Auntie M's Quick Introduction to Yaoi
a girl's guide to gay sex among the Japanese

Yaoi (やおい?) also known as Boys' Love, is a popular Japanese term for female-oriented fictional media that focus on homoerotic or homoromantic male relationships, usually created by female authors. Originally referring to a specific type of dōjinshi (self-published works) parody of mainstream anime and manga works, yaoi came to be used as a generic term for female-oriented manga, anime, dating sims, novels and dōjinshi featuring idealized homosexual male relationships. The main characters in yaoi usually conform to the formula of the seme (literally: attacker) who pursues the uke (literally: receiver). For more basic information, go here

Manga books are read from right to left and top to bottom in a kind of reverse Z pattern. Note: Hair color in manga doesn't really indicate that the characters are blond... it's just a way of differentiating one person from another.

While some yaoi (and other manga) are professionally translated and published in English and can be purchased at some bookstores like and Kinokuniya. Many more are translated by bilingual fans and posted on "scanlation" and "fansub" internet sites.

So here's a rundown of some examples. All of the opinions are mine. ;)

Art rating = 1; Story rating = 9

Some have sucky art and good stories.  Example: Love Mode up to about Volume 5, and then the story falls apart.

Most improved artist

If a mangaka (writer of the manga, usually a woman) gets to do a long series, her art usually improves. Example: Kizuna.

Enjouji Kei (early in series)

Enjouji Kei (late in series)

Art rating = 10; Story rating = 10

Some have both good stories and good art. Kano Miyamoto is the very, very best, in my opinion. Good romantic stories, maybe a bit light on the graphic sex, but beautiful drawing. Example: Rules.

One-shot take-offs

Some one-shot stories pair characters from other manga. Example: Bleach Yaoi.


Some are long soap operas with intertwined stories and drama. Example: Haru wo Daite Ita (translated as Embracing Love). The characters in this series are actors who started out doing adult videos.

Katou and Iwaki

About in the middle of the series, there is a short story, (Winter Cicada) about a couple of samurai characters in the 19th century. As part of the on-going plot, this samurai story was made into a movie staring our actors. Then Winter Cicada was made into an anime movie.

Iwaki as Akisuki and Katou as Touma in Winter Cicada

Self-conscious stories

Many times the manga is made into an audio CD. The guys who do the voices are like pop stars and also do anime voices for both yaoi and "straight" anime. Often they also sing and act in movies and television and do dubbing into Japanese of non-Japanese films. Example, Shinichiro Miki.

So... there are stories about the voice actors who do the anime and CD voices. Example: Boku no Koe translated as My Voice or The Sound of My Voice.

The artist for Embracing Love, My Voice, and many others was recently criticized for plagiarism, since she sometimes used advertising materials as resources. In spite of being a very popular artist with many series to her credit, she quit being a mangaka because of this.


Rating = PG-13

Some are pretty light weight where sex is concerned. Example: Rin.

The story in Rin has Japanese archery (kyudo) as its background. You see the boy in the center with his bow, special glove for holding the string, and two arrows.

Rating = XXX

Other manga are full of graphic sex. Example: Brother.

The brothers in Brother are not real brothers. Their parents are married, but they are not related by blood. This motif is pretty frequent. The Japanese readers must find the idea of "almost" incest titillating.

Rating = Silly

And just when you think you've seen everything...   Chibichinko!

Manga to Film

Some start as manga (printed books) and then are made into audio CDs, anime (cartoon movies), and even live-action films. Example: Ai no Kotodama.



Manga and J-Pop

One special manga was made into an anime that incorporated J-Pop music: Gravitation.



Song from anime: Rage Beat

Anime version

Live by Kotani Kinya

It goes on and on. Reading yaoi manga is an interesting introduction to Japanese culture.

Scanlation sites

Spectrum Nexus: Lots of everything for reading online - big yaoi section.

Liquid Eros: Yaoi only for downloading - has everything by Kano.

The Kizuna Project: Publishes the Kizuna volumes that show no sign of being published in print.

Love and Voice: has the works of Youka Nitta.