A lot of bad anime exists in the BL genre, but here are 10 yaoi animes that are a safe bet for newcomers.
The term “boys’ love,” sometimes referred to as “BL” or “yaoi,” has a checkered past. Over time, many harmful clichés have permeated queer romance as shown in books and films. As a result, yaoi has faced a great deal of criticism, and many of the relationships shown in manga and anime have been harmful to the LGBT community. Thank goodness BL has progressed in step with the rest of anime. Increasingly, favorable portrayals of the LGBTQ community are being accepted as the norm.
Starting with anime depicting healthy gay relationships is the best place to start for newcomers to BL. Unfortunately, this includes many of the more well-known (or not so well-known) yaoi series. Great BL should show boys in healthy, loving, and consenting relationships regardless of the plot.
By Leah Thomas, updated July 27th, 2021:
Even while BL has a long way to go in terms of maturity, progress is being made. This list has now been updated to include a few more wholesome LGBT anime that fulfill the criteria of this list.
1. Spiritpact Is Flawed But Proves Queer Characters Can Occupy Other Genres
Exorcist Tanmoku Ki is well-known and extremely effective. In a tragic accident, Keika, a naive young man, is killed. Tanmoku offers Keika a deal – to become his spirit shadow, which in turn will allow Keika to maintain his bond with the human world even in his spirit form. This begins a turbulent relationship between two stubborn, strong-willed guys who are unwilling to give in before the other. Keika agrees. In spite of their continual arguing, they form a closer friendship than each expected as a result of their peculiar circumstances.
However, despite Spiritpact’s flaws (many fans would advise novices to start with the manhua instead), the series’ character dynamics make it stand out among Black Library titles. More shounen-ai than yaoi, Spiritpact is a decent example of the slow progress shows are making toward incorporating queer characters into genre stories.
2. Beryl And Sapphire Is A Step Forward
Despite the fact that each episode is only 8 minutes long, Beryl and Sapphire make significant progress.
When two guys are placed in a variety of unusual situations, their love blossoms into a blossoming romance.
One of them is a knight in shining armor who has lost his king’s favor, while the other is a young schoolboy who must overcome the Devil in order to win his king’s favor (who happens to be his love interest). The show features several mini-arcs, all of which are explored intermittently between other arcs, constantly keeping fans on their toes. Love, on the other hand, is bound to prevail.
3. Classmates Gives Queer Fans A School-Life Love Story
However, Classmates’s fundamental notion isn’t really novel. A simple love story has been denied to queer fans for far too long.
During their time together in chorus, shy honor student Rihito Sajou and outgoing student Hikaru Kusakabe discover that they have a lot in common, and Hikaru offers to help Rihito with his singing. This is the beginning of a heartwarming and innocent story about the first love of two young boys. Thoughtful and nuanced, the film’s artwork is a work of art in its own right. Classmates, as a whole, is a sweet and heartfelt tale.
4. No. 6 Combined Sci-Fi & BL With Nuance
Despite its flaws, the No. 6 series has had a significant impact on pop culture. LGBT romance and a wider, more ambitious tale rarely co-exist in anime, and it’s even rarer to see queer representation in a dystopian future. It’s important to note that the presence of a queer character isn’t the only thing that identifies them, and that’s why we’ve given them the number 6.
No. 6 City’s Shion, a well-to-do resident, is blissfully unaware of the world outside until he meets Nezumi, a fugitive from the outside. When Shion returns to Nezumi years later with more experience and cynicism, he is willing to risk everything to help him realize the reality of the world. In an unstable world, Shion and Nezumi form a friendship based on a mutual desire to rectify what’s wrong.
5. Mo Dao Zu Shi (The Untamed) Altered An Industry
The number of people who love The Untamed has been steadily increasing in recent years. MO DAO ZHU SHI, the novel that was made into the popular live-action series MO DAO ZHU SHI, walks a tight line between progressive narrative and official censorship in China. MDZS’s success is all the more remarkable when you consider the challenges it faced. It also shows that what the public wants and what a repressive society permits aren’t always compatible.
