There is no order, rhyme, or reason to this list…I love all of the series on this list for different reasons, so it didn’t make sense for me to rank them…*shrugs* I know that there are some great anime and OVAs out there but I want to highlight manga and manwha, so I won’t include any anime/OVA exclusives…
Before you all start grabbing your torches and pitchforks, this list is purely my opinion…You are more than welcome to agree or disagree with me if you want, by all means leave a comment and suggest your favorite yaoi/bl series. So without further ado here we go: My Top Five Favorite Yaoi/BL Titles.
Finder series by Yamane Ayano
This is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine from way back, I’ve been following this series for years and like a fine wine it manages to get better with age. The story follows Akihito Takaba, a 23 year old freelance photographer out on the prowl for his next big scoop. One day while out on a job, he manages to capture a picture of crime lord Ryuichi Asami in the middle of a big “business deal”. Asami kidnaps Takaba and teaches him a lesson he won’t soon forget. Through various coincidences the pair find themselves drawn to one another, each man trying to gain the upper hand on the other in twisted cat and mouse game. This manga is ongoing with 7 volumes in print so far. In 2007 and 2010 the series was licensed in English. So pick up a copy either on Amazon or wherever books are sold.
Why I Like It: There is just so much going on between the two men. It’s interesting to watch their relationship progress from Asami’s constant attempts to capture Takaba to a more or less romantic relationship. In the beginning it was a constant fight for control between the cool Asami and the flighty Takaba. Neither one willing to fold to the other, but slowly the dynamic between the two shifted to one of mutual respect and acceptance. Especially on Takaba’s end, he actually willingly gives himself to Asami, despite his initial reluctance. But on the other side of things, we have little insight into Asami’s feelings. While it’s obvious that he has some affection for Takaba, as he was willing to move heaven and earth to protect him. We just don’t know how deep those feelings run, whether it is a passing fancy or truly love. There is a really interesting give and take between the two characters that you can’t help but want to see more of it in the future.
Don’t Blame Me by Yamada Yugi
This was the series that taught me there is more to yaoi than just sex. Before reading this series I believed, like most, that yaoi was more akin to mindless hentai, than to more mainstream manga. This is a stunning example of yaoi done right! The story follows university student Toshiaki Kaji, a man on the verge of the single most important experience in his life. Tired of always living his life by the rules, he decides to throw caution to the wind, by joining the campus film club. For the first time in his life he finally feels like he’s found a place where he belongs, among some of the strangest characters on campus. Suddenly his life is anything but normal, and when he meets Nakamura everything he ever knew gets turned on it’s head. This manga is only 2 volumes long. In 2008 the series was licensed in English. So pick up a copy either on Amazon or wherever books are sold.
Why I Like It: The story is basically series of flashbacks told to Makoto, the younger cousin of Kaji, about the now adult members of the University’s film club. The story reads more like a slice of life, school manga than an actual yaoi. As the plot progresses we delve into the college days of the film club. While the main couple is the “main” focus of the story, each and every one of the characters gets a chance in the spotlight. In fact this is more a coming of age story than anything else, and I absolutely love it! The story is fun, with just enough angst to push the plot along. Everything is a slow build, and the final reconciliation between the main pair is sweet.
The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese & The Carp on the Chopping Block Jumps Twice by Mizushiro Setona
So I kind of cheated with this one…Since the story is split into two separate yet continuous titles I decided to include them both in the same place, rather than waste time talking about them separately. Both manga tell the story of Kyouichi, a man with some serious commitment issues, he’s a serial adulterer. Somehow or another he manages to cheat on his wife, not once, but several times. That all changes when he meets his old college classmate, Imagase, who has been hired by his suspicious wife to uncover evidence of Kyouichi’s philandering ways. Imagase promises to keep Kyouichi’s secret, but at a cost, just one small favor: that Kyouichi give his body to him in exchange.
Why I Like It: The main characters are some of the most broken people I have ever seen. One is a straight guy who simply can’t muster up the energy to stay faithful to one person, male or female. While the other is gay man hopelessly in love with a man who is both physically and mentally incapable of returning his affections. It is a perfect mess, and I love it! There is so much wrong with this manga, but it works. You get caught up in all the drama and angst which makes for an amazing two volume emotional roller coaster ride! This title stays with you long after you turn the last page, and it is something, you won’t soon forget.
Totally Captivated by Yoo Ha Jin
I must have a thing for gay gangsters…but who cares I love this series! Unlike the other titles on this list this is a manwha (the Korean equivalent of manga). The story follows Ewon Jung, a handsome but extremely unfaithful college student. His much bereaved boyfriend, Jiho, has had enough of his infidelity and has finally left him for good. His new beau is the extremely handsome mafia boss Mookyul, who as a favor to Jiho, forces Ewon to work for him as an indentured servant of sorts. Afraid for his life, Ewon reluctantly assumes his role as Mookyul’s personal work horse. But, not long after, Mookyul starts to take an interest in our flighty protagonist! Between his pissed off Ex and his cold blooded mafia boss, Ewon doesn’t stand a chance. The main story is told over 6 volumes, with an additional 3 volumes of separate side story (two are a continuation of the main story and one is a prequel). The title has been licensed in English. So pick up a copy either on Amazon or wherever books are sold.
Why I Like It: This title turns the angst and drama up to eleven! These guys have so much baggage, it’s a wonder they are able to function normally. Both have been shaped by their pasts, and both are extremely damaged because of it. Mookyul, despite being the big bad mafia boss, more often than not bends to the whims of Ewon. He has Mookyul wrapped around his little finger, and boy does he know it! The dynamic between the main pair is interesting to watch, it’s a constant system of checks and balances. Mookyul is in love with Ewon to the point that he is willing to give up everything just to have him by his side. While Ewon, refuses to let himself be taken in by Mookyul’s oppressive feelings. It was definitely an intense ride from start to finish and I highly recommend giving the series a read!
Ten Count by Takarai Rihito
It is super rare that I even look at an ongoing series, but from time to time I will make an exception. This is one of those rare exceptions. The series follows the relationship between mysophobic (fear of contamination/germs) secretary Shirotani Tadaomi and clinic counselor Kurose. While the relationship between the two men is essential to the plot, a lot more focus is put on Shirotani’s mysophobia. This manga has become one of my new favorite! This manga is ongoing with 4 volumes in print so far. The series is set for release in English, in August of 2016. So pick up a copy either on Amazon or wherever books are sold when it becomes available!
Why I Like It: This is a really unique premise, I don’t think I’ve ever read a title that dealt with a complex condition like mysophobia. Shirotani’s condition handled in a very sensitive manner, it doesn’t just clear up over night, he has to constantly work at it. The progression between Kurose and Shirotani is extremely interesting. At first it seems like Kurose is helping Shirotani for purely altruistic reasons, but as the story progresses you realize that he is a bit of a sadist. Plot twist! This is an amazing series and I highly recommend giving it a read if you have the chance.
So that’s my list, were there any titles you though should have been on the list that weren’t? Something on the list that you think shouldn’t be? Do you have any suggestions for posts? Any burning questions? Want me to review a specific game, manga, or anime? Feel free to Comment on this post or Ask Me on my tumblr! As always Thank You for reading!