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Readers' Choice: Yaoi Manga

Best Boys Love and Essential Yaoi Manga as Picked Via Twitter

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Sure, there's manga for boys and girls -- but what about something a little spicier? That's where yaoi or boys love manga comes in. "Yaoi" comes from the phrase "Yama nashi, ochi nashi, imi nashi" or "no climax, no point, no meaning" -- which implies that yaoi manga features just the "good parts" of a sexually-charged relationship between two boys.

But as any fan of yaoi manga knows, there's much more to this genre than that. So I asked via Twitter: what are your yaoi manga must-reads? Here's their picks, listed in order of popularity.

Is your fave missing? You can add to this list by posting in manga forums!

1. Future Lovers

Future Lovers by Saika Kunieda, published by Deux Press / Aurora Publishing
© 2005 Saika Kunieda / Biblos Publishing Co.

Author / Artist: Saika Kunieda
Japanese Title: Mirai no Kioku
Publisher: Deux Press / Aurora Publishing
Volumes: 2
Compare prices for Future Lovers Vol. 1

Kento is a straight-laced high school teacher who craves a 'normal' family life, with  a wife and kids. But fate has other things in mind as he meets Akira, a flamboyant art teacher.

"Kuneida acheives a rare thing in Future Lovers: seduction that is both sweet and sexy, and a sharp look at the work of a relationship."
- Robin Brenner, @nfntrobin

"...a story based in reality about love between two men looking to form a family. Their aging love is sweet and humorous."
- JRW, @togainunochi

"It's so sweet and heartfelt."
- Jen, @palmie

2. Love Pistols

Love Pistols Vol. 1
© Tarako Kotobuki

Author / Artist: Tarako Kotobuki
Japanese Title: Love Pistols
Publisher: SuBLime Manga
Volumes: 5
US Publication Dates: 2007 - 2008 (BLU), 2012 - (SuBLime)
Buy and download Love Pistols Vol. 1

Norio seems to be a normal boy -- so why is he attracting a lot of attention from strangers lately? He discovers that there's a race of people who are evolved from animals other than apes -- and that he's a rare find in this secret menagerie.

"It's a yaoi series with bears... who are literally bears. I love Kotobuki's insane BL manga."
- Emily Snodgrass, @MagicalEmi

"I think you mean Love Pistols is "Insanely awesome"!"
- Danielle Leigh, @danielle_leigh1

"It is the best, most cracktastic series evar!"
- Eva Volin, @funnypages

3. Kizuna: Bonds of Love

Kizuna Volume 1
© Kodaka Kazuma

Author / Artist: Kodaka Kazuma
Japanese Title: Kizuna
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
Volumes: 11
Compare prices for Kizuna: Bonds of Love Vol. 1 Deluxe Edition

Ranmaru and Kei have an established relationship, but when the son of a Yakuza boss starts to come on to Ranmaru, the heat gets turned up in more ways than one.

"Kizuna has a good in depth look at the Yakuza ranking. Kazuma-san revealed one of her friends came from a Yakuza family."
- May Young, @GungirlNewYork

"Kodaka Kazuma's stories have great pacing, wit, and style. Kizuna is one of the few of her titles to have been licensed in the U.S. It's worth seeking out for it's realistic characters and engaging story. "
- Eva Volin, @funnypages

4. The Moon and the Sandals

The Moon and Sandals Volume 1 by Fumi Yoshinaga
© Fumi Yoshinaga

Author / Artist: Fumi Yoshinaga
Japanese Title: Tsuki to Sandaru
Publisher: Juné Manga / Digital Manga Publishing
Volumes: 2
US Publication Dates: 2007
Compare prices for The Moon and Sandals Vol. 1

Ida is new to teaching, so he's more than a little unnerved when he notices Kobayashi, one of his students staring at him intently. Where Ida is insecure, Kobayashi is a tall, confident teen who knows what he wants -- and what he wants seems to be Ida.

"Yoshinaga writes realistic yaoi: Moon and the Sandals manages to be laugh out loud funny, sweet, tender, sexy, & heartbreaking"
- Robin Brenner, @nfntrobin

"Two couples deal with relationship issues, but it's the odd girl out who'll make you sob."
- David Welsh, @PreCur

5. Junjo Romantica

Junjo Romantica Volume 1
© Shungiku Nakamura

Author / Artist: Shungiku Nakamura
Japanese Title: Junjo Romanchika
Publisher: BLU / TokyoPop
Volumes: 12 (continuing)
US Publication Dates: 2006 - 2010
Compare prices for Junjo Romantica Vol. 1

When Misaki signs up for tutoring to pass his college exams, he gets much more than he bargained for when he gets Usami, a suave older man who just happens to write steamy boys love novels on the side.

