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My Sweet Embraceable Uke (June 2001)

Suddenly the ukulele is hot again. But please don't play "Tiptoe Through the Tulips."

A character associated with the Boys Love Genre, the Uke makes up the receptive half of a relationship. Typically the polar opposite of the Seme, the Uke will almost invariably be more feminine than his counterpart; just how much "more feminine" this can be simply looking more childish or "beautiful", or being more emotional and/or blushy or just less overtly macho than his partner, to, on the other end of the spectrum, having outright crossdressing habits. Almost always, the Seme is One Head Taller than the Uke (or at least a few inches). So prevalent is this custom that a well-known (and oft derided) process in Slash Fic is Wimpification, or feminizing one half of a slash pairing to fit this character type regardless of canon characterization. A major draw of the Boys Love is that you get two hot guys for the price of one, so in the more explicit titles expect to see lots of his cute little bod.

His personality can vary into:

And in Bara

See Boys Love Types for a list of standard seme and uke types.

There is a trend of making the Uke more outwardly emotional than the Seme; even an angsty Uke will be more vocal in his Wangst than an angsty Seme who will just hide it all behind a stoic mask, and emotionless Ukes are relatively uncommon. This is due in large part to the fact that Seme/Uke relationships customarily exhibit a frequently flustered Uke - something much more difficult to pull off if the Uke is the stoic type.

Additionally, the Uke is almost always the more inexperienced one of the pair, if not an outright virgin, to fit with his traditional role as the "receiver" and is often Oblivious to Love, requiring the more experienced Seme to make the first move.

Shonen fandom has popularized another type where The Messiah functions as the uke, at least physically, where his sheer niceness and adorableness wins over other characters.

Any main character in any anime, movie, TV series, book, or the like can easily be transformed into a helplessly depressed uke by killing off everyone they know and love or putting them through puberty.

Also see Keet and In Touch with His Feminine Side. Western equivalent is The Twink. For all you baseball fans out there: he's the catcher.

Has absolutely nothing to do with the Hawaiian string instrument known as the ukulele, often abbreviated as uke'. Also has absolutely nothing to do with the slang term for people of Ukrainian descent.

Note that this usage of the word originated in the Boys Love Genre fandom; among "regular" Japanese people it just means "defend". It is also a term used in the Japanese martial arts (especially those based on holds and throws such as judo and aikido) to indicate the person doing ukemi -- allowing themselves to be thrown/held by the tori or nage (the partner doing the throwing) and doing so safely. Even Japanese gay men won't necessarily know the BL meaning of the term. Non-Otaku English speakers won't know what it means at all, unless they do judo.

Examples of Uke include:


