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In this case, yaoi is used to describe titles that primarily feature sexually explicit themes and sex scenes, while shōnen-ai is used to describe titles that focus primarily on romance and omit explicit sexual content, although sexual acts may be implied.

and is used in Japanese gay slang to mean the receptive partner ("bottom") in anal sex.

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Zanghellini notes that illustrations of anal sex almost always position the characters to face each other, rather than in the 'doggy style.' Zanghellini also notes that the uke rarely fellates the seme, but instead receives the sexual and romantic attentions of the seme.

The possibility of switching roles is often a source of playful teasing and sexual excitement for the characters, indicating an interest among many genre authors in exploring the "performative nature" of the roles.

Although seme and uke roles are already used in some manga to describe which member of the relationship is more dominant and which member is more passive, there are just as many manga novels which subtly or overtly differentiate between the two.

A gay male who asks out another male can initiate the relationship but also enjoy the sensation of being a bottom in anal sex.

Aleardo Zanghellini suggests that the martial arts terms have special significance to a Japanese audience, as an archetype of the gay male relationship in Japan includes same-sex love between samurai and their companions.

Another way the seme and uke characters are shown is through who is dominant in the relationship - a character can take the uke role even if he is not presented as feminine, simply by being juxtaposed against and pursued by a more dominant, more masculine, character.By the end of the 1970s, magazines devoted to the nascent genre started to appear, and in the 1990s the wasei-eigo term boys' love or BL would be invented and would become the dominant term used for the genre in Japan.Although yaoi derives from girl's and women's manga and still targets the shōjo and josei demographics, it is currently considered a separate category.Shōnen-ai challenged young readers, who were often only able to understand the references and deeper themes as they grew older and instead were initially drawn to the figure of the male protagonist.The terms yaoi and shōnen-ai are sometimes used by Western fans to differentiate between two variants of the genre.The genre has spread beyond Japan, and both translated and original yaoi works are now available in many countries and languages.

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