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Useful Notes / Boys' Love Notes

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A collection of Characterization Tropes found in many Yaoi works (and yes, they can be found in Bara and Yuri works too). Some are complete character types, some are mix-and-match ingredients.

Has absolutely nothing to do with potato chip eating maniacs... maybe.

Sex roles

  • Seme (attacker): The "active" partner, or top. Sometimes tachi, "sword" (or from tachiyaku, male roles in kabuki), by analogy to gay slang. (Seme and Uke come from martial arts terms.)
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  • Uke (defender or receiver): The "passive" partner, or bottom. Sometimes neko, "cat", by analogy to gay slang.
  • Riba (from "reversible") or Suke (portmanteau of the above): The "Both" partner who can take either role; relatively rare in Yaoi genre, but does exist. Much more common in Bara works, which focus more on Manly Gay characters and lack the strict masculine/feminine dynamic typical of Yaoi.
  • Sou-seme ("total seme"): A guy who can't (or won't) be anything other than a seme.
  • Sou-uke ("total uke"): A guy who can't (or won't) be anything other than a uke.


Relationship types

  • Seme × Uke: Standard.
  • Uke × Uke: Both guys are uke types. Sometimes called homoyuri (homo + yuri), the leadup becomes slower, and neither of them feels the need to be dominant, regardless of who's on top. Sometimes sudden moves are made by one of them in an attempt to get things started, but it's not long before their relationship is balanced and gentle again.
  • Seme × Seme: Both guys are seme types. The ride is much rougher than Seme × Uke, as both guys fight to maintain dominance. Eventually the balance is achieved, but the relationship moves more boldly than other kinds.
    • Example: Iwaki and Katou from Embracing Love (which started off as a one-shot in a Seme × Seme- themed anthology).
  • Riba or Reba: Reversible couple; the guys could switch roles and have it still work.
    • Example: June/DMP just released an entire anthology on this theme, called Reversible.
  • Gekokujou ("lower dominates upper"): The seme is socially subordinate to, or lower-ranking than, his uke. Like teacher-student or boss-employee.
    • Example: Passion, Jazz, Hey Sensei, and a few hundred others.
  • Wanko-nyanko ("doggy-kitty"): The seme is faithful and devoted like a dog (a wanko or hetare wanko) and the uke is temperamental and demanding like a cat (tsundere or an ojou). Sometimes in the west it's called "Passive Top meets Power Bottom"; there's definitely some dominant/submissive stuff going on here, but who's really in charge can get the reader a little confused at first.


Applicable to both seme and uke

  • Nonke (non + ke, "persuasion"; i.e., "not of that persuasion"): Starts off straight. (Nonke is bona-fide Japanese gay slang for straight people.)
  • Ore-sama (see Japanese Pronouns): Arrogant or narcissistic. If an uke, expect to be an ojou.
  • "Cool beauty" (usually in Gratuitous English): Extraordinarily good-looking but reserved or unemotional. Usually uke but sometimes you will find a cool beauty seme. Het equivalent: Ice Queen. Also see Sugar-and-Ice Personality.
  • Kinniku (buff or muscular): More heavily-muscled types than the usual slender Bishōnen. Quite common in the Bara Genre.

Seme types

  • Kakkoi buaiso (kakkoi = cool, as in Rule of Cool, buaisou = reserved, quiet) seme: Good-looking, stylish, aloof, doesn't talk much. One of the most common seme types.
  • Hetare (incompetent or loser) seme: Wimpy, meek or undemanding, he may not have the nerve to make the first move, and once things get underway he's probably under the uke's control. Often also wanko. Usually paired with one of the more aggressive uke types.
  • Wanko (puppy) seme: Devoted and determined, he will fawn on his uke like a puppy and doggedly pursue the uke until he gets him, despite constant rejection. Het equivalent: Dogged Nice Guy, only the BL version is usually nicer (not to mention better looking). Usually paired with a tsundere or cool beauty uke. A good vehicle for Wish-Fulfillment.
    • Example: Dee from FAKE who is also a toshishita being younger than Ryo by a year.
    • Example: Keisuke from Togainu no Chi minus the yandere moment.
    • Example: Jo from Wet Sand who is also a toshishita being younger than Ian by seven years.
    • Frequently combined with hetare to make a hetare wanko seme, who is both devoted and meek.
  • Kichiku (brutal or demonic) seme: Cold, cruel, or sadistic. Loves to torment his uke. The het equivalent uses the same term.
    • Kichiku Megane seme: The same plus glasses, which is a fetish all by itself but in this case also symbolizes power and status.
  • Toshishita (younger) seme: Younger than his uke. Often in a gekokujou relationship, or a mujaki type. Het equivalent: Likes Older Women.
  • Mujaki (pure) seme: Innocent, usually inexperienced, maybe shy. Often looks like he ought to be uke.

Uke types

  • Tennen genki (tennen = natural, genki = energetic) uke: Cheerful, straightforward and upbeat. Usually The Ingenue. Often Keet. Equivalent to your garden variety Stock Shoujo Heroine. The most common uke type.
    • Example (possibly the most famous one): Shuichi from Gravitation.
  • Sasoi (seductive) uke: Puts the moves on his seme. A good match for a hetare seme, since the relationship might otherwise never get off the ground. Like other forward types of ukes, might be an Aggressive Submissive.
  • Osoi (rapist) uke: Just what it sounds like. Rare.
    • Example: Hashizume from Scandalous Seiryo University is this for a bit, then he goes back to being seme.
  • Ojou (queen) uke: Beautiful, elegant, and strong-willed. May be arrogant, demanding, or expect to be treated like royalty. Likely to be from a wealthy and/or traditional family. Frequently tsundere. Het equivalent: Ojou.
  • Hime (princess) uke: Surrounded by an entire train of smitten semes, like a princess with her retainers.
  • Heibon (ordinary) uke: The Everyman. Has no distinguishing features. Frequently used as an Audience Surrogate in Fish out of Water situations where everyone else is rich and/or important. Some hot seme will fall in love with him anyway. A good vehicle for Wish-Fulfillment.
  • Toshiue (older) uke: Older than his seme. Het equivalent: Christmas Cake.

Alternative Title(s): Boys Love Types