From sweet first love stories to steaming-hot romance, BL (also known as boys’ love manga or yaoi) has it all. This genre has been gaining popularity lately and there’s no wonder why! It offers a wide range of love stories–from wholesome to sexy and even intriguing at times.
But what is BL manga, anyway? As the name suggests, BL manga revolves around a romantic relationship between two guys. That means they often have a larger-than-usual cast of male characters. But BL manga doesn’t end there. In fact, the relationship part is just one aspect of the genre! It can also incorporate other sub-genres like coming-of-age, sports, comedy, and more.
BL manga is enjoyed by a lot of people regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation. It’s a great start to having more LGBT representation out there. You might even learn a thing or two when reading these stories. Plus, reading BL manga just guarantees a fun time!
The Best BL Manga You Have To Read
We’ve compiled a list of the best BL manga around. From wholesome romance stories to more tumultuous realistic ones, this list has it all! Without further ado, we present the 17 best BL manga that you just have to read!
- Our Dining Table
- I Hear the Sunspot
- The World’s Greatest First Love: The Case of Ritsu Onodera
- No Touching At All
- Sasaki and Miyano
- Seven Days: Monday – Sunday
- Junjou Romantica
- Mr. Mini-Mart
- Go For It, Nakamura!
- See You Later, Mermaid
- The Summer of You
- Dick Fight Island
- Seaside Stranger: Umiebe no Etranger
- Only the Flower Knows
- Our Dreams at Dusk
- Restart After Coming Back Home
1. Our Dining Table
We’re starting things off with definitely one of the most wholesome mangas on this list. Our Dining Table is a sweet story about found family and finally feeling like you have a place in this world. It also has a lovely live-action adaptation that has made it even more popular!
Our Dining Table stars Yutaka, a person who’s been called “boring” and “dull” his entire life. He hates eating with other people because he’s been told his mere presence turns the mealtime boring and makes the food taste horrible. That’s why he’s been used to eating all his meals alone.
But this all changes when he meets a pair of siblings with a big age gap between them. He ends up sharing a meal with Minoru and little Tane. Tane absolutely ends up loving Yutaka’s riceballs and begs him to make him some more! Unable to resist the kid’s wishes, Yutaka eventually grows closer with the siblings–especially with elder brother Minoru, whom Yutaka learns has lots in common with him.
2. I Hear the Sunspot
Many relationships start as cute friendships first. That’s what happens to Taichi and Kohei, two university students who couldn’t be more different. Taichi is outspoken and outgoing, unafraid to speak his mind. Because of this, he often gets into fights and is even denied meals!
Always hungry, one day he meets fellow university student Kohei who happens to have a delicious-looking lunch with him. When he realizes how hungry Taichi is, Kohei decides to share and the two develop a friendship. Taichi learns that Kohei is hard of hearing because of an illness he had when he was young. Because of this, Kohei has grown up excluding himself from others.
Though he has a hard time hearing other people, Kohei can hear Taichi perfectly. Their opposite personalities are what make them so attracted to each other, and soon we see the two’s friendship develop into something more.
3. The World’s Greatest First Love: The Case of Ritsu Onodera
We can’t talk about BL manga without mentioning this absolute classic! The World’s Greatest First Love is an absolutely entertaining romp full of that classic rom-com flair. We follow the titular Ritsu Onodera who quits his job as a literary editor at a publishing company because of workplace gossip.
He lands a job at another publishing agency, but this time in a position he doesn’t want! Ritsu is forced to become a shoujo manga editor under an obnoxious boss. Though he wants to quit, he stays so he can prove himself to his boss, Masamune Takano.
As the two learn more about each other, Ritsu remembers he and Masamune actually have a shared past. Back in high school, Ritsu confessed his feelings to Masamune! Now given this second chance, Ritsu vows to make Masamune fall in love with him at last.
4. No Touching At All
Our next pick may be a bit more on the serious side, but we encourage everyone to read it because it talks about very realistic scenarios. No Touching At All deals with the trauma and shame people on the LGBT spectrum feel about being shunned by society. Unfortunately, this is still the reality for many people.
We follow Shima, a young man who’s dealing with a lot of internalized homophobia. He quit his last job because he felt ashamed when his coworker–a fellow man–broke up with him. Shima still feels shame about being attracted to men.
Now at his new job, he resolves to keep his distance from his new coworkers. But one of the guys at his job–his boss, Togawa–can’t seem to leave him alone! Togawa wants to figure Shima out, and as they get closer, they learn more about each other’s pasts. No Touching At All is a touching story about self-acceptance with a cute romance to boot!
5. Sasaki and Miyano
As far as BL manga goes, we can hardly think of anything cuter than Sasaki and Miyano! This sweet coming-of-age story is the perfect pick-me-up when you’re having a bad day. With loveable characters and a relationship to root for, Sasaki and Miyano has become a fan favorite–especially with its anime adaptation!
We follow the two high school students, Sasaki and Miyano. Miyano himself is an ultimate fan of BL manga. He’s super passionate about this hobby yet he has no choice but to hide it from other people for fear of being judged. This changes when he meets Sasaki, a cute upperclassman whom he instantly befriends.
