The Meaning of Yaoi: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever been curious about the definition of yaoi? This guide will provide you with all of the information you need on the Japanese word yaoi, including its definition, origin, usage, examples, and more!

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What does the word yaoi mean?

According to Definitions, Urban Dictionary, and Word Nik, yaoi is a Japanese term that refers to anime and manga that focuses on homoerotic and homoromantic relationships between two men. These are usually made by female authors and are created for female audiences. Yaoi often includes sex scenes and sexually explicit themes. These “boys love” anime and manga series feature male characters in a homosexual relationship. The fandom of these anime and manga series is made up mostly of women, some of whom may even write Fan Fiction about their favorite yaoi series. BL manga and yaoi manga are the written comic books and graphic novels, whereas anime refers to cartoon series. These often have sexual relationships and sexual content featuresdbetween the gay relationships. 

This is a form of hentai, which according to Comic Book, is a form of animated porn. This Japanese phrase roughly translates to perversion or abnormality, which has a negative connotation when used in Japanese culture. It is a shortened term from the phrase hentai seiyoku, which means abnormal sexual desire in English. In the West, the term hentai is synonymous with cartoon porn. The category is divided into two different categories, softcore and hardcore. According to Urban Dictionary, many people watch hentai because it is not limited by the bounds of reality. Some people may be judged for having sexual interests such as hentai and be considered perverse, but others accept this as simply another form of gratification and do not care what other people like to watch as long as it is not harmful to anyone else. 

According to Honey’s Anime and  Anime Feminist, there is also anoher similar term to yaoi which is yuri. Yuri refers to anime and manga that feature two women in romantic and sexual relationships. This is also known as Girls Love. The word yuri literally translates to lily and is a fairly common female name. In the late 1970s, the editor of a magazine that was geared toward gay men first used to the term to refer to a column in the magazine. In the west, the term yuri is used to describe the sexual nature that is related with the girl on girl genre, or shoujo-a. This does not have the same connotations in the east. Examples of yuri anime and manga series are below, from My Otaku World.

  • Revolutionary Girl Ute
  • Shoujo Sect: Innocent Lovers
  • Kiniro Mosaic
  • Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru: Futari no Elder
  • El Cazador De La Bruja
  • Noir
  • Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid
  • Simoun
  • Shoujo Kakumei Utena
  • Sasameki Koto
  • Kase-San And The Morning Glories
  • Maria†Holic
  • Mahou Shojo Lyrical Nanoha
  • Ms. Vampire Who Lives In My Neighborhood
  • Riddle Story of the devil
  • Strawberry Panic
  • Citrus
  • Kanamewo
  • Bloom into you
  • Konohana Kitan
  • Yuri Kuma Arashi
  • Maria-Sama Ga Miteru
  • Yuru Yuri
  • Sakura trick
  • Mai-HiME
  • Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san
  • Kannazuki No Miko
  • Mnemosyne: Mnemosyne no Musume-Tachi
  • Aoi Hana
  • Netsuzou Trap
  • Kashimashi : Girl Meets Girl
  • Canaan
  • Kanamemo
  • Candy boy
  • Oniisama e
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica

What is the etymology of the word yaoi?

According to Dictionary, yaoi was created in the late 1970s and 1980s. During the 1980s, female manga artists wrote and drew stories about platonic romantic relationships between young boys for girls’ manga magazines. These began to be abbreviated as BL, or boy love. The genre was also known as shonen ai or shounen-ai. Then, other artists began to parody this and draw boys’ manga comics wherein the lead characters were gay lovers.

Hatsu Akiko and Sakata Yasuko are credited with creating the term yaoi. They were members of the Year 24 Group, which is a group of female manga artists who were drawing the sexual relations between men. The term yaoi is an acronym, or abbreviation. YA stands for yama nashi, O stands for Ochi nashi, I stands for Imi nachi. This phrase translates to no climax, no fall, no meaning. This refers to how the genre places its emphasis on sex and not romance. This phrase was changed to bara for art created for and by gay men both in Japan and the West. Yaoi has a predominantly female audience.

What are anime series that feature yaoi?

There are many different anime series that feature yaoi as a part of major plotlines. According to Ranker, below is a list of some of the best yaoi anime series of all time. 

  • Yuri!!! On Ice
  • Hitotjime My Hero
  • Doukyusei
  • Love Stage!!
  • Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi: The World’s Greatest First Love
  • Super Lovers
  • Junjo Romantica
  • Given
  • Soul Contract/Spirit Pact
  • No. 6
  • Dakaretai Otoko 1-i no Odosarete Imasu
  • Dakaichi
  • Tight-Rope
  • Hey, Class President!
  • The Tyrant Falls in Love
  • Hybrid Child
  • Banana Fish
  • Yarichin Bitch Club
  • Mo dau Zu Shi
  • Kirepapa
  • Dramatical Murder
  • Uragiri wa Boku no Namae o Shitteiru
  • Ikoku Irokoi Romantan
  • The Titan’s Bride
  • Maiden Rose

Overall, the term yaoi refers to a sub-genre of anime and manga that features sexual relationships between two men. Often, yaoi anime and manga feature gay sex scenes and other sexual scenarios and can be considered a form of hentai, which is a term that refers to cartoon or anime pornographic books and shows. Yaoi is most often created and watched by women, and was created in the early 1980s by a group of female manga artists.

Sources:

  1. https://www.dictionary.com/e/translations/yaoi/#:~:text=Yaoi%20was%20created%20in%20Japan,and%20sometimes%20abbreviated%20as%20BL.
  2. https://www.ranker.com/list/best-yaoi-anime/reference
  3. https://www.definitions.net/definition/YAOI
  4. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Yaoi
  5. https://www.wordnik.com/words/yaoi
  6. https://comicbook.com/anime/news/anime-know-how-what-is-hentai-/
  7. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Hentai&page=2
  8. https://www.animefeminist.com/history-why-call-yuri/
  9. https://honeysanime.com/what-is-yuri-definition-meaning/
  10. https://myotakuworld.com/best-yuri-anime/