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YaoiYaoi also known as Boys' Love, is a Japanese popular term for female-oriented fictional media that focus on homoerotic or homoromantic male relationships, usually created by female authors.

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As these depict males, there is an androphilic male audience as well, however manga aimed at a gay male audience is considered a separate genre. Originally referring to a specific type of dojinshi (self-published works) parody of mainstream anime and manga works, yaoi came to be used as a generic term for female-oriented manga, anime, dating sims, novels and dojinshi featuring idealized homosexual male relationships.

The main characters in yaoi usually conform to the formula of the seme ("attacker") who pursues the uke ("receiver"). In Japan, the term has largely been replaced by the rubric Boys' Love (Boizu Rabu), which subsumes both parodies and original works, and commercial as well as dojinshi works. Although the genre is called Boys' Love (commonly abbreviated as "BL"), the males featured are pubescent or older. Works featuring prepubescent boys are labeled shotacon, and seen as a distinct genre. Yaoi (as it continues to be known among English-speaking fans) has spread beyond Japan: both translated and original yaoi is now available in many countries and languages.

Yaoi began in the dojinshi markets of Japan in the late 1970s/early 1980s as an outgrowth of shonen-ai (also known as "Juné" or "tanbi"), but whereas shonen-ai (both commercial and dojinshi) were original works, yaoi were parodies of popular shonen anime and manga, such as Captain Tsubasa and Saint Seiya.

BL creators and fans are careful to distinguish the genre from bara, including "gay manga", which are created by and for gay men. However, some male manga creators have produced BL works.

Many BL manga have fantastic, historic or futuristic settings, and many fans consider BL to be an "escapist fantasy". Homophobia, when it is presented as an issue at all, is used as a plot device to "heighten the drama", or to show the purity of the leads’ love. Matt Thorn has suggested that as BL is a romance narrative, having strong political themes may be a "turn off" to the readers. Yaoi narratives show characters "overcoming obstacles, often internal, to be together". The theme of the victory of the protagonists in yaoi has been compared favourably to Western fairy tales, as the latter intends to enforce the status quo, but yaoi is "about desire" and seeks "to explore, not circumscribe, possibilities."

Hisako Miyoshi, vice editor-in-chief for Libre Publishing, has said that she feels that boys love manga has become less realist, with more comedic elements or being "simply for entertainment". She thinks that earlier BL focused "more on the homosexual way of life with a realist perspective." Makoto Tateno has said that she feels that BL with a focus on realistic gay issues "won't become a trend, because girls like fiction more than realism." Akiko Mizoguchi feels that while depictions of homosexuality as "shameful" to heighten dramatic tension are still shown, BL is including more coming out stories which portray a gradual acceptance from the wider community. Mizoguchi feels that BL is showing far more gay-friendly depictions of Japanese society, which she regards as activism.

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