Friday, June 22, 2012

BLBB Chats About Boys’ Love

If you like boys' love manga, gay romance novels (known as “M/M” or “MM”) are throbbing for your attention. If you like M/M novels, boys' love manga (known as “BL” or “yaoi”) will lasso you in!

As part of author Hayley B. James' initiative to help the BL manga fan explore M/M novels and to help the M/M novel fan explore BL manga, we four ladies(?) sat down this past weekend to chat over coffee (definitely not vodka).

Kimberly: 1. How did you find BL? Did you get into it right away, or did you have to warm up to it?

Barbara: Well, it all started with Harry Potter fan fiction. Do you remember after Goblet of Fire came out, and we were all waiting for the Order of the Phoenix? I wanted to read more so badly I thought I'd write my own novel, but I found out it was a lot harder than it sounded. So I started reading fan fiction. And I ran into slash pretty quickly. I don't think I even BLINKED. I got the eroticism of it right away and was totally hooked! So when I started watching Naruto with the kids in 2007, I started slashing Kakashi and Iruka naturally. Then I looked for fan fiction, and it existed. Then I found doujinshis. Then I realized that there was actual real manga featuring gay relationships! I was like a kid in a candy store! I'm a natural fujoshi. [A fujoshi is a female fan of BL.]

Anne Lee: Sounds very similar to me, except I started with Sailor Moon fan fiction. Sailor Moon was my first anime/manga, though, so I think it took me a little while longer to get to the point where I started slashing characters myself, but the gay/lesbian relationships written into the canon helped expose me to that "world," so to speak.

Alexandra: Netflix really helped me out. One day I'm watching Utena, the next it suggests Loveless. Next thing I know, I'm jonesing for a new fix, and there's Crunchyroll with Junjo Romantica. [After] the first episode, I was a goner. Shortly after that I met Barb, so it all worked out just fine. Haha.

KimberlyI lived a fairly isolated existence from birth to about 20, but I did have posters of Erik from Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera (Susan Kay's version is better) and Mr. Rochester from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre on my wall; I've always loved intense human emotions expressed through words and art. One day, in my mid 20s, I just happened to see an AMV [animated music video] with clips from the 1992 Ai no Kusabi anime. Chains? Whips? Torture? Out of control emotion? Possession? ...Love? Sweet merciful above! WHAT IS THIS FABULOUS MADNESS? So, BL was actually my first introduction to manga and anime itself! Fifteen years later, the fire only burns hotter. Deep end first baby. No swimming lessons.

Kimberly: 2. Has BL brought any other benefits to your life?

Barbara: Yes, lots! 1. made my sex life better (when I had one) 2. introduced me to lots of cool women & men (or perhaps I should say nerdy otaku and fujoshi) [An otaku is a fan of manga, anime or video games.] 3. pushed me to learn Japanese and become a translator 4. gave me a year of fiction writing that I may not have had otherwise

Anne Lee: I'd have to say the biggest positive impact BL has had on my life has come from my deciding to pursue research of the sub-genre academically. I took this class while I was an undergrad called "Homosexualities in Asian Literature and Film," and it basically showed me that people were actually looking at BL from an academic standpoint, and I thought "Wow! I could do that!" (Since I already knew I wanted to go to grad school, the rest is history!) XD

Alexandra: Wahahaha! Er... I'd have to agree with Barb's 1-3, and then add in learning InDesign and Photoshop. Let's go with that. Big words about accepting sexuality without labels can wait for another day.

Kimberly: Here's mine: BL, despite the generalized “porn” classification, has forced me to question a lot of serious matters and helped me shape the questions I wanted to ask in order to find the answers I needed to find about myself and my world. Like Anne, I've been inspired to do a lot of exciting research.

Barbara: I have one more! Can I? I used to think penises were ugly, but now I really like to look at them. 

Kimberly: The Art of Penis?

Barbara: The Beauty that is Penis.

Kimberly: 3. Digital publishing and the comic medium: pros/cons?

Anne Lee: Pro: ease of distribution, able to get many titles out quickly. Con: I hate reading on computer screens! I want a shelf full of books I can smell!

Kimberly: Pros to digital publishing with business models like Digital Manga Guild: more authors I want to support are available in English now!

