With shows like Yuri!!! on ICE beginning to break the mould for how gay relationships can be depicted in anime and manga, it’s safe to say it’s high time to break away from the current boys-love status quo. Although BL manga, often written by women, go to varying degrees of depth when representing gay romance, because of its straight female demographic the idealised bishonen material can end up alienating real gay men.
Manga artist Kamome Hamada has heard the call for authentic accounts of gay relationships, and has already started to fill the gap in the market with her new manga Tatoeba Konna Koi no Hanashi (For Example, a Story of This Kind of Love). This is the first ever BL manga to be based on a true story. The first chapter launched in Saturday’s issue of Libre Publishing’s Monthly Magazine BExBOY with colour opening pages, and it looks like this:
Set in the Higashi-Rinkan district of Kanagawa Prefecture, part of the Greater Tokyo Area, main characters Akira and Masaru show readers that “genuine love is painfully sweet”. Up until now, Akira has never been in a romantic relationship, and so he’s determined to snap himself out of falling in love with straight guys.
One fateful day though, someone leaves a comment on his cooking blog saying “Is your skill at cooking despite being a man because you’re a homo?”. Despite his hateful words, Masaru can’t hold up his front when he first meets Akira face-to-face. As Akira thinks over his bad experiences in high school, he happens to bump into Masaru, and asks if he is the commenter “Nanjo”.
The rest of the story sees real love unfold between Akira and Masaru who, at least to begin with, identifies as heterosexual. Whether his thoughts on his sexuality will change further into the manga is yet to be seen. But as one of its themes is transformations of heart, one would hope this would lead to Masaru coming to the realisation that he’s either gay or bisexual.
Here’s where the ‘true story’ aspect comes in: the character of Akira is based on a real man named Kento Yanagi. Magazine BExBOY heralds Yamada as a “daily-life boys-love specialist”, this work being her first ever for the magazine, though far from her professional debut. The four volumes of her series Ohayo to Oyasumi to Sono Ato ni (Good Morning, Goodnight and After) have over 150,000 copies in circulation. She’s also created Koi Kamo Shirenai (It Could Be Love), Hokago Hachimitsu (After-School Honey), and Seishun Sanka! (Youth Anthem!).