As far as we know, shounen-ai, yaoi and BL anime depict romance, or sexual relationship between two male characters. Usually, these shows are full of cute characters, good vibes, and a nice atmosphere, but what they all share is the amount of tenderness and love they portray. Then, there are josei anime, which sometimes have a sprinkle of bromance here and there, featuring men who are very compassionate towards each other. There are other kinds of shows, though, which aren't labeled as shounen-ai/yaoi/BL, nor do they rank among the josei ones, but still have some hints relating to these genres. We are talking about the bishounen shows, and those who are “fujoshi friendly”, in other words those shows full of handsome characters, or with blatant hints of BL that send the multi-shippers around the world head over heels! Keep reading as we'll delve into the matter.
Handsome Boys to enjoy!
“Bishounen” is a Japanese word meaning “beautiful boy”. This term is frequently shortened to “bish/bishie/bishy” and it is used to indicate a handsome boy in various areas, such as anime, manga, or video games. Bishounen refers to a boy whose features transcends the boundaries of gender, and sexual orientation, and it shouldn't be applied to boys under the age of 20, but that's not a rule. So, a bishounen character has more feminine traits, but the thing is that this term breaks down those stereotypes, as usually bishounen characters may excel in martial arts, sports, have charm and girls fawning over them, and keen intelligence. Based on what we just said, what would you expect from a bishounen show, then? It goes without saying, a show full of handsome boys with the most wonderful characteristics. These two shows following explain very well what a bishounen anime is.
Fruits Basket (2019)
- Episodes: Unknown
- Aired: April 2019 – ongoing
Tohru Honda is an orphaned high school girl who lives in a tent. One day, Shigure Souma – a wealthy man – finds her and offers to Tohru a roof on her head. But the other members of the Souma family seem impossible to approach; what's more, Yuki and Kyo Souma – Tohru's classmates – don't let the girls get near them and hardly talk about their lives before they moved in with Shigure. It takes a little effort for Tohru to realize that the Souma family hides a secret, and as she gets to know them better, she only wishes to help each of them... but what if she is just part of a larger plot from the beginning?
As probably all of you already know, Fruits Basket already had an anime adaption, which aired in 2001. Yet, Natsuki Takaya's masterpiece is so popular that the fandom never gets tired of it! In fact, Fruits Basket is a wonderful work, and its anime versions totally meet the expectations. This is considered a bishounen anime right because it's full of handsome boys with a marked sensitivity, and hidden powers, and what's more, each of them does his best to protect Tohru. Give it a chance, as this is the perfect example of bishounen anime, and an unforgettable story, too.
Fruits Basket PV:
Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love 1000% (Uta no Prince Sama)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2011 – September 2011
Haruka Nanami wants to become a composer, and write music for her idol Hayato Ichinose. Chasing her dream, she enrolls the Saotome Academy – a vocational school for performing arts – but upon stepping in school, she immediately realizes that the competition among students is fierce, and that her classmates seem much more talented than she is. One night, while wandering around the school in a moment of discomfort, she has a fated meeting with the person who will change her life, and put her on the road to realize her dream...
UtaPri is yet another perfect example of bishounen anime. Firstly, because the five male protagonists have all the characteristics you would expect from a bishie: a huge talent and beautiful features, and our heroine is courted by each of them. Not only does UtaPri offers hints of romance, but it also is a paradise for the multi-shippers out there, who manage to see hints of bromance between certain characters. If you add that the five bishounen are idols shaking their hips, and singing pop songs, here's the recipe for the perfect bishounen show!
It's not BL, but it feels like it!
We just explained what a bishounen anime is, why it's called like that, and reported two examples that perfectly fit the term. Now, let's move to the so-called “fujoshi friendly” shows, and see in what they differ from the bishounen ones.
Fujoshi friendly anime are those in which the romance between two male characters is perfectly tangible, yet it doesn't get properly expressed with words, or extreme expressions of love – we mean you have to forget boy-on-boy action. Usually, the characters of these kinds of shows blush when their counterpart is gentle, do their best in order to help each other, and the hints of something deeper are right there – like, they go on dates, get jealous over petty things, you know, couples' things – but wisely covered. Fujoshi friendly anime are those who make the fujoshis' hearts beat faster, as they leave room for shipping characters, and let the fujoshis interpret things how they please. Now, we'll give you two examples of fujoshi friendly anime, so that you can get what we're talking about.
Yuri!!! on Ice
- Episodes: Ice
- Aired: October 2016 – December 2016
Yuri!!! on Ice revolves around Yuuri Katsuki, a figure skater who just got defeated at the Grand Prix Finale, and is about to give up skating. With a broken heart, Yuuri goes back home in Japan, wishing to eat pork cutlets to his heart's content. While in Japan, though, he's filmed while performing Victor Nikiforov's routine, and the video goes viral. Being a huge fan of Victor, Yuuri almost gets a heart-attack when he appears in front of his eyes, claiming that he wants to become Yuuri's mentor...
Yuri!!! on Ice ranks among the sports anime, but it actually portrays a story of mutual trust, and understanding between the two characters in love with each other – Yuuri, and Victor. First of it all, it was fujoshi friendly because how could it not? What with handsome guys in leotards, on ice? Then, fujoshis around the world enjoyed to the fullest Victor blatantly courting Yuuri. Since this show isn't labeled as BL, though, most part of this romance is up to the fujoshis, but please, let us know if you saw Victor proposing to Yuuri, or it was just our imagination!
Yuri!!! on Ice OP:
Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2013 – September 2013
Haruka Nanase's passion is swimming freestyle. He and his friends Makoto, Rin and Nagisa, during elementary school won a relay race, but then they went separate ways. Years after, Haru, Makoto and Nagisa are back together in high school – the Iwatobi High – while Rin attends the Samezuka High. Since the Iwatobi Swim Club no longer exists, Nagisa decides to rebuild it, forcing his old friends, plus a new entry who can't even swim, to join. The path they undertake will lead Haru and Rin once again together, but as rivals this time...
Free! is probably the epitome of the fujoshi friendly anime. In this show, be prepared to see high school handsome boys almost always shirtless, showing their perfect biceps, and quadriceps off, making the fujoshis drool. Aside from the fact that Free! is actually a fest for the eye, this show is full of BL hints sprinkled everywhere, from the first season, to the latest aired. Even if you're not a fujoshi, you can understand how Makoto has a crush on Haru, and acts like his shadow; Rin, on the other hand, has something unresolved toward Haru; Nagisa sticks to Rei as if he was his boyfriend, and let alone Sousuke who has feelings toward Rin, and is jealous of Haru.
Free! is the paradise of the multi-shippers, as the ships are various, and they change according to the fujoshi's tastes. And this is probably what makes this show the epitome of the fujoshi friendly anime, and the perfect example of what we were explaining up above. What else can we add? Seeing is believing.
We gave you the definition of two similar kinds of shows, which slightly differ in their contents. So we can conclude this article by saying that if you feel like watching an anime full of beautiful boys, with lighthearted atmospheres, and romance, bishounen anime are what you're looking for. But if you enjoy watching those ambiguous anime that leave room to imagination, and let you ship male characters with each other, fujoshi friendly anime will be your cup of tea! Now it's your turn: let us know if you have questions, or if you want to request the definition of something else. See you next time!