Alexandra: But dedicated eReader devices like Kindle need to catch up in regards to quality.
Seriously. I'm not blind, but comics on Kindle make me think I am.

Barbara: For me... I prefer books, but my life is unmanageable. I have too many books, so ereaders work for me. I do hate reading manga on my Kindle. I'm not thrilled by reading it on a computer either.

Kimberly: 4. Censorship on Apple iDevices & Amazon's Kindle: thoughts?

Barbara: Who knew that the most advanced technology came with Victorian age principles? I'm still stunned.

Anne Lee: I honestly don't know enough about the history of the whole ordeal to comment fully on the cases of Apple and Kindle, but I can't see how certain stores can think it's okay to censor what they sell like that.

Kimberly: There's enough censoring from the publishers. Please don't censor where I can buy and read something as well! Censorship is insulting to my emotional and intellectual intelligence. It has certainly influenced my buying habits. Right now, I have an iPad. It's great, but my next purchase will be a tablet that supports an operating system like Android.

Alexandra: Amen to that. Apple and Amazon have not been getting my money for a while now. Don't you smirk a little when B&N [Barnes & Noble] will distribute something they won't? I know I do.

Kimberly: 5. What are your top five BL mangaka recommendations?

Anne Lee: Fumi Yoshinaga, Basso, est em, Keiko Takemiya, Asumiko Nakamura. I realize not all of these are available in English.

Kimberly: Saemi Yorita's Brilliant Blue. I cried and cried and it felt so good. Completely fell in love with both main characters. Yuki Shimizu's Love Mode. Akira Honma's... anything. Yayoi Neko's Incubus.

Barbara: Nishida Higashi, Shiuko Kano, est em, Renaissance Yoshida, Tomoko Yamashita, Fujiyama Hyouta and Marta Matsuo.

Alexandra: Setona Mizushiro, Dokuro Jaryuu, Shoko Hidaka, Akira Kamuro & Hiroi Takao
together, Tetuzoh Okadaya, Sakaki Kuroda. It’s difficult to pick between favorites! * sob sob *

Kimberly: 6. What M/M romance would you most like to see adapted as a comic?

AlexandraJosh Lanyon's Adrien English mysteries and the adaptation would be done by Guilt|Pleasure or Akiko Monden.

Kimberly: Anything by Sarah Payne! (Her subscriber system is beyond annoying--just let me buy the whole damn book and read it offline--but her stories are worth the aggravation!) Also, not exactly M/M romance, but a series of manga one-shots from The Great Mirror of Male Love (1684) by Saikaku Ihara would be amazing. OH, OH! Or even The Blue Hood and The Chrysanthemum Vow (both published in 1776) by Ueda Akinari!

Barbara: A comic adaptation of Forster's Maurice.

Anne Lee: Wouldn't a Brokeback Mountain manga be fine?

Kimberly: Excellent! Time’s up, ladies! Thanks for the chat!


So, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. If you love BL, try M/M. If you love M/M, try BL. There is manna waiting to explode on your taste buds and fill your starving bellies. If you're already dining on both, then we wish your continued pleasure alongside us at this fine buffet!

Don't forget to comment! Every comment on a "Manga & Romance" related site enters you into a draw for mouthwatering treats! There's also a scavenger hunt!
Treasure sparkles!
Blog hop image from: Sekaiichi Hatsukoi by Shungiku Nakamura.


  1. I read Yaoi and M/M and it's all freaking awesome. I am just a fan of men together so I get my fix wherever I can.

    Me and my friend have serious conversations about the Yaoi manga we read. Like serious, I'm talking analyzing getting upset as hell and the works. It's an awesome good time.

    1. Now that's the kind of friend I wanna hang with!

    2. Oh! I wish I had someone close by to hash it out with. My friends and my sister know that I'm into it, but they aren't. My friend's wife is into it and they only live 5 minutes from me, but it's just never happened. Maybe I should move to Australia like I wanted to in 5th grade, then Dutchie and I can go at over BL and ukiyo-e.

    3. I'm in the same situation! My girlfriend knows I'm into it, but she is definitely NOT into it. My husband grits his teeth and listens when I occasionally need to 'splode. But nobody in person to really "hash" things out with in detail and with the same enthusiasm.

