The Top 10 Best BL Anime
What Should You Watch Next?
Previously known better as Yaoi, Boy’s Love anime is a popular genre in the Japanese animation style. It consists primarily of love stories between male characters, and has far more boys (surprise!) than other animes. If you’re tired of excessive girly shots and want a story with a little more romance, these are the anime for you.
1. Antique Bakery
Antique Bakery follows four men who work in a bakery together. Ono is the head chef with a troubled past. He’s been fired from every job he’s held prior to this one. For some reason, whatever boy he’s attracted to finds himself irresistibly attracted to Ono in return. Some call it his “Evil charm.”
Working for Ono is a young man trying to remake his life. A boxing coach pulled him off the streets and trained him, but his bad eyes made it impossible for him to box on a truly competitive level. Looking for another path, he saw a help wanted sign in the bakery window and thought he’d be a great fit due to his sweet tooth. He admires Ono obsessively.
Tachibana and Kobayakawa are two servers at the bakery. Tachibana was kidnapped as a child and fed sweets constantly as his abductor tried to win him over. He was rescued, but hates sweets to this day. Kobayakawa is painfully clumsy, although Tachibana tried hard to train him well. He's in love with Ono but is certain such a famous chef could never love someone like him.
Sukisho follows two boys as they learn how to live with alternate personalities. Sora fell from the fourth floor of his school building. After an extended stay in the hospital, Sora returns to school. He finds himself in the dormitories with a strange boy and no idea how he got there. It turns out both he and the other boy have alter egos, and while they normally hate each other, their disparate personalities are in love and very attracted to one another. They can’t seem to keep themselves apart, and find themselves in increasingly compromising situations.
The boys start finding ways to work together to try and unravel the mystery of Sora’s past- he can’t remember anything from before his fall. Strangely, both boys are orphans with strange ties to a mysterious doctor. By unravelling their pasts, they hope to cure their split egos.
3. Love Wedge
A classic in the BL anime world, Love Wedge is the story of Blondie and Mongrel. Blondie is a high-ranking crime boss, controlling operations all over Japan. Mongrel is a lowly boy wandering the streets. Against Mongrel’s will, Blondie takes him in and makes him his “pet.” Over time, Mongrel learns what, exactly, Blondie saved him from with that move. He also starts to learn exactly what Blondie risks by keeping him. As he learns more about his keeper, he starts to fall for him.
The anime has sticking power because it is much more than an uncouth romance. It explores the ideas of social structures, and how it can feel to be an outcast within a society. It also looks at the role each person within a society has to care for the people on the outside.
Perhaps one of the most famous BL anime, Gravitation tells the story of Shuichi and his band, “Bad Luck.” Shuichi is determined to make his band famous. As he works late one night, writing lyrics, his paper blows away. A stranger picks it up and tells Shuichi the writing is childish and worthless, then walks away. Shuichi is determined to find the man and prove him wrong. He doesn’t understand exactly what he is feeling, though.
It turns out the stranger is a famous novelist. As Shuichi’s band rises in fame, he runs into this stranger in more and more explosive situations. It takes all of these fights for the two to realize their feelings, and more for them to get past the pains of their past and keep their love alive.
5. Soul Contract
Yuang has a terrible accident and loses consciousness for a long time. When he wakes up, he is ten years younger. He is totally baffled, and leaves his home to try to find an answer to what is happening. As he walks down the street, he is stopped by a handsome older man. The man tells Yuang that he is dead- and there’s no going back. However, he also offers Yuang the chance to sign a contract and give up his soul for the ability to stay on Earth. The only catch is, he has to stay with the man forever.
While the two men are polar opposites, the get through their fights with time. Yuang has no choice- he’s stuck there. He starts to give in to the love of this strange man who he still doesn’t yet understand.
6. Junjou Romantica
This anime has a long list of episodes and is still running. Based on characters from the Junjou anime and manga released years before, the story follows four couples through their relationships. The main storyline follows Misaki and his tutor-turned-lover.