The animation in the donghua rendition of the narrative is stunning. Wei Wuxian, a dark magic cultivator, resurrects after his death and reunites with the man he loved, Lan Wangji, in a rendition of ancient China rich with mystical aspects. While there are some gay characters in the novel, the focus is not on romance as in No.6.
6. Heaven’s Official Blessing Proves BL Donghua Has Legs
The author of the Mo Xiang Tong Xiu sequel series had a lot to live up to after the phenomenal success of Mo Dao Zu Shi. Fortunately, she proved up to the task, andHeaven’s Official Blessinghas also received an excellent donghua adaptation.
In the past, Xie Lian was a great god, but he has since faded into obscurity. A shadow of his former self and with few disciples to his name he returns to paradise. When Xie Lian arrives in heaven, he encounters Hua Cheng, a Ghost King who instills fear in the hearts of all around him. In contrast, Hua Cheng benefits Xie Lian rather than damages her. When San Lang, an expert on Hua Cheng, joins Xie Lian on his tour through the country, he becomes an important part of his life.
7. Umibe No Etranger Is Perfectly Realistic
Prior to the release of Umibe No Etranger in Japan, the film’s online buzz had already begun to build. In a way, the film’s charm lies in its unremarkable premise. For far too long, gay moviegoers have been denied the thrill of witnessing representation in even the most simple and lovely depictions of adolescent love.
Shun Hashimoto aspires to be an author, but his parents’ rejection of him as a gay man has made it difficult for him. A high school orphan, Mio Chibana, finds him by the sea in Okinawa, and the two become a strong friendship. Shun is left alone after Mio’s departure at the conclusion of the summer. It’s been a long time since Mio’s return to Okinawa, but perhaps these two might find happiness again.
8. Yuri!!! On Ice Remains King
Yuri!!! On Ice still deserves all the praise five years after it first aired.
Yuri!!! If you’re looking for a mainstream commercially successful sports anime that doesn’t hide its queer elements, On Ice is the show for you. An tribute to figure skating and a love story between two male characters were woven together in this play directed by a female director.
Yuri is the most essential thing. A joy to see, On Ice has moments of suspense, moments of hilarity, and moments of grief. MAPPA’s prequel film won’t satisfy those who want a sequel, but the international community has welcomed every moment with these characters.
9. Given Addresses Heartbreaking Truths
Released in 2019, Givenwas the first BL anime to air in a primetime slot on Japanese television. Beyond this,Giveni is the best of the best in BL, a narrative about coping with tragedy and grief that is utterly realistic. To say goodbye to one’s loved ones in such a powerful and poignant way is an understatement.
Ritsuka Uenoyama, a fellow high school student, approaches Mafuyu Sato and offers to help him tune and play his guitar. Mafuyu doesn’t say so, but the guitar belonged to his first love, who committed suicide. After hearing Mafuyu perform, Ritsuka urges him to join his band, and through music, these disillusioned, lost young men begin to find a way ahead once more. Ritsuka.
10. Banana Fish Deserves Its Cult Classic Status
Banana Fish isn’t easy to watch, and that’s half of what makes it so brilliant. Based on a hugely popular cult 80s manga by Akimi Yoshida, the story centers on Ash Lynx, a young gang leader in New York City who’s seeking answers about a mysterious drug that led to his brother’s murder, and Eiji Nakamura, a young Japanese man who joins Ash along the way.
WhileBanana Fishwas written before BL was defined as its own genre, its central characters are clearly in love, and the original manga quickly gaineda diverse mainstream audience as an action series more than a love story. These days, the manga is credited as a forefather to solid BL representation. It took three decades forBanana Fish to receive an anime adaptation, and the final product, devastating though it is, is a masterpiece.