As the demand for BL (boys' love) shows increases, anime producers are also keen on levelling up their coverage of the rising genre.
Accordingly, the anime industry continuously changes over the years, which allows various anime genres to arise for the developing demographic. Boys' Love and Girls' Love enthusiasts need not hide in the shadows anymore as the anime industry has embraced the genre twice as much.
Boys' Love, also known as Shoujo Ai, depicts the narrative of the love transpiring between two boys or men. It is a genre that is a bit different from Yaoi. While Boys Love focuses on the narrative, Yaoi includes a graphic portrayal of adult men making love, or in a nutshell, smut, or explicit content. Hence, if you want to focus more on the Yaoi genre, then skip this article. However, if you do enjoy BL, then this article is perfect for you.
A disclaimer that the list will not include BL Anime OVAs. Here are 15 Best BL Anime to Watch in 2022.
The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window
If you want something that is a bit different from other BL anime out there, The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window will give you the right amount of horror and mystery along with its BL elements.
The anime centers on the introverted bookstore clerk, Mikado Kousuke, who has the ability to see the paranormal and the exorcist, Hiyakawa Rihito. Together, they solve the bizarre cases that come their way while growing closer together.Advertisement
Released in 2006, Gakuen Heaven is one of the early harem-themed anime that is based on a visual novel. If you are into BL anime with a lot of bishounen and eye candies, then this one is for you.
Gakuen Heaven follows the fortunate story of Itou Keita as he enrolls in the prestigious academy of Bell Liberty Academy for Boys, an exclusive school for the most privileged, talented, and beautiful.
Upon arrival, Keita attracts the attention of both the student council president, Niwa Tetsuya, and secretary, Saionji Kaoru. As he juggles his everyday school life, Keita begins to unravel the secret of his mysterious school invitation.
Set in a dystopian future, No.6 is a combination of genres such as BL, Josei, Sci-fi, thriller, and tragic theme. From time to time, the anime’s plot narrative is an interesting watch, but it becomes too vague, shallow, and less coherent as it progresses.
No.6 follows the story of a boy named Shion who lives in an exclusive area in No.6. Shion's life is changed forever after he rescues a runaway boy named Nezumi.
Gravitation is an anime that came out in the year 2000 when BL, Shounen Ai, and Yaoi were still on the verge of rising among anime fans who didn’t perceive the genre well before.
Based on the manga by Murakami Maki, the premise centers on the aspiring professional singer and high school student Shindou Shuichi, who falls in love with the famous novelist Yuki Eiri.
Together with his long-time friend Nakano Hiroshi, Shindou forms a band to achieve his dream. The story tackles Shindou’s dream of becoming a professional singer amidst the harsh reality of the industry. At the same time, Shindou's growing feelings for Yuki.
With likeable and relatable characters, catchy music, and an interesting premise, the anime will surely leave you with a heart-warming feeling that will make you want more episodes.Advertisement
Hitorijime, My Hero
Hitorijime, My Hero is based on the spin-off manga of the same name by Arii Memeco. With a low rating on any anime database (perhaps due to the prejudice against BL anime), Hitorijime, My Hero is a must-watch for any BL fangirls out there.
The anime centers on the relationship between the helpless delinquent student, Setagawa Masahiro, and his high school teacher, Ooshiba Kousuke. The story begins to develop as Kousuke decides to protect Masahiro from the bullies. While Kousuke denies his interest in Masahiro, he begins to closely involve himself with Masahiro.
While the anime has a confusing start, it becomes better and better as the story transitions. It is a romantic story that can soothe your tired and stressed-out nerves from other anime.
Based on the manga written by Eiki Eiki, Love Stage follows the nerdy and outcast Izumi, who was born into a family of celebrities.
With a huge responsibility and familial pressure, Izumi is torn between following his dreams to become a mangaka and following in the footsteps of his family. One day, Izumi accidentally meets Ichijou Ryoma, who mistakes Izumi as a woman and falls head over heels. Ryoma turns out to have met Izumi ten years ago.
Love Stage is a light-hearted BL comedy with a bit of romantic teasing. It is a must-watch for every BL anime fan, although it is quite short with only 10 episodes on its slate.
Perhaps Antique Bakery is one of the more familiar BL anime titles in circulation. Perhaps you've even heard of this anime before?
As it came out in 2008, the anime is about two former classmates, Tachibana Keiichirou and Ono Yuusuke. Keiichirou owns the cake shop Antique, and he invites the genius protégé baker Ono Yuusuke to work for him. The story develops as Yuusuke comes out of the closet and begins his advances towards Keiichirou.
The anime is unique and has a fresh take on the BL genre. With a solid storyline composed of comedy, angst, and realistic drama, Antique Bakery wows the fans with its plot narrative and amazing character development, not to mention the sublime voice acting that keeps anyone interested until the end.Advertisement
Kyo Kara Maoh!
Perhaps one of the most enjoyable isekai anime ever, Kyo-Kara Maoh has a lot of obvious boy-on-boy action, romantic tension, and bishounen for BL fans to fuss about. Although it has been released for quite some time now, Kyo-Kara Maoh remains a decent watch for anime fans, regardless of whether they love BL or not.
From its interesting take on the isekai plot narrative to its ridiculous antics, Kyo Kara Maoh is a must-watch! With some light and soft BL elements, this anime is perfect for any isekai fan.