      P.S. Hee hee! I'm honoured you thought of me! *blushes, pleased* <3 I'm near Toronto, though. Does that make us closer? (Anne Lee is in Australia.)

    4. HAHA! And I know this, really I do, because sometime back, you were counted among the people when I realized that I interact with more people from the Philippines (online) than I do from my northern neighbor--this train of thought came from a strange conversation I was having with my sister about Michael J. Fox and Bruno Mars... don't ask. But the error is just another weird thing to remind me of the complete weirdness of yesterday.

      Canada's much easier, but will the let me cross the border with my yaoi in tow?

    5. Of course I have to ask now! "Michael J. Fox and Bruno Mars..." LOL. Kidding, kidding.

      Oh gawd. I wanna hit the Cdn. boarder guards in the face with a slicked up, beefy black dildo--repeatedly. Until I can force them to say, "I like it. I like it, Master!"

  2. I just finished Eden Winters' DIVERSION and was thinking that it would make a fantastic manga. Clare London's "Say A Little Prayer" short would be an adorably hot yaoi, too...


  3. I watch the anime based on the manga more often that not and I couldn't get into Ai no Kusabi whatsoever. BUT, they are doing a new version that I'm really enjoying!!

    I didn't know Kindle limited what could be gotten on it. Glad mine is Pandigital then. ;)


    1. Oh-ho! An anime fan, eh?! Awesome, awesome! I find the anime is more likely to do the dreaded "fade-to-black" than the manga, which irritates me to no end. But there are certainly some animated scenes that make me get ze butterflies more powerfully than the manga's version (Not sayin' the manga version isn't BANG either, though!) *thinks of Maiden Rose*

  4. I am a fan of M/M but have never read Yaoi. I am looking forward to it.
    yratpatrol (at) aol (dot) com

    1. Have fun! *giggles* There is quite a variety of sub-genres within the genre of yaoi, so try a bunch! Even in the selection that we've produced here at BLBB, there are shocking differences. OverDrive is the most in-your-face erotic; Moon Centaur, Want to Depend on You and Awakened Dreamer are the most dark, realistic and thought-provoking; then you have the erotic and funny, like Silly Gossip or Fantasy Paradise. And then you have sweet, typical yaoi, such as the darling Tweeting Love Birds. There's more there that I haven't even mentioned yet. Just check out the "Latest Titles" section.

  5. I have not read Yaoi yet,love m/m.

    1. Well, you are in for a T-R-E-A-T!

      Suggestions from the "Latest Titles" here:

      OverDrive is the most in-your-face erotic.
      Awakened Dreamer, Moon Centaur and Want to Depend on You are the most dark, realistic and thought-provoking.
      Then we have the erotic and funny, like Silly Gossip or Fantasy Paradise.
      Finally, there are sweet, typical romance yaoi, such as the darling Tweeting Love Birds and If I Take Your Hand.

  6. Reading your discussion reminds me of another reason I love yaoi--it makes all conversations read filthy. Mention corn with my friends and it's all downhill from there.

    I want to thank Kimberly for making me chuckle with the "WHAT IS THIS FABULOUS MADNESS?" because what yaoi fan hasn't thought that at least once! LOL
    Also I think I need to quote Barbara as well with her "The Beauty that is Penis" line. I too think they're much prettier now than before I liked yaoi.

    And a BIG thank you to you all for participating in this little venture of mine :D *hugs* Thank you Thank you!!

    1. It's our pleasure (read it any way you like!)

    2. Hee hee, you are most welcome, darling!

      "Mention corn with my friends and it's all downhill from there." Indeed! Whenever I have fun flying down a hill it always involves yaoi or M/M. Hyper-arousal and a rush of endorphin!

  7. That's a bummer about Kindle. Those are some fantastic recommendations!

    1. I also made some eManga recommendations to Cornelia, a few comments up. <3

  8. Love this. Now I have a new list of mangaka to look into.

    1. Thank you!

      If you want eManga recommendations as well, I made several suggestions in my comment to Cornelia.

      Enjoy your exploration!

