Thursday, June 1, 2023

Resa's New and Underrated Interesting BL Manga Recommendations

 Happy Pride month! While BL is very far from being good queer manga/anime, I thought this was as good a time to share this post. Some of you might know that I was part of YaoiCon staff and formerly a BL fan before dipping out. In the past 2 years, though, I started getting back into BL and I've found the landscape to have changed a LOT, from only being able to read from scanlated sites, to having hundreds more English licensed and legal ways to consume BL media. 

So although some of these were published before 2020, here are some recent favorites that are new to me personally. I'm also recommending what I consider underrated series because despite them being a few years old, I haven't seen any major articles/yabai lists/podcasts/etc recommending them.

WARNING: Please only proceed if you are a mature adult over 18+ years old who can distinguish fiction from reality.

I only have a few semi-wholesome BL series that I think other people would like because everyone has already recommended the others and I confess I kind of find wholesome BL a little boring.

- Back Stage!! - You might have read/watched Love Stage!! but did you know they also have an ongoing spinoff/prequel focused on the Rei & Shougo, that I consider to be a much healthier relationship than Izumi/Ryouma? Currently not licensed in English yet, but you can purchase volumes at cdjapan, kinokuniya, and other sites. 

- The Sadistic Ghost Doesn't Allow Me to Sleep: When I was first getting into BL 10+ years ago, supernatural elements, other than the rare omegaverse and tentacles, were not common in smutty BL manga at all. While this one isn't the only one, I'm pleasantly surprised there is much more now and this one I just happen to find a simple enough premise that is cute and hot. Licensed on mangaplanet/futekiya.

- Satori-kun to Tsundere-kun: Another semi-supernatural one except this one incorporates telepathy. BL is already rife with communication problems, so I find this one a great relief. They manage to have above average sexy communication every chapter! Also it plays around with telepathy powers that many stories, BL or not, don't explore! Available on cdjapan.

- Stranger by the Shore: I've only watched the anime, but I've heard that the cuts from the manga were not so extreme you don't understand it. This movie is literally slices of life and a more grounded approach to queer m/m romance than anything else on my list, but I include it because it doesn't have the attention I think it deserves. If you think all yaoi are terrible and hate yaoi tropes, I will point you to this and say you might enjoy it. Also the most wholesome and realistically awkward sex scene that will probably surprise you. Available on crunchyroll.

-There's Fanfiction About Us? If you liked how self-aware and meta that Sasaki to Miyano was, then you should definitely check this out too. It's about a band that discovers their fans wrote smutty fanfic about them, delves into RPF (real people fiction) tropes, and then has a hilarious consensual smutty romance as well.

- Zombie Hide Sex/Fooling Around While The Zombies Roam - Ok who ever thought that there would one day be a zombie apocalypse meets gay sex that also has a good story? Ok technically "Undead" by TSUYUHISA Fumi is also a about zombies, but that one is a tragedy and the plot also kind of doesn't make sense. I do recommend it if you'd like to check out the only other zombie BL I'm aware of. Anyways, Zombie Hide Sex can be considered a comedy "horror" that has very hot smut every other chapter, but also has zombie science and emotional moments that "The Last of Us" and "In the Flesh" have. Licensed on Renta. 

-Manga by Shikke: Sex Drop, Fukutsu no Zono, Pink Heart Jam, Koi Kirari, Kage Sururi - A newer mangaka on the scene, what I like best about them is that they are feature guys who know they're gay or bi, have relationship experience (even if some of it was traumatizing), includes a LOT of safe sex supplies & practices, and oh my god the communication? The communication between the different couples, while a little melodramatic sometimes, is the kind of mostly healthy communication every BL fan has ever wanted. Think Harada, but with a little less trauma. Also the sex is super hot.

- Bonus: Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare This isn't a BL story, more like a Japanese LGBT story and the translation and storyline has some of the best, most nuanced way of telling the story of different sexualities/genders from people across different paths in their experience (in Japan). This was also written by a queer mangaka, which seems to be rare. This manga is award-winning and definitely deserves it and I really hope there is an anime adaptation one day.

