Yaoi: The Art of Japanese Gay Comics

The Advocate's Tiara Chiaramonte breaks down the basics and gives us an introduction to the fascinating world of gay Japanese comics.

BY Tiara Chiaramonte

January 21 2014 1:19 AM ET


Shounen-Ai
Japanese gay comics have a large female audience, in part because the genre tends to be featured as subplots in girls' comic books. Shoujo mangas are romantic comedy-style comics aimed at girls between the ages of six and 16. But in some of these early comics instead of the lead male characters falling for the girl, he became gay. Eventually this turned into it's own genre called shounen-ai. Shounen-ai literally translates into boy love. These comics started with extremely close, platonic relationships between the boys that eventually turned into romantic ones. The comics are rarely graphic and focus more on the love story and relationship of the characters. 

Suggested Reading
Kaze to ki no Uta (The Poem of the Wind and the Trees) is an award-winning, classic manga series published in the late seventies and early eighties. Often regarded as the first manga to feature gay romantic and sexual relationships, it is a dark, coming of age tale, dealing with rape, racism, drug abuse and homophobia. It recounts the details of a relationship between two students at a boarding school in the late 19th century in France.

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