  9. You girls sound like a ton of fun. :) I had a good laugh over 'The Art of Penis', so thanks. LOL. Love your site and will definitely be looking around some more. Have a good week ♥


    1. Ah, the sweet laughter of a fellow lover of the Art of Penis tinkles in my ears.

  10. Haha, I also found slash through the Harry Potterverse, only it was between The Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince. I got sucked into fanfiction and from there into slash (Sirius and Remus...droool...). Anyway, some years later, after having gotten married, had kids etc., I discovered yaoi and got sucked into that big time as well. Nakamura Shungiku is my favorite, but I also love Takanaga Hinako, Minase Masara, Fujisaki Kou, Sakuragi Yaya, Suzuki Tsuta and so, soooo many more.

    Then I discovered an m/m romance book and got curious. I found out that most of the books are written by women for women, just like yaoi. Well, my curiosity landed me publishing deals after having promptly written two novels and a few short stories, so now I'm an m/m erotic romance author. Yaoi has definitely influenced my writing, mostly with the humor, but I also seem to have this fascination with short, skinny, slightly vulnerable but temperamental uke's. I try to keep things realistic though, so they're not exactly like the manga uke's and the relationships aren't quite the same. If I were to point at one of my works that have the most yaoi-like characters, I'd say The Walls Have Ears.

    I do enjoy reading yaoi-like books, like Jessica Freely. I just recently finished reading Mythical Creatures and Cupcakes by DeShaun Walker and it was definitely yaoi-based.

    Anyway! Thanks for being a part of this hop ^.^ I love seeing my two favorite genres connected like this.

    Erica Pike
    eripike at gmail dot com

    1. I read a lot, but I don't think I've read one of your titles! I'll check them out! Thank you for the point!

      (Takanaga Hinako! Gosh, she makes my heart go thump-thump-thump for poor Morinaga! He's such a big dog.)

    2. Oh I know, Morinaga is soooo sweet and he has this look on his face when he's hurt that just breaks my heart.

      If you want to try one of my titles, I'd be happy to give you a copy of The Walls Have Ears :) Just send me email at eripike at gmail dot com and tell me which e-format you use (pdf, mobi or ePub).

    3. How generous! I love checking out new m/m authors! <3

  11. Oh, I enjoyed Love Mode; it was great. I would love to see the Adrien English series as a yaoi manga.

    I'm a big yaoi manga and anime fan. I also love m/m novels, romance, mystery, fantasty, etc.

    Two of my favorite yaoi manga are Junjo Romantica and The Finders series.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

    1. Finder is... intense, that's for sure! I love it too!

      Prompted by Al's recommendation, I'm on the fourth book of the Adrien series. Hot damn, it's breaking my heart most wonderfully. Add me to the "Adrien as manga character" pile! That book is seriously well woven.

  12. As I mentioned on several blog comments already, but I had no idea that M/M romance novels existed. I have always been and will be a fan of yaoi whether as a manga,anime or just a fan draw/written dojinshi (usually the most erotic!).

    If it wasn't for Hayley B. James' Blog Hop, I honestly do not think that I would have ever seen this whole new world of M/M romance novels. Yes, the grocery store had always carried those novels with Fabio-esque hunks on the front cover, but those were intended for the female audience. My interest in those novels would have definitely been peaked if two hunks were featured on the cover holding one another. Needless to say, I stayed in my little Yaoi/BL world and honestly am quite happy there.

    So Yaoi was a bit of motivation for me. You see, I have always enjoyed writing and loved making up those stories that featured my friends. So eventually I had my own idea for a yaoi manga made by me. But of course reality set in and reminded me that I could not draw. So, I just kept writing hoping that somehow I would magically gain the ability to draw.

    When I found out that M/M romance existed, I thought to myself, that hey maybe there is hope for my story after all. How cool would it be to see my dreams in actual print.

    So back to the Blog Hop. Without it, I would have never found this site or many of the sites that cater to the M/M romance world. Now I am totally screwed. Why? Because I learned that there are many many books out there just waiting to make me drool. Finding the first one that I buy is definitely going to create a problem for me. Fortunately, Yamila Abraham and Yaoi Prose set up a free download of chapter one of her book Maelstrom. Which I eagerly downloaded! So essentially that will be my first foray into the world of M/M romance.

    So needless to say, thank you for participating in the Blog Hop and opening up this new world of smut!


