Creators’ Corner: Exclusive Interview with Ayu Yamane
The Stray and It’s Fine Even If It’s a Dream‘s creator Ayu Yamane shares her BL roots as a fan and a creator in an email interview, all written in English by Ayu Yamane herself!
Editor’s Note: This interview contains a spoiler for Chapter 3 of The Beauties of Nature.
Hello, Ayu Yamane-sensei! Thank you very much for your time! Would it be possible to have a short self-introduction?
Ayu Yamane: Thank you for having me!
Hi, I’m Ayu Yamane, Japanese Doujin BL comic artist who loves cats, birds, and stories with age-different-relationships.
When did you first become interested in Boys’ Love manga?
Ayu Yamane: I was a young teenager when I found fanfictions of my favorite anime, Saint Seiya: Knight of the Zodiac (聖闘士星矢) and learned that older female fans had been enjoying making love stories with male characters.
What is your favorite BL work?
Ayu Yamane: I can’t pick up just one!
However, Kusama Sakae’s Saiyaku-no-Tebiki (『災厄のてびき』草間さかえ先生) was the one that brought me into BL world in earnest.
What kind of preparation did it take for you to become a manga artist?
Ayu Yamane: I started drawing comics in my notebooks, and then I learned how to draw comics with some books. After my drawing skill improved, I temporarily worked for a professional comic artist.
What made you want to become a BL manga artist?
Ayu Yamane: In the beginning of my career, I had been drawing non-BL comics. But after I started exploring on the Internet and found some new BL comic artists’ websites, I realized what I really wanted to draw.
What manga or other works inspire your manga?
Ayu Yamane: Recently, M/M romance novels inspire me the most. But, I come up with ideas
from various media like news articles, movies, documentaries, etc.
Currently, we are publishing works from both earlier and later in your career on futekiya. Do you have any thoughts about how your manga has changed over the years?
Ayu Yamane: I didn’t expect that my drawing style would change so much. But the more I wanted to draw serious stories, the more I needed realistic characters.
Hanatorikazetsuki (花鳥風月) or The Beauties of Nature is released on futekiya today. What was it like creating Hanatorikazetsuki? Are there any scenes you want readers to pay attention to in particular?
Ayu Yamane: When I started drawing this comic, I didn’t intend that it became one long story. The first plan was an omnibus about flowers, birds, wind, and moon. So each chapter is based on one of these 4 subjects. The original title was 花鳥風月, a common term expressing a beauty of nature in Japanese. 花=flower, 鳥=bird, 風=wind, 月=moon. I’ll be glad if you enjoyed learning some tips of nature with four boys who have pure hearts.
In Hanatorikazetsuki, the scenes on page 31 and 68 in Chapter 3 are quiet and visually impactful. What was your thought process while writing this scene?
Ayu Yamane: First, I have to explain that there is a higher tolerance of fictional stories of relationships between adults and children in Japanese BL. (Of course, in reality, romantic relationships between adults and individuals under 18 is illegal in Japan, too!) So these scenes are viewed as just “cute scenes ” by most Japanese readers.
On page 31, Morito’s lips touching Tsumugi’s hand was just an accident. So Tsumugi’s heart skipped a beat. Regarding page 68, Morito was a precocious kid who decided to love and protect Tsumugi in their future. So that kiss was like a kind of reservation. Tsumugi just didn’t have a chance to avoid it.
And I think I also have to describe the scene where young Rikuo took a bath with his older brother. It is a very common custom that young children take a bath with their older family in Japan. Maybe it’s for security, because Japanese bathtubs are deep.
It’s up to you how you interpret those scenes. But if you are confused, I hope that my explanation helps you.
Do you have a favorite character out of all of the stories you have created? If so, who and why?
Ayu Yamane: Because they took a long time to finish the stories, Sabatora & Tsuchiya from The Stray and Kiyosaki & Sou from It’s Fine Even If It’s Just a Dream are my favorites.
Do you have any manga you would like to draw in the future?
Ayu Yamane: I’d like to draw comics that can get more red peppers on futekiya Library. (You understand what I mean.)
Do you read BL manga or BL works from outside of Japan? If so, do you have any recommendations?
Ayu Yamane: As I said, I love to read M/M romance novels though I haven’t read many titles yet. Currently, I am taking a reading lesson using the Diversion series by Eden Winters with a Scottish fujoshi teacher. Only its first book was published in Japanese and I couldn’t wait until the sequel was published. So I started reading its original books and in order to understand stories more, I asked the teacher to help me.
I haven’t come across foreign BL comics yet. I am really interested in it. If you have any recommendations, please let me know!
Thank you very much for allowing futekiya to release your work in English. What do you think about futekiya?
Ayu Yamane: It was my dream to publish my comics in English.
