Shounen-ai does literally mean "boy love" and that's literally what it is. It is the love shared between two boys/men in an anime or manga. Sometimes it's boy meets boy sometimes it's boy meets what he thinks is a girl but really is another boy, and sometimes its best friends start exploring. The various anime/manga that can be classified as shounen-ai range from bright and happy to rather depressing. Basically it ranges from stuff in comparison to Cardcaptor Sakura to stuff like Neon Genesis Evangelion. Shounen-ai, while its own subgenre, can actually be heavily implied. Shinji Ikari and Kaworu Nagisa have an implied shounen-ai relationship in Eva. It's important to remember that shounen-ai is strictly relationships. Once sex becomes involves (shown) it becomes yaoi or even hentai. Below is a crude list of shounen-ai animes and mangas (implied and explicit are intertwined):



These are not my personal preferences for anime or manga. I like my women. I swear. What? I do!

Among western anime fans, Shounen ai is the blanket term for anything in manga or anime that deals with gay relationships.

In Japan, the expression is used much more specifically, for love stories between young boys in the style of the genre-pioneering Manga Kaze to Ki no Uta. The Japanese blanket term is June, which is the name of the first and most influential manga magazine that publishes such stories.

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