The Dangerous BL of 2015
It’s awesome to start the new year with some BL and I’m more than happy to share to you the list of most dangerous BL in 2015 from Kono BL ga Yabai!
Kono BL ga Yabai’s been going on since 2008 as a BL counterpart to another famous manga roundup called Kono Manga ga Sugoi. It was first published as a section in Eureka’s BL Studies issue but the year after, it eventually got its own book. Like Kono Manga ga Sugoi, BL ga Yabai selects titles released from a particular period (often between October of the previous year and September of the current year) and holds a poll on their favorite BL titles released that year from 40 manga critics and 6000 readers online and in stores. The result is a diverse selection of titles that has never disappointed me as a fan. Of course, granted that the critics votes have larger clout than the readers, I consider this list as a critic’s choice than it is a popular vote.
For quick comparison, here’s a table of the top 20 BL titles from these lists.
|Kono BL ga Yabai 2015||Chil-Chil BL Awards||Amazon’s BL Bestsellers|
|1||O.B. by Nakamura Asumiko||Saezuru Tori wa Habatakunai by Yoneda Kou||In These Words 2 by Guilt Pleasure|
|2||Soredemo Yasashii Koi wo Suru by Yoneda Kou||Hana wa Saku Ka (4) by Hidaka Shouko||Dakaretai Otoko Ichii ni Odosareteimasu by Sakurabi Hashigo|
|3||Ten Count by Takarai Rihito||NightS by Yoneda Kou||Soredemo Yasashii Koi wo Suru by Yoneda Kou|
|4||Toshishita Kareshi no Renai Kanriheki by Sakurabi Hashigo||Smells like Green Spirit by Nagai Saburou||Sekaiichi Hatsukoi 9 by Nakamura Shungiku|
|5||Dakaretai Otoko Ichii ni Odosareteimasu by Sakurabi Hashigo||Choco Strawberry Vanilla by Psychedelico||Yuutsu no Asa 5 by Hidaka Shouko|
|6||Sneaky Red by Tanato||10Dance by Inoue Satou||OB 1 by Nakamura Asumiko|
|7||10Dance by Inoue Satou||Shinjou-kun to Sasahara-kun by Koshino||OB 2 by Nakamura Asumiko|
|8||Saezuru Tori wa Habatakunai (Twittering Birds Never Fly) by Yoneda Kou||Kuroneko Kareshi no Amaekata by Sakyou Aya||Shinjou-kun to Sasahara-kun by Koshino|
|9||Kuroneko Kareshi no Aishikata by Sakyou Aya||Hana no Miyako de by Takarai Rihito||Junjou Romantica 18 by Nakamura Shungiku|
|10||Yuuutsu no Asa (Blue Morning) by Hidaka Shouko||Toshishita Kareshi no Renai Kanriheki by Sakurabi Hashigo||Toshishita Kareshi no Renai Kanriheki 1 by Sakurabi Hashigo|
|11||Nennen Saisai by Hideyoshico||Between the Sheets by Hashimoto Aoi||Kuroneko Kareshi no Aishikata 1 by Sakyou Aya|
|12||Yatamomo by Harada||Mauri to Ryuu by Moto Haruko||Toshishita Kareshi no Renai Kanriheki 2 by Sakurabi Hashigo|
|13||Nini no Mori by SHOOWA||Michi to no Souguu by Koshino||Sex Pistols 8 by Kotobuki Tarako|
|14||Seinen Hakkaten by Amagakure Gido||Gosan no Heart by Ogawa Chise||Ten Count 1 by Takarai Rihito|
|15||Shinjou-kun to Sasahara-kun by Koshino||Utsukushii Yasai by Matsumoto Miecohouse||Kuroneko Kareshi no Aishikata 2 by Sakyou Aya|
|16||In These Words by Guilt Pleasure||Yozora no Sumikko de by Hayakawa Nojiko||Koisuru Boukun 9 by Takanaga Hinako|
|17||Utsukushii Yasai by Matsumoto Miecohouse||Itoshi no Nekokke (Otaruhen) by Kumota Haruko||Hana to Usagi by Kashima Chiaki|
|18||Afureteshimau by Arai Yoshimi||Sekaiichi Hatsukoi 8 by Nakamura Shungiku||In These Words by Guilt Pleasure|
|19||Koisuru Intelligence by Tange Michi||Tokyo Shinchuu by Totem Pole||Ten Count 2 by Takarai Rihito|
|20||Umibe no Etranger by Kii Kana||Sunao ja nai kedo by Sakuraga Mei||Super Lovers 7 by Abe Miyuki|
You can see the differences and similarities in choices between the selections. Not that I am saying that one list is better than the other but I’d like to think that these differences highlight the various metrics used to observe BL readers as well as show the different trends among BL readers, depending on the places they visit or where they buy their BL. For example, those who respond to Kono BL ga Yabai are probably meticulous readers who buy their manga in stores while taking note of when and why they bought it. Amazon’s list is based on sales and this might reflect on how easier it is to buy some titles online (e.g. In These Words are hardly seen on shelves in bookstores during my last trip given the fast turnover of titles in bookshelves). Chil-chil’s results is based on BL readers whose choices may be influenced by Chil-chil’s online forum. There are possibly other factors on these differences but for me, these lists are a great resource for good BL reads for the coming year.