Anime and Manga

  • Miharu from Nabari no Ou is a good example, being a short, rail thin, Stoic young boy surrounded by a bunch of tall slender Bishonen. It's not a Boy's Love series, but it comes pretty damn close.
    • Gau is also a good example, being feisty, temperamental, and sometimes angsty.
  • Ryo in FAKE is a borderline case; he's considerably less experienced and more sensitive than his boisterous partner (and Seme) Dee, but he's also much more reserved and prone to keeping his feelings bottled up, and he's not appreciably smaller, prettier, or more feminine than the rest of the main cast.
  • Shuichi Shindou of Gravitation is often presented as the de facto example of an uke. Since his love interest Yuki is a cold fish, he does diverge from the trope a bit in having to be the more aggressive and persistent partner, though Yuki still makes the first sexual moves.
  • Lampshaded in Lucky Star during a dodgeball game where Hiyori said that she is the "uke", Japanese term for a defender when practicing martial arts, in an unintentional Double Entendre and Freudian Slip. She should have said mamori, the correct term in context.
  • In Genshiken, Ogiue writes and draws yaoi Doujinshi about her fellow club members, casting Madarame as the passive Uke and Sasahara as the aggressive Seme. Though she is mortified when Sasahara finds out, he accepts it as a work of art, not a projection on him. He also mentions he got....a man reaction...
  • In The Tyrant Falls in Love, the uke Souichi is a walking bucket of homophobic rage who doesn't hesitate to punch Morinaga at the slightest provocation.
  • Subaru Sumeragi. Just...Subaru Sumeragi.
    • Not forgetting his "sisterly-brother" Kamui (come on, even CLAMP refers to the boys as "sisters")
  • Lampshaded in Ichigo Mashimaro, where Ana and Miu are yelling childish insults at each other and Miu yells "UKE!" The rest of the episode has the characters (sans Miu) asking Nobue what the word means, with obviously little success.
  • A Girls Love example can be found in Gokujou Drops with Komari.
  • An example of a almost perfect uke is Sawada Tsunayoshi from Katekyo Hitman Reborn. C'mon, you know he's a bigtime uke when he's paired with 1-year-old Reborn and still bottoms. It doesn't help matters that the girl he has a crush on, who is supposed to be super-effeminate and "beautiful," looks like his identical twin...
  • The definition of "angsty uke" above nicely fits Takaya/Kagetora from Mirage of Blaze. Particularly in the the first OVA.
  • Ayase from Okane ga Nai to a massive extent. He's practically the embodiment of the uke stereotype.
  • Just plain ignored in Kyo Kara Maoh, as the main character is still literally the only heterosexual in the world, and no relationship has even gotten to the 'holding hands' stage. Though what passes for an Official Couple has lost support from a surprising number of fans because "they're both uke". It really doesn't help that the main character is a catcher on a sandlot baseball team.
  • Allen from D Gray Man is the Shonen fandom Messiah type. Being the shortest male in the main cast doesn't help his case. He's also very scrawny, and has a pretty baby face. Funny thing is how, even when paired with the women in fandom, a lot of cases still have him being the submissive one. Poor Allen doesn't get many chances to wear the pants in relationships.
  • When it comes to Sengoku Basara, Sanada Yukimura is pretty much the designated Uke (albeit usually a very Hot-Blooded one). We can't exactly blame the fangirls though; not only is he archaically polite, naive, and eager-to-please (not to mention a total Bishounen), he's also usually paired up with the pinnacle of GAR that is Date Masamune.
  • Both Sunao/Ran and Nanami in Sukisho. Nanami is a bit of an unusual example, in that he's a Wholesome Crossdresser.
  • In Venus Versus Virus, though it tends to move around, Lucia is the seme, and Sumire the uke.
    • It may be an inversion. Sumire appears to be an archetypal Yuri Genre uke (always blushing, younger, cute, admires her seme, etc) but she actually seems to be closer to being the seme.
  • Played for laughs in the comedy Boys Love series Neko Samurai ("neko", or "cat", is another word for "uke"). Yamato is a wandering samurai and 30-year-old virgin who longs to find a man to be Seme to him, and constantly offers to pay for things with his body (nobody's interested), or offer himself up to be ravished by whoever can beat him in a swordfight (nobody can, and if he tries to throw the fight, they just get annoyed). The one time he comes close, with a bandit leader who just about matches him in fighting skill, it turns out that the other guy is also an uke...
  • Played for laughs in Ouran High School Host Club (of course) with the twins. Hikaru even goes so far as to ask why "Kaoru was cast as the 'pitcher'." In the original Japanese, they actually use "seme" and "uke".
  • Setsuna in Mahou Sensei Negima is one of these, as shown in her scenes with Konoka and Tsukuyomi. Somewhat ironic in that she's also one of the tougher Action Girls and Konoka is the resident White Magic user.
  • Junjou Romantica provides three different types of ukes. Misaki is type 2, Hiroki is type 3, and Shinobu a mix of both[1].
  • Yukito of Cardcaptor Sakura and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle fame is the Uke to Touya Kinomoto.
  • Subverted in Fumi Yoshinaga's Kinou Nani Tabeta (What Did You Eat Yesterday?), where Kakei is more than annoyed that straight people think that being the uke during sex has anything to do with who the "girl" in the relationship is.
  • Gilbert Nightray from Pandora Hearts is often treated this way. Sure, he's taller, and significantly older, but he still bottoms.
  • Sena of Eyeshield 21 is an uke along with being the fandom's Little Black Dress. Considering he's an Adorkable, cute little boy who quickly impresses every manly football player he encounters, it's no surprise that he's considered the ultimate uke of the series.
  • Doesn't actually happen but heavily implied in Neon Genesis Evangelion that if Shinji would return Kaworu's advances, he would end up as the uke.
  • Mochizuki in Boku No Sexual Harassment.
  • Jonathan in Legend of the Blue Wolves. Refreshingly, he's as solidly built as his seme and only slightly shorter.
  • "Don't Worry Mama" averts this all over the place. Imakura, the uke in the relationship, is not only Yuichi's boss -- he's phimotic and severely overweight. At least at first.
  • Yumi is the uke to Sachiko's (and Sei's) seme in Mariasama ga Miteru, though the series typically avoids the archetype and it keeps it on a Hide Your Lesbians case.
  • Ivan Karelin had already struck many Tiger and Bunny fans as an uke, being a timid Bishonen that is much shorter and slimmer than his more heroically built compatriots. Then the fourth drama CD came out (read: the one where Keith cheerfully volunteers Ivan and himself to fill in as hosts for a gay club) and said, "Yep, pretty much."
  • Italy is this when paired with pretty much anyone in Axis Powers Hetalia. Japan and Canada are too, as is China.
  • Ginji of GetBackers is this when paired with Ban.
  • Ai no Kusabi: Riki while being a very masculine, feisty, angsty and brooding biker.

