Alan Scott and Northstar weren’t the first. Gay relationships have been part of manga for a long while, and I’ve we’ve put together the Top 10 Gay Manga.
Gravitation by Maki Murakami
Gravitation is certainly a staple of yaoi (male/male love) manga. It began in the mid 90s and continued until the early 2000s. It’s spawned a pretty epic anime and even people who don’t habitually gay manga seem to really adore this series. It’s about an aspiring singer named Shuichi Shindou and his band Bad Luck, which he is trying to vault into fame. One day, Shuichi is working hard on some lyrics for a song and they blow into the path of a brooding, tall stranger – who immediately dismisses the lyrics that Shuichi has worked so hard on as utter garbage. Our protaganist is deeply hurt, but he is intrigued by the stranger… and that eventually leads to love.
This is a pretty ADD manga. It is VERY classically anime: Explosive nosebleeds, unexplainable random appearances of monsters, lots of hyper yelling, strange tangents, etc. But it has enough of a storyline to keep you riveted even through all of the silliness. It’s a light hearted read with the subtext of a really great love story underneath.
Loveless by Yun Koga
Loveless mostly has Yaoi subtexts (as in very few overtly yaoi scenes in it), and has a riveting and fascinating overlay. It is the story of catboys and catgirls: except they lose their “neko” (cat) features upon losing their virginity (thus this manga has a strong reflection on sexuality in society as well). It focuses on the life of the 12 year old catboy protagonist, who is looking into his brother’s mysterious death. He discovers that his brother was murdered by a secretive organization called “Seven Moons”, and is suddenly sucked into a seedy underground rife with battles, honor challenges, and magic.
It’s worth a read if you’re into really unique storylines. Loveless is certainly one of the most interesting manga I have read in a long time.
Strawberry Panic! by Sakurako Kimino and Chitose Maki
Strawberry Panic! is a collection of whimsical short stories involving lesbian (or Yuri) relationships between middle school and high school aged girls. The stories are mainly stand alone (with some correlation between characters) and revolve around 12 different girls at different times. They all attend the same boarding schools. It is a lighthearted and “slice of life” manga, a look into the intricate relationships of schoolgirls. And the art is adorable!
Kashimashi by Satoru Akahari
Some argue that Kashimashi isn’t a true Yuri manga. Why? Because initially the main character is a boy, but he is changed into a girl when a spaceship lands on top of him and he is healed back to life. Personally, I still count it – which is why it’s still on this list!
This story has two awesome things: all girl love triangles in a Japanese highschool setting and an alien who has come to earth to observe human relationships like some sort of more intelligent and sophisticated Invader Zim. It is rife with angsty teenager feelings, detached commentary on romance and affection from the alien character, tangled social webs, and kawaii (cute) art. I seriously love this manga.
Revolutionary Girl Utena by Chiho Saito
While on the surface Utena looks like a typical magical girl manga, it goes so much deeper than that. It’s based around the main character: a tomboyish girl named Utena who wants to be a prince (she dresses and behaves like one). She becomes the white knight for a classmate named Anthy who is in an abusive relationship, challenging Anthy’s abuser to a duel.
Revolutionary Girl Utena has some of the most beautiful art I have ever seen, surreal undertones of magic, a LOT of yuri subtext and intense romantic awkwardness.
Challengers by Hinako Takanaga
This might be a pretty hardcore statement, but: I think Challengers is my favorite yaoi manga. It is light hearted, adorable, silly, but sometimes very intense. The story of a college student and a Japanese businessman who are falling in love without realizing it, their meddling friends, their strange living arrangements, the humorous situations they get themselves into it. It also addresses homophobia with one of the main character’s brothers, and has some of the most lively and sweetly awkward dialogue I have ever read. Challengers just makes me happy – it’s a great love story and is entirely relate able no matter what sexual orientation you identify with.
Red Blinds the Foolish by est em
A brooding, dark, angsty manga about the love between a bullfighter and a butcher. Prepare yourself for sex and ever ratcheting angst, with rich, beautiful artwork and historical accuracies.
Antique Bakery by Fumi Yashinaga
When I was trying to think of manga to include on this list, I literally started giggling when I thought of Antique Bakery. Yes, it’s that cute and cheerful. It’s the story of four men who work in a bakery and the stories revolve around their every day lives and struggles as they keep the bakery running, work with customers, and deal with entangled romantic webs.
Maka-Maka by Torajiro Kishi
I would describe Maka-Maka as a very honest manga, as it involves a very real storyline – two women who do not communicate well verbally, but express their intense feelings for one another through sex. A lot of sex. Especially in public places. I wouldn’t necessarily call Maka-Maka pornographic as it tackles sex and sexuality in a very tasteful, poignant way, but it is not to be read by people who think naked ladies all up on one another are icky (but really, who thinks that?)
Cantarella by You Higuri
Cantarella is a richly historical manga set during the Renaissance. It has a lot of religious overtones (deals with the devil, aspirations to be Pope, etc) which is interestingly contrasted to the fact that it is a yaoi manga. This entire comic is incredibly dark, beautiful illustrated, and worth reading if you’re a fan of genuinely honest historical comics (it has nods to a lot of real historical figures!)
Are you a fan of yaoi or yuri manga? What are the best ones you have read? Let us know in the comments below!
Molly McIsaac has way more manga than she knows what to do with, which helps her out when she writes these top 10 articles. You can follow her rantings and odd stream of conciousness on her twitter.