Dubious Recommendations: Trigger warnings everywhere! These are what I consider to be very very interesting stories that, if you can handle assault, trauma, unhealthy relationships, psychological horror, and manipulation, I think you will also find fascinating.  You have been warned.

Manga by Harada: Yoru To Asa No Uta, Color recipe, Henai series, Sumomo, Yatamomo, After school perversion, Suimenka erotoro, Happy Shitty Life (Happy kuso life), Yajirushi. Harada, my queen. You have probably heard of Happy Shitty Life, but I recommend the rest of their works for interesting dubcon and explorations of childhood trauma and noncon storylines. Harada probably also has the most realistic approach to any of the stories, including mostly normal human male anatomy, safe sex/condom usage/discussion, LGBT discussion, and a decent female character population too. Most of their manga can be found licensed on Renta or Mangaplanet/futekiya and the others can be found on cdjapan.

Manga by Shiramatsu: Hatsujo Playroom, Kousoku Syndrome, How To Remove A Lab Coat, Honeyberry's Beast/Honeyberry no Kemono, Oboreru Triangle, Shite Hoshii Koto Oshiete Ageru. These stories are messed up (though not as bad as Iimo), and have manipulation everywhere. The ukes are a little stereotypical but they do interesting things story-wise and the characters are very pretty. My personal favorite are Hatsujo Playroom (which is weirdly like Escape Room/Room no 9 without the murder) and Honeyberry's Beast (because kind of dubiously empowered sex workers). Some of their manga can be found licensed on Mangaplanet/futekiya or Renta and the others can be found on cdjapan.

Manga by Rihara:  Public sex,  Passions of Little Wet Mice/Nure Nezumi-tachi no Koi, My Ex-boyfriend Is My Bodyguard, Kyoudai Gokko to Shoujo Bitch. You want interesting seme/uke subversions and characters that seem to be normal and tropey only to turn out to have more depth and be not? Dubcon and childhood trauma everywhere but their manga are short to the point and tell interesting stories compared to your standard BL. Also, most of them are adults! Some of their manga can be found licensed on Mangaplanet/futekiya and the others can be found on cdjapan.

Manga by Iimo: Innocent, Perfect Planet, Soine lovers, Akuheki. Iimo is very very VERY underrated in regards to unique and very messed up noncon stories in my opinion. Most of the ukes are all not your standard ukes, everyone is fucked up, fucked up things happen to everyone, and most of them are a wild bordering psychological horror kind of a hot smutty ride. Perfect Planet is the softest of the bunch and that one is space exploration meets alien invasion meets tentacle porn. I wish any their work would get licensed one day, but you can buy the volumes on cdjapan.

Sakura Gari: I like Yuu Watase and this is her first yaoi. I thought it was a very interesting Watase-esque story with gorgeous art and I can't believe it's not licensed yet. Come on, it's Yuu Watase. Get on it.

The Boys Dorm Sex Slave: I think this is the only BL I have ever heard of going up to 200+ chapters. Not even Junjou Romantica is that far and it started out earlier. Anyways, the title is exactly what the story says, the art is kind of bad, the characters are terrible, the storytelling is inconsistent & the mangaka seems to forget plot points sometimes (a consequence of it being 200+ chapters maybe?) but this is a train wreck I can't put down because after 70+ chapters, I just need to know what's going to happen. There are moments where it's yaoi tropey but then subverts it in an amazing way, only to go right back to something disappointing. 95% of people probably won't enjoy this, but it is an experience and when something un-yaoi-like happens you want to cheer for the poor protagonist.

 Some series that I dropped several years ago, but have now updated and I find them very interesting: Caste Heaven, Yarichin Bitch Club, Dramatical Murder.

And this wraps up my list! I hope you "enjoy"! The more people purchase legally, supposedly the higher chance we'll get them licensed in English.

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