It is typically created by women for women and is distinct from homoerotic media marketed to gay male audiences, such as barabut it also attracts male readers. It spans a wide range of media, including mangaanimedrama CDsnovels, games, and fan production. Boys love and its abbreviation BL are the generic terms for this kind of media in Japan and have, in recent years, become more commonly used in English as well.
However, yaoi remains more generally prevalent in English. A defining characteristic of yaoi is the practice of pairing characters in relationships according to the roles of semethe sexual top or active pursuer, and ukethe sexual bottom or passive pursuant.
Common themes in yaoi include forbidden relationships, depictions of non-consensual sex, tragedy, and humor. Yaoi and BL stories cover a diverse range of genres such as high school love comedy, period dramascience fiction and fantasy, detective fiction and include sub-genres such as omegaverse and shotacon. Yaoi finds its origins in both fan culture and commercial publishing.
From the s to s, other terms such as tanbi and June emerged to refer to specific developments in the genre. In the early s, however, these terms were largely eclipsed with the commercialization of male-male homoerotic media under the label of boys love. Yaoi currently has a robust global presence. Yaoi works are available across the continents in various languages both through international licensing and distribution and through circulation by fans.
Yaoi works, culture, and fandom have also been studied and discussed by scholars and journalists worldwide. The genre currently known as Boy's LoveBLor yaoi derives from two sources. Yaoi can also be used by Western fans as a label for anime or manga-based slash fiction. The origin of shonen-ai is thought to come through two pathways.
Mizoguchi traces the tales back to the tanbi romances of Mori Mari. Akiko Mizoguchi describes its application to male-male stories as "misleading", but notes "it was the most commonly used term in the early s.
The two participants in a yaoi relationship and to a lesser extent in yuri  are often referred to as seme "top" and uke "bottom". These terms originated in martial arts: Aleardo Zanghellini suggests that the martial arts terms have special significance to a Japanese audience, as an archetype of the male relationship in Japan includes same-sex love between samurai and their companions.
Zanghellini suggests that the samurai archetype is responsible for "the 'hierarchical' structure and age difference" of some relationships portrayed in yaoi and boys' love. The seme is generally older and taller,  with a stronger chin, shorter hair, smaller eyes, and a more stereotypically masculine, and "macho"  demeanour than the uke. The seme usually pursues the ukewho often has softer, androgynous, feminine features with bigger eyes and a smaller build, and is often physically weaker than the seme.
Although not the same, a yaoi construct similar to seme and uke is the concept of tachi and neko. This archetypal pairing is referenced more often in older yaoi volumes - in modern yaoi, this pairing is often seen as already encompassed by seme and uke or simply unnecessary to address. The tachi partner is conceptualized as the member of the relationship who pursues the more passive partner, the latter of whom is referred Girl and boy dating in anime what does shounen means as the neko.
Seme and uke is similar but not identical to tachi and neko because the former refers primarily to sexual roles, whereas the latter describes personality.
Anal sex is a prevalent theme in yaoi, as nearly all stories feature it in some way. The storyline where an uke is reluctant to have anal sex with a seme is considered to be similar to the reader's reluctance to have sexual contact with someone for the first time. Though these tropes are common in yaoi, not all works adhere to them.
Although sometimes conflated with yaoi by Western commentators, gay men's manga or gei comi, also called Men's Love ML in English and bara
Girl and boy dating in anime what does shounen means Japan, caters to a gay male audience rather than a female one and tends to be produced primarily by gay and bisexual male artists such as Gengoroh Tagame and serialized in gay men's magazines.
Bara does not aim to recreate the heteronormative gender roles between the masculine seme and feminine uke types prominent in yaoi that is generally for a female audience. Gay men's manga is unlikely to contain scenes of "uncontrollable weeping or long introspective pauses",  and is less likely than yaoi to "build up a strong sense of character" before sex scenes occur.
The gachi muchi "muscley-chubby" subgenre of boys' love, also termed bara among English-speaking fans,  represents a crossover between bara and yaoiwith considerable overlap of writers, artists and art styles. This emergent boys' love subgenrewhile still marketed primarily to women, depicts more masculine body types and is more likely to be written by gay male authors and artists; it is also thought to attract a large crossover gay male audience.
Female characters often have very minor roles in yaoi, or are absent altogether. Suzuki suggests this is because the character and reader alike are seeking to substitute the absence of unconditional maternal love with the "forbidden" all-consuming love presented in yaoi. Yaoi stories are often strongly homosocialwhich gives the men freedom to bond with each other and to pursue shared goals together, as in dojinshi representations of Captain Tsubasaor to rival each other, as in Haru wo Daiteita.
This spiritual bond and equal partnership overcomes the male-female power hierarchy. The theme of the protagonists' victory in yaoi has been compared favourably to Western fairy talesas the latter intends to enforce the status quobut yaoi is "about desire" and seeks "to explore, not circumscribe, possibilities.
