Interviews

The Yaoi Army Wants You to Support Creators: Exclusive Interview with Seru

The Yaoi Army: Recruiting the Global BL Fan

Over the past decade, Boys’ Love manga has seen a burst of popularity outside Japan. More and more publishers are releasing official English volumes, and scanlation groups continue to produce fan translations for a ravenous audience. The global BL boom hasn’t only prompted more English translations of Japanese BL manga. Creators and companies around the world influenced by Japanese BL have mobilized to meet the demand for male-on-male content.

Los Angeles-based The Yaoi Army is one such company. Since 2015, this start-up publisher has produced print, digital and goods for their original BL content created with a Western audience in mind. On Aug. 6, 2018, The Yaoi Army launched their BL platform where readers can register for an all-access-pass to their webcomics. Currently, The Yaoi Army has ten series and is actively recruiting BL/yaoi creators.

  • Fujoshi Trapped in a seme's Perfect Body 3 The Yaoi Army

The Yaoi Army differs from webcomic platforms like Lezhin by offering a monthly subscription. However, the illegal uploads and piracy plague this start-up as well. Much like A Man of Virtue‘s GGGANG-E and other Japanese and Korean BL creators, The Yaoi Army discovered their original series Fujoshi Trapped in a Seme’s Perfect Body leaked onto Myreadingmanga and Mangago on Sept. 7, 2018. These aggregator websites have since removed the series by the time of this article’s publication.

The Yaoi Army A Fujoshi Trapped in a Seme Body leak on myreadingmanga

Seru, The Yaoi Army’s founder,  talked with futekiya about the company, scanlations, and illegal uploads.

Content creators are already working so much and getting paid so little. They deserve some support.”

futekiya: Could you please introduce yourself and The Yaoi Army?

Seru: My name is Seru, writer and founder of The Yaoi Army. The Yaoi Army is a start-up company based in Los Angeles, focusing on Boys’ Love content.

futekiya:: How big is The Yaoi Army team?

Seru: As of right now, we have 8 artists, 3 creators (artist/writer), 1 writer, 2 editors and myself.

futekiya: What inspired you to start The Yaoi Army?

Seru: I enjoy BL a lot, so I started making my own content. It began as a hobby and turned into a small business.

futekiya: What sets your work apart from BL manga and webcomics from Japan and Korea?

Seru: Our content is created by keeping in mind Western’s sensibilities and western pop culture. That’s what sets us apart with Japan and Korean comics. Importantly, we offer fully uncensored content.

futekiya: We noticed in The Yaoi Army’s recruitment posts that you pay more than Webtoons and Lezhin. Could you explain what makes The Yaoi Army different from Webtoons and Lezhin?

Seru: Lezhin and Webtoons are corporations and with corporations, they have investors who will want some return of investments. Also, bigger companies have a lot of employees, meaning a lot of overhead and miscellaneous costs. In short, huge companies like Lezhin and Webtoons have to spend so much money on a lot of things from manpower, marketing, rent, to their CEO, etc. before they can pay their content creators.

The Yaoi Army, on the other hand, is a small start-up company made up of extremely talented members. Being a small company we have very little costs in terms of overhead and manpower. We own 100% of our intellectual property, and we produce and distribute our own material directly to consumers. Meaning, there is no middle-man, and we retain almost all the profits which are shared among our members.

futekiya: What is the most difficult aspect of starting your own exclusive webcomic platform?

Seru: The most difficult aspect is to create such a platform. The second challenge is to make content and next is to drive traffic to your platform.

futekiya: What future do you see for The Yaoi army?

Seru: BL’s popularity is exponentially growing. In just more than two years, we’ve built our fanbase from zero to almost a quarter million. I see The Yaoi Army growing with our fan base by expanding our content offerings.

Regarding the Recent Leak:


SeruIllegal upload and pirating are the biggest risks in this industry. People who usually pirate are not our customers in the first place. We just don’t want our work floating around on the internet. We already submitted DMCA and takedown notices on those sites.

futekiya: Would it be possible to know how you found out the name of the uploader and the uploads themselves?

Seru: The work has safety features that are specific to the digital copy it was sent to. The person, unfortunately, lives in China and US laws are pretty much useless. Our site now doesn’t sell to people who live in Taiwan and China.

futekiya: As a result of this incident?

Seru: Yes, 80% of our customers are from the US and if they try to leak we can sue them. 15% come from the EU/Australia/Canada. US laws still protect us. 5% Other~

futekiya: Ahh, I see. Thank you for clarifying this.

Seru: This is the first time our work has been leaked after so many years in business (two years and nine months to be exact). With growth, you attract people who have malicious intent.

futekiya: How would this be different than the chapter of Sweet Boy on myreadingmanga?

Seru: The chapter of Sweet Boy was free to read on Webtoons and Tapas. It was just re-uploaded their without permission. The works that were leaked are the Ad-free files from our catalog. Exclusive print content is still safe.

By safe, you mean it hasn’t been scanned and uploaded?

Our works haven’t been scanned. The digital files are the ones that were uploaded. Our paperback has exclusive content only found in the book. The paperback version has extra content compared to the digital copy.

Regarding Scanlations and Illegal Uploads

futekiya: When you find illegal translations of your work, what actions do you take to stop it?

Seru: We send a formal cease and desist letter to the website’s owner or registered agent. If that doesn’t work, we send it to their host provider. Sending it to their host provider usually does the trick and our content is removed almost immediately.

futekiya: Our team discovered Sweet Boy Chapter 1 on myreadingmanga.info along with a comment asking for its removal from your team. Could you possibly talk about that experience?

Seru: We did message myreadingmanga.info about it. However, they keep changing their host providers and the current one is somewhere in Russia. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) doesn’t affect them, unfortunately.

futekiya: Would you care to comment about scanlation and illegal uploads of artists’ work?

Seru: Scanlations have been around for the longest time. It all started with Japanese manga and anime and it has extended to Chinese and Korean content. I can say that it is a double-edged sword. One, it exposes the Western audience to content that they wouldn’t necessarily encounter and eventually they become fans of the work. The bad thing is, if the work is officially licensed in English, they will not buy the work since it’s available online for free.

The scanlation culture that we have in the west is obviously not good for foreign content creators. Western readers expect manga or webcomic content should be free. Mind you, these same demographics spend $5 per coffee or boba tea, but they wouldn’t pay a dollar for content that they enjoy. Just take a quick look at the app reviews of Lezhin on Google Play or the App store and you’ll see the entitled attitude of readers.

As for us, our work has been illegally translated into Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, Arabic, etc. It hurts us because we don’t want our work to be translated without our approval. It’s plain disrespectful.

Ultimately, readers need to be educated that content creators need financial support in order for them to create the content they enjoy. Content creators are already working so much and getting paid so little. They deserve some support.

You can find read The Yaoi Army’s webcomic on their official website. If you want to hear more about artists’ response to illegal uploads, be sure to read GGANG-E’s interview.

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