s been a few years since I read the it, but it’s currently on my reread list.

      It will be on my anime list, though, for sure (probably put that together this fall). Coincidentally, I re-watched the anime with a friend last night. It’s a bit more cliche and sappy than I remembered from the first time I watched it, but that was quite awhile ago, when I was first discovering yaoi, so it’s not surprising that my view’s a bit different now. I still enjoyed it for the most part, though.

      SPOILERS — Sex/Love Pistols…
      As to the comics, I remember starting to feel really lost within all the subplots and that outrageously large ensemble cast. Also, when I was last reading it, I started getting a rather dark conspiracy vibe from it, plus it was also all very confusing, and I ended up wondering if the story was ever going to come together and achieve coherence or if it was just going to dissolve into a mucky mess. I’m hoping it’ll come together, because it’s such a cool universe, and I really like some of the characters.

      SuBLime has just put out vol. 8 this July (as an ebook), so maybe with the releases coming out in English again, we’ll be able to see where the story’s headed.

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  2. Pingback: top 10 yaoi manga: the best gentle schoolboy stories | the joy of yaoi

  3. W-where is Hidaka Shouko sensei’s Yuuutsu na Asa???!!! Unforgivable!!! The thought that one of the sexiest ukes isn’t included here is unheard of! Age-gap, butlers, noncon (but the long-awaited consensual one is oh-so-sweet >.<), historical…Why…? *faints exaggeratedly*

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    • Oh no! Okay, so I am a huge Hidaka Shouko fan, and leaving her off this list was one of my struggles. However, *takes a deep breath* there is one, and really only one, of her works that I just can’t keep reading (I gave up after a couple volumes, I think), and that’s Yuutsu na Asa. I do think that may make me a weird fujoshi, because when I read it, I could see it had so many of the yaoi ingredients I love, and I can even see how well put together it is, but I just couldn’t get attached to the characters. *sigh* It’s like, objectively I think I should like it, but I just can’t get there…

      But I’m glad you brought it up, because I know it’s one that many others will enjoy. Thank you! ❤

      BTW – great avatar!! So cute!! 🙂

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      • Oh, I understand. Really. Yuutsu na Asa confuses me too. I hate it, but I also love it at the same time. The first half was so cringe-worthy I almost dropped it, but it was one of Hidaka Shouko-sensei’s works, so no can do. Indeed, sometimes the characters annoy me so much I just want to jump inside the manga to give them a good talking-to, but in the end I just learned to distract myself from the hateful parts with sensei’s art so I can appreciate the lovable parts. I don’t blame you for having that reaction; I don’t think I’d be able to re-read it myself (well, the beginning at least).

        Well, you could just probably do something like best/smexiest/most adorable/smartest/quirkiest/aggravating/most stubborn/hateable-but-loveable BL characters list, and I’d vote Katsuragi a place in the smexiest uke. He exasperates me to no end, but gosh darnit if he’s not the most seductive uke I’ve ever seen. Why is he so good-looking AAARRRRGGGGHHHHH (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

        Nonononono the fandom’s conflicted as it is. I think people would either hate it, or love it. Unless they struggle on towards the bitter(and sweet?) end(though it’s still ongoing), I doubt many people would enjoy it. XD

        Thanks! It took me quite a while to find a suitable avatar to match my username hahhahah!^^

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Honto Yajuu is my current favorite haha. I didn’t like Cut but I should give it a chance, it has been a long time since I read it. And I miss Boys Next Door in the list but not many have read this manga! It used to be my favorite for years back when I was an angsty teenager. Time flies when you are a yaoi fan for years (24 now, I started at age 11 or something after watching Gravitation!) Anyway good list and I’ve read ever review/recs so far on this site. I found you through google while looking for yaoi between classmates and I wanted consensual sex! Please continue making more tops and recs haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your happy words — I’m glad you found some of what you were looking for here!

      Yes, I adore Honto Yajuu, and I’ve been sad about how slowly chapters have been coming out this year. I’m hungry for more!

      Boys Next Door — yes, that’s an angsty one, all right — so heavy emotionally. But good. I think eventually I’ll have a list of some of the darker yaoi, and that’s definitely a contender. After all, I need a list I can pile some of the more twisted Sadahiro Mika onto (like her Venus stories). 😉

      I took a break this year, but I’ve started working on some new posts recently, so hopefully you’ll soon find more stories here to enjoy.

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  5. It is hard to find any work which can keep up with Yamane Ayano. She manages to his this spot between “harmless” and “dark” so well, barely anyone can keep up with it. There are a few titles which work on a different level, like Gorgeous Carat (even though Esperanca was a disappointment) and Yellow, but generally speaking it has been ages that I discovered something I would want to have on my self. *sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. Yamane Ayano is in a class by herself. There just aren’t many who can balance dark and beautiful that well. I do like Gorgeous Carat (it’s one on my shelf), too, and Yellow is aging well and still wonderful (I got to meet Tateno Makoto at Yaoi-con this year, and she’s a hoot!). It’s too bad that more of yaoi isn’t calling out to you, successfully seducing you. Hopefully you’ll hear the siren’s call again soon. 🐱

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    • Yes. Leaving Ogawa Chise off this list was one of the harder decisions I made. Although she is on my Best Gentle Schoolboys list. Natsume Isaku was right alongside Ogawa Chise, especially because Doushiyoumo Nai Keredo was one of my earlier yaoi reads that really captured my heart.

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  6. 7 days is one of my favorites of ALL TIME! I’m so glad you included it. Have you read junketsu drop by Watarumi Naho? its got a seven days schoolboy romance vibe.

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