I do enjoy a good boys love anime, though finding a good one is actually quite difficult (as was finding any that had been released in Australia not so long ago). Even now it feels a lot of these titles don’t get the episodes they need to really explore their characters or the budget that they need to tell their stories well. So today, inspired by my review of Given that came out yesterday, I’m counting down my top 5 shounen ai anime. I’d love to put Yuri on Ice on this list (it so counts) but for whatever reason it isn’t actually tagged as shounen ai. Still, we all know I’m for Victor and Yuri forever.
Anyway, given this is my personal list and based on nothing other than my own enjoyment, I’d love for you to share your favourites. It will give those looking for some boys love a place to start (though if there happens to be more adult content please place a sensible warning with the recommendation).
Number 5 – Junjou Romantica
Right, so despite owning this one on DVD (and how it got a DVD release in Australia I still don’t know but thanks) I’ve never actually reviewed it or talked about it in detail on the blog. That’s probably because there’s a lot of problematic content particularly in the early episodes that will put people off this title.
Throw in massive age gap, power imbalance, and essentially guy hired to tutor his friend’s brother who ultimately molests him before we’re meant to buy that they fall in love, and there’s so many issues there. Add in clingy and controlling nature and denial or being gay, as well as two other couples with their own baggage, and I’m sure you are now wondering why this one is on my list at all.
Honestly, despite the horrific starting point, and it is a horrific start to a relationship and in the real world I’d tell the main character to run to file a police report and then never go near that apartment again, once you get through that all three of these couples do grow on you. I also like that we spend a few episodes with this couple before cutting over to that one and so no one ever lingers long enough to get on your nerves too much.
Over three seasons all of these characters grow and progress and while there’s no removing their starting point and they are still dysfunctional in season three, there’s a lot of sweet moments as they travel along. Anyway, I liked this one enough that I jumped at the chance to buy it and while I don’t recommend it to anyone who dislikes the usual tropes associated with these kinds of stories because it essentially rolls everyone of them out, for those who are game to given anything a go, there’s definitely some better content as the series progresses.
Number 4 – Hitorijime My Hero
This one I did review and I definitely made my issues with the series known through a plus/minus format. Basically we again have a major power imbalance with an age gap and the older person’s position as a teacher, however this series does try in some tokenistic way to address that. Outside of that though, its just a nice story with characters who are stumbling along and you kind of want them to reach a happy ending.
Again though, it takes awhile to get going and the early episodes don’t leave the best impression. If you start it be prepared to watch through and you’ll probably be happy with where it takes you by the end.
Number 3 – Spiritpact
Never has a show proven to me more that you should put up with terrible beginnings than Spiritpact. Season one is plagued with terrible animation and humour and a storyline and tone that doesn’t seem to know what it is doing. The characters are all over the place and it is basically a mess. By the end of season one there’s a little bit of promise there though and season two delivers an absolutely gorgeous narrative with romance and personal growth and pain.
While there are occasional set-backs and reminders of some of the less admirable moments in season one, Spiritpact went from strength to strength throughout its second season and it was amazing falling in love with the characters and watching them grow closer together as the story progressed.
Number 2 – Dakaichi
It’s definitely a curse for this genre. Episode 1 of Dakaichi starts with yet another near rape (and the source material actually didn’t stop at a near miss). Yet somehow we’re expected to buy into the love story, and to be honest, Dakaichi’s recovery is a lot swifter than most of the anime on this list. It kind of helps that I was a huge Takato fan-girl while this one aired and by and large really enjoyed watching this anime.
As I said in my series review, if you can get over how this relationship starts, and the fact that every guy who meets Takato seems to want to sleep with him, then there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had as these two actors get together.
Number 1 – Given
Well it was the anime that inspired the list in the first place so it was fairly obvious it was going to be pretty high up that list. Free of so many of the tropes and problems that plague the others on the list, Given’s only real issues are that it is very slow paced which will put off some viewers, and that the relationship is equally slow moving.
