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 12:19 AM ET


Seme/ Uke
"Seme" and "uke" are the terms used to describe the characters in yaoi. The terminology comes from the martial arts. "Seme" means "to attack" and "uke" means "to receive." The seme is depicted as the stereotypical Japanese male physically powerful, protective, taller and typically more macho. The "uke" tends to be more docile and feminine and graceful. These portrayals of gay mean are criticized in Japan because they do not ever address that the character are gay, rather just simply in love with each other. This has allowed for yaoi novels to sidestep Japanese gay rights issues by focusing on the theme of love conquering all.

Suggested Reading
JunJou Romantica follows the story lines of three different couples. The main story is about a high school student's forbidden romance with his older tutor.

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