June has been recognized as Pride Month for decades, but the celebrations of the LGBT+ community never stop. LGBTQ+ stories are present in every medium and are becoming more common, but one of the most popular avenues for these stories is through the world of manga.
Over the years, masterpieces such as Yuri!!! On ice, given and love stage!! absolutely dominated the BL genre. However, there are many other underrated gems that deserve recognition. Not only are they more up-to-date, they are just as spectacular as their predecessors – maybe even more spectacular.
6 Yutaka and Minoru find company through meals (our dining table)
Yutaka can’t remember the last time he really enjoyed eating with other people. Each meal was bland and tasteless as he was too concerned about being a nuisance to focus on the food. Nonetheless, thanks to an impulsive 4-year-old named Tane and his adult brother Minoru, a savory change of course was underway. Swift as a whisk, Yutaka would be welcomed into the Ueda household not only as a cook but also as a valued member of the family.
Our dining table by Ori Mita has a simple premise, but there’s more to the story than just Japanese recipes. It examines issues such as self-acceptance, grief, and the ups and downs of a particular relationship. Refreshingly, Yutaka and Minoru’s love story lacks the usual commotion of one man falling in love with another. The real conflict arises in deciding whether the happiness of companionship is worth the inevitable heartache. All in all, the dynamic between Yutaka and Minoru is amazingly realistic – and adding tane to the mix is just icing on an already sublime dish.
5 Aoki is a hot mess and Ida is a saint (My Love Mix-Up)
It all started with Aoki having a harmless crush on his classmate Hashimoto. However, his hopes are dashed when he asks Hashimoto to borrow her eraser and finds out that she wrote another boy’s name, Ida, on it. To make matters worse, after discovering the eraser in his hand, Ida thinks that Aoki is interested in him. Without revealing Hashimoto’s secret, Aoki must figure out how to undo this whole mistake – only for it to become nearly impossible when Aoki begins to develop feelings for Ida, too.
Love triangles are a worn out trope, but Wataru Hinekure proves that even when the endgame is relatively obvious, they can still be highly entertaining. Effortlessly hilarious and heartfelt, My love mix-up features a very well developed and lovable cast. In rapid succession, readers will be laughing at Aoki’s sad expressions, swooning at Ida’s unwavering kindness, and outright screaming at the sheer number of ridiculous situations they somehow find themselves in together. After all, Aoki is the bisexual icon that shoujo manga so desperately needed and therefore deserves to be cherished.
4 Kakeru and Yamato’s Krypronites are misunderstandings (I can’t reach you)
All Kakeru wants is for everyone to realize how great Yamato is. On the other hand, Kakeru is the only one Yamato desires. After Yamato tries to get him a confession, Kakeru is at the moment too clueless to process, but also too withdrawn to just forget. Best friends since childhood, both boys fear this change in their relationship but allow the rift to widen by avoiding it. Sooner or later, either Kakeru and Yamato will have to open their hearts to each other or risk drifting apart completely.
Mika, the author of I can not reach you, could not have chosen a more apt title for her work. Watching these two guys communicate is like throwing a dart perfectly and anticipating the bullseye – only for gravity to pull it down at the last possible second. Luckily, there are enough sweet, comedic moments interspersed throughout the narrative to make the wait bearable. At the end of the day, the love between Kakeru and Yamato is crystal clear, allowing the reader to push through knowing that each hurdle serves as a stepping stone to the ultimate goal.
3 Apollo and Phi are about to crank up the heat (Birds of Shangri-La)
Shangri-La cannot be defined as an all-male brothel. It is a paradise that blessed those who enter with the good fortune to abandon restraint and detox through sexual pleasure. A molded straight male, the newly hired Apollo effectively shook up the workplace after accepting a position as a “stud” and grooming men for their clients. Noticing his naivety and stubbornness, Phi, the brothel’s most respected and sought-after prostitute, longed to help Apollo. Everything would be fine as long as they stuck to the rules: absolutely no falling in love.
first of all, Birds of Shangri-La’s author Ranmuru Zaria handles his rather racy concept with surprising attention and grace. While emphasizing the liberating nature of sex, Zaria dutifully acknowledges the relentless exploitation of sex workers. Additionally, unlike other overzealous yaoi, Apollo and Phi’s relationship doesn’t feel rushed or forced. When the pressure finally reaches its peak, the reader will miss a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding.
2 Reading Kurosawa’s mind is more than Adachi can handle (Cherry magic! Thirty years of virginity can make you a wizard?!)
When Adachi woke up on the morning of his thirtieth birthday, he never imagined that he would still be a virgin, let alone one with magical abilities. Even with the slightest touch, Adachi can read the minds of everyone he comes in contact with. Enter Kurosawa, a cute and handsome fellow who is irrevocably in love with Adachi. Kurosawa’s rather passionate stream of thoughts, combined with Adachi’s complete inexperience with all things romance, makes for an extremely exciting combination.
Adachi is a delightful protagonist, no matter how boring and shy he thinks he is, and his chemistry with Kurosawa is top-notch. Since they fall on completely opposite ends of the thirst spectrum, Adachi’s constant fidgeting in response to Kurosawa’s more explicit mental imagery is absolute comedy gold. Despite this, their connection remains healthy as Kurosawa is extremely patient with Adachi and never pushes him beyond his limits. Sweet, steamy and laughing out loud hilarious, Yuu Toyota’s cherry magic! is the perfect encapsulation of first love.
1 Shin and Baku prove that fate is an insurmountable force (The God and the Flightless Messenger)
As a messenger, Shin’s top priority should be to serve his god. The problem is that he was never trusted to anyone. Marked as defective due to his weak wings, Shin has always been an outsider within his own clan. Determined to prove his worth, an opportunity presents itself right in front of him – in the form of a giant, fluffy animal. Given the very little information he received, Shin was neither ready for this assignment of reuniting him with a long-forgotten friend, nor putting them both in grave danger.
As if the concept of a god turning into a massive ball of fur wasn’t enough to draw readers in, The god and the flightless messenger is an emotional and moving experience. Literally, Shin and Baku are soulmates. While one is pushing, the other is persistently pulling. Although society selfishly forced the two to break up, their hearts were too connected to really break up. As an incredible artist and storyteller, Hagi truly conveys the message that love endures through every storm that gathers.
NEXT: 10 Must-Read Boys’ Love Manhua for BL Fans