I do enjoy a good boys love story, 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 whether that is 1, 5 or 25.
Would you like to read more Top 5 lists?
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