If you, like me, cannot wait for Given The Movie to hit Crunchyroll next year, are dying for information on the highly-anticipated Yuri on Ice movie, or need something new to read after bingeing everything that Mo Xiang Tong Xiu has written, check out these BL manga recommendations.
After watching TOKYOPOP’s “Manga for Everyone” panels from SDCC@Home and NYCC Metaverse, I decided to check out a few of the titles that they mentioned from their LOVExLOVE imprint. These BL manga recommendations are all one volume, complete stories, and are rated M, with each having at least one explicit scene. (I am telling you this now because I am apparently a person who doesn’t check the ratings on manga before I start reading them in public.) They also all have happy endings.
Deko-Boko Sugar Days
Yuujirou Matsukaze has been close friends with Rui Hanamine since the two of them were children. Back then, Yuujirou was the one who stood up for and took care of his adorable, soft-hearted friend. But as it turns out, Yuujirou’s childhood dreams end up growing a little too big to handle – or, rather, too tall!
At over six feet in height, the cute and easygoing Rui towers over his would-be protector…and still has no idea Yuujirou’s had a crush on him since they were kids!
By Atsuko Yusen, Deko-Boko Sugar Days is a cute, sweet, childhood friends to lovers story that features mutual pining, height differences, and the grumpy one being soft for the sunshine one, which is one of my favorite tropes.
Basically, Yuujirou and Rui both have a crush on each other but are convinced the other only sees them as a friend. Thanks to multiple misunderstandings or moments of jealousy, the two do eventually confess, but once they admit that they like each other, there is the struggle of how to move their relationship from friends to more. I loved that they acknowledged that sometimes that shift in a dynamic can be weird and hard to navigate.
I really enjoyed this one! Everyone is so adorable, particularly Rui, who good-naturedly tests out products for his sister’s shop and is never seen without a barrette in his hair. There is almost no angst in this at all; the two are very good friends, and the transition is practically painless. This is a good manga to read if you’re looking for something light and fun.
Yuuta and Ritsu have been playing baseball together since they were children, but after being defeated in a local tournament over the summer, they must retire from the high school team to study for university entrance exams. Still, Yuuta finds himself unable to give up his lingering attachment to baseball. The one person who can truly understand him is Ritsu, who has been acting worryingly distant since they quit the team.
But there’s something Yuuta himself doesn’t understand… Does he think of Ritsu as his partner in the way that a teammate would, or is the affection between them something stronger?
By Saki Tsukahara, Replay is a childhood friends to lovers sports(ish) story featuring misunderstandings and mutual pining. These two are so close (they were a battery – a pitcher/catcher duo – on their baseball team) that all their friends already call them a married couple.
In this one, Ritsu is fully aware of his feelings, even going so far as to pass up better university opportunities to go to the same school as Yuuta. Yuuta, on the other hand, is a little oblivious, and he doesn’t quite understand why he’s so upset when he spots Ritsu walking with an unknown girl. It deals with the idea of loss and change, as both boys are close to graduating and worried about their future.
I really like the character design in this one. I may or may not have a type when it comes to anime characters, and Ritsu hits a lot, if not all, of my buttons. It’s a little sexier than Deko-Boko Sugar Days, but it’s also a little more angsty. And while it’s not quite “grumpy one is soft for the sunshine one”, it’s pretty close, with Ritsu being very calm and composed and Yuuta being a little more expressive and outgoing.
This is a good one to read if you watch sports anime or read sports manga and you ship everyone. I think this one may be my favorite of the three, because I love baseball so much and I was just so in love with Ritsu’s design.
There Are Things I Can’t Tell You
Kasumi and Kyousuke are polar opposites when it comes to personality. Kasumi is reserved, soft-spoken and shy; Kyousuke is energetic and has always been popular among their peers. As the saying goes, though, opposites have a tendency to attract, and these two have been fast friends since elementary school.
To Kasumi, Kyousuke has always been a hero to look up to, someone who supports him and saves him from the bullies. But now, school is over; their relationship suddenly becomes a lot less simple to describe. Facing the world – and one another – as adults, both men find there are things they struggle to say out loud, even to each other.
By Edako Mofumofu, There Are Things I Can’t Tell You is an angst-filled childhood friends to lovers (do… do I have a type?) story that, like the other two, features mutual pining and misunderstandings, but it also has internalized homophobia and feelings of isolation.
There Are Things I Can’t Tell You is a decidedly more mature manga than Replay and Deko-Boko Sugar Days. Kyousuke and Kasumi are adults in their late 20s, and when we are first introduced to them, Kasumi is dating a married woman and Kyousuke keeps trying to set him up with someone single so he’ll break off the relationship.
But it’s more than that. Kyousuke and Kasumi deal with much darker thoughts than the characters in the other two titles. Kyousuke has a lot of internalized homophobia because of his father, and Kasumi has a lot of self-esteem issues after being bullied relentlessly as a child. They also have to overcome a lot of drama in their own past, after a rift in their friendship caused them to not see each other for years.
It’s the most depressing title of the three, but I still really enjoyed this one. I appreciate that the characters are older and are dealing with issues a little more in line with what I’m going through myself. This is a good one to read if you’re looking for something with more drama.
For more BL manga recommendations, check out Admin Angel’s yaoi recommendation series. Also, consider checking out these queer anime titles. And if you have any BL manga recommendations, feel free to share!
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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