Perspectives on BL manga Part I: BL manga as an esoteric fandom.

It’s only been a year since I got into BL and I admit that I’m still not that experienced with the fandom. Yes, as I said before, I’ve been into yaoi for the longeeeeeeest time already but when I got into BL, it’s a totally different experience.

Just the other day, my friend Yee Hun and I met up with Ms. Khursten Santos, one of the organizers of the BLush Convention, to get our own copies of the very first BLush Anthology. The meeting was also for us to discuss further plans with the anthology which then lead to a more in-depth fujoshi talk—which I enjoyed very much! We talked about the old and new BL fandom, the difference between yaoi, BL and their stereotypes. I loved how similar our views were about BL fandom; she was able to enlighten me with words I long thought of but never had the chance to express or explain it clearly especially here in my blog.

When I was into yaoi before, I never called it “BL”—I didn’t even know what BL was.

My BL fandom all started because of a random BL blog I stumbled upon while looking for some new manga. The blog was in Japanese so at first, I had no idea what she was talking about when I saw posts about BL magazines and anthologies. I thought to myself, “Wow, so stuff like this actually exists in yaoi fandom” since I only knew about Shonen Jump before, lol. After reading a few posts from her and discovered new blogs and fujoshi friends along the way, I now succumbed to the very obsessive fandom that is BL.

So what’s the difference between yaoi and BL anyways?

For me I think the right word to describe BL is that it’s such an esoteric fandom that most fans don’t give time to actually understand what the fandom really is so they just tend to only have knowledge about the general facts. Although, before I also used to think yaoi is more on the obscene side while BL on the other hand is just pure love. But it seems they both have matching descriptions which explains a lot since technically, they’re the same. As to what I understood from further readings about the term’s origin, it just depends on how people got used to calling it. In the end, it all differs on how much the fans understand the genre itself.

Up to now I’m still trying to get the right words out of my head in order for me to properly explain my thoughts about what BL really means and how it influenced me as an artist. All I can say is that it greatly influenced me not only for my art but also my perspective in life. I know it sounds a bit dramatic but that’s how it really is for me, haha!

BL greatly changed a huge part of my personality since it provided me personal guidance. Most of the BL mangas I got to read had a very realistic storyline and because of that, it really made me realize what life is all about—as cliche as it may sound. Since BL tends to lean more on the shojo and josei demographic, it often has a mature feel to it. 

My views on eroticism also changed because of BL. To most people, eroticism is pornographic which often leads to negative impressions. I remember Araki Nobuyoshi (a very famous Japanese (erotic) photographer) saying this in one of his interviews:

I think people should be positively dirty-minded and if you are positively dirty-minded, you end up in the most lively and energetic place. 

The quote seems simple but it actually depends on how you understand it.

Other than those, most of what I learned are too complex to include it here. Right now, I’m still trying to expose myself with more BL so let’s just see what further realizations I’ll get to have in my next post regarding the topic! ;v;)/

I hope this short(?) post gave you guys some realizations of your own!
Don’t hesitate to share your own opinions. ;v;)/

Cluttered thoughts as always. Sorry if my words seem out of place in every sentence!


7 thoughts on “Perspectives on BL manga Part I: BL manga as an esoteric fandom.

  1. Thank you very much for sharing your thought with us! It’s very nice to reading something documentary about BL – the thing we love but not understand clearly. In my opinion, BL is the term for you to call both “shounen-ai” and “yaoi” genres, since BL means “boy’s love” itself . I’m sure we all know about the difference between shounen-ai and yaoi, so I’d rather not mention it here anymore ^^. I use the term BL when I want to talk about shounen-ai and yaoi in general.

    Admittedly, BL teaches me lots of things. it teaches me how to respect the diffirence of the others. From BL I learnt that no matter what form it takes, love is love. You shouldn’t treat someone badly just because they love someone who is the same sex, since we’re all human to boot, and “Humans need to love and be loved – both sexually and non-sexually – by others” (From “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs”).

    I love BL featuring themes like: unrequited love, angst…although it hurts like hell ;_______;

    My my my, I’m sorry for my bad English. *It’s easy for me to become excited when I meet interesting topic, like this one*

    • Thank you for also sharing your thoughts! ❤
      I hope many of us can change the perspectives of many about BL. It's such a complex subject that's really fascinating to learn more about.

      Yes, I like stories like those too! Include a unique twist to it and ahhhh. ❤
      I'm into ossans with persistent younger guys! Those kinds of stories make me giggle and roll around a lot. Hahaha!

      Oh and don't worry it's fine! You explained your thoughts well. 🙂
      Thank you again! ;v;)/

  2. Notice how historically you have shounen-ai, which evolved to the birth of yaoi, and then June, and now BL. Strangely, Shounen Ai translated is Boy’s Love. It comes full circle doesn’t it? But BL also reflects the modernity of the genre and how it has adapted to capture the spirit of the modern times.

    Are fans all about the sex or are we becoming socially aware of our own expressions of sexuality? Is it still repression or is it because that we are no longer “oppressed” that we find freedoms in our BL?

    One of our speakers in Blush is Fusami Ogi. She wrote a wonderful but brief history on the evolution of Boy’s Love (with a feminist touch) in the International Journal of Comic Arts.

    Also, I promised links! Here’s the “BL” issue of Intersections:

    Here’s another on Male Homosexuality:

    I think right now it’d be best to just keep on reading about what you love and learn from the genre. ❤ Perhaps someday you may also contribute to the changes happening with the genre!

    • Thank you for the links, Ms. Khursten!
      I realized I already had McLelland’s in my bookmarks. :’D
      This was the article I read before:
      Including the second link! I also have the one from Ting Liu which I was supposed to discuss with you during our metting but I thought you didn’t need any articles regarding BL cultures in other countries than Japan (since it was focused on the fandom in China). ;;
      I will further check the first link! Thank you for so much info. ;v;)/ ❤

      And yes, hopefully I can also reach out to others about the real meaning of the genre!
      I really want to learn more and not just to satisfy my need for new BL reads. As I told you during our meeting, this has already became a dream of mine—not just to be a BL mangaka but to understand the genre fully and express it through my works. Hopefully, I can do it! Haha ;v;)/

      Best of luck to your further studies, Ms. Khursten! I'll look forward to your own book someday! ❤

  3. I used to call the fandom as ‘yaoi’. So when I started to read stories w/o porn and by stalking following blogs, I came to love the term BL. I see yaoi and shounen-ai under the umbrella called BL even if technically they’re almost the same. But BL is not just pr0n. You can’t just say a story is bad because it doesn’t have sex scenes. Sometimes, the best stories doesn’t go beyond than kissing.

    And yes, it changed my perspective in life. I learn that love is a definitive yet a vague word. I learn to respect people’s sexuality more.

    Sorry messy thoughts here as well ^^;;

    PS But smexy scenes are always welcome lol

    • “Sometimes, the best stories doesn’t go beyond than kissing.” exactly. Some stories that are open-ended are quite good too since you get to think of your own possible endings for that specific story.

      That’s what I really love BL you know. It makes you realize and be more open-minded about a lot of things.
      Some people just see BL from the surface and don’t really look more deep into it.

      And no no, your thoughts are well explained! ;v;

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