Arthifis wrote a blog post back in December about why he as a gay man doesn’t like shounen ai. It is a very interesting post that deals with some of the pet peeves of the genre; forced gayness (read the post and you will understand), violence in relationship, seme/uke dynamics outside of the bed. So, I’ve been pondering a little bit about if there is any anime where there is none of these tropes that is so usual in most boys love anime. It wasn’t easy but there are some.
Rihito Sajou is an honor student who got perfect scores in every subject on his high school entrance exam. Hikaru Kusakabe plays guitar in his band that performs at live events and is popular among the girls. These boys would have never crossed paths but, one day Hikaru offers to help Rihito prepare for their upcoming chorus festival and the two begin to talk. As the two meet after school, they feel one another’s sound, listen to each other’s voice, and begin to harmonize as their hearts beat together.
It starts out slow but soon their feelings for one another grow and in just one moment they both realize that it is love. Hikaru’s emotions are frivolous, pure, and direct causing Rihito to hesitate at first, but he gradually opens his heart. The boys are learning about each other as they also learn about themselves and support one another during this difficult time typical to youth. As the time to start thinking about their futures approaches, what do these young men find as they try to move forward…
I would say that this is a typical love story between two young kids; they could very well be a boy and a girl, two boys or two girls. It follows the normal pattern of the awkward beginning; one is certain if their feelings while the other is hesitant. When the other have decided things happen that causes misunderstandings and instead of talking to each other they drift apart. Only for a while before they once again find their way back to each other, maybe a little wiser, maybe a little flawed, only by watching you will know. Maybe it is predictable but love stories aren’t meant to be revolutionary, they are meant to be heart warming and feel good, and in some cases also sad. I am not saying there aren’t obstacles and the end is not obvious. Or, maybe it is.
They say look before you leap and make sure you can swim before you go in the deep water, but when a picture of his late grandfather falls into the ocean, Shima jumps in after it without thinking. Nearly drowning as a result, he is instead saved by a very perfect stranger… one whose strangeness extends to only being human from the waist up!
For Shima, who’s always felt like a fish out of water himself, it’s more than just a revelation, and the young man and merman quickly begin to bond in ways neither anticipated. And yet, it’s going to be far from easy sailing. After all, Shima and Isaki aren’t just from opposite sides of the tracks, they’re from entirely divergent species, and swimming in separate gene pools may make maintaining a long term relationship a whole different kettle of fish!
Love across borders. Yes, one is a merman and the other a human but it could just as well be about two boys from different cultures. They are individuals with emotions and feelings and that’s all that matters. It’s all about being who you are. Two lonely beings who find each other. Their feelings comes naturally to them, they grow together. It might sound like a comedy, a merman in a pool in a boys living room, and sure, it has its comedic situations but it is actually rather dark and it is a very thought provoking OVA. Despite being only 30 minutes you get a lot to think about. In the end, it is a very beautiful love story about overcoming obstacles.
Chiharu Kashima, captain of the Wizard Bureau’s Crisis Countermeasures Division, is among a handful of people who can use magic. While frequenting his favorite bar, he is approached by a friendly man named Toyohi Utsumi. Having always dreamt of being a wizard, Toyohi is enthralled by the idea of meeting one. Much to the young Captain’s surprise, Toyohi confesses that he has fallen in love with Kashima. While little time has passed, the two begin to spend more time together. Not all is well, however, as Kashima fears that magic is all that he has and Toyohi is only in love with Kashima the Wizard.
A story about not being good enough in ones own eyes. About being haunted by feelings of being looked down on and not relying on others. How work overshadows everything else. As with This Boy Caught A Merman, there are dark themes in this one too. There is a lesson to learn about knowing who you are and about knowing what is important in life. Priorities. It is wonderful, this story of love. Misunderstandings and wrong choices causes pain for both men but in the end there might be love anyway.
Tightrope tells the tale of the reluctant heir of a yakuza family and his childhood friend, and follows their love relationship that started budding in their school days and keeps developing slowly but surely.
Yakuza; what can I say, I love it. But this is comedy and not really that serious. The two love birds have their insecurities of course, especially the childhood friend Naoki, who tries to push Ryu, the future yakuza boss, away. Ryu is madly in love with Naoki right from the start and somehow I think Naoki has feelings for him too. At least he allows kisses. So, there are kisses and then there is violence. Not between lovers of course but rivaling yakuzas. It’s all in order. And kidnappings. It is a cute little two episode OVA shounen ai a 23 minutes each.
This is old school. 1994 is the year it was made and it shows. Not only in the animation but there are some jokes that might be crossing the line. One of the characters have somewhat questionable morals towards some supporting characters. For comic relief of course and to be honest, it isn’t something to be upset about. With that said, it is a charming story about two teachers; Koshiaki Kozama and Mitsuro Kawase. It is very clear from the start that Koshiaki is crazy in love with Mitsuro. And, Mitsuro is attracted to Koshisaki too. Dude is standing in the window at school watching Koshiaki swimming in the schools pool, not being able to take his eyes off of him while two female students amusingly comments about how hot he seems to be about his colleague.
It’s a two part OVA a 30 minutes each and part one is more comedic than part two which more deals with one of them going to a blind date and starts to meet up with the girl regularly and how they tackle that as a couple. The thing with this whole two part OVA is that one of the two is hesitant to the whole idea of having a relationship although he is attracted to the other. Koshiaki never forces himself on Mitsuro but he does do advances and they do kiss, at one point Koshiaki feels cornered but that ends up in him taking a stand and he actually slaps Koshiaki before he leaves. Just like it would in a normal relationship. And Koshiaki accepts this without a fuzz and backs off.
