Beginner’s Guide to Boys Love Anime

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At Honey’s Anime we have been busy compiling quality Beginner’s Guides for those first dipping their big toe in the vast sea of anime. So far, we have guides for action, science fiction, thriller, music, sports, racing, and super natural anime. This time around, we will be exploring Boys Love or BL anime.

When looking at the number of Boys Love (BL) anime created, the number of actual shows that can be properly classified as “Boys Love” is rather small when compared to other genres. However, as Boys Love related works, such as manga, light novels, and doujinshi, are quite popular in Japan among the female population, over the years, studios have produced a number of anime that have a boys love flavor directed at a female audiences. These BL shows tend to be action and sports anime but with a slight twist that fuels the boys love-tinted fantasies of some fans.

Due to this, unlike the past guides, where we’ve give the top recommendation of the specific genre, this article will include top recommendations for those who want only a taste of the boy on boy magic, leaving room for their own imagination to run wild. As such, this article will be divided into two sections: the top Boys Love-esque anime and top Boys Love, or straight BL (no pun intended), anime for beginners.

Top Boys Love-esque Anime for Beginners

Ookiku Furikabutte (Big Windup!)

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  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: April 2007 - September 2007

Synopsis: This sports anime series revolves around the story of Ren Mihashi as he joins the newly established Nishiura High School baseball team. Traumatized by his past as an ace pitcher viewed by his middle school teammates as undeserving of the position, Mihashi lacks confidence in his own talent. Yet, this all changes when he pairs up with the poker-faced, intelligent catcher, Takaya Abe. With the help of Abe and his other teammates, Mihashi blossoms into a star ace pitcher and learns how to believe in himself.

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Why Should You Watch Ookiku Furikabutte

We’re starting this guide off sweet with a baseball anime lightly glazed in homoerotic subtext. Why this show is ideal for beginners of BL is because of the balance between sports (baseball) and the cast of characters.

While sports anime have a tendency to be more or less the same—an underdog team trying to make it big, the lone female manager, a gaggle of anxiety-ridden teenage boys—Ookiku Furikabutte takes these tropes and presents them in a fresh way with its humorous, yet realistic touch. Well-paced with ample character development, Ookiku Furikabutte is a quality show even if you decide that BL anime just isn’t your favorite genre.

Like most sports anime, Ookiku Furikabutte presents the audience with a cast of likable male characters, yet what sets this show apart from the rest is its particular focus on developing a close relationship between the team’s pitcher and catcher, Ren Mihashi and Takaya Abe, and it follows how their mutual friendship changes both them and their fellow teammates.

The bond between Mihashi and Abe oscillates between tender and comedic, swirling through a youthful palette of emotions before winding up at the roots of true friendship, love, or at least the love of baseball and not for each other (though some viewers may disagree…).

This ambiguity of where friendship ends and where love, or in this case BL, begins as seen in Ookiku Furikabutte represents the cornerstone of boys love-esque anime, an essential element for audiences to view the show through boys love-tinted glasses.

Top Boys Love (BL) Anime for Beginners

Sekaiichi Hatsukoi (The World’s Greatest Love)

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  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2011 - June 2011

Synopsis:After believing his high school first love used him, Ritsu Onodera becomes a jaded adult who, through a series of misunderstandings, becomes a shoujo manga editor. Onodera, due to the trauma of his male first love, cannot even remember his face. But, Onodera will soon discover that this first love has not forgotten him in the slightest.

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Why Should You Watch Sekaiichi Hatsukoi (The World’s Greatest Love)

While in the first section we dabbled with a love between boys, we are now going to venture into the deep end of BL with Sekaiichi Hatsukoi. From here on out, we won’t just have blushing boys and the “are they? aren’t they?” vibes, but rather the hot and heavy ones between men. Instead of the viewer having to put on BL-tinted glasses to make the magic happen, the love has already entered the building and is ready to roll.

This show is a good pick for those first entering the world of BL anime because it showcases three couples, making the show an appetizer platter of BL narratives and a variety of coupling combinations among different seme and uke. Additionally, Sekaiichi Hatsukoi embodies what can be viewed as typical tropes in BL anime: smaller uke, larger seme, kabedon, forceful love, and love triangles.

Nonetheless, while the show typifies BL anime, its setting in the publishing industry sets it apart as well, making it both an entertaining and surprisingly educational experience.

For those who want more in-line with this anime, Sekaiichi Hatsukoi has OVAs, a first and second season, a film, and occupies the same universe as Junjou Romantica. Also, be sure to check out Love Stage if you want more BL/boys love song and dance.

Sekaiichi Hatsukoi Trailer

It’s my hope that this line-up of recommendations has welcomed you into the world of both Boys love-esque, and actual BL, anime. A mix of sports and romances, these shows cover a wide range of genres. Yet what binds them all together is love…or what could be viewed as love. Perhaps because of the creative (boys love) fantasies these scenarios generate for the viewers, BL represents the synergetic relationship between media and media consumers.

Do you have any questions, comments, complaints, or concerns? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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Author: Emma

Emma is beginning her career as a writer and academic on anime, manga, and contemporary Japanese culture. After she finished her senior thesis on fujoshi, Boys Love manga, and media consumption, Emma is currently studying Japanese and conducting research in Japan. Beyond anime, her interests include podcast listening, cooking, and (attempts at) writing. Her favorite quote: “Boys, be ambitious!”

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