BL Guidebook “Light BL e Youkoso”
So as I said, part one of my purchase came in the mail today and I haven’t really even started looking through many of them yet but I nonetheless wanted to talk a bit (or maybe a lot idk) about a specific book I bought because I think there’s a bit of a misunderstanding of what the book is. And that book would be the recently-released Light BL e Youkoso which a lot of people seem to be thinking is an anthology of light, sweet BL stories but actually it’s a guidebook.
As you can see the cover is by Kumota Haruko so its garnered a lot of fanfair. And it’s a really good book, albeit not what a lot of people are probably expecting, so I will try to go over what this book has to offer if not actual comics.
Essentially what it comes down to is that Light BL e Youkoso (“Welcome to Light BL”) is a guidebook for ‘light’ BL. Initially when I saw the title I was thinking they meant ‘light’ to refer to stories that are either sweet or lacking sex scenes. But actually there’s quite a lot of angst-y, emotionally-involving stories spotlighted?? In the end what I can only assume they mean by ‘light’ is that it’s all BL that will make your heart flutter.
as you can see there are lots of adorable Kumota Haruko illustrations throughout the book.
the book is divided into four sections overall. The first section is for interviews on particularly hard-hitting BL artists (and one non-BL author). Second section is the actual guidebook with purchase recommendations. The third section is a general overview on BL as a genre. Then, the fourth section is actual novel-type books you might like as a BL fan.
Short intro essay.
Onto the interviews! There are five in all which include Yamashita Tomoko, Est Em, Kumota Haruko & Aniya Yuiji in an interactive interview, and then a special follow-up by Fukuda Ricca.
true beauty in the form of Aniya Yuiji and Kumota Haruko talking about BL. I miss the times when they actually used to do this on a regular basis on twitter.
each interview has a list of all the artist’s published works.
Section two: recommended BL releases.
initially the guide starts out with artists spotlights—there’s this one on Kusama Sakae, one on Hidaka Shouko, one on Hideyoshico, and one on Koshino. Then Nakamura Asumiko and basso get short one-page write-ups.
a majority of the book recommendations just look like this—showcasing specific books instead of specific artists. As you can kind of see in the first picture, there are various tabs with certain keyword criteria, such as ‘stories about salarymen’ or ‘stories about youth’ and then within each tab they recommend certain releases. For instance, if you’re into youth-type high school stories they recommend titles like Kojima Lalako’s Ano Ko to Juliet or perhaps Kurosawa Kaname’s Mizu no Haru. (They also recommend Takanaga Hinako’s Koisuru Boukun under the same category which seems kind of… off to me.) Under ‘salarymen or work-related’ they recommend Aoyama Toomi’s Koi no Tsumasaki and Nakamura Shungiku’s Sekaiichi Hatsukoi.
Some categories have more recommendations than others. Youth-oriented recommendations take up seven pages easily but stuff like ‘stories about unattractive guys’ have only two.
recommendations for novels.
recommendations and introduction to BL games and drama cds.
onto section four: general BL information! This is admittedly the section I am most pumped to get out my dictionary and start reading.
Introductory essay and timeline. This is incredibly exciting for nerds like myself.
more tidbit-type information about the growth of the BL genre over the years.
a guide to the various BL labels HOW AWESOME IS THAT?
a guide to the keywords used in BL fandom. This is pretty awesome too because sometimes I get stumped when I’m reading a review and they’re like ‘yeah he’s a _______-type seme character!’ and I am just….. what now? So now I have a hopefully all-encompassing guide to BL fandom keywords y e s.
wanko is my favorite.
more tidbit-y information including some dialogue on certain cliches in the genre.
and lastly, a guide to literary novel recommendations you might like if you happen to be a fan of BL. I didn’t really take any pictures of this just because I’m not that interested (I can barely read BL novels, much less actual literary novels holy crap) but if you are way better at Japanese than I am and would like to know what they recommend just ask and I’ll offer up some of the titles.
ANYWAY I hope that’s helpful to anyone who was thinking about buying the book. I definitely would only recommend it under a certain grouping of criteria: if you’re a huge nerd like me and you like reading about BL just as much as you like reading the actual comics; if you have a huge collector’s mentality and you’d like the original interview and dialogue content relating to your favorite artists; if you are looking for BL recommendations and you think this book could offer you some insight into types of BL you might go for. Other than that, if you’re just into reading BL for time-wasting purposes I definitely would not recommend this book because it’s just a whole lot of meta and has no comics to offer. But if you’re a BL fan who wants to know more about your favorite genre and maybe get to read some interesting interviews and gain insight into some books you might not have originally considered, then this is a pretty awesome book and I’d definitely say you should pick it up!