If you aren’t annoyed by the 90s animation and perhaps bad jokes at times (they aren’t that many and in the second OVA they aren’t present at all. The second part is only serious) I would recommend this. If not in anime form, maybe the manga is a better choice. It has gotten some really bad reviews but I actually think that the story is well worth the while and thought worthy. Maybe I have seen and read enough boys love to appreciate crap? (no, I don’t think it is crap, I wouldn’t recommend it if I though it was.)
Kuroda, the puppet master, invented the Hybrid Child, a specialized android that is neither a machine nor a real human being. Originally purchased by lonely rich people yearning for companionship, the Hybrid Child is able to grow like a human when showered with love and care by its master. Even though they are designed like dolls, they have consciousness and can feel all kinds of emotions.
Hybrid Child is made up of three very emotional and tragic love stories that explain the depth of a bond between a Hybrid Child and its owner.
This is one of the saddest anime I have seen. Whenever I think about one specific scene (not gonna tell you about it) I cry. I am not even joking a little, my eyes start to heat up and get all moist. It is the most beautiful and thought worthy anime about love and emotions, and the fear of feeling. What happens when you are too afraid to show emotions? When you only want those close to you to be happy and feel happiness?
Part two of this 4 episode OVA is about a boy and his master. The boy wants to grow but he doesn’t and he can’t understand why. All he wants is to become a big boy and one day a girl a the market tells him how grown ups do it. It is borderline shota I suppose so if you don’t like it then you shouldn’t watch it. The thing is, there is so much in the story that makes you think. It is all about feelings and that boy is one of the keys to those thoughts. But episode 1 and 2 are single episodes and 3 and 4 are about the same story.
It is a sad anime, I can’t deny that. All four episodes has sad moments, the last episode is the saddest of them all. It is so heartbreaking. It is the reason for the doll maker to start making these dolls in the first place. I am not sure what to say without saying to much. It is beautiful, I love it, you should watch it. Even if you don’t like boys love it’s an anime that is well worth watching. Because, it is about so much more than just two boys kissing.
For four young men, love and intimacy are in the air, even though they may not be aware of it. Sensitive Pornograph holds within it two tales of sexual romance for two different couples of men. The first is a tale between two manga artists, Seiji Yamada and Sono Hanasaki. Both are familiar with each other’s work, though upon meeting each other, Seiji is shocked to find out that Sono is actually a man, ten years his senior. Love quickly blossoms between the two, but will soon be tested when Seiji begins to hear rumors about Sono’s past sexual exploits.
In the second tale, Koji Ueno is a part-time pet sitter, hired to take care of a rabbit named Aki for a new client. To Koji’s complete surprise though, not only is there no rabbit in the house, but the only thing in the apartment is a bound and gagged man in the closet who says that he is Aki. More troubling than this is that Aki informs Koji that they are both in danger of upsetting the client, and the only way for Koji to get out safely is for them to make love together.
This might be a bit surprising that I chose to add this to the list. It is pure, uncensored yaoi. Some might argue that the second part would fall into the forced territory but I argue that it doesn’t. Sure, Koji is a bit hesitant but somewhere he is willing to abide, of course because he find Aki attractive and he gets aroused. So yeah, I think that if you like sex and boys love it is a good choice. Although, if you are totally new to the genre then no, don’t chose this as your first one. I speak from experience… (but, in my case it is more a question of never being able to top (no pun intended here) the magnificence this anime is. It can’t be better than this when it comes to yaoi. There is to my knowledge only one other uncensored yaoi out there and it is not as beautiful as this. Not that it is in any way bad.) So yeah, Sensitive Pornograph fits the profile I think of a non-typical boys love although, it isn’t shounen ai.
With an actress mother, producer father, and rockstar brother, anyone would expect Izumi Sena to eventually enter showbiz himself. However, aside from a commercial for a wedding magazine when he was a child, Izumi has never been in the spotlight; instead, he aims to become a manga artist.
But a decade after the shoot, the magazine calls for a 10th anniversary ad, requesting the original child actors for the project. This reunites Izumi with Ryouma Ichijou, now a popular actor who, much to Izumi’s shock, has been in love with him ever since their first meeting! However, due to Izumi’s feminine appearance and unisex name, Ryouma believed the boy was a girl and continues to do so to this day. Izumi’s troubles are just beginning, because even after discovering the truth, Ryouma can’t seem to shake off his feelings…
I am giving this a spot on this list because it is a cute story. However, there are some moments that I find a bit…unnecessary perhaps. One scene is there for its hotness I suppose you can say. Ryouma is making sure that Izuma really is a boy in a rather creepy way. I would classify it as sexual assault. However I am letting it go because of how cute Ryouma and Izumi is in the end. Ryouma is a bit clingy and Izumi is trying hard to get him to back off so maybe he gives in a little too easy. It can be received as borderlining those other typical boys love anime tropes. It is a sweet and funny romcom with boys who kiss (and does a little bit more with some amusing results beginners probably can relate to. I know I could. Preparations people, preparations!). And some brocon with a needy rockstar brother.
There might be more I haven’t thought about. If you know of any, feel free to write a comment and tell me. It is hard to find boys love with just a typical cute love story. None of the usual anime that always end up in the top five/ten made this list; Junjou Romantica, Sekaiichi Hatsukoi, Super Lovers, Hitorijime My Hero, Gravitation… they all contains one or more of the tropes at the top of this post. And, as you can see, I haven’t included Yuri!!! on Ice or No. 6 in this list either and that’s, even though they depict gay couples, because they are not boys love. However, they are awesome anime and you should all watch it for that reason.
So, that’s all for now. The list is untypical for boys love so it became eight and not seven. That’s what happens. Might happen again. Because, seven is just a number, right?