Chrono’s Yaoi Picks

Reading my earlier post about Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi, you might notice I have more than a few problems with yaoi in general. But as I said there, I do love it so, and read it near constantly; it’s just I only look for the good stuff anymore. Granted, what I consider ‘good’ apparently is pretty far from the mainstream, in that none of it is likely to ever be animated (insert gratuitous cursing here). But here I’ve put together some of what I consider to be good.

Michizure Policy

This one is fun for a few reasons. First, and you will notice this is a recurring theme here, there is no noticeably feminine, submissive uke. Just looking at them, you wouldn’t even be able to tell which is which. Though it does suffer from Misunderstanding Syndrome, that is thankfully brief. That it continues past the Relationship Upgrade Coitus also is a plus.

Memory of the Future/Where the Wind Goes

While the relationship roles (hate those things) are a bit more clear-cut here, the characters are interesting and unconventional enough to more than make up for that. But even more than that, especially in the second volume/sequel, is when we leave behind the “are we going to be a couple” phase, and enter a more domestic phase. Domesticity is one of my favorite things to see in yaoi, so expect it to crop up again.

Wonderful Life

This one goes a step beyond and begins with our protagonists already in a relationship. Bonus: they are both working adults. Oh, and there are characters who identify as gay outside of the main couple. Again we come across that domesticity I so love, and though there is an Ex-Boyfriend chapter, it is relatively unique in execution.

Rinjin wo Aisou

This one takes us back to high school, but the characters are endearing enough to make up for that. Also there is no rape, or anything too overly dramatic a la Seikai-Ichi. And it has a sense of humor, which helps. Kazuhito trying to research sex is just priceless.

Seven Days

Another one in high school, but this one is something special, let me tell you. There aren’t any stereotypes here (or rape, hooray), and there is actual character growth when all is said and done. What I like specifically about this one, though, is how the main characters actually go on dates. This is surprisingly rare in what is ostensibly a romantic genre, but a lot of other titles are too busy with sex to bother with these sorts of trivialities. In the end, though, this one is still what I’d classify as a Fairy-Tale type story, but there’s no reason those can’t be good every now and then.

In fact, it’s that same fairy-tale quality that attracted me to the genre in the first place, and also what keeps me reading it. But there’s no reason a fairy-tale needs to be all sunshine and rainbows, nor is it impossible for them to be realistic. In some respects, at least. I find a number of titles use “well, it’s just a fairy-tale sort of thing” as an excuse to get out of writing actual characters, or to keep from straying from conventions. But that’s not what happens here; they may get their happily ever after, but they sure as hell have to work for it.

Honorable Mentions:

Mankai Darling. This would be on the main list except recently a second volume was released that has not been fully scanlated to my knowledge. This one is very sweet, and once again we have those working adult characters.

Just around the Corner. This one is decidedly more bittersweet than the others on the list, and the reason it’s all the way down here is because, in my opinion of course, the ending did a disservice to the rest of the story. One might call this a deconstruction of your standard student-teacher yaoi story. There’s some good stuff in here, but, again, the ending is a bit of a cop out.

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16 Comments

  1. j
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    thank you for the BL recommendations :D

    (sad that i need to study for finals… T^T)

  2. Belle
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    I loooved Seven Days but I haven’t read the others. I look forward to reading the others.

  3. Posted May 17, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Nifty list! Got to read this through a friend’s rec!

    I’ve only read three of these (Memory of the Future, Where the Wind Blows and Seven Days) and will definitely check out the rest! I’ve also always wanted to check out Mankai Darling since I adore Yamamoto Kotetsuko’s work in general but I’m waiting for it to be scanlated completely or licensed in English. Hope it moves along fine~

    I read Seven Days before but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected (and I see a lot of people liking it a lot).

    Thanks for this post~

  4. Ibis
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I read Mankai Darling and I found really sweet the history with a little realism in the relationship between the characters, also the artwork is a plus.

    I really don’t like that much Sekai-ichi for the stereotypes. Another yaoi manga that i quite like it was “Bukiyou na Silent”, highschool students that are in love and make out but it doesn’t seem forced their relationship.

    I might check those titles out, thanks for the recomendations. :D

  5. Posted May 17, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read any of these. I think I need to fix that, because I’m always looking for yaoi that’s actually good quality, and I never seem to find any. Some of Naono’s work is pretty good, but other than that…well. Thank you so much for this post. And for showing me that there are other yaoi fans out there who actually still want quality. I know way too many people who seem to think pretty boys kissing makes up for a lack of anything else.