The Kono BL ga Yabai 2015 also listed some of the best characters in BL manga last year. I won’t list all but here are the best of them.
Best Seme: Kuze Akihito (Blue Morning)
Best Uke: Yano (Twittering Birds Never Fly)
Best Megane: Asano Katsuya (In These Words)
Best Oyaji: Ichinose Masamine (between the sheets)
Best Hetare: Miyasaka Ken (Tokyo Shinchuu)
Best Tsundere: Kuroi Sabato (Kachou Fuugetsu by Shimizu Yuki)
Best Sadist: Kuramoto Yuuji (Kimi ni Sasagu Sadistic by Sakurabi Hashigo)
Best Masochist: Nagai Tarou (Utsukushii Yasai)
Lastly, Kono BL ga Yabai 2015 also highlighted 5 BL newcomers who are expected to give us awesome and exciting titles in the next few years. The only one I’ve read is Harada, known for her work in Ren’ai and Yatamomo. The other authors are Ido Gihou (Yasashiku Oshiete), Yuki Ringo (Tamayura), Ogeretsu Tanaka (Koi to Baka de Aru Koto da), and Etsuko (In the Apartment)
Now, I only highlighted the comics section of the book. There’s also a look at the best BL novels, as well as various interviews of the winning artists. For this year, it’s Nakamura Asumiko and Sakurabi Hashigo. There were also various features on the best manga for various tropes/play/settings as well as the top 5 manga as selected by various manga critics.
I think this selection is fairly nice. Compared to previous years, I’m surprisingly updated with many of the selected titles since many of them have either been published in ebookjapan or I had the chance to buy them. Hence, I feel a bit confident about pushing many of the titles in this list. That said, even when I read most of these titles, I realise that I have so much yet to read!
I am not surprised that Nakamura Asumiko got the top prize for Kono BL ga Yabai. She’s been a favorite among BL fans (and mine as well) and OB does deserve some merit. Hidaka Shouko, Takarai Rihito, and Yoneda Kou titles at the top also reflect their popularity and strength as authors. There are also new names in the list which give me faith in fresh new talent. Kii Kana’s Umibe no Etranger was a delight to read while Harada’s Yatamomo‘s hard erotic scenes was one I didn’t imagine critics would particularly place in the top 20. Then again, Harada’s presence in the top twenty also signifies a trend I noticed in this year’s selection. If anything, I think this year should be handed to Sakurabi Hashigo who spearheaded the trend in bringing sexy back to BL with her work Toshishita Kareshi no Renai Kanriheki.
Last year, there’s more schmex happening in BL and Toshishita Kareshi, Yatamomo, and Kuroneko Kareshi are the best reminders that ‘hardcore’ schmex is back with a vengeance. In the past few years we’ve been getting a lot of ‘softcore’ BL which is fun and cute and has made us forget all the raunchiness that used to happen in a lot of yaoi titles. But this time, BL has embraced some indecent images, vulgar perspectives, profuse sweating, obscenely noisy ukes, and creaking beds! And at times, it’s even lethal. By that I mean that they’ve managed to work a balance between a great heartwrenching mune-kyun story to go along with some of the most erotic scenes I’ve seen in current BL manga. Nakamura Asumiko’s OB is a good ‘softer’ example but there are things in Yatamomo that just makes my nose bleed. This new surge of hardcore BL works appear like tributes to some of the better executed full on hardcore yaoi seen in the late 90s (think Yoshinaga Fumi in her dojinshi!). If anything, some of these titles attempt to rival some of the softer erotica seen in gei (gay) comics1. However, I don’t see BL embracing many of the heavier images in gei comics anytime soon.
What I also find particularly interesting about this list is how Guilt Pleasure is doing really well in Japan! Granted that Guilt Pleasure did a lot of work to promote In These Words, it’s amazing to see a foreign artist do really well in Japan! In Animate, they pushed Guilt Pleasure as an American comic which I find particularly funny because I think JoChen’s illustrations for In These Words are aesthetically closer to manga than amecomi. Hopefully, Guilt Pleasure’s success would push Japanese publishers to look at other foreign talent as well.
I expected some titles to hit the top. For example, I casted votes for Itoshi no Nekokke, Love Stage, Tokyo Shinchuu, and Kachou Fuugetsu yet those fell somewhere in the top 50 mark. Either way, the selection’s really interesting and are worth definitely reading for many BL fans. If you haven’t started reading some of these titles, then it’s about time you start the year right with some of these dangerous BL.
- just to note that this refers to Japanese gay comics — what most foreign fans know better as bara [↩]