Misaki is a teen ridden with survivor’s guilt. After asking his parents to hurry up on their way home one day, they are killed in a terrible accident. Because of this, Misaki’s older brother gave up his dream of attending a prestigious college. When Misaki reaches the end of his school career, he decides that he will attend that very same college. He is grateful for his brother’s care, and works hard to improve his grades. However, he just can’t quite pass the school’s entrance exam. He asks one of his professors to help him by tutoring him.
As the two work together long hours, they fall in love. The professor tries to fight his feelings, but brash and open Misaki is hard to resist.
Loveless is a long-running anime based on a cult-hit manga series. In the world of Loveless, everyone is born with a cat ears and tail. They symbolize innocence and purity, as the ears and tail eventually disappear- after the person has been physically intimate with someone else.
The anime is mostly about Ritsuka. The boy is especially innocent, even given his rough, dark past. Of course, as Ritsuka has amnesia from a terrible accident, he doesn’t remember much of what he has gone through. This lack of information makes him helpless in many situations.
Agatsuma was once the lover of Ritsuka’s older brother, who died in the time before Ritsuka lost his memory. The man shows up with an intense interest in the boy. He wants them to become a fighting pair. This is difficult, as fighting in this world is always done by pairs of lovers. Ritsuka isn’t sure if he has the feelings to be part of this kind of pairing.
At the meek age of eight, Izuma makes a terrible blunder while filming a live commercial. He is dressed as a girl, and accidentally catches the bouquet at a wedding. With his tiny frame and effeminate face, few people realize he is actually a boy. This includes Ryoma, who was also a part of this commercial and fell in love with Izuma that day. He has never quite gotten over his feelings for the small boy.
When they meet again years later, Ryoma is still completely in love with Izuma. Izuma is less sure, but the older boy starts to win him over. Trouble comes when the two have to take the stage again; Izuma has suffered terrible stage fright since the first commercial, and will do almost anything to avoid it.
9. Embracing Love: Cherished Spring
Iwaki and Katou are both actors in the adult film industry. They’ve been working in this field for years, trying to make their break into mainstream acting. However, the break has never come. The two have just decided to retire and find other careers when a famous director calls and requests that they audition for his film.
The two show up at the casting and are shocked when the director tells them to make love to each other- something they have never done. He says this will determine who is the stronger lead and who will be the more submissive character in the movie. Hoping this will really be their big debut opportunity, they agree, and discover much more than which role they will play.
As the anime progresses, it looks at the marginalized role of gay boys in Japan’s society. The digging can be painful, and the two characters’ experiences mirror those of many boys in modern Japan. Ultimately, they discover how to truly love each other and find their place in the world.
10. Hey! Class President
Chiga and Kokusai are both students at a top-ranking school and members of the Judo club. They meet while sparring, and develop a close friendship. However, Kokusai is often busy with his role as the class president, which he takes seriously.
The two nearly lose their friendship when rumors start flying that the vice president sexually assaulted Kokusai, and that that is why the VP has stepped down and moved to a different school. Chiga is even more deeply hurt that his friend seems to be drawing away from him during this hard time, rather than relying on him. Kokusai tries to find someone to step in as the vice class president, and Chiga cannot understand why he doesn’t ask him. When he finally confronts Kokusai, he finds out that his friend didn’t want him burdened with either the pain or the serious position.
While the series is very short, it tells a sweet romance of two friends who support each other through the hardest and darkest parts of each other’s’ lives.
Finding More Anime
While Boy’s Love anime is rising in popularity, it can still be difficult to find. A great way to find new anime is to check out manga- almost all anime starts out in comic book form first, just like most Western movies begin as books. Some animes can be found fully dubbed from Japanese to English. And while most anime still comes from Japan, animation in the same style is more commonly being made in the United States and primarily voiced in English.
If all else fails, most anime is equipped with subtitles- yaoi included. Once you know what kinds of stories and art you like, finding shows becomes easier. You can stick to specific animation groups to get shows and movies you consistently enjoy.