I know I said I was burned out on writing reviews, (which is still true) and yet I'm still posting them. I have a giant pile that I need to get through. But thanks to Narutaki's kind words I'll continue with my posts for great beginner BL manga. That was the reason I decided to start Manic About Manga in the first place. I want to be able to impart my knowledge to all that want it. There is a lot of manga out there, but it's not all good manga.
A good way to judge your BL manga is know what to expect from the publisher. If you are interested in super hardcore PWP (Plot? What Plot?) the publishers that most likely fill this category are 801 Media and Kitty Media. Juné has a wide range to choose from. With their M-rated titles there is going to be a bit more action, but chances are its still going to be toned down in comparison with what you'll find in 801 Media (Digital Manga is the parent company of both Juné and 801 Media). Don't be afraid to check out reviews for Juné titles online (you can always check here, I'll help!) BLU is TokyoPop's BL imprint. It is similar to Juné because they have a wide variety of titles to offer. DramaQueen and BeBeautiful have been MIA for quite some time now so who knows what is going on. But with the back catalog of BeBeautiful titles they are much more explicit. DramaQueen has a wider variety, but because they don’t print as much as other publishers the selection is smaller. So far the titles that I've read are pretty sexually explicit. But that's only for the titles that I have.
I'll talk about more BL publishers in the next post, but let's get down to business.
Voice or Noise by Yamimaru Enjin – Shinichiro is having trouble with his dog Flappy. The veterinarian sends him to see a "specialist" by the name of Narusawa. It seems that Narusawa is able to communicate with animals. It turns out that Shinichiro has this gift as well. Shinichiro tries to convince Narusawa to teach him the art of animal conversation. Soon feelings develop between these two. This is a great read for beginning BL readers because you get kissing and hinting at sex, but nothing graphic. It's Doctor Doolittle meets boys love!
Future Lovers by Saika Kunieda – Kento has a dream of marrying a beautiful woman, having a large family, and live in bliss. After his girlfriend rejects his proposal of marriage Kento gets drunk and ends up sleeping with some random guy he met at the bar. But its not too bad seeing how the guy is gorgeous and this mysterious man is really the one who picked him up. It turns out the mystery man is actually the new art teacher at the high school Kento teaches at. This one is a little more graphic, but the sex is tastefully done. My only worry is the one-shot featured at the end of the book. Yet the first story is so wonderful and funny that I, personally, was able to truly enjoy this volume and overlook my hesitations towards the second story.
Sunflower by Hyouta Fujiyama – Ryuhei had a crush on his tutor Aikawa, but those feelings remained unrequited. You see Aikawa is involved with someone else. Ryuhei decides that he's just going to go with the flow and enjoy his high school experience. He attends Kinsei High a school rumored to have a student body that is 90% gay (this is a boys school). In class he meets Kunihisa who transferred into the school and is completely unaware of the rumor. It seems that Kunihisa has piqued Ryuhei's interest. There is passionate kissing, and sex but it is mostly in the side stories. The sex scenes, however, are tastefully drawn with Fujiyama-sama's delicate style.
Gakuen Heaven by You Higuri – Keita Ito has been accepted into Bell Liberty Academy. It is a very prestigious school that only takes the best of the best. Keita sees himself as an average dude. Yet he is supremely lucky. Once he arrives at the school (after a messed up bus accident) he quickly makes friends with many of the students. There is one that seems to catch Keita's eye, Tetsuya Niwa – Student Council President. This one is probably the most visually graphic volumes on this list because you do see an erect member. This happens at the end however. There is also a moment of non-consent that can be a little off putting. But this is a great beginner volume because it introduces you to some of the many yaoi plot points and the more graphic style. Also, it being from the master Higuri-sensei the quality of the art is second to none
Okay! I've provided another short list of excellent beginner BL titles. With Voice or Noise it is a series with currently two volumes (there are three that have been released in Japan) but the series is still ongoing. Future Lovers has a sequel coming out next March. Sunflower also is a two volume series that is well worth your time. Gakuen Heaven has another title that has been licensed by BLU Manga but I have no idea when it will be released, but it follows a totally different story line.
Don't hesitate to leave a comment for me on what you think of these volumes once they've been read. I hope that these postings have been informative for you. When I first started reading yaoi titles I jumped in and found myself a little shocked. I had to go back to some of the more vanilla titles to familiarize myself with the genre. There was no where for me to go to get advice on what would be good for a beginner. Just consider me your water wings for when you venture out into the vast ocean of BL titles!