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An Introduction to “Boys Love” in Japan

An Introduction to “Boys Love” in Japan

An Introduction to “Boys Love” in Japan
Boys Love Manga and Beyond
Mark McLellandJames Welker
University Press of Mississippi

This introductory chapter briefly examines Boys Love (BL)—a Japanese genre of fictional media focusing on romantic or sexual relationships between male characters, typically aimed at a female audience and usually created by female authors. This tradition fully developed into a self-conscious literary tradition devoted to extolling the charm of youthful male beauty during the Edo period (1603–1868). Confucianism saw women as inferior and not as suitable objects of admiration, and, following this teaching, most of the Edo writers deviated from the Western concept of “romantic love” and wrote narratives about the relationships between older and younger samurai. Additionally, the chapter introduces the four predominant terms that have been used to label and categorize BL which are used throughout the entire text—shōnen'ai, JUNE, yaoi, and BL.

Keywords:   Boys Love, fictional media, sexual relationships, literary tradition, youthful male beauty, Edo period, Confucianism, samurai

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