It would seem there is quite the large yaoi and BL fanbase over on TikTok even though the app is notorious for not liking adult content, that being said there is a thriving BL community over there many with a strict no minors policy. One BL TikToker I have already interviewed and that is the amazing DynamicDylan then I got the chance to interview one of my favourite TikTokers which turned out to be an amazing interview!
Could you start of by giving us an introduction to yourself?
Hi, I’m Liz and I am a BL/Manga collector on TikTok known as @itslizmangacafe. I have been collecting for 15 years, though my collection has grown exponentially in the last year due to the pandemic. I hadn’t collected in a very long time and with the manga community on TikTok, I recently got back into serious collecting. I currently have over 500 in my shelves. Personally, I’m 29 years old and identify as queer. I live in Kentucky with my boyfriend and his daughter, and our zoo of 4 dogs, 5 cats, a lizard, and a chinchilla!
Wow that is an impressive manga collection. I have heard you say before on your TikTok videos that your favourite boys love manga is The Tyrant Falls in Love… a title I am somewhat infamous on my blog for hating, so I guess my question is what about this title appeals to you?
Ha! I fully acknowledge that it is a very problematic series. Any time I recommend it, I always provide a disclaimer that it is not a happy story. I fell in love with the characters and Hinako Takanaga’s art style in High School. She to this day is my favorite mangaka, and I have most of her works in my collection. What appeals to me specifically is that despite how toxic the relationship is, we know Morinaga cares for Soichi, and I’ve enjoyed the development of the series. It is one I’ve kept up with for well over 10 years. I admit when I initially began the series, I also did not like how their relationship began. Both are problematic characters but seeing the growth and development of their relationship has really appealed to me
Brb going to reread for the 500th time and cry
Well I always say in this fandom we love what we love and should not pull those down for having a different opinion.
Exactly! We are all adults and at the end of the day, it is fiction. I also love Soichi. He’s just a mess but also really a strong character
Funny that you mention we are all adults as that leads into my next question as I am curious if anyone else in the fandom has this issue, I myself have been accused in the past of ‘gate keeping’ for saying that 18+ material is not for minors. As someone who is part of the TikTok community I can only imagine the amount of minors who try to interact with your videos, how do you deal with this?
I personally do not allow minor interaction on my page for multiple reasons. I acknowledge I’m not the “purity police” and I myself got into BL and explicit manga when I was 15/16. However my boundary is because I am nearly 30 and choose not to discuss adult content and media with minors. It makes me very uncomfortable and I stand by this rule. I also get a lot of horrible comments from minors that I as a female BL fan am fetishizing gay and MLM relationships because of what I choose to read. Many minors can’t tell fiction from reality and it’s a waste of time and mental energy trying to engage them.
Yes, I can agree with that. Would you believe I have actually been accused of being homophobic for being a yaoi and bl fan?
That’s horrible and absolutely not okay. I’m so sorry to hear that. Unfortunately I’ve also been called a fetishizist and a pedophile on several occasions purely for even mentioning the classic Yarichin Bitch Club. Again all from minors who don’t understand.
Oh yes I have been called the pedophile in the past for admitting to watching a certain infamous anime once when younger. And then rewatching for research purposes to give it an honest review.
There is so many other problematic series out there. Even beyond anime and manga. Most of my hate is sadly from gay and MLM teens. I know I am cisgender but they fail to acknowledge I am on their side as a fellow queer identifying person. As I always say, at the end of the day… if you ain’t paying my bills, I’m paying you no mind. I am 30 and can choose to read as I wish. Intimacy is a part of most peoples’ lives so who cares if I am reading 18+ content?
What we do to relax is our own business as long as we are not hurting anyone or doing anything illegal.
Speaking of legality here is a big question within the yaoi and BL community. What is your opinion on scanlation sites? I know many of us within this fandom have used them before but with yaoi and BL media being more readily available over the last few years do you think we still need them?
My opinion of the scanlation sites may be different than most but I will say this. I don’t shame people for using them or say that it is “wrong.” I don’t gatekeep. However, I personally want and enjoy supporting artists when I can. I buy a lot of physical manga, and have a Lezhin subscription. In the past I’ve also had a subscription with Futekiya (I just didn’t utilize it enough so I temporarily stopped) and on my page I promote sites like Tapas, Webtoon, etc. I have used scan sites in the past but do try to avoid when I can. Only times I use them are when there are legitimate and no official English translations or print. If I can though and I enjoy the story enough I’ll buy the physical Japanese copy so I am still supporting. But I know this is not realistic for some. I do want to have artist support so I personally do not promote scan sites, though we know it’ll still happen.
That’s a really good answer.
I am though very happy that BL is becoming more popular and readily available. We didn’t have scan sites when I started getting into manga, and I didn’t really use them anyway.
To finish this interview do you have any words of wisdom you would like to share with those new to the fandom? Also feel free to use this section to promote any BL related projects you have.
Words of wisdom, particularly to those who are new and old to BL. You are allowed to enjoy what you want, and shouldn’t feel ashamed. Collecting and reading is a lifelong passion and there is no age limit or cap. Find fellow adult fans who enjoy as you do, and be open to reading new things as well as sharing what you love. There’s so many terrible things happening in the world, so find comfort in what you like. For those wanting to get into serious collecting – do research, be patient, and try to not follow FOMO. Stick to your budget and just have fun! Collect what you want, read what you want, and live your best life.
Wise words from a fun fujoshi! A big thankyou to Liz for letting me interview her here on Yaoi Playground and if she sounds like the kind of person you would love to follow make sure to check out her awesome TikTok and join the fun discussions on all things BL and Yaoi, till next time I am your Mistress of Yaoi!