  6. boxLiLi
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    I just started reading yaoi a while ago, and as u mentioned in your previous post; there has been a lot of rapes on the ones that I’ve read so far. I think, that is ’cause they don’t accept easily the male-male relationship and since that kind of love seems strange (for one of them), then the other one has to force it..
    anyway.. I’m gonna check all the recommendations that you post..

    Thx

  7. Yaku
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the suggestions, I’ve been awfully busy and had no time to go check out more yaoi, and don’t have the money to go around “investing” in a book to see whether it’s good or not (thankfully most of the bad ones I just paid a couple dollars) so this post is great for me. I’m also with the seasoned fujoshi who are beyond the “OMGSQUEALSOCUTE!!1!11!” kinda mangas and want something with more substance; there comes a point where stuff like Junjou Romantica just doesn’t do it anymore. Not that it’s a bad manga (there are worse) but it doesn’t go beyond cute/angtsy/humor moments (usually in that order)

  8. Nellie
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Well Seven Days is a shounen ai so it isn’t surprising that there is dating within. It is the only shounen ai you mentioned.

    I felt Complex was a really nice Yaoi manga. I also really like Kou Yoneda’s works and Setona Mizushiro’s The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese and Carp on the Chopping Block Jumps Twice.

    I’ve read the ones you listed, they are nice. You should make a list for shounen ai which does without the smex.

  9. Locke
    Posted May 20, 2011 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    7 days is golden. I remember liking the first chapter to ‘Bondz’ and enjoyed ‘Antique Bakery’. I’m glad you didn’t name the big Yaoi’s (Gravitation, Junjou), which imo are just crap.

    I think my overall issue with Yaoi a side from the horrid roles, glorified rapes and hilarious cliches is the romance genre itself. Shoujo/Yuri/Yaoi tend to focus to largely on the main relationship, which can be basically resolved in the space of a few chapters. Unless it’s not taking itself too seriously, the storylines tend to be to dragged out, which becomes just boring after a while.

    I’ve also got issues with characterization in yaoi. Roles a side, most of the characters yaoi don’t act as how men/boys would. It’s not to say that all guys act the same, but there is a male persona/nature that most yaoi mangas fail to characterize. Also none of them acknowledge that whole gay thing and when they are, it’s in a small panel on the bottom left hand corner where one party is getting a blowjob and a small thought bubble appears with the words: ‘but he’s a guy!’

  10. Posted May 20, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Is ‘Wonderful life’ anywhere on net free to read?

  11. Cat
    Posted May 20, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    And Yatteranezee!? It is one of the best yaoi manga series I’ve ever read. Memories of the Future/Where the wind blows is also amazing. And Seven Days left me speechless.

    Thank you for the recommendations. There are series I haven’t read yet, so I’ll be glad to check them up! ;)

  12. Posted May 22, 2011 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    Nice list! I also really love Asumiko Nakamura’s works and Koisuru Boukun.

  13. Posted May 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I really love Seven days…It’s hard to find a good shounen-ai now. But this one is totally exceptional.
    I don’t understand why it’s not famous. Maybe they prefer yaoi or something.

  14. Posted May 28, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    @Locke: Antique Bakery is my all-time favorite yaoi manga. I think my favorite thing about it is it has enough universal appeal that even people who would never ever EVER think of reading yaoi would give it a chance. I call it yaoi for non-yaoi fans.

    I’ll have to check some of these out. I’ve been out of the loop when it comes to yaoi for some time since it’s so hard to separate the really good titles from the “meh” to downright terrible ones.

    • Nellie
      Posted May 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Well Antique Bakery isn’t yaoi and is actually shoujo, which is probably why non-yaoi readers can accept it. Of course if you love yaoi then check out the doujinshi the mangaka did for it.

  15. lalalalaa
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    thanks for the suggestions :D:D
    im pretty new to the “yaoi” world xD read a few and most seem to be filled with over sized men, rape, and over reactions that are just ridiculous :/ personally i prefer cuter, awww feeling ones with simpler art :D like aitsu no daihonmei… that one was just soo adorable and had mostly no cliches :D:D and it doesnt go in that stupid circle of “noo i dont love him.. or do i?” shinnkuu yuusetsu was cute too, tho that would be more a shounen ai..
    anywaysss ill defininetly be checking out the ones you suggested ^^ thanks~
    btw is the first pic from any manga? it look really cute ><

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