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What is a Salaryman (and its relation to BL)?

If you read Boys’ Love (BL) manga, “salaryman” might be commonly used in various series you have read. The phrase is wasei eigo (Japanese-language expressions that use English words ) and refers to white-collar male workers, or men who work and receive a regular monthly salary from a private company in Japanese. Concerning the BL genre, the word “salaryman” refers to characters who have a stable job and salary, particularly those who work in companies and wear suits. BL stories depicting salarymen commonly have an office setting. They have been quite popular for a long time that it’s easy to think of one off the top of your head–the massive hit series Ten Count by Takarai Rihito, for example, or the highly popular Kurui Naku wa Boku no Ban by Keri Kusabi.

 

Etymology

Salaryman (written as サラリーマン with katakana) is a word derived from two different English words; “salary” (サラリー) and “man” (マン). The meaning is relatively straightforward. It simply refers to a man who has a stable job and gets a regular salary from the private company where they work. The word salaryman is often abbreviated simply into “riiman” (リーマン), especially when used as a BL subgenre.

 

Brief History

The word “salaryman” often appears in daily conversations in Japan. However, with the rise of social media, the image of a salaryman (and salaried workers in general) has been worsening. The strongest image associated with salaryman is perhaps that of a corporate slave: workaholic and overworked people alike with insane overtime hours and very little time for themselves.

Within the BL genre, the image of Salaryman plays in the line between fantasy and reality. The ideal concept of a salaryman is one with financial security, the enticing good-looking and neat figure in a suit, the sense of professionalism, contrasted with the common social issues readers can easily relate: the feeling of loneliness, the exhausting routine, the sometimes insane work hours, the office environment. BL salaryman has long been a subgenre of BL that is widely beloved and popular, and certainly no without reasons.

 

Salaryman: Modern Usage

If you first stumbled upon this word on the Internet and not in a BL context, you might already have a rather negative image of a salaryman. Not only are they often called corporate dogs, but a lot of Japan’s actual social issues and concerns also involve this group of people, including the high rate of suicide and inhumane overtime hours. It is complicated further by the unemployment rates and the rise in companies hiring outsourced, temporary workers, causing the salaryman’s image to worsen as time goes.

 

However, in relation to BL, characters who are salarymen enjoy quite a popularity among the audience. Office workers’ relationship is a widely beloved and popular BL setting, as it offers stories and a worldview of older characters that are quite different from, for example, BL depicting high school stories. Additionally, characters who already have their lives together and enjoy financial security as an office worker at a company does hold their own charms. Try a peek at some of the salaryman BL you can access in futekiya, such as The Man on The Other Side by Ueno Poteto, or Necktie and Praying Mantis by Ayu Yamane! There is no shortage in the variety of BL featuring salarymen, so if this subgenre fits your taste, don’t forget to browse through futekiya’s Salarymen tag to find some of the best manga featuring salarymen!

 

About futekiya: BL manga subscription

Boys' Love Manga Subscription Service futekiya promotional image

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.

 

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