We’re big fans of boys love ships, both as part of our constant search for LGBT representation in anime and also just as fun thought experiments. Luckily, the Winter 2021 anime season has given us plenty to think about, so here’s a brief analysis of our favorite boys love ships from this latest batch of anime!
5. Yuuji Itadori and Aoi Toudou from Jujutsu Kaisen
Jujutsu Kaisen’s main character Yuuji doesn’t really seem like the romance type, so this ship is more of an alternate universe/fanfiction thought experiment than a real prediction, but we still love his absurd dynamic with fellow jujutsu sorcerer Toudou. When they first face off against one another in the Kyoto Sister School Exchange Event, the buff and boisterous Toudou immediately decides that they’re inseparable blood brothers because they have the same taste in women (ironically). He invents an intricately detailed backstory where he and Yuuji have been best friends since middle school, and Yuuji goes along with it in the heat of the moment.
This lasts all the way through their fight with Hanami, culminating in a perfectly synced tag-team attack fueled by the power of their connected hearts... and then the “spell” wears off and Yuuji realizes that Toudou is just an overly imaginative weirdo. Still, their personalities mesh so well that they actually could be a cute couple if they stuck together. We do love a good bromance!
4. Legosi and Louis from Beastars 2nd Season
Also in the “probably not canon but interesting to discuss anyway” class of ships is Legosi and Louis from Beastars season 2. These two long-time classmates have diametrically opposed responses to the increasing violence between carnivores and herbivores: Legosi trains his body to resist meat and vows to protect the herbivores he cares about with his own hands, while Louis takes over a mafia syndicate to shake up the system from the shadows. Being apart hardens their hearts and pulls them down dark paths, but when they finally meet up again, it’s like a tidal wave of emotion crashes into the room.
Our favorite moment with these two comes in the final fight with Riz, when Louis offers up his leg for Legosi to eat as a last-ditch advantage. Devouring is thematically linked to sex in this anime, so a consensual devouring is treated as the most intimate experience a carnivore and herbivore could ever share. Whatever the canon relationship between Legosi and Louis ends up being, the bond between them can never be broken.
3. Masaki Hinaoka and Shou Akitsuki from Wave!!: Surfing Yappe!! (WAVE!! -Let's go surfing!!-)
Masaki wants more than anything to be a great surfer, but all he can do is doggy paddle – earning him the only somewhat affectionate nickname “Corgi” from his friends. That all changes when new transfer student/talented surfing prodigy Shou comes to town and takes the excitable newbie under his wing so he can finally achieve his dream. Masaki idolizes Shou and treasures the moments they spend together, even the harsh ones where Shou implores him not to be reckless with unpredictable waves. Unfortunately, Shou gets caught up in a turbulent wave himself and drowns, leaving Masaki with a broken heart and no more joy for the sport he once loved. He does eventually recover with the help of his friends, but Masaki’s time with Shou was precious and we’re sure that surfing will always be associated with that lost relationship for him. If Shou had lived, could they have surfed off into the sunset together...?
2. Kojirou Nanjou/Joe and Kaoru Sakurayashiki/Cherry Blossom from SK∞ (SK8 the Infinity)
It’s always nice when an anime explores a relationship between older characters – it’s a completely different dynamic from the awkward puppy love that usually comes with teenage romance. Case in point: Joe and Cherry Blossom from SK8 the Infinity, two skateboarders in their mid 30s who bicker like an old married couple and may or may not actually be an old married couple for all we know. They crash each other’s workplaces on a regular basis, go on beach vacations together, and always swoop in to back each other up in times of need. Not to mention the fact that they and their estranged friend Adam are the original creators of the secret skating competition “S”, where most participants dress in flamboyant costumes and hide their identities behind masks and aliases. It’s totally not a paper-thin allegory for underground gay nightclubs from the ‘80s... probably.
1. Reki Kyan and Langa Hasegawa from SK∞ (SK8 the Infinity)
From the same questionably heterosexual skateboarding anime comes the show’s main duo, inseparable dumbasses Reki and Langa. Langa used to be a talented snowboarder in Canada, but was left adrift when his father died and he moved to Okinawa with no friends. Skating fanatic Reki quickly sweeps in to teach the new kid his favorite sport, and they become best buddies (and then some) in no time at all. It eventually gets to the point where they lose all of their passion for skateboarding if they can’t be together, and Langa’s mom even thinks that her son is in love with some girl when he hints at his feelings towards Reki. There’s so much subtext here that we’re going to be genuinely disappointed if these two don’t get together at the end of the series, but even if it’s never confirmed, Reki and Langa will still be gay skateboarding bros in our hearts.
Are there any other boys love ships from the Winter 2021 anime season that we left out? Do you think these five ships are canon or not? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!