    1. Pleasure! I've read a bit of Maelstrom, and I liked what I read.

      I was happy to read that you felt reinvigorated for your own M/M writing! <3

  13. I'm a fan of both. Yaoi and manga lead to m/m romances for me, so I'm glad to see this hop introducing fans of one to the other. I love the Finder and Lost Mode series. I am currently getting ready to read Sex Pistols as it sounds really interesting and I love mpreg, which I got from m/m romances :)


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    2. Mpreg!!! Oh yes, it is very interesting. I do find it a subject that is difficult to weave into a yaoi or M/M effectively, though. And there aren't many yaoi mpreg titles. In fact, the only one I can think of (other than Love Pistols) is Animal X. I haven't read enough of Love Pistols to actually read about one of the boys being pregnant, giving birth or being a parent.

      What M/M romance novels have you read that did mpreg well? I've read a couple amazing mpregs, but they were fanfictions (Inuyasha.)

  14. I've just recently been getting more into reading mxm, and I am really liking what I've seen/imagined. This DOES mean I've been neglecting my yaoi though lately, it is hard to keep a balance. Any advice?


    1. LOL @ "neglecting my yaoi" Serious devotion. I love it.

      I go through cycles. For a spell, say a week, I'll read yaoi manga (or any genre of manga; for example, right now I'm reading seinen romance), and then I read a couple M/M. Rinse, relather, repeat. Unless I get caught in the net of a series; then I don't resurface until I'm done!

      Or, I'll read in intervals throughout the same day. On the bus to work, I'll read yaoi manga. On the bus trip home and in the evening with a nice glass of wine, I'll read M/M novels.

  15. I'm terrible at beginnings, so I usually fall into the "before I knew it" category. But I do remember that I was looking for something to read and kept running into this one description that piqued my interest. This was back when the Romaji titles all looked the same to me, so I couldn't tell that it was the same one and every time I read it, it was like "geez... I don't want to read p-rn."

    I don't watch p-rn; it's so bad and tacky and of the ones I have seen, none even came remotely close to stimulating me in
    any way. So I was even less interested in reading it. One day I ran across the description again and I just said "screw it!" It's been so long, I don't even remember what it was, but it was only OK. However, I was intrigued and just like every other thing that intrigues me, it became an obsession.

    It took a review of Aida Saki's S to get me into yaoi novels. Outside of manga I'm an avid reader of sci-fi, classics, and poetry, among other things, but the closest thing to romance I own/ever read was Kate Chopin's The Awakening and titles by V.C. Andrews. I've always been more interested in having sex than reading about it. In theory, the leap I need to take from yaoi novels to M?M fiction/romance isn't a huge one, but I've been holding M/M erotica at bay for some time, mostly because I can't get past the cheesy dime store romance novel-like covers. I've also read a few excerpts from various authors and the prose either lived up to the cover or just didn't engage me enough. BL is my comfort zone so it's easier for me to take a chance on an untried author within that genre. At this point I probably just need a friend to say, "here, read this" before I commit my wallet to this extension of my obsession. I need a guarantee, but after the red carpet welcome, I think I'd be fine.

    1. Wow! What a variety: sci-fi, classics, poetry, V.C. Andrews and Chopin! LOL. I love the classics and poetry too! I also remember--twenty years ago--liking V.C. Andrews.

      I TOTALLY get your point about waiting for a "here, read this" before committing your wallet. I've been furiously angry after paying for an ebook and finding that I'm disgusted by chapter three. Now, I wait for either an inspiring review (like the one you experienced for S) or a recommendation from a friend who knows my interests. LOL @ "red carpet welcome"

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  17. Wow I'm reading this so late, but I love your guys' talk! Gotta say, though--not big on M/M romance novels. I...wince, reading the blurbs, same as het romance novels. Which is probably why I just stick to reading fanfics, as I've done for the past ten or so years. ^.^;;

    Interesting that everyone has such different tastes in BL and mangaka authors! Gotta check some of those out! :)

    1. Heya Lea! <3

      What is it that you don't like about het romance novels? I don't like a lot of things about them--the same things I don't like in gay romance novels. For example, how ridiculously phony some of the relationships read or how ridiculously easy they fall into bed with their overpowering lust that cannot be denied. *rolls eyes*

      There is quite a variety of m/m novels. I'm confident I can recommend one or two for you that would avoid what you dislike about het romance novels!