On the other hand, Sasaki knows absolutely nothing about BL. But for the sake of his new friend, he’s willing to learn. As the two get closer, the relationship between them deepens and we watch as a cute relationship begins to blossom!
6. Seven Days: Monday – Sunday
Next up, we have another coming-of-age classic when it comes to the world of BL manga. The story stars Yuzuru Shino and Toji Seryo, two guys who go to the same high school but are two grade levels apart.
Third-year student Shino is notorious for having relationships that only last for one week. Whenever he starts dating someone on a Monday, he inevitably breaks up with them by Sunday. This isn’t because Shino is some cruel heartbreaker. He just has a system in which he can guarantee that he has fallen in love with the other person after just one week of knowing them.
Most of the time, he’s able to determine that he won’t fall in love with that person, so he ends the relationship quickly. But that’s not the case with freshman Toji Seryo, whom Shino met in the archery club. It’s Shino’s first time dating a fellow guy, but he’s surprised to find out that as the days go by, he’s starting to fall for Toji more and more. Will he finally break the curse of Shino’s one-week love affairs?
7. Junjou Romantica
Junjou Romantica is a great BL manga because it packs three love stories in one! Each story focuses on a different couple with different dynamics, so readers will definitely have fun exploring each part.
The first story, titled “Romantica,” follows Misaki and Akihiko. Though the two have a complicated student-tutor relationship, it soon develops into something more over time. The next story is called “Egoist” and it follows Akihiko’s childhood friend Hiroki. Hirko has spent years being in love with Akihiko, but it’s always remained one-sided.
The last story, “Terrorist,” is all about Hiroki’s coworker Miyagi. Fresh from a divorce, Miyagi is now dealing with being tormented by Takatsuki, the little brother of his ex-wife and coincidentally the son of his boss! So as you can see, while they’re all different, the three stories are still somewhat connected. Junjou Romantica is definitely not your average BL manga.
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Music, coming-of-age, friendship, and love all come together in our next pick. Given stars the members of The Seasons, an up-and-coming band in the music scene. We have Mafuyu on vocals, Ritsuka as the guitarist, Haruki handling bass, and Akihiko as the drummer.
Given is a fun manga to read because it lets all four characters shine in their own ways. The story starts before the band has even formed. Ritsuka offers to teach Mafuyu how to play guitar. After noticing that the guy has incredible vocal talent as well, he lets him join the band. Mafuyu, on the other hand, is hiding a traumatic past of his own. His trauma doesn’t allow him to get closer to other people, which causes problems with the band.
As the story progresses, we see the band get closer and also improve their skills, trying out for new music festivals together! Alongside that, we also see a relationship blossom between Haruki and Akihiko. Given is a great story with dynamic characters and a fun music-themed plot.
9. Mr. Mini-Mart
If you want a memorable “opposites attract” story, then Mr. Mini-Mart is the way to go! The story starts with our main character Nakaba who has just dropped out of school. He was forced to do so because he just couldn’t take being bullied by his schoolmates just for being gay. But this incident took a severe hit to Nakaba’s self-esteem and he has somehow become a shut-in because of his trauma.
In order to help him, his mom gets him a job at the local convenience store in the hopes that being around different people will help Nakaba regain his confidence. Sure enough, he meets Yamai, a guy who’s around his age but seems to be the complete opposite of him! With dyed hair and an abrasive personality, Yamai seems intimidating and offputting at first.
But as the two get to know one another better, they start to see each other’s true selves. With the help of Yamai, Nakaba slowly starts gaining his self-confidence back! Mr. Mini-Mart is a cute love story about two opposite characters and a sweet story about coming out of your shell.
10. Go For It, Nakamura!
Have you ever known what it was like to hide a secret your entire life? Well, that’s what our main character Okuto Nakamura is going through at the beginning of his manga. On top of all of his other teenage problems, he has to deal with keeping his sexuality a secret because he’s afraid of what other people might think.
But this secret threatens to break free as Okuto unexpectedly falls for one of his classmates, Aiki Hirose. The only problem? He’s actually never talked to Hirose before! Determined, Okuto challenges himself by creating scenarios wherein the two of them could actually talk. But things don’t always go his way–and some of the results turn out to be super comedic!
Go For It, Nakamura! combines hilarious rom-com antics with heartfelt moments of sincerity and first love. As the title suggests, you’ll definitely want to root for Okuto Nakamura!
11. See You Later, Mermaid
Our next pick is a more intimate love story. Though quiet and understated, it’s no less as powerful as some of the others on this list. See You Later, Mermaid is set in a scenic seaside town. Our two main characters, Tatsumi and Kazushi, meet on the beach. Mutually intrigued by each other, things get even more interesting when they find out they’re also staying at the same inn!
The two quickly become drinking buddies. Over glasses of beer, the two of them slowly start to get to know each other–including their tragic pasts. Kazushi starts to uncover why Tatsumi seems so sad and quiet. Meanwhile, Tatsumi discovers some of Kazushi’s own secrets. Using flashbacks and drunken conversations, this story takes us through complex character studies and a breathtaking whirlwind romance.
