Top ten BL manga covers.
So I was asked this question on formspring:
I started to think about this question after I saw the gorgeous Equus cover :D Your top ten beautiful/brilliant BL manga cover’s. Manga you’ve read, want to read or even manga you didn’t like but the cover is still wonderful.
And started answering it but then it occurred to me that it’s difficult to answer a question about visuals on a site that doesn’t allow HTML so the links would be clunky and unattractive and it’s not like I could actually post the covers I like. So I figured I would instead answer it on here. Makes my life a lot easier.
So here are my top ten BL covers that I deem very pretty or eye-catching. It depends on what the question means by ‘beautiful’—covers that have a lot of artistic merit, or covers that I just personally really loved and found to be quite pretty. Since I’m not really much of an art critic, I’m going to go with the latter. Sorry if you meant the former! It’s just easier for me to talk about covers I just personally found quite lovely or ones that peaked my interest.
Though they’re numbered, they’re in no particular order. Also, I didn’t include Equus in this list since it was already mentioned in the question and I wanted to fit as many titles in as possible. Trust me, Equus would definitely be in here otherwise. Also, I apologize in advance that almost all the covers I chose are fairly recent. I have an absolutely terrible memory and generally can’t remember the cover of manga I read anything over four months ago.
Granted, Kojima Lalako’s color illustrations are always beautiful—very soft and gentle. This one is really no exception. It steps away from the general rule of manga covers where the people in the cover are engaged more in ‘the reader’, looking off the cover at at you. But they’re staring at each other and it’s just so loving and beautiful. I adore it.
Call me biased if you want but I think there’s just something so breathtaking about this cover. Again, they’re less interested in the ‘audience’ then they are in each other, and it’s such a strong promise of the connection between the characters once you read the actual book. I really love when I see a cover and I think “shit, I really need to read this.”
I have to admit, I don’t think I like Nakamura Asumiko nearly as much as people tend to expect me to. I would pause before referring to her as a ‘favorite’ even though I really enjoy her stories. (Kind of like Nekota Yonezou.) But that doesn’t mean I will not willingly admit that she is an insanely talented artist. The covers for her Sotsugyousei series are nothing short of whimsical—such beautiful coloring set to an oddly melancholy tone. Not to mention the positioning and use of fonts blends so well with the actual illustration. There’s nothing more irritating than huge obnoxiously-colored font getting in the way of what could have been a gorgeous cover.
Not only another great use of font and type that blends perfectly with the cover illustration, but also an amazing use of open space as well. Your eyes are instantly drawn to Keiichi and the prince embracing on the cover and that’s the only thing that matters. I just think it’s so beautiful. And, again, Yamanaka Hiko is known for her gorgeous stand-alone color illustrations.
Can you even dispute that this is a beautiful cover? Can you? (Which is part of why I’m so irritated that June marred it their their trademark ~yaoi manga~ banner ughhhh…) The cocky, sensual look on the man’s face, the way they’re embracing, the semi-traditional-looking color scheme—it’s just gorgeous. You can kind of see a trend, though, with Edge Comix releases having lovely covers. Not to take any of the credit away from Aniya Yuiji’s amazing illustrating and coloring ability, of course.
Though it was something of a toss-up between this and Nobara, in the end I think I really love this cover even though it’s not as colorful or fun. I’m not sure what it is I love so much about it. It’s just so simple and pretty and clean. I think the simplicity and the traditional-feeling font really match so well with the story—set in a traditional housing arrangement with a very simply ‘Japanese’ feel, and just about two men who are living their daily lives while trying to make their relationship work. I think a really over-done, fancy cover wouldn’t have suited this manga at all, really.
This one is really more of a ‘generic’ BL cover design. Very sexual, the characters staring out to engage the reader more so than to engage each other. I like this one less because it’s artistic and more because I just… well… find it beautiful. It just oozes sensuality and the colors and posing are so eye-catching. Even though the ratings aren’t so good this cover still makes me really wish I were better at reading novels so I could own this book without feeling like I was throwing my money out an open window haha.
It’s okay—I can see you laughing at me from a mile away. “Ami, how is that cover artistic? How is it beautiful?!” But I really like it. I like the flat color scheme, and I love the positioning of the characters with one in an active stance and the other just standing by watching. I think this is very unusual for a BL manga cover—especially with the uke being the active one—with the characters not interacting at all. At least, not in a traditional way. I think this cover is very memorable not because it’s gorgeous (though I do find it very cute) but because it’s just so unusual and fun. Somehow I just like it a lot.
The illustration itself isn’t all that shockingly gorgeous (though, of course, I still love it because I love Yamada 2choume and it’s a very fitting illustration for the story inside) but what I really like about this cover is the way the title was handled. I love how it’s almost positioned in the background instead of on top of Yamada 2choume’s art, and it’s not just written straight across or plainly like most titles tend to be. A really cool direction to take the cover in, I think.
Okay so maybe I just really like covers that have a lot of white open space?? Also, I’ve always been a sucker for the combination of grays and darker pinks like that. And, of course, Suzuki Tsuta’s gorgeous coloring. And, well, the way the two men are interacting is also very pretty and I like the gentleness. Another example of a cover that really makes me want to read the manga inside.
Anyway, that’s it for my personal top ten. Two special mentions are also Natsumizu Ritsu’s Koi to wa Donna Mono Kashira and Kumonosuke’s Lovely Talk. I think a good cover is all about mood and alluding to what great stories are inside. (Though, of course, there’s always the ‘cover trick’ where the outside illustration is beautiful and promises an amazing story only for you to buy the book and end up somewhat disappointed by the inside art and actual storyline… orz;;;) Of course, a reminder is that there are probably a million beautiful covers I’m forgetting about. Though I was tempted to put up Sunae Hata’s Koutetsu no Baby Leaf as a joke haha.
A disclaimer at the end of this post, though, is that the age-old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” really is true. As mentioned above, Koutetsu‘s cover is not really ‘artistically relevant’ but it’s nonetheless one of my favorite manga. And all of Ootsuki Miu’s covers are pretty generic but I would swim oceans to read her manga. Let’s also not forget to mention that almost everyone I’ve spoken to about the cover of Jaryuu Dokuro’s Endless World has been like “ugh why put such a creepy-looking cover on such a beautiful, emotional story?!?” And then there are some very detailed, intricate tankoubon covers attached to manga I have no interest in reading (anything by Renaissance Yoshida, for example). I know when it comes to BL manga it’s probably hard to not judge by the covers, but—just saying!—you shouldn’t pass up every manga just because the cover isn’t the most catching, fancy and artistic out there. You’ll miss out on a lot of great stuff doing that.
Anyway, how about you ladies? What are your favorite BL manga covers?