“Gachimuchi” is a term commonly used by Japanese-speaking fans to talk about the sub-genre of gay or BL manga depicting characters drawn as muscular—sometimes exceptionally so—wrestler-like men. The art style for “gachimuchi” is perhaps more commonly known to the English-speaking fans as “Bara,” a term that is not used by Japanese fans in general.
“Gachimuchi” is written as ガチムチ and is born out of meshing two different words: ガチガチ (“gachigachi” or muscular) and ムチムチ (“muchimuchi” or plump), resulting in “gachimuchi” which implies an attractive, wrestler-like plump and muscular body type. It is different from the word “maccho”(マッチョ) since its nuanced meaning refers more to a bodybuilder’s muscular body type.
The word “gachimuchi” was first used in Japan’s gay community to describe men who are muscular (“gachigachi”) but still also has the attractive plump (“muchimuchi”) features. A lot of the art style for gay manga (“geikomi“) and popular illustrations, especially the ones appearing in the “Bara” message boards in the 1990s, were of the “gachimuchi” art style—leading to the misinterpretation of “Bara” as a name for that style by English-speaking fans.
However, some initiatives for gay comic magazines did not sell well due to BL’s popularity in the 1990s. At the beginning of the 2000s, many publishers began catering to female fans of muscle BL, resulting in some anthologies such as Kinniku-Otoko and Bakudan. Many geikomi artists whose styles are of the “gachimuchi” type participated, and by the end of 2003, a new sub-genre of gachimuchi BL was starting to gain traction. The modest but continuous popularity of this sub-genre later even sparked a particular publisher to create their own “Men’s Love” BL, intended to cater more to male, gay readers. The term “gachimuchi” itself, however, only started being commonly used and is no longer considered a gay community term for around the past five years.
Gachimuchi: Modern Usage
The Gachimuchi BL sub-genre is currently one of the popular BL subgenres in Japan. Both male and female BL mangaka, including geicomi artists, are contributing and adding to the large variety of gachimuchi BL, further diversifying this sub-genre as it caters to both male and female readers. Among English-speaking fans, however, “bara” continues to be the umbrella term to refer to BL manga featuring muscular men.
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.