Kyo-Kara Maoh follows the story of Yuuri Shibuya after getting pulled into the school toilet transport in a world where humans and mazoku exist. Due to his hair and eyes being considerably black, he takes on the role of the next Maoh (King of the Mazoku) to solve the kingdom’s problems and pacify the relationship between humans and mazoku.
If anyone can set aside their social prejudice about shounen ai or BL, Loveless is a must-watch with a lot of value-added elements that make this anime deserving of another season, perhaps another reboot.
Loveless is a combination of fantasy, angst, and the josei genre based on the manga of Kouga Yun. It centers on the twelve-year-old (yes, a minor lol) Aoyagi Ritsuka as he becomes Agatsuma Sobi’s partner in fighting an organization called Nanatsu no Tsuki. Together, they became Fighter and Sacrifice and began investigating the death of Ritsuka’s brother, Seimei.
A BL anime that stays true to its source material, Loveless is an anime that has a lot of interesting characters, unexpected twists, and pleasant combat scenes.
Despite a controversial and heavily criticized history by non-BL fans, Super Lovers has successfully spawned two seasons and an ova since its release in 2016. Despite the fact that 2016 was an emerging and uprising year for the lgbtqia+ community, many anime fans prejudiced against the anime.
Super Lovers follows the story of high school boy Haru and his adoptive younger brother Ren, who grew closer together after Haru’s mother started living overseas. With the responsibility of looking over the wild and aloof Ren, Haru needs to go beyond Ren’s personal walls.
Despite the anime’s fast pace, the character development of the characters as well as the plot development are actually good. If anyone wants something feel-good to watch for a while, Super Lovers is a decent watch.Advertisement
One of the most popular BL animes ever, Junjo Romantica, has spawned three seasons and an OVA.
Based on the manga by Nakamura Shungiku, the anime follows the story of Misaki and Usami. A tale between a student and his tutor, Misaki starts having confusing feelings and odd problems after reading Usami’s shocking book about him licking every inch of Usami’s hot body.
Although the anime has a lot of smut and explicit content, Junjo Romantica deserves a spot on our list because of its popularity and well-received comedy and romance aspects. This is a definite must-watch for any fangirls out there!
Heaven's Official Blessing
Heaven’s Official Blessing is an action-adventure supernatural Chinese anime that focuses on the Crown Prince of Xian Le, Xie Lian, as he returns to the mortal realm to exorcise ghosts after ascending to heaven for the third time.
Xie Lian is a deity that was previously beloved by his followers for eight hundred years. However, he becomes the laughing stock of the citizens after he gets kicked out of heaven three times. In order to make up for the crimes committed by his followers, including violence, plague, multiple demotions, and even poverty, Xie Lian needs to exorcise ghosts in order to ascend to heaven again.
Not long after, he met Hua Cheng, the richest and most dangerous of the Three Devastation Demons and one of the Four Great Calamities, who had been keeping an eye on him for quite a very long time. They embark on an action-packed adventure to uncover the dark secrets of the heavenly realm.
It is one of the most highly anticipated Chinese anime, with smooth animation, a dynamic duo, and an enjoyable narrative that even non-BL fans can enjoy.
Yuri on Ice
One of the most popular, feel-good, and heartwarming BL animes is Yuri on Ice. In a nutshell, Yuri on Ice features beautiful bishounen boys skating on ice with one-of-a-kind animation.
It follows the story of Katsuki Yuri, a Japanese professional ice skater who’s on the verge of retiring until he meets the five-time consecutive Grand Prix Champion, Viktor Nikiforov, as well as his Russian protege, Yuri Plisetsky. With the coaching and guidance of Viktor, Katsuki Yuri continues to skate in the beautiful yet harsh reality of ice skating.
The anime shows a lot of BL scenes but doesn’t go beyond its limitations. The show also hints at a blooming romance between Viktor and Yuri but doesn’t confirm nor deny the obvious romantic tension. It is an anime about friendship, bl, gorgeous ice-skating scenes, and beautiful animation.Advertisement
Just like Banana Fish, Given is well received and recognized by a lot of anime fans. From its interesting concept and fresh take on BL anime, Given’s music radiates and resonates among viewers, especially it's feature song that will drive you into tears.
Given follows the story of Ritsuka Uenoyama and his losing passion for music. One day, he happened to accidentally overhear the singing voice of Satou Mafuyu, which changed his perspective on music.
Given its very fluid character development, well-animated sequences, touching moments, and beautiful music, Given is a recommended watch among anime fans, bl or not.
One of the most popular BL anime to boot, Banana Fish is a solid watch from start to finish. From the best action-packed scenes to the most touching moments, Banana Fish is a rewarding watch for BL fans. Putting aside the BL elements, the anime still appeals to non-BL fans because of its dark and hyper-violent narrative, terrific characters, and catchy music.
Set in New York, Banana Fish follows the story of 17-year old Ash Lynx and the kind Japanese cameraman assistant Eiji Okumura. In one fateful encounter, Ash was entrusted by a murdered man with some kind of mysterious thing while uttering the phrase "Banana Fish".
Related: The Best Seinen Anime For Beginners
Bonus: You can also watch 2022’s recent anime, Sasaki and Miyano, alongside 07-Ghost, Black Butler, Spirit Pact, and Card Captor Sakura (if you ship Touya and Yukito like me).
Related: The Best Shoujo Anime For Beginners