I really appreciate that you publish my comics on futekiya that is amazing platform. I think futekiya is in its babyhood and it must have a great future.
Finally, what is your message to the readers of futekiya?
Ayu Yamane: Thank you for your support! It is really exciting that my comics are read by the other countries’ readers. Its progress is slow but I’m drawing a brand new comic now. I’m looking forward to publishing it one day.
Thank you very much for your time, sensei!
Follow Ayu Yamane on social media:
Official Website: https://ayuyamane.wixsite.com/english
Ayu Yamane’s Works on futekiya
When That Day Comes
A school librarian, Arimura tries his best to educate his students. But, he has a hard time with one particular student named Hyuga. When an accident forces Hyuga to stay with Arimura over a weekend, Arimura sees a new side to Hyuga that might change everything.
Moja & I
Moja is an artist struggling to create on his terms. Nagara, his caring friend, tries to support him as best he can as they live their everyday lives.
The Magician in Room 306
The class Halloween party is coming up. Since no one else wants to do it, everyone pushes Keima to invite the sullen class loner, Kii, to the event. What they don’t know is that Kema and Kii have been close friends since childhood. But, Kii insists that Kema keep his distance at school so that Kii doesn’t ruin Kema’s popular image. No matter what Kii says, Keima believes Kii is amazing and wants to prove it him and everyone else, too.
Sabatora has been down on his luck. Needing money, Sabatora takes a break from college to work. His life changes, though, when Tsuchiya shows up like a knight in shining armor to take him out for food whenever he’s hungry. Despite (or because of) Tsuchiya’s kindness, Sabatora’s pride is hurt whenever Tsuchiya treats him and buys him gifts. How will each of them adjust as they realize their feelings are neither that of a stray cat and its owner or even just friends, but more romantic?
Necktie and Praying Mantis
A hardworking salaryman, Seiichi Natsuki has one weakness: he is scared of bugs. After work colleague Shun Tokita rescues him from one pesky praying mantis, Natsuki falls for Tokita and confesses to him. Tokita, though not initially attracted to men, accepts Natsuki’s feelings and deepens their relationship. But, when Natsuki faces pressure to have a family and marry, Natsuki realizes he might fear more than just insects… This collection of short stories also includes “Firework of Daisies,” “A Normal Life,” “Those Who Sin Against Us,” and other touching stories by Ayu Yamane!
It’s Fine Even If It’s Just a Dream
After a scandalous allegation of sexual harassment destroys his career and blossoming romance with a subordinate, Kiyosaki transfers to the countryside. But, the past trauma still haunts Kiyosaki even as he tries to settle into a new job. In his office, Kiyosaki’s coworkers have plenty of small-town charm and introduce him to the best local place to eat. There, he meets the cook, Sou, a curiously silent young man. Kiyosaki continues to cross paths with Sou he gradually adjusts to his new reality. But, one fateful drunken night pulls Kiyosaki into Sou’s life…
Don’t Cry, Little Squirrel
Sasa takes a part-time job at a local diner, only to be excitedly bombarded by one of the other staff – Kaede, a guy he met in summer camp when they were kids. Sasa remembers nothing about their first (and only!) encounter. But, Kaede never forgot. Does their time at summer camp have to do with Kaede turning down cute girls so he could make passes at Sasa? This one-shot is a fluffy slice-of-life comedy showing just how long first love can wait.
Across the Apple Orchard
In a prestigious boarding school, the wealthy Yoshino group’s young master struggles to find his place. Estranged from the student body and judged at every turn, his only friend is in Maki, a young man who works for the school. But when someone sets their sights on their budding friendship, is there still a way for them to stay together?
Ryu and Kotaro are close friends. One could even say, intimate friends. Every time he is in a sticky situation, Kotaro can find refuge at Ryu’s apartment. But, all this time, Ryu has harbored feelings of love for Kotaro. When Ryu decides to make a huge life change, he finally confesses his true feelings to Kotaro. How will this change their friendship?
futekiya Library subscribers have access to these titles and more!
What’s your favorite work by Ayu Yamane? We’d love to hear about it on our Twitter account!
About futekiya: BL manga subscription
In 2018, futekiya began as a Boys’ Love manga news and culture website operated by FANTASISTA, INC., a CG/VR production studio based in Tokyo, Japan. futekiya transformed into a budding global distributor of officially licensed BL manga in 2019.
futekiya launched as an online subscription service for officially licensed BL manga on July 8, 2019. Determined to connect fans around the world with English-translated BL legally and conveniently, futekiya empowers readers to support creators and the manga industry.
Readers who subscribe to futekiya and pay a flat monthly fee of $6.99 will have access to our expanding library of English-language manga. To subscribe, please go to read.futekiya.com and create an account. More information is in our guide.