"A well-crafted and emotional story that goes beyond sex to the true heart of romance and acceptance"
- GPManga, @GPManga

"It's a perfect blend of comedy, drama and romance"
- Azure Kitsune, @AzureKitsune

"It's also an anime (series) as well. Beautifully done artwork as well as music."
- Wendy, @ssmoonlight

6. FAKE

FAKE Vol. 1
© Sanami Matoh

Author / Artist: Sanami Matoh
Japanese Title: FAKE
Publisher: TokyoPop
Volumes: 7
US Publication Dates: 2003 - 2004
Compare prices for FAKE Vol. 1

Ryo and Dee are two New York City cops who have been partners for some time. When Dee is kidnapped, tensions and emotions run high -- with some emotions going where neither have gone before.

"There's good reason why FAKE was the first BL title to make it stateside, it's got a goofy irresistible charm."
- Lyle Masaki, @LyleMasaki

"Sexy, preposterous Starsky & Hutch slash with a surprisingly moving central relationship."
- David Welsh, @PreCur

"Great art and story telling. Guys often like FAKE. Once they bypass the fact it's two guys, they actually like the story."
- May Young, @GunGirlNewYork

7. Tea for Two

Tea For Two Vol. 1
© Yaya Sakuragi

Author / Artist: Yaya Sakuragi
Japanese Title: Koicha no Osahou
Publisher: BLU Manga / TokyoPop
Volumes: 4
US Publication Dates: 2008 - 2010
Compare prices for Tea for Two Vol. 1

While he's an upbeat, energetic guy, Tokumaru is also a klutz. Fed up with his tendency to break things, Tokomaru's sister signs him up for the tea ceremony club. The club's sophisticated and refined president Hasune is everything that Tokumaru isn't, but what do they say about opposites attracting?

"This one may not be the most original in terms of plot, but it’s hilariously fun and real. Boys will be boys."
- GPManga, @GPManga

"Oh, I'll second Tea for Two. That's a charming book."
- David Welsh, @PreCur

"...funny, sweet and sexy."
- JRW, @togainunochi

8. Little Butterfly

Little Butterfly - Omnibus Edition
© Hinako Takanaga

Author / Artist: Hinako Takanaga
Japanese Title: Ritaru Batafurai
Publisher: Juné Manga / Digital Manga Publishing
Volumes: 3
US Publication Dates: 2006 - 2007
Compare prices for Little Butterfly - Omnibus Edition

Kojima is sweet and cheerful. His classmate Nakahara is dark and brooding. But both discover friendship and intimacy that neither thought possible.

"The chemistry between the leads tugs on the heartstrings as they learn what it means to support each other as both friends and lovers. Touching and sweet, the charm of the story is matched only by Hinako Takanaga's artwork."
- Lissa Patillo, @kuriousity

"Sweet high school BL that warms your heart while keeping it real. Great art, humor and characters."
- Alex Woolfson, @alexwoolfson

9. Gravitation

Gravitation Collection Vol. 1
© Maki Murakami

Author / Artist: Maki Murakami
Japanese Title: Gurabiteshon
Publisher: TokyoPop
Volumes: 12
US Publication Dates: 2003 - 2005
Compare prices for Gravitation Collection Vol. 1

Shuichi Shindou is a young rock star on the rise. Eiri Yuki is his most brutally honest critic. So it almost seems natural that these two are attracted to each other... as if it were by a force of nature.

"(Best boys love?) Gravitation, easily, as it was one of the first to break into "mainstream" US manga. Also a one-hit wonder for Maki Murakami."
- Yidi Yu, @Kiriska

"Yuki to Shuichi: Your O-face is worse than your singing." That wasn't a quote from Gravitation -- just a hyper-shortened summation of their relationship. :P"
- Jake Forbes, @Retrn2Labyrinth

10. Seduce Me After the Show

Seduce Me After The Show by est em, published by Deux Press / Aurora Publishing
© 2006 by est em

Author / Artist: est em
Japanese Title: Sho ga Hanetara Aimasho
Publisher: Deux Press / Aurora Publishing
Volumes: 1
US Publication Dates: 2008
Compare prices for Seduce Me After The Show

A flamenco dancer and an actor. A painter and a gallery owner. An aging punk legend and an up-and coming-rocker. Seduce Me After The Show brings together these creative men in sophisticated, mature love stories.

"Stories about artists in love told with style, delicacy and passion. Good example of BL manga that manages depth even in one-shots & moves beyond fluff entertainment or smut."
- Clarissa Graffeo, @ClarissaG

"Non-traditional art and exceptionally nuanced storytelling put the 'adult' into these 'adults only' shorts"
- Alex Woolfson, @alexwoolfson

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