Welcome to Yaoi Academy

From light bromance to steamy situations, yaoi covers all sorts of relationships between guys.
There are special terms associated with this genre, and here at Yaoi Academy, you can learn them all.

Introduction to Yaoi
Lessons 1 ~ 10
Character Types
Lessons 11 ~ 22
Yaoi Featuring...
Lessons 23 ~ 40

Introduction to Yaoi

Lesson 1

Seme and Uke

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Seme and Uke
In yaoi, the partner who does the penetrating (the top) is called the seme (pronounced "seh-meh"), while the one who is penetrated (the bottom) is called the uke (pronounced "oo-keh"). These terms are specific to yaoi and not used in normal Japanese, where you would say "tachi" and "neko", instead.
There are various kinds of seme and uke, all with different personalities (which we'll talk about in a later lesson), so have a read of a few manga and see which pairing you like the best.

Lesson 2

Slash (Not the Musician)

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Slash (Not the Musician)
While erotic romances between men are called yaoi in Japan, they're often called slash in English.
The term comes from fanfiction, where a romantic relationship between two characters is shown by writing their names as "A/B" ("A slash B"). If the relationship is sexual, the name before the slash will be the top, while the name after will be the bottom.
In yaoi, an X is used instead of a / but the same rules apply for who will be the seme or uke.

Lesson 3

Pairing and Shipping

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Pairing and Shipping
"Pairing" is the pairing-up of two (or more) characters, usually written with a / between the names, which was covered in last week's lesson. "Shipping" is wanting those characters to be in a relationship (or "ship", for short). So, you ship a certain pair!
In Japan, there are various ways to express the relationship within a pair. For example, "seme uke" means that the seme's love is unrequited, and "seme uke" means that the uke's is. (Remember, the seme always comes first! *wink wink*). As with English, you can also use a +, which means that the relationship is purely platonic.
Some pairings are hotly debated, especially when the pairing is fan-made (so not actually part of the story), meaning it's entirely up to the fans who tops or bottoms. This can lead to "shipping wars", which, honestly, can get quite nasty. Remember to respect other people's ships!!

Lesson 4

Switching

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Switching
Although the seme and uke roles are usually fixed in yaoi manga, there are times when the seme will become the uke and vice versa. This switching of positions is called "reversible coupling" in Japan, and can be written as A/B/A (so if you see this, no, it's not a threesome with a clone... Most of the time).
When fans talk about switching, they might say, "A pretty much always tops, but every now and then he's the uke" or "B is such a bottom, but honestly, I kinda fancy him as a seme". This is also called "being versatile".
While some people don't mind who's the seme and who's the uke or if they always take those roles, others prefer "reversible couples" because, well, it's usually quite hot. These couples aren't very common in mainstream yaoi manga, but every once in a while you get some characters who like to switch it up.

Lesson 5

Guys with Glasses

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Guys with Glasses
Guys who wear glasses are pretty popular in manga and anime, and they can represent a whole host of characters.
There's the cold and calculating type, the studious student, the dork, and so on. If you have a glasses fetish, it can be a veritable hot pot of hot guys. However, depending on the character, the glasses can be used in different ways.
For example, if the seme ('cause let's face it, it's always the seme) is meant to be a bit sadistic, his glasses may "flash", meaning he's thinking of something devious and the uke's world is about to get rocked. On the other hand, if the character is all nerdy with messy hair and baggy clothes, his glasses may be obscuring his face, making people think he's unattractive. His love interest only has to catch a glimpse of him sans glasses and voilà! A match made in near-sighted heaven.
Whether you're a fan of spectacles or not, there's no denying the attraction of guys with glasses in yaoi manga.

Lesson 6

Businessmen

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Businessmen
A big part of the "office love" theme in yaoi is that guys wearing suits are hot. It's hard to resist a high-class businessman in a well-cut suit, whether he's an uke, a seme, or switches.
It's been said that suits are to women what lingerie is to men (and here on Renta!, there are a few manga that have men in lingerie in suits, if you're into that...). Yaoi that features businessmen will often play this up, and it's not surprising to see the characters with ties askew and shirts ripped open.
In Japanese, businessmen (that is, white-collar workers who wear a shirt and tie to the office) are referred to as "salarymen", though most salarymen are a far cry from the delectable morsels in yaoi manga. Don't tell my boss I said that.

Lesson 7

School and College

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School and College
Way back when, the majority of yaoi manga was set in early-20th Century European boarding schools. Nowadays, yaoi is set everywhere from the streets of New York to boy-milking farms in the Japanese countryside, but there are still a lot of manga that feature young men in schools or colleges.
Sometimes the stories involve childhood friends who are seeing each other in a different light, and other times they feature a scandalous student/teacher love affair.
When the manga takes place between high school students, it will often involve a healthy dose of angst as they come to terms with their feelings for another guy. In college, the feelings usually include those going on below the belt, as well. There are, of course, randy high-schoolers and anxiety-ridden college students too, but whatever the scenario, almost everyone can relate to these manga.

Lesson 8

Personification

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Personification
Personification is the act of giving something non-human human traits (you person-ify it).
Weather is often personified, especially in literature, but is rarely given actual human form. Instead, this is usually seen in stories about animals (cute cat-boys, anyone?). When it comes to yaoi, however, not even harmless inanimate objects are safe, because really, anything can be personified. From household items to buildings to countries and even planets, if it exists, there's yaoi of it!
For example, take a pencil and sharpener; they're having fun together, but then the eraser comes along and you get some kind of weird yaoi stationary love triangle...
Let your imagination roam and see what you can personify!

Lesson 9

Squeeing

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Squeeing
When you see something you like, you might let out an involuntary high-pitched shriek, or you might just collapse in on yourself because of the overload of feels - this is known as "squeeing". It happens when you encounter a particular character or situation that you just can't handle, and I'm afraid there is no cure.
People squee at different things, and the easiest way to say what you like is to actually say, for example, "I like guys with long hair!". Sometimes, though, you're too excited to type in full sentences. In that case, although it's not as common anymore, you can put a ! in between the feature/action/character's name, so it becomes "long-haired!guys!" or "cat!ears!", or if you're a little sadistic, "crying!guys!".
Basically, there are a lot of exclamation marks involved when squeeing...

Lesson 10

Fujoshi and Fudanshi

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Fujoshi and Fudanshi
Although the Japanese word "fujoshi" usually means "women", yaoi fangirls are pretty punny and changed the way "fu" is written to mean "rotten girls" instead. It might sound quite harsh, but perhaps because their minds are always in the gutter, this is the term they've chosen to describe themselves.
As with fangirls, fujoshi can be female fans of anything, from boybands to really bad fiction (including, incidentally, really bad fiction about boybands). However, it's more often than not associated with liking yaoi.
Despite the fact that yaoi is widely available in Japan, fujoshi don't generally advertize their love of boys' love outside their fujoshi friend group. These groups have created their own language to describe yaoi, which, while difficult to translate directly into English, we're trying to explain in these lessons.
Of course, it's not only women who like yaoi - fudanshi are "rotten boys", the fujoshi's male counterpart. Fudanshi are not necessarily gay, or even bi or pan - they're simply men who enjoy the wonderfulness that is yaoi.
Introduction to Yaoi
Lessons 1 ~ 10
Character Types
Lessons 11 ~ 22
Yaoi Featuring...
Lessons 23 ~ 40
View Yaoi Featured Page
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