What are BL Drama CDs and where can I find them?

One of the most popular forms of BL media in Japan is the drama CD, and now it’s easier than ever for yaoi fans to get their hands on it.

In one of the most hilarious moments of Sasaki and Miyano Episode 2, Sasaki caught Miyano listening to suspicious drama CDs in the school hallway, and Miyano was so embarrassed that he begged Sasaki to forget the whole encounter. The scene was not only funny because of Miyano’s reactions, but also because it was an accurate reference to a key part of the Boys’ Love or BL commercial market in Japan: listening to voice actors performing BL stories. But what are BL drama CDs really? And why has the media form not spread outside of Japan?

For starters, BL drama CDs have been part of Japanese BL culture for over 20 years; As long as there have been BLs in anime form, there have been BLs in CD form. This is partly because radio drama, and later drama CDs, have a rich history in Japan, thanks to the country’s vibrant dubbing industry. The idolization of voice actors in recent years has led to a lot more voice actor related merchandise, so the BL drama CD is just a natural extension of this trend.


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What are BL drama CDs?


The western equivalent of drama CDs is the audiobook, but audiobooks are generally longer and richer in narration. Drama CDs emphasize on-screen dialogue, with narration usually integrated into the performances. Additionally, drama CDs are often performed by well-known and professional voice actors. Given the acting and pacing, this form of media feels like anime without the visuals.

Compared to anime, drama CDs are much cheaper to produce and are primarily marketed to the mainstream audience of the original source material, making the BL genre a prime candidate for drama CD adaptations. First, explicit BL is not so easily adapted to anime due to its adult nature, and second, BL manga are usually short, one-volume stories that can easily fit into the 60 runtime 80 minutes from a CD. It is not uncommon to see BL drama CDs top the Oricon charts in Japan.


Where can fans find BL drama CDs?

BL drama CDs have mainly been a phenomenon for the Japanese market, mainly due to the language barrier, as producers cannot create subtitles for a CD like they do with anime. However, since many CDs are adapted from popular BL manga and many of these series now have official English releases, the manga can actually serve as pseudo-translations: fans can listen to a BL drama CD while following the Manga translated into English. With more and more BL series being translated every day, there’s no reason why BL fans who don’t understand Japanese can’t enjoy these well-produced and well-acted BL dramas.


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animate CD BL page

The easiest place to buy a BL drama CD is from Amazon Japan. The site has a wide selection of the latest releases, and fans can even search in English. The shipping rate is extremely affordable compared to other sites, and shipments tend to be fast. For those looking for something special, Animate International is one of the best places to find exclusive limited edition CDs, with extra clips and other bonuses. The site is also in English and has a CD BL section for easy navigation. In addition to these, there are also a myriad of proxy buying services that allow fans to purchase content directly from various Japanese sites.


What are the best BL drama CDs to start with?

One way to enter the world of BL drama CDs is with an ensemble series like Ze, created by Yuki Shimizu. It tells the story of a mysterious family of wizards, who have the power to use words to hurt others and to turn paper dolls into humans. The stories are a series of romances between the dolls and their masters, and they feature an all-star cast, including Ono Daisuke (Kujo Jotaro from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure) and Koyasu Takehito (Dio Brando also from Jojo) – and the two play a couple in this story. There are seven other couples featured in the series, so there’s plenty of romance to enjoy.


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For something a bit newer, there’s Yarichin female dog Club, based on the manga series by Ogeretsu Tanaka. This series is actually quite light on physical intimacy, but very explicit in terms of language. It features absolutely hilarious and unbalanced performances from some of the most prolific voice actors working today, including Kobayashi Yuusuke (Subaru in Re: zero) and Murase Ayumu (Hinata Shoyo in Haikyu!!).


yarichin female dog club CD vol 2

For less adult content, the recent one piece angel with Aoi Shouta (Gerald Stuart of My next life as a villain) and Sugita Tomokazu (Gintoki from Gintama) is a heartbreaking yet poignant story about acceptance and companionship in unlikely circumstances. That being said, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find BL drama CDs without explicit intimacy scenes, so be prepared to listen privately and with headphones.

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