What Is BL Manga? Origins and Evolution

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If you are familiar with Japanese culture, you must know about the term ‘Manga.’ There are various genres under Manga; one very popular among them is Boys’ Love (BL). 

Over the years, boys’ love has been widely recognized, not only in Asia but worldwide. I love reading manga, and boy’s love is one of my favorite genres. 

Today, I will explain what BL manga is, its history, and why it is so popular among the female audience. I will also recommend 5 famous BL mangas. 

Check out this article if you want to know more about the topic.

What is BL Manga?

Before starting with the BL genre, let me tell you what manga is. Manga refers to graphic novels and comic books produced and published in Japan. Manga is published in various genres, and one among them is Boys’ Love.

Boys’ Love (BL)  is a genre that features romantic relationships between men. The genre is popular among the masses, mainly consisting of women. This manga category can range from intense stories and fantasies to cute and spicy romances.

The manga tells the stories of male characters having a romantic/sexual relationship, with a well-developed plot to entertain and engage the readers.

History and Evolution of BL Manga

The BL genre originated in Japan in the late ’60s and ’70s. Japanese manga artist Takemiya Keiko wrote the first BL manga series, Kaze to ki no uta.

However, at that time, the term BL didn’t exist, and the stories portraying a romantic relationship between male characters were known as June and Tanbi. These mangas came under the category of Shoujo and were gaining initial recognition.

Primary audience of these mangas was the female population, both young and adult. However, it was not widely accepted due to societal taboos in that era, but it gradually became popular among the public.

In the 90s, terms like BL and Yaoi were spread widely and led to the introduction of various subgenres under the category.

Over the years, BL mangas and novels received immense popularity, not only in Asia but across the world. Now, the genre is not only confined to written media because it has made its way to the visual media with lots of famous TV shows and series.

Why is BL Manga so popular Among Women?

Initially, when BL mangas were introduced in the market, the writers and target audience were both mainly female. 

Women highly appreciated the BL mangas and were constant readers; the same scenario can be seen today. Both young and adult female audiences are huge fans of the BL genre, and there are a few reasons behind the appeal. 

The heterosexual mangas highlight the male-female relationship, where women are objectified in numerous ways, including strength, vulnerability, physical intimacy, or appearance. 

But in the BL genre, same-gender characters are leading the story, with no differences in any way. So, women freely read the mangas without feeling bad due to any misogynistic depictions. 

Most of the time, the characters have both masculine and feminine traits, so they are not bound to portray specific gender-related characteristics, and the readers can experience them all. 

Another reason is they enjoy reading the stories of pretty male characters and the development of romantic relations between them.  

But in recent times, the audience is expanding, with straight and gay men adding up to the list. Now, plenty of male writers write interesting BL mangas for the audience. 

The bond between the homosexual male characters drew most of the public to the Boys’ Love genre. Whether it is BL manga or a show, the audiences are crazy over the category.

5 Famous BL Mangas

Among many popular mangas, here are my 5 BL manga recommendations.

1. Ten Count

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This manga was released in 2013, and it tells the story of a corporate secretary who suffers from OCD and mysophobia. The other main lead helps him through a ten-step program to cure the condition. From here, the story moves forward. 

2. Blue Sky Complex

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This manga revolves around the opposite attract trope. A good student encounters the school’s troublemaker. It is a sweet and simple read.

3. Fangs

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Fangs is a BL manga that revolves around the world of vampires. Although a cliche plot, it beautifully portrays the story to keep the readers engaged.

4. Caste Heaven

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Caste Heaven tells the story of a high school where students are forced to play a game to gain their social ranks. The manga was published in 2014.

5. Like the Beast

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This story is about a police officer who likes to help people. One day, he meets the victim of the thief he caught recently. This leads to the development of a new and forbidden relationship.


Manga has gained immense popularity over the years. Manga, anime, and dramas are preferred by people all over the world. 

I hope this article on ‘What is BL Manga’ helped you to understand this manga genre. 

Are you also a BL manga fan? List your favorite mangas in the comments below.

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