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August 18, 2011

Manga Moveable Feast: Yoshinaga and Boys’ Love

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Written by: Kristin
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Welcome to day four of the August 2011 Manga Moveable Feast celebrating the works of Fumi Yoshinaga. Today, Linda of animemiz’s scribblings is taking over the feature column for me with a look at Yoshinaga’s entries into the boys’ love genre. Specifically, what makes these pieces both fit into and stand apart from the yaoi genre. For more from the MMF, please see the archive page, or scroll down to the bottom of the page for daily updates from around the web. Now, I give you over to the lovely Linda.

Yoshinaga and her mismatched roles as not just being a bl mangaka.

Boys’ love is a genre that appeals mainly to females and a small number of men who would read it. There is a small, but definitely loyal legion of fans around the world that enjoy boys’ love, and to have it in English is nice for those who can’t read Japanese. The typical plot lines in a boys’ love story are of two guys falling in love with one another. This is a genre that has many authors authoring stories to face the legions of fan popularity. One of these mangaka is Fumi Yoshinaga, who has straddled the fence of writing for a general female population and a bl-loving one several times over.

In her catalog of translated manga, boys’ love is at some points not even the main theme of the story. Homosexuality can appear as the sexual preferences or reading choice for supporting characters, and this creates a richer depth to how the other characters react to this type of relationship. In my opinion, it creates a more open reality of understanding. Antique Bakery and Not Love But Delicious Foods… have characters that fit the statement of what I mention above. I can only sigh at the many possibilities between Yusuke [Ono] and Chikage, a flamboyant gay specimen with a shy yet giant of a man! Oh, there is an un-translated doujinshi that I read about, but sad to say, I don’t believe it would make it to the United States by legal means.

In a Yoshinaga manga, homosexuality can become more of a plot device that pushes the story along. Often these other themes that become more prominent have a family studies or a sociological interest. Solfege and Truly Kindly do have the main character appearing as mainly a homosexual male, but getting into the deeper stories, readers would realize the depth of the story or a short story’s seriousness.

There are also anthologies like Don’t Say Anymore, Darling where there are stories where there is no homosexuality involved for a short story. That one short story reminded me of another similar story in All My Darling Daughters. Slice-of-life is also a very rich reminder of what her stories can encompass. Whether it is historical like Lovers in the Night and Gerard & Jacques, or contemporary like Flower of Life or even Antique Bakery, readers can become drawn into the events of what the character is going through.

Fumi Yoshinaga is a mangaka of quite a few different hats, and who knows what readers would see from her. For what people can expect from her current catalog is a trend of books appealing to female fans everywhere.


Many thanks, Linda! Yoshinaga does indeed write for a wide variety of readers. Some of her books are impossible to place into an absolute genre, encompassing several at once, or not fitting into any at all. She is amazingly versatile in the stories she is able to create, and she always comes up with something unique. Her boys’ love stories run the gamut from incredibly erotic to gentle and sweet, providing for all fans of the genre. Yet even with all the eroticism, Yoshinaga handles her yaoi stories quite well, working the homosexuality into the story, defining the characters rather than simply painting them as such just to draw some sex scenes. Her characters’ sexual orientation really means something. The romances are honest, filled with genuine obstacles and emotional growth. And, yes, steamy sex scenes.

And now, your daily Manga Moveable Feast updates!

Lori Henderson provides a very nice review of Yoshinaga’s slice-of-life school story Flower of Life over at Manga Xanadu.

Ash Brown of Experiments in Manga uses the MMF to kick his butt into gear on reviewing volumes of Ōoku The Inner Chambers, this time taking a look at volume 3.

Alex Hoffman of Manga Widget provided me with a link to an older review of All My Darling Daughters.

David Welsh of The Manga Curmudgeon lists his Top 5 Yoshinaga titles, and makes some excellent picks.

Anna from Manga Report reviews Ōoku The Inner Chambers volume 6.

Khursten from Otaku Champloo sent me some older reviews, and says she plans to cook a recipe from Kinou Nani Tabeta?, which I’m looking forward to. Spotlight: Yoshinaga Fumi talks about Yoshinaga’s progression as a storyteller, talks a bit about the sadly unlicensed Kinou Nani Tabeta?, and mentions some of Yoshinaga’s slash fiction doujinshi in a look at slash fiction based on manga in Jump magazine.

Yesterday’s feature post, a review of Gerard and Jacques.

And don’t forget the archive page!




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