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Bara is a genre of manga and art made by gay and bisexual men, for gay and bisexual men. In Japan it's more commonly known as "gei comi", "gei manga", or "menslove". Bara generally features mature and realistic(ish) relationships, rather than overly melodramatic soap opera plots. Bara plots tend to be simple, short, and to cut to the chase, If You Know What I Mean. Since All Men Are Perverts (doubly so if they're gay) plays it hard here, bara is
almost always very explicit, to the point that "Bara Hentai" is a redundant phrase. Another important characteristic is that bara emphasizes manly and muscular (sometimes hairy) characters with varying degrees of body fat, as opposed to the androgynous and effeminate boys commonly found in Yaoi. It also, usually, tends to avert, subvert or invert the Uke and Seme dynamics eg. most of the time the Seme is someone younger and much more "cuter" looking.
Bara evolved from illustrations and manga in gay men's general-interest (and/or pornographic) magazines, which partially accounts for the differences in style and tone, as well as the generally short story length. It is generally considered a separate genre from yaoi; many Japanese bara artists would be offended if their works were called yaoi. The term was popularized by a Japanese gay magazine called Barazoku (lit. rose tribe), the same magazine that coined the term Yurizoku (lit. lily tribe) that later became Yuri. See the Wikipedia on Bara.
Although gay men's general-interest magazines have published occasional manga stories since the 1970s, the first all-manga gay magazines to become commercially successful date only from the early 2000s. The two major commercial publishers at the moment are Furukawa Shobu (a publisher of gay men's magazines) and Oakla Shuppan (a yaoi publisher that also has some bara manga magazines). Kinniku Otoko (literally "Muscle Man") is one of the manga magazines that focuses on this genre. Gengoroh Tagame is an example of a well-known artist.
Other popular and well-known artists include Gamma, Jin, Kazuma, Manya, Takeshi Matsu, Inaki Matsumoto, Ron-9 (who drew the top picture), Takakunozomu, and Matsuzaki Tsukasa. Outside of Japan, there is also Braford (Argentina), Captain Ger Bear (Canada), Forge the Wielder (USA), Furry Revolution (Italy), Galen (Spain), Grisser (Thailand), Gez Tank Skunkrat (Mexico), Ralf König (Germany), Kupopo (USA), Kyuuhari (Malaysia), Rrowdy Beast (USA), and Tom of Finland (Finland).
Unlike Yaoi Fangirls, Bara fans don't worry about Shipping and are not so vocal about it either. Monogamy and chastity are usually total non-issues in bara, where Everybody Has Lots of Sex as easily as they live and breathe, as if it were a hello or a handshake.
Tropes commonly associated with bara are:
- All Gays Are Promiscuous: Always played dead straight along with...
- The Bear: Optional.
- Big Beautiful Man: Optional, though there is a particular fetish for "muscle gut" -- a muscular but flabby gut.
- Bi the Way: In quite a number of stories, men have revealed they have interest in or have had long-term relationships with women prior to them hooking up with their present male love interest. A similar situation exists in conventional Yaoi; bisexual inclinations of any degree are often portrayed as the 'default' situation.
- Carpet of Virility: Although it is optional.
- Downer Ending: Gengoroh Tagame is (in)famous for this approach. Some stories of his contain a Bittersweet Ending, but Your Mileage May Vary on what you consider to be bittersweet.
- Kemono/Furry Fandom: A lot of Bara works are also Kemono, or contain Kemono characters. This is by no means universal though.
- Leather Man: Though by no means required.
- Manly Gay: Bara is no country for effeminate pretty boys.
- Money Shot: Could range anywhere from average to anything but
- Periphery Demographic: Female fans do exist, to the point where a couple short-lived manga anthologies catered to both male and female Bara fans. In Western countries, sometimes the female fans run to Bara to escape the oft-unrealistic depictions of men in yaoi. A handful of female artists draw bara too, such as Dragmire and Ivy Beth Gladstone.
- Plot With Porn: Done very well in most stories.
- Rated "M" for Manly: Fuck, yeah.
- (Walking) Shirtless Scene: Sometimes this occurs even before intercourse is engaged
- STD Immunity: As all the stories are fictitious, condoms don't really matter...not that they would hurt either.
Anime and Manga
- Legend of the Blue Wolves is a rare, perhaps the only, yaoi OVA that has Bara elements. It mixes bara and Mecha together. It tells the story of Leonard and Jonathan, mecha pilots that are fighting in a war against the Apocalypse, while they go through all sorts of tribulations such as rape and betrayal. Better Than It Sounds.
- Kuso Miso Technique, a one-shot, was one of the earlier baras by famous mangaka Junichi Yamakawa, and the source of the yaranaika meme. It's So Bad It's Good. Because of it, the phrase "Yaranai-Ka?" is now synonymous with bara and gay sex (it means "Shall we do it?", but it's used by men only. If a girl uses it, expect laughs), hence its inclusion as the page-quote. A warning that this manga is Exactly What It Says on the Tin ("kuso" = "shit"; "miso" = "a type of soup").
- Cable and Deadpool come damn close. In fact this could be combined with Naughty Tentacles in that one scene.
- Many muscular superheros who get slashed with each other in fandom could fall under this as well.
- Tom of Finland's comics can be seen as an early Western version of bara, as sexually oriented comics by and for gay men with a strong Bear or Leather Man aesthetic.
- J. Bone's pin up work definitely counts.
- Ralf König's comics are basically German bara. The film version of his Killer Condom series delights in the trope.
- G-men is a Japanese magazine aimed towards men who prefer 'macho' or muscular men, also including manga.
- George Quaintance, who is also known for his homoerotic art and was an inspiration to Tom of Finland.
- Rammstein's song Mann Gegen Mann is an ironic ode to this, especially the video thereof. Highly NSFW.
- Blur the Lines is all about chubby chasing and bears. Completely runs on Author Appeal, showing lots and lots of plumber's cracks (he describes it as the gay version of cleavage).
- A new Tom of Finland, Israeli Deviant ARTist David Kawena, is infamous around the internet for making extremely well done and detailed drawings of muscular "Disney Princes" in speedos, also giving them extra packages. Please keep your inner childhoods in check. You will either be inherently aroused or scarred for life, as Rule 34 is wont to do.
- Captain Ger Bear.
- Chub Pan
- Meat Log Mountain: A Dating Sim game with phallic & homoerotic imagery and manly men literally everywhere.
- Sugar Shooter: An erotic, Bullet Hell shmup.