While that made for a fairly delightful viewing experience for me and I thoroughly enjoyed watching these boys coming together, if you are more interested in what happens after they are a couple, season one of Given (and the only season we have) isn’t going to go there. Still, Mafuyu and Uenoyama are an adorable couple and the supporting cast has more than enough characters to ship for those who enjoy that aspect of the genre. Definitely a series to check out if you haven’t tried it so far.
And as I said at the start, this list is entirely based on what I’ve enjoyed so I would love for you to share your top picks for boys love anime.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
13 thoughts on “Top 5 Boys Love Anime I Enjoyed”
As I have said elsewhere, I am not a huge fan of BL, however, “Given” was not only a superior example of this genre, it was in my view an altogether superior anime series. That’s why it made it into my list of best anime I watched last year.
Great picks! Too bad the adaptations we get are almost always the series that include the infamous tropes but series like Junjou Romantica have at least a nostalgic place in hearts.
Although it’s more like a short story (with only 4 episodes and 8-minute duration for each), I really enjoyed watching This Boy is a Professional Wizard. Very mild and sweet, plus it’s visually gorgeous ~
Hopefully we will see more boy’s love stories adapted into anime to give more options.
As I’ve explained to a few people (not sure if I’ve mentioned it to you in particular), I’ve only started exploring BL/yaoi in recent years and found I generally enjoy the tamer stuff (which normally has a semblance of a proper plot, if not having a solid one), so Given is a bit of a godsend in that department.
Considering how I’ve repeatedly demonstrated an ability to “connect the (plot) dots”, even when plonked into a part of the anime where I shouldn’t have started, now you’ve kinda piqued my interest in Spiritpact…
The second season is very good though watching the first is kind of required for anything to make sense. I am contemplating reading the source.
Junjou Romatica aside (lol I wrote a whole review about how problematic I think that series is…) I totally love your picks! Hitorijime my hero is one of my favs and Dakaichi was cute and fun.
Awesome list as always!
Junjou definitely has its issues. I still enjoy watching it but I fully get why some people wouldn’t want to go near it.
Yeah, I like Sekaichi better than Junjou, but I can also see the appeal
I can’t say I’ve seen that many. I doubt I’d have gotten past a start like Junjo Romantica‘s, but I’ve never seen any of it. I’ve seen a lot of shows start like that. It’s-so-romantic-that-I-can’t-control-myself is even more prominent in shounen ai than in reverse harems it seems.
Given is awesome and I haven’t seen a better shounen ai show, ever.
I also sort of liked Love Stage; it does play with the odious trope, but the characters are generally charming and a good support cast helped me over rough spots.
And then there’s No. 5. It’s really a SF show, but the SF part turns out silly while the bl part ends up carrying the show. (Ironically, I sort of got annoyed at some blogger as it aired, because they were shipping the main couple. Shipping was ubiquitous back then, and I’d reached my limit. Joke’s on me, heh.)
I don’t think Victor and Yuri make a good couple; for a while maybe, but they’ve got their work cut out for them if they’re going to make it last. I see them quarrelling about which end you should squeeze a tube of toothpaste. If they don’t have figure skating, they have nothing. If they do get together, I wish them all the luck they can get, because I like them both individually as characters, but if they don’t get together, it’s not really a wasted opportunity.
Really, I want more shows like Given.
I kind of like Love Stage but I find the characters a little hard to feel sympathetic for.
Did you mean no. 6 or is there actually an anime called no. 5?
As for Victor and Yuri, I think they’ll be awesome together. Even if they do argue over every little thing, I think ultimately they find the middle ground between them on most issues and that will carry them through. Then again, I may have had more than one argument about toothpaste in my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Yes, No. 6. Sorry, misremembered.
(About Yuri and Victor; that’s one topic I’d love to be wrong about.)
I really like No. 6. As you said, the sci-fi aspects kind of go a bit weird and the story implodes a little, but the characterisation and relationship is pretty awesome to watch.