I should not be starting a possible flame war in my first post, and I hasten to state from the outset that I have not read all of the Yaoi manga published in English translation. However, there is something unique and special about the work of Yugi Yamada that, in my opinion, qualifies her to be called the greatest Yaoi mangaka of them all.

She served her apprenticeship as an artist bringing the stories of other authors to life. She is the ex-assistant of Satosumi Takaguchi, and has illustrated stories for authors Saki Aida, Shiira Gō and Yuuri Eda. But when she set out to share with the world her own vision of gay relationships, it became clear that she has something real and significant to convey.

The socially revolutionary Yaoi or Boys’ Love (BL) art form, and its predecessor shōnen ai genre, emerged in Japan less than half a century ago. Never before in history have women created and consumed such a large body of work consisting entirely of illustrated stories about love between young men. In general, women see relationships differently than men do, and these Yaoi artists have given gay men something they have difficulty giving themselves – a romantic vision of the future, characterized by long-lasting commitment.

Some gay men believe that a ‘female’ notion of commitment is not needed in the gay community, where so much is based on surface appearance and momentary pleasure. But, respectfully, I believe these men are wrong. Since most of the Western world has now granted LGBT couples the right to marry, it is long past time for gay men to think about what makes relationships last.

Yugi Yamada portrays committed adult gay relationships better than anyone else. She does not leave anything out … the silences, the quarrels, the incompatibilities and the doubts are all there, in addition to the lust and the good humour. Her realistic and alluring images convey this complex dynamic. Her characters are swept away by the dawning of love, and once they realize they cannot live without it, they fight intensely to keep that love.

Ms. Yamada’s official biography is sparse. I know almost nothing about her – she might be using a pen name. She is blood type B and star sign Aries (like me). Her active twitter account (https://twitter.com/yugiyamada) shows us a bit more about her life, including her love for cats, roses and beautiful desserts. I doubt she is seeking uninvited comment from a Canadian living on another continent who does not speak her own language. Nevertheless, out of gratitude I offer on this blog deserving praise for someone I consider to be a visionary author and artist.

Advertisements