Video Games


Webcomics


Live Action TV

 Summer: I wanna be on top this time.

Seth: But you're always on top...

  • Another male het example is Niles Crane from Frasier. He was more of an Extreme Doormat Love Martyr towards frigid Maris, but still acts incredibly submissive (but in a far more romantic way) towards Hot-Blooded Daphne, and in one episode it's implied that she often roughs him up during sex, and that he enjoys it.
  • Ste in Hollyoaks, pretty much. What the pre-watershed show is allowed to show in regards to actual sex usually seems to end up with him being pushed against a wall/onto the nearest available surface. Also doubles as a Love Martyr, given that his two relationships thus far have been with cheating Club Kid Noah and emotionally closeted Bastard Boyfriend Brendan.
  • Tobias Beecher of Oz when he's with Chris Keller.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, it's implied more than once, with more than one girlfriend, that Ted (another rare het example) usually bottoms.


Western Animation

  • Tweek Tweak from South Park when paired with Craig Tucker in the fanfictions.
  • Ben 10 slash fanfictions and fanarts typically have Ben being the Uke while Kevin assume the Seme role. It sure doesn't help that Kevin is taller than Ben and has a typical bad boy attitude, while Ben have become quite of a Bishonen after becoming a teenager in Alien Force. Of course, in canon, the two of them started out as Arch-Ennemies, and while they are now bestfriends, they both have girlfriends to prove they are straight (and of course, both of those girlfriends get a lot of hate from the yaoi and yuri fans because of that).
    • This was actually parodied in Ultimate Alien episode "Duped", where Ben use his Echo Echo powers to duplicate himself in three in an attempt to be in three times at the same place so he can fight the Forever Knights with Kevin, assist to Julie's tennis match and watch the Sumo Slammer new movie. He ends up divided in three Ben with different personnalities: one with a sweet, sensitive one, one with a bad boy attitude and one who is seemingly normal. The sensitive one ends up going with Kevin, and, while they are waiting for the knights to show up, start delivering a speech about how close they have become, in a typical yaoi way. Kevin is not amused at all:

 Kevin: BEN! You have always been kind of girly, but now, YOU'RE REALLY CREEPING ME OUT!


Real Life

  • Played straight by small, feminine (gay/bi) men who identify as bottoms. Inverted by small, feminine men who identify as tops and large, masculine men who identify as bottoms. Averted by (the majority of) men who identify as versatile.
    • It also should be noted that while they may be bottoms or tops, its not as common as people think for gay couples to have the heteronormative male-female gender roles.

Notes

  1. innocent and temperamental, if you're curious
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