The trouble with ‘umbrella’ genres.
Or “why it’s really stupid to compare Hoshino Lily and Minami Haruka to Yamashita Tomoko and Yoneda Kou.”
“BL” is an incredibly large genre. Even though many say it’s all the same, there are so many stories that trying to read all of them would probably be as big a task as attempting to listen to all VOCALOID music. It’s probably just not possible. Aside from published BL works, there are independent artists publishing doujinshi and selling them at comiket, as well as online-only artists scanning their work and posting it online.
But still, people think of BL as a genre that doesn’t vary much. They think it’s really just as simple as two boys falling in love and maybe having sex. And I can’t argue with that, because that’s where most stories in BL genre start off. Just like how in most shounen manga, they start with a boy who has a dream. Or how in most shoujo romance they start with a girl with a crush.
But most people would say it’s absolutely ludicrous to say “all shounen / shoujo manga are the same,” right?
When it’s put like that, I hope you’ll realize where I’m going with this.
Something that always irritates me a tiny bit about BL fandom is when I’ll see these insane comparisons. Like saying “Yoneda Kou is so much better than Minami Haruka!” Most people aren’t phased by that, but as for me I can’t help but be confused as to why people are comparing the two.
Really, it’s like comparing a porno to a serious film. You wouldn’t compare the two, right?
Yoneda Kou is an amazing mangaka. She tries hard to give her characters depth, and come up with interesting stories that have a certain atmosphere and feeling. You can generally tell from the start that her stories really are supposed to mean something, even if it’s something small.
Minami Haruka, on the other hand, writes porn. Flat-out, it’s porn. Most of her plots lead up to filthy filthy sex in the shower or in a hotel room or, hell, maybe even outside! Her characters are lewd and unrealistic and amazingly pretty.
I repeat: comparing the two is like comparing a serious film to a porno flick.
The problem lies in the fact that they’re both under the umbrella genre “BL.” People don’t consider that’s it’s like comparing a seinen manga to a hentai manga, because all BL manga are oddly considered to be the same thing. Sometimes I even see people say “you almost forget this manga is yaoi!” which is just odd because BL is technically just a tag attached to any and all manga that has two (or more?) males who’re involved in a mostly-romatic relationship.
What exactly does “not like a yaoi manga” even mean?
This kind of thing gets frustrating, because I’ll often see people slinging insults about artists like Hoshino Lily or Minami Haruka only because they ‘aren’t as good’ as, say, Est Em or Inoue Nawo. And I think it’s rude, because Hoshino Lily, etc. are actually really good at what they’re actually trying to do—write pretty, fluffy porn.
Neither of them are trying to write manga at the same level as the supposedly ~elite~ yaoi mangaka.
They’re writing porn. Period.
So please, next time you sit down to write a review on how little depth a BL manga by any of the ‘hentai’ writers has, consider this: maybe they’re not trying to have depth. Maybe they’re the BL equivalent of a smut writer. Maybe they’re actually fucking awesome at their job, considering their job is just to get people off or let them blow off some steam reading pointless porn. Maybe, unlike you, they aren’t comparing themselves to writers who actually try to create a developed plot with intriguing characters.
Maybe, just maybe, you’re just reading the wrong genre under the ‘BL’ umbrella term.
So really, can we please stop the hate toward BL’s group of smut-only mangaka? It’s really quite undeserved. If you dislike straight-out smut, just learn to not read their work instead of reading it, getting mad at the mangaka for doing exactly what they’re paid to do, and then writing a mean review or giving the manga a super-low score just because your expectations were too high in the first place.