BL anime are those kinds of shows depicting homosexual relationships between bishounen. Usually, there's a sweet boy who falls in love with another cutie pie, and episode by episode their romance is challenged by numerous hardships. When the feeling is reciprocated, and the couple is finally lovey-dovey, the viewers eventually get to see mild, or hardcore boy-on-boy action.
BL anime can vary a lot, because if it's true that this genre depicts homosexual relationships, it's even truer that not all BL shows are the same. We managed to pinpoint three different types of BL anime. The “soft” ones, featuring romance without explicit scenes; the “mild” ones, in which the sexual intercourse is explicit, but censored; and the “hardcore” ones, that – as you can imagine – feature sexually explicit smutty scenes.
In this article, we'll explore these three different types of BL anime, trying to highlight their differences. Stick with us until the end, we won't fail you!
The “soft” BL
The “soft” side of BL shows includes all those anime portraying homosexual romances, excluding the sexual part altogether. In fact, if we're lucky enough, the two main protagonists will exchange a chaste kiss on the lips, or they will hold hands. Usually, a soft BL wields a strong plot, which is the focal point. This means that the relationship between the two main characters stays in the background. Below we have an example!
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: July 2011 – September 2011
No. 6 is the perfect example of a soft BL show! The story revolves around Nezumi and Shion, living two different sides of the same city called No. 6. Shion lives within the walls of the city, where everything looks “perfect”, while Nezumi lives the life of the rejects outside the walls. When on a stormy night Shion helps Nezumi, his actions deprive him of his brilliant future, and Nezumi disappears. Years after, Nezumi returns the favor to Shion, saving him from a dangerous situation.
Together, the two of them begin a journey meant to discover the truth lying behind the city of No. 6. As the story progresses, we clearly see how Shion's feelings toward Nezumi are way deeper than simple friendship, yet the focus is entirely on the mysteries the two of them come to face. Step by step, even Nezumi's feelings toward Shion grow deeper, but we won't see them exchanging more than chaste kisses, nor will we hear them openly confess to each other.
The “mild” BL
The “mild” side of BL anime comprehends those shows in which homosexual romances are depicted on a deeper level. Usually, these kinds of shows focus a lot on the relationship between the two main protagonists, and they eventually get to the point of giving us boy-on-boy action; still, we won't get to see hardcore scenes, only deeper kisses and hints that “something else” is happening, even if the focus stays on the protagonists' faces. In short, we know there's sexual intercourse, without actually seeing it. Here’s another example below!
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: July 2014 – September 2014
Love Stage!! explains better what we said up above. Ryouma is a promising actor who, one day, meets a person he had met years prior. The person in question is Izumi Sena, dressed up as a girl for a shooting. Ryouma falls in love with Izumi, failing to realize that he is actually a boy. After he overcomes the shock, Ryouma still tries to win Izumi's heart over. The problem is that Izumi is a tough one: even if born in a family of stars, he is just a nerdy boy who dreams of becoming a manga artist!
With commitment and dedication, Ryouma will demonstrate to Izumi how serious his feelings for him are, going to unthinkable extents. Izumi, who kept refusing Ryouma's attention, eventually starts to feel something toward him, as well. Among gags and funny scenes, the two of them end up together, and give us viewers very tender moments, and mild boy-on-boy action!
The “hardcore” BL
Finally, let's talk about the “hardcore” BL shows. Part of this category are all those anime labeled as “yaoi”. If in the beginning yaoi anime were just a hentai branch of anime directed toward a female audience, as years went by this genre evolved into one which depicts explicit homosexual relationships, with a plot that may be very well-structured sometimes. These kinds of BL differ completely from the first two we mentioned, as here the sex scenes are explicit and hardcore. Let's see an example!
Koisuru Boukun (The Tyrant Falls In Love)
- Episodes: 2
- Aired: Jun 2010 – Nov 2010
Koisuru Boukun revolves around a university student – Morinaga – who sadly fell in love with an upperclassman – Tatsumi – who hates gay people. Tatsumi is a real tyrant: cynical, ill-tempered, and often mean, he uses Morinaga's affection to boss him around. Still, Morinaga has been in love with Tatsumi for the last five years, and he is unable to give up what looks like an impossible romance...
As Morinaga doesn't surrender, we follow his deeds as he tries to catch the tyrant's attention. Among ups and downs, Tatsumi eventually gives in, and we witness very hot moments. Since Koisuru Boukun is a hardcore BL, the boy-on-boy action is very explicit and spicy. The focal point of the show, though, is how Morinaga manages to exit the friend-zone for a little, and overpower the tyrant!
Our exploration of different types of BL anime ends here. We tried to highlight the major differences in those shows that are labeled as BL, hoping you'll find this article useful somehow. Whether you are fans of BL or not, it's always fun to discover new things about various anime genre, don't you agree?
Please, let us know what other genres you would like to explore in the comments below, and see you next time!