I hope you all had a Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! It was a long day filled with love, chocolate, flowers, and sex for everyone… except us otakus. A cruel existence we live, for sure. However, when real life doesn’t meet our romantic expectations, we can always resort to the wholesome genre of boy’s love for escapism. We saw a huge burst of BL titles receiving animated adaptations in 2020 and 2021, so now we’re weighing in on manga titles and series we’d love to see adapted next, and how. Also, feel free to take these as suggestions if you’re looking for something to read on this cursed Single Awareness Day, instead of scrolling on OkCupid.
One Room Angel (Harada)
Adaptation Style: Movie/OVA
We’ve covered this one in the past with a small solo highlight, so we’ll get this out of the way first. One Room Angel is a one-shot volume with one of the most tender and tear-jerking stories released in the current decade. It was also the winner of Best Comic at the 2020 Boy’s Love Awards. The story introduces us to Kouki: a man in his mid-30s with a dead-end job, living alone, no friends, and no integrity. He’s a waste of skin. When Kouki gets into a knife fight — and is stabbed — an angel descends on him and later moves into his apartment. The two events seemingly have no connections, as the angel (unnamed) has amnesia and is too weak to fly back to Heaven.
Not excited, but unsure what to do, Kouki allows the angel to stay with him while he tries to find a new job. Their time together develops like a father and son and, in helping the angel, Kouki comes to terms with his life of mistakes and starts to own up to them, as does the angel when he realizes why he’s trapped on earth.
One volume with no intended sequel makes it the perfect length of a boy’s love movie adaptation.
Dear Gene (Azuma Kaya)
Adaptation Style: Movie Trilogy / TV series
In this day in age, a story taking place in the early 1970s can almost be considered historical fiction, and given the subject matter of Dear Gene, it certainly feels that way. This boy’s love is a series that, although publishing at a slightly slower pace than most, has maintained steady popularity in Japan with the second volume expected to be realized sometime this year.
Trevor Edwards is a lawyer in New York City in 1973. When he unexpectedly loses some important documents pertaining to a case they are returned by the (just-relieved) janitor of his office — a 19-year-old boy who has recently moved to the city.
Indebted to him, and wanting to save this stranger from the harsh cold, Mr. Edwards invites him to stay in his home and employs him as a housekeeper. Over the next few days, Mr. Edwards learns that Gene was born and raised in an Amish colony his entire life, and chose to leave for various reasons. Given how the Amish are deeply religious people, it’s a surprise to see Kaya-sensei avoid the easy routes for character development you’d expect in a boy’s love series. Gene leaves because of a sense of adventure, especially wanting to read books other than the Bible and general school textbooks. When given permission to enjoy Mr.Edward’s private library he goes almost crazy.
Because of the series’ slow publication and real-world subject matter, it might be better to release animated adaptations once a year as a movie per volume, or wait until there’s enough source material for a TV series.
Old Fashion Cupcake (Sagan Sagan)
Adaptation Style: TV Anime
It’s a kind of boy’s love story you might already have heard of… and as you get older you find it uncomfortably relatable. Nozue is 39 years old, single, and an office worker going through his midlife crisis when he accepts that he has little reason to be happy outside his daily routine. He feels as though he isn’t actually living his life anymore. Then comes along his subordinate, Togawa, who is only 29 years old, dependable, brash, good at his job, and more than happy to drag his boss out of the ordinary life for mundane pleasures such as pancakes.
The more time they spend together, the more Nozue realizes that he doesn’t have one foot in the grave as deep as he initially thought, and the two start to learn and build off each other into a cute romance.
With three volumes of material, and still ongoing, Old Fashion Cupcake would suit a spring or summer anime slot, easily.
From the Country Like Lion (Hakase)
Adaptation Style: Movie/OVA
It’s a boy’s love one-shot manga, but one that’s cute and surprisingly well-researched and executed, given the premise. Makoto is an average high-school student whose family will be hosting a foreign exchange student for a short while. When he learns that their guest is from the Maasai tribe in Kenya he isn’t sure what to expect…at least until their first meeting and he’s surprised to find Luca speaks Japanese fairly well. The playful curiosities Makoto and Luca have for each other’s countries, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds are handled rather innocently and respectfully without coming across as fetishistic of African cultures.
It’s a short story, so it wouldn’t need anything beyond an OVA or an hour-long movie depending on how well the material is stretched.
Seaside Stranger (Kii Kanna)
Adaptation Style: TV Series
Now, this one may already have a boy’s love movie (and a really good one), but hear us out. The movie only covered the original one-shot volume. In the end, L’étranger de la Plage (or Seaside Stranger, as it’s called in the West) left us on a hopeful cliff-hanger that the sequel series would be animated soon. Shun promised to return to Hokkaido to reconnect with his family and even promised to take his boyfriend with him. What happens when Shun’s parents have the unexpected additional company? What of when Shun learns his parents have another son? How do they handle so many delicate situations when it comes to being an older brother and a societal non-conforming idea of older siblings or a third parent?
The movie was a wonderful experience and anyone who’s read ahead in the sequel manga knows that there is a lot more to tell. The sequel series L’étranger du Zéphyr (still published as Seaside Stranger in the West) is currently four volumes long and still ongoing, making it a perfect winter-season TV anime.
Sonna ni Iu Nara Daiteyaru (Niyama)
Adaptation Style: Movie/OVA
The last boy’s love manga on our list is more erotic than the others. Sonna ni Iu Nara Daiteyaru (roughly translated as Keep Talking and I’ll Embrace You) tells the scandal of Shinobu: an office worker who appears incompetent and lazy by day. By night, he slicks back his hair and throws on some sunglasses to go be the most popular playboy at his favorite gay bar, which he’s been frequenting for a few years. All of that comes crashing down when Hikaru from the sales department decides to venture into the bar one day and throws off Shinobu’s game. Although Hikaru doesn’t recognize Shinobu, he takes a liking to him and devises a half-baked plan to seduce him. It’s hilariously ironic, considering at work, he hates Shinobu.
It’s one with several explicit sex scenes, making it a bit too spicey for TV. So we’d love to see this one done as a full-scale R18 movie.