Anime

The Great Anime/Manga Taboo: Yaoi as a Genre

Yaoi. Either you’ve heard about it, or you haven’t – and if you are an anime nerd or perhaps enjoy the casual manga series, you most likely have noticed the word and have opinions. Images of a certain anime might cause a shudder (come on, y’all – YOU KNOW WHICH ONE) and this just might have scarred you from the genre altogether.

There’s no doubt that pesky four-letter word isn’t a favorite for everyone, but one thing is certainly true: yaoi is climbing as a popular genre within manga and anime alike. And with anything gaining popularity, it can sometimes be easy to forget – or maybe not even know! – the origins and how it came to be in the first place.

So, let’s start off with some Yaoi 101 (heh, get it? 😅) and briefly touch on the all-important origin story. Yaoi has been around for a minute. In fact, glimpses of it can be found in the 1970s, but some sources can trace stories and images even further back. Initially the depiction of explicit male love was received, well… not too great.

In fact, yaoi as a word is actually an acronym for: “yamanashi, ochinashi, iminashi” which roughly translates to: “no climax, no point, no meaning.” And also initially, that was for the most part true. Most of the early works were treated as parody pieces of mainstream manga. Early fanfiction? Perhaps!

Over time, this artform developed into a movement that would not only change the way consumers would perceive the classification, it would bring light to a group of readers without representation before. Through these images and stories, a reader can experience love from a different set of eyes, a different life that might feel more inclusive to how they see themselves.

Yes, I can go on and on about terminology, sub-genres, and specifications on just what separates yaoi from boys’ love or even shojo as a whole. But I won’t because that isn’t really what this article was meant to address. In reality, with the climax of this genre increasing steadily in popularity since about 2006, we are likely to see more daring plots and more mashing of the genres, as we have come to love with modern anime as of late.

So at what point do we stop treating yaoi and even yuri as the taboo we have come to associate them to be? We have started a fresh new decade with endless possibility. Fresh storylines, fresh perspective, and great yaoi with solid character development – without the weird tropes. And hopefully without the stigma attached to the genre!

Your respectful opinions and viewpoint is more than welcome in the comment section, so let’s hear your take! What is your perspective on yaoi as a genre and where do you see it going within the next decade? ✌

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