Saucy Edo-period literature is being brought into the modern era as gay manga.

Ihara Saikaku is still known today as the master of bawdy literature in the Edo era. While artists such as Hokusai were creating ukiyo-e, the woodblock prints that remain intrinsically linked to Edo Japan in our minds today, Ihara was busy writing ukiyo-zōshi, the stories of the floating world. Samurai, courtesans and merchants from the pleasure districts of ancient Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo came to life in his vivid, boisterous prose in such racily titled publications as Life of an Amorous Man, and the contemporary audience went wild for his titillating tales. His collection of homosexual stories, The Great Mirror of Male Love, was published in 1687 and depicts the romantic and sexual relationships between warriors and monks and samurai and kabuki actors.

Art and literature with homosexual themes is still a popular form of entertainment in Japan today, although these days it flourishes mainly within the anime world in the form of manga and doujinshi (fan comics) written by and for women. But perhaps there’s no better time for fans to look back at the long-standing tradition behind the genre, as Saikaku’s stories of male-male dalliances are now being brought to a modern audience in the form of a Boys Love manga. Published by B’s-LOVEY Comics on May 14 for a retail price of 1,000 yen (US$9.20) plus tax, The Great Mirror of Male Love – Samurai Collection – depicts these stories of the tragic and heroic love of the honourable samurai who gave up their life in service to their lords.

The competition between samurai for the affections of a lithe young kabuki actor, or the illicit love of a vassal for the beautiful youth who has already captured the eye of his feudal lord; the stories that once entertained the insatiable consumers of amorous entertainment in Tokugawa-era Japan are now tinged with the exoticism of the past, and the themes of forbidden love are as likely to set pulses racing today as they did 300 years ago.


Source: B’s Lovey Comics
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Insert Image: Amazon JP