The world of anime is vast and confusing. Just picking up an anime title at random is dangerous, because like that box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

 

That’s why I’m reviewing Yaoi in stages,  by specific content parameters. I will only list and review what I have seen.  In the case of series anime, if I did not like it, the review is based only on what portion of it I actually watched before going "Oh MY EYES!"  (No offense intended. The cool thing about opinions is that seldom do two people agree on everything.)

 

Usually, it’s not that hard to screen for genres I won’t like.  Some anime I won’t watch simply because the animation is deliberately ugly. (I’m looking at YOU DragonballZ!) The story might rival Shakespeare, but I’ll never know, because I can’t stand to look at it. I know I’m not into the girl/girl anime, because the "girly" voices in Japanese animation make my head hurt. Also, I like bishounen. Yes, I prefer to look at the pretty boys.  SUE ME.

 

First, the shounen-ai, or male/male romance yaoi. Kisses and possible brief, suggestive scenes.

 

Gravitation

I’m starting with my favorite. It’s funny and weird —  a romance between a buoyant pop singer and an award-winning (and oddly laconic) novelist. The story is rich, the secondary characters are interesting. It even acknowledges that the seme (the one who takes the more masculine role = often taller, older or more manly, but not always) doesn’t look Japanese at all and shows how his life was different because of it.  Too often, a Japanese character doesn’t look at all Japanese  and no one seems to notice. That drives me crazy, because in Japan, not looking Japanese is a big deal. It strongly impacts how people relate to you.

 

I was  addicted to this, once upon a time. It has a very serial feel, what with the questions of Nettle Grasper (the pop band) becoming famous and the seme‘s shadowy and tragic past. Still, it has comedy, romance, angst and is generally fun.

 

It is available for purchase on DVD and for rent through Netflix.

 

4.0 Chicas   (I don’t know what could make it better, but I feel certain something I run across will top it eventually )Gravitation — The Complete Series Available on Amazon

 

 

Cover design of Earthian: Angel Destroyer Earthian

The stories were amusing, but be warned of two things:

 

1). when anime does Christian imagery, it usually gets it really, really wrong, and

 

2). there were YEARS between the first two ovas and the last two, in which a lot of stuff happened in the manga that I don’t know about because I’ve never read the manga.

 

The eps are all plot-driven, but in the first few we have the angels getting used to each other, awkwardly. Then in the last few, BANG! they’ve been lovers so long that the uke is a little bored. Viewing the Ovas without reading the manga will leave huge gaps in your understanding of the story.

 

DVDs are widely available, and Netflix shows the title as available for rental as of this writing.

2.0 Chicas Earthian Available On Amazon

 

Promotional Image of Loveless Loveless

Interesting world, but I didn’t go for it because the uke has a tail, animal ears and looks about seven years old.  (No value judgments! It’s just not my THANG.) The other main character becomes his guardian after his older brother dies.

 

In this world, the people don’t lose their ears and tail until they have sex, I think. The guardian character is cool and all, but the love wasn’t happening for me.

 

DVDs available for sale and for rental on Netflix.

 

No rating given, since it just wasn’t my cuppa, and I can’t be impartial. Loveless Available on Amazon

 

 

 
Yami no Matsuei

I think this is probably my favorite shounen-ai ever, probably because the romance takes second position to the plot, which is full of monsters and the like.  I loves me some monsters. Boo-YAH!!

 

The main characters are two Shinigami  ( dead people who now serve in the bureaucracy of the afterlife,  I’m a tad fuzzy on the why).

 

Tsuzuki  is unexpectedly paired with the newly-dead 16 year old, Hisoka. They are like Mulder and Scully, if Mulder had supernatural powers and a sweet tooth and Scully was a psychic with Enormous Eyes(and they were both boys).

 

Dr. Muraki is the villain, but you even get a glimpse into his tragic, twisted past by the end of the fourth story arc. That is really neat, because up until then he’s pretty much presented as a monster. Secondary characters are hit and miss, but they are still presented as more complete beings than on your average American TV show.  (I’m particularly fond of Oriya, Muraki’s friend since high school because…he has a really nice sword, and owns a brothel. He’s so cool, I wanna be him. You may laugh now.)

 

I love, love, LOVE this anime. The romance is subtle. You can tell the Shinigami have a certain frisson, but Muraki is the more obvious bringer of the gay. He kidnaps Hisoka to get to Tsuzuki (whose body he wants in  both literal and figurative ways)and is basically an all-around sexual predator who kills a lot of people in the name of science. Or not. *shrug*

Anyway, the Shinigami show their devotion through their protectiveness and willingness to die for each other. It’s got some nice action, too.

 

Warnings: Some gore of the big demonic beastie kind as well as the occasional death of innocents (mostly off screen, but there is some spatter), flashbacks hinting at underage rape, some suggestive situations. I believe there is one forced kiss. It also has two talking animal thingies. I don’t usually like talking animal thingies, but these weren’t around much.

 

It’s been too long since I’ve seen this one. It’s my favorite yaoi, ever. More action than a basic romance. Though it occasionally strays into violence, I don’t recall it being grotesque.

 

ONE FINAL CAVEAT:  The available dubbed version is a JOKE. Look for a fansub or the official sub, but avoid the dub at all costs! It was so bad, I died! The translation/re-version is nonsensical… just skip it. I am not usually a subtitle-only purist, but the dub on this series is risible.

 

It is available on DVD and for rental/instant play through Netflix (but that may be only the dub, and only the first three story arcs).

 

3.5 Chicas, because the animation, though sometimes lovely, is a bit cheap in some obvious ways.  Also, the talking animal thingies. Still love it, though. Boxed set of Descendants of Darkness (YamiNo Matsuei) or individual DVDs Available on Amazon

 

 

Mirage of Blaze, Enzai, Kizuna, Zetsuai 1989 and Bronze all fall in this category (shounen-ai) and are available on Netflix, but I haven’t seen them yet, so you might check the reviews on the site linked below for details.

There is a more comprehensive list, with various reviews, available at:

http://www.boysonboysonfilm.com/anime/index.html

 

Their list may also be handy because it breaks them down into yaoi anime (actual gay relationships of various kinds) and slashable anime (subtext, maybe, but still fun for those wanting less gay in their cartoons).