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12. The Summer of You
Fans of the “best-friends-to-lovers” trope will definitely enjoy The Summer of You. We follow our protagonists Chiharu Saeki and Wataru Toda, two teenage boys who are extremely close friends.
Saeki is one of the most popular guys in school, but he keeps rejecting every girl’s proposal because there’s someone else who has already caught his heart. That someone is none other than his best friend Wataru! The two share a hobby of watching movies, so every day they go to the cinema and take turns picking which movie to watch.
One day, Saeki shyly tells Wataru to travel with him over the summer to visit all the locations of their favorite movies! The Summer of You is as cute as it gets. It’s a feel-good story that will definitely make all readers swoon.
13. Dick Fight Island
We know that title is a bit alarming, but hear us out. Dick Fight Island is actually super quirky and even surprisingly wholesome at times. With a pretty unique plot and a cast of fun characters, Dick Fight Island is definitely one memorable manga.
Set on an archipelago made up of eight islands, a tournament is held every four years to determine who will be the new ruler. Wonder how they go about this tournament? Well, it’s simple. Each guy goes head-to-head with another guy in an arena, and the loser is the first one who ejaculates! It inevitably becomes a sexy battle as the men try to do whatever they can to arouse their opponent.
Dick Fight Island doesn’t take itself too seriously; in fact, it leans into the camp factor to make it one truly memorable read! Beyond the intense erotic scenes, this manga offers a wholesome message that winning can be done through better means than the usual bloodshed, violence, and deceit that men inflict on one another.
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14. Seaside Stranger: Umiebe no Etranger
Unfortunately, many young queer kids are still not accepted by their families. The same goes for our main character Shun who’s been disowned by his parents when they found out he was gay. Because of this, Shun decides to leave all of that toxicity behind and move with his aunt who lives in a coastal town near Okinawa.
Here he meets Mio who has his own trauma: he has been struggling to cope with the death of his parents. As the two get closer, they also start to open up about their pasts and eventually form a deeper bond. However, all of this changes when Mio suddenly leaves the island!
Three years later, Mio returns only to confess his feelings for Shun. The problem is, now Shun is unsure if he really wants to be with Mio in the first place. Seaside Stranger is a heartfelt story with incredible artwork and a very touching relationship at its core.
15. Only the Flower Knows
Only the Flower Knows is a beautiful journey of self-discovery and finding the courage to truly be yourself.
Our main character Youichi is pretty much the golden boy. He’s doing great at university, with plenty of friends as well as a lovely girlfriend named Kanami. He has no problems in both his school and his family life. All in all, it seems like Youichi has everything figured out.
But he starts to second-guess himself when he meets a guy named Shouta on a train. He can’t explain why, but something about Shouta intrigues and attracts him. Youichi bumps into Shouta plenty of times after that, and the two even end up working in the same laboratory at school together! Soon, Youichi’s curiosity blossoms into something more, and he is forced to reconsider everything he once thought he knew about himself.
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16. Our Dreams at Dusk
Now, while we think every manga on this list definitely deserves a read, we do think this next one might be the most important one. That’s because Our Dreams at Dusk tackles subjects and themes about the LGBTQ+ experience that we think everyone should know about.
This story follows Tasuku, a young teenager who became the subject of bullying by his classmates after finding out he’s gay. The bullying gets too much to the point that Tasuku ends up looking out at the sea, contemplating whether or not he should end his life. Thankfully, he doesn’t, and there he meets a woman who owns a “drop-in center” for anyone to stay in.
As Tasuku joins the drop-in center, he meets a colorful cast of characters who almost all belong to the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Slowly but surely, they help him regain his confidence and will to live. Our Dreams at Dusk can be a sensitive read, but we definitely think it’s one of the most powerful ones on this list. It’s a beautiful story about the journey towards self-love with the help of your chosen family.
17. Restart After Coming Back Home
We’re ending this list with a super wholesome and lighthearted BL story! While a significant number of BL mangas follow teenagers in high school or college, Restart After Coming Back Home stands out because of its focus on older characters while still exuding that wholesome, domestic feel.
Our main character Mitsuomi gets fired from his salaryman job in Tokyo. Because of this, he decides to return to his hometown in the countryside. This move isn’t easy for him because he remembers how judgmental people from his hometown can be, thus why he hasn’t been back there in over 10 years.
But it seems like not all country folk are so judgmental after all. He meets Yamato, who immediately catches his eye. They quickly become friends, but soon enough Mitsuomi can no longer ignore his budding attraction for Yamato! Gathering up his courage, he tries to start a relationship with him. Restart After Coming Back Home is a feel-good manga that definitely has that healing vibe!
Read More: 24 Shonen Mangas Not To Miss
We hope you enjoyed our take on the best BL manga! Which one sounds the most intriguing to you? Make sure to tell us in the comments!
BL manga is a beautiful celebration of love and growing up even when the world wants to tell you that you’re “different.” It’s a testament to the saying “love is love,” which means that BL can be enjoyed by anyone because it’s no different from other love stories.
To finish, read this article if you want to understand all the different types of Japanese Mangas.