Mizoguchi remarked that presents a far more gay-friendly depiction of Japanese society, which she contends is a form of activism among yaoi authors. Although gay male characters are empowered in yaoi manga, yaoi manga rarely explicitly addresses the reality of homophobia in Japanese society. According to Hisako Miyoshi, vice editor-in-chief for Libre Publishingwhile earlier yaoi focused "more on the homosexual way of life from a realistic perspective", over time the genre has become less realistic and more comedic, and the stories are "simply for entertainment".
Matt Thorn has suggested that readers of the yaoi genre, which primarily features romantic narratives, may be turned off by strong political themes such as homophobia. Rape fantasy is a theme commonly found in yaoi manga. While Japanese society often shuns or looks down upon women who are raped in reality, the yaoi genre depicts men who are raped as still "imbued with innocence" and are typically still loved by their rapists after the act, a trope that may have originated with Kaze to Ki no Uta.
Such scenes are often a plot device used to make the uke see the seme as more than just a good friend and typically result in the uke falling in love with the seme.
The — Under Grand Hotelset in a men's prison, has been praised for showing
Girl and boy dating in anime what does shounen means more realistic depiction of rape. Other yaoi tend to depict a relationship that begins as non-consensual and evolves into a consensual relationship.
However, Fusanosuke's stories are ones where the characters' relationship begins as consensual and devolves into non-consensual, often due to external societal pressures that label the character's gay relationship as deviant.
Her stories are still characterized by fantasy, yet they do brutally and realistically illustrate scenes of sexual assault between characters. As ofseven Japanese publishers included BL content in their offerings - which kickstarted the commercial publishing market of the genre.
Besides manga and anime, there are also Boys' Love BL games also known as yaoi gamesusually consisting of visual novels or H games oriented around male homosexual couples for the female market. The defining factor is that both the playable character s and possible objects of affection are male. As with yaoi manga, the major market is assumed to be female. Games aimed at a homosexual male audience may be referred to as bara. A breakdown of the Japanese commercial BL market estimated it grosses approximately 12 billion yen annually, with video games generating million yen per Girl and boy dating in anime what does shounen means. Yaoi manga are sold to English-speaking countries by companies that translate and print them in English.
Yaoi Press, based in Las Vegas and specializing in yaoi that is not of Japanese origin, remains active. Only a select few yaoi games have been officially translated into English. Falsely Accusedthe first license of a yaoi game in English translation. JAST USA subsequently licensed Zettai Fukujuu Meirei under the title Absolute Obedience while Hirameki International licensed Animamundi ; the later game, although already nonexplicit, was censored for US release to achieve a 'mature' rather than 'adults only' rating, removing some of both the sexual and the violent content.
The stories were written by teenagers for an adolescent "Girl and boy dating in anime what does shounen means" and were generally based on manga or anime characters who were likewise in their teens or early twenties.
Amateur authors may also create characters out of personifications of abstract concepts such as the personification of countries in Hetalia: Axis Powers or complementary objects like salt and pepper. As yaoi gained popularity in the United States, a few American artists began creating original English-language manga for female readers featuring male-male couples referred to as "American yaoi. The term global yaoi was coined by creators and newsgroups that wanted to distinguish the Asian specific content known as yaoifrom the original English content.
InGermany saw a period of GloBL releases, with a handful of original German titles gaining popularity for being set in Asia. In China, danmei is considered to have originated around Most yaoi fans are either teenage girls or young women. It is usually assumed that all female fans are heterosexualbut in Japan there is a presence of lesbian manga authors  and lesbian, bisexual or questioning female readers.
Although the genre is marketed at girls and women, there is a gay,  bisexual,  and heterosexual male    readership as well. A survey of yaoi readers among patrons of a United States library found about one quarter of respondents were male;  two online surveys found approximately ten percent of the broader Anglophone yaoi readership were male.
Lunsing suggests that younger Japanese gay men who are offended by "pornographic" content in gay men's magazines may prefer to read yaoi instead. In the mids, estimates of the size of the Japanese yaoi fandom ranged fromtopeople. As of Aprila search for non-Japanese websites resulted inEnglish49, Spanish22, Korean11, Italian and 6, Chinese sites. A large portion of Western fans choose to pirate yaoi material because they are unable or unwilling to obtain it through sanctioned methods.
For example, fans may lack a credit card for payment, or they may want to keep their yaoi private because of the dual stigma of seeking sexually explicit material which is also gay.
Scanlations and other fan translation efforts are common. Boys' love manga has received considerable critical attention, especially after translations of BL became commercially available outside Japan in the 21st century.
InFrederik L. Schodtan American manga writer and translator, has observed that portrayals of gay male relationships had used and further developed bisexual themes already in existence in shoujo manga to appeal to their female audience. Mizoguchi, writing infeels that BL is a "female-gendered space," as the writers, readers, artists and most of the editors of BL are female.
Other commentators have suggested that more radical gender-political issues underlie BL. InShihomi Sakakibara argued that yaoi fans, including himself, were gay female-to-male transsexuals.