It’s time for a manga recommendation post. And not just any genre of manga but BL. For those of you who didn’t read the I Read A Yaoi Audiobook post, BL stands for Boys Love. It’s a genre that, in the past, was split into shonen-ai and yaoi. Shonen-ai translates as Boys Love, but this is more commonly used now.
If you’re already immersed in the manga scene and like picking up BL manga, this post won’t be for you. I’ve only recently started reading the genre again, and my recommendations here are well-known series. Some of them are difficult to get your hands on at the moment, but volumes are still being published. There is one exception which I’ll list at the bottom, but I can’t talk about BL and not mention this one-volume manga and light novel series.
Go For It Nakamura – Syundei
This is technically a standalone manga volume which is why I’m starting it. But a sequel series has come out and was announced for an English release next year by Seven Seas Entertainment.
Go For It Nakamura is a single comedy volume that follows Nakamura Okoto, a timid sixteen-year-old boy, as he tries to work up the courage to talk to and befriend his crush. The problem is that he is incredibly awkward and has a habit of messing things up.
I was hesitant to include this book on the list, though it is considered a BL. Nakamura is an on-the-page gay. There is a page where he wonders if he’s bi because he’s attracted to a girl, but it’s because she looks a lot like the boy he’s into. It was refreshing to read a manga volume where the MC is openly gay, and it’s not him figuring his sexuality. So, where is the problem? Well, this volume doesn’t end in romance. Nakamura is focused on gaining Hirose’s friendship, though I think he might start looking for more in the second. I just can’t say for sure. So if you are looking for actual romance, this might not be the one for you.
It’s a lot of fun, and I was non-stop laughing as I read it. You can expect a little bit of cringe, but overall a refreshing read.
Sasaki and Miyano – Shou Harusuno
Sticking with that more cutesy and lighter BL, essentially the stuff I prefer, we have Sasaki and Miyano. This series is still being released in the west and is getting an anime adaptation in 2022. I’m incredibly excited and cannot wait to watch it. Each of the volumes in this series is very short, so they’re easy to pick up and get through quickly.
In Sasaki and Miyano, we have two protagonists, Miyano, a self-proclaimed fudanshi and BL expert and Sasaki, who develops a crush on him after helping him out. They become friends swapping BL manga and drama CDs, and they, along with their friends, get involved in a lot of slice-of-life drama.
I will say that this is one of those series where the main character claims not to be gay or want to be with boys before meeting the one they end up with. That is a bit of an issue in this sort-of series, but I believe Miyano is probably bi. Of course, you can be a guy into BL and be straight, but he’s attracted to a dude in the same way he liked the last girl he had a crush on. Bi or Pan seems likely.
That aside, this is probably one of my favourite BL series on this list. It’s incredibly cute and silly, and I love the way it’s laid out. The art is adorable, and it’s one I’m genuinely excited to read on with.
Given – Natsuki Kizu
If you’re into music, then Given might be the series for you. The series follows the four guys in a band and their relationships and romantic interests. It mainly follows two high school boys, Uenoyama and Mafuyu. One day, when Uenoyama went to take a nap in his hiding place, he found Mafuyu sleeping there instead. They wind up talking a lot, and eventually, Uenonyama convinces Mafuyu to join his band as the singer.
This is a pretty dramatic series. There are some serious themes including suicide, so be warned, and I think this one does get a little mature later on. If you prefer watching anime, this one did have an adaptation a few years ago.
A warning though, this series can be incredibly difficult to get your hands on. Yes, it’s one of those. I got lucky buying the first three volumes together on eBay but still need to find volume 4. I do enjoy it, hence the recommendation, but it’s probably the one I like least on the list.
Only The Ring Finger Knows – Satoru Kannagi and Hotaru Odagiri
I’ll be honest, this series probably shouldn’t be on a recommendations list. It’s long out of print, though if you’re lucky you can find them secondhand online. Just don’t look on Amazon, welp. But if I’m going to be talking about BL I love, I can’t not talk about this series. This manga is one of my favourites, and I believe this was actually the first light novel series I tried to read. Though I started with the third for some unknown reason. I’m going to reread all the ones I have soon, even if I am missing the final book.
Only The Ring Finger Knows follows a teenage boy called Wataru, who wears a ring to school. One day, he accidentally switches rings with a handsome boy. One of the current trends in school is for couples to have matching rings, so for two boys to have the same ring, it’s seen as pretty weird. Chaos ensues as they switch rings again, and Wataru finds himself drawn to the other boy. This definitely has some of the issues typical to BL manga, but I adore it.
The art in this series is stunning, the stories are cute, and even though the light novels do contain smut, it isn’t descriptive and is more focused on emotions. If I could ask for any BL series to get a reprint, it would be this one.
And that’s it for my BL recs. Do you guys have any for me?