***As the title of this post says, some content in this post will be NSFW. It’s not full nudity, but it’s pretty clear what’s going on. So, you’ve been warned, okay?***
I’m a lover of many things, music, film, television, sports, anime, gaming, a lot of various forms of entertainment. But the one thing that’s unusual about my love for these many things, is rarely in more art-centered forms of entertainment do I actually gush about single persons within the industry. I’m a big music fan, but I gush about bands like Iron Maiden, Dream Theater and Rush, but I don’t specifically go into detail about just Bruce Dickinson, Mike Portnoy, or Geddy Lee. I love watching films, but you’ll rarely hear me gush about single actors/actresses, same goes for gaming, you won’t hear me often talk about members of the teams that make these games.
When it comes to anime, the same still applies. I recognize voices from voice actors through Japanese shows, but I’m not on much of a name-recalling basis with them. Even more, this applies to those who draw anime art. I’ve taken in so much anime art over the course of my life since I really discovered anime for the first time at the age of 14, yet I couldn’t tell you many names of those who draw it. However, there are a few names that do strike enough of a chord with me that I make sure to remember their names, or their artist names if that’s how they go by.
I figured if I was going to start anywhere with this kind of post, I’d start with the most integral artists that brought a significant change in my life. After all, it’s really only been less than a year since I fully accepted my newfound bisexuality, though the curiosity has been around for perhaps a year or two more on top of that. It’s a change I never would’ve anticipated when I was younger and a change that still to this day surprises me and almost feels weird that it’s happened, especially given the circumstances of my bisexuality.
But enough about me, you can read more about it here. But now, it’s time to give the spotlight to the two artists in particular that really started me opening my eyes to the opposite sex. The two were members of a now defunct circle of BL artists known as BlackMonkey-Pro and they go by the names of Mazjojo and Zamius.
The majority of what these two artists draw is BL (boy love), but there’s a concentration towards “bara” art, which specifically isn’t the same as “yaoi” art. For those unfamiliar with the terms, or the fact they’re different, yaoi art is gay art intended for a female audience, it tends to feature overly pretty boys, usually very slender, elegant and is a very romantic-centered level of artwork. Bara on the other hand is gay art that is designed for a male audience, it features more “manly” characters, including things like muscular physiques, body fat and body hair, but the art is generally circled around guys with big muscles. The range of characters drawn in this art style is all over the place, some will center around older men akin to the “bear culture” and there’s quite a demand for it. But for me personally, that side of the bara culture doesn’t fit me at all, as I’m generally interested in younger males, but even more because I think the way a lot of these older, manly guys are drawn, it’s just a little too much.
The other side of the bara style is what grabbed my attention. These males still retain the traditional style of muscular physiques, but they’re younger and still have a bit of that pretty boy side that also grabs my attention, thus getting me further interested in the style itself. Some of these male characters aren’t even necessarily large, hulking body types either, a lot of these characters are that of high school/college ages, but just have that ripped, overly muscular physique that the style adheres to and that specifically is what got me in. The kings of this art and in my opinion still are the best at it, are the two I mentioned, Mazjojo and Zamius, though I will admit that Mazjojo is the one who’s truly stood out for me and is the one I follow the most out of any yaoi artist out there right now.
The first time I ever came across these two, it was because of art that was endlessly tossed around of the popular anime Free!, which was really the first anime I became aware of in terms of having attractive anime boys. Before Free!, I could watch pretty much any show and I wasn’t hearing an immense amount of chatter about how hot the guys in the show were. Sure, there were always shows that got that kind of attention from female and gay anime fans alike, but Free! was the first one where I couldn’t avoid the chatter at all, it was always there, whether it was message boards, news sites, podcasts, image galleries, all that jazz. So when I started seeing artwork from Mazjojo specifically, something strange happened: I didn’t ignore it like I had with all the other yaoi fan art I had seen before it. Instead, I took a much longer look at the art, specifically these character posters that Mazjojo had done of various characters in the series.
I was so mesmerized by them, the art was so well-drawn, which is my big thing with anime art, I’m a giant quality critic when it comes to anime art. I watch people faun over art of their favourite characters, but it’s so terribly drawn that I can’t elicit a single reaction beyond disgust with it, ESPECIALLY if the art is 18+. But Mazjojo’s work did a first, it had me interested in anime art that featured zero female characters in it. It was just good looking dudes drawn superbly well. And that’s when the rabbit hole appeared and while I hesitated at first, eventually I dove into it and my journey truly began.
As is much bara art, shirts are not exactly the most common thing you’ll see in that kind of art. A lot of both artist’s work tend to also revolve around the beach or pool, or a hot springs, shower, whatever water is a major theme in and an easy excuse to have characters with no shirts on and in many cases, a lot less. The art also tends to stay away from more conservative clothing, it’s very rare for these characters to be wearing swimwear and underwear that covers up a lot, like the picture above from Zamius here, that type of swimwear is extremely rare for these characters to be wearing. The majority of the time, it’s briefs, whether swim briefs or underwear briefs. After all, the less skin that’s covered, the sexier the art is, right?
Both have a lot of original characters as well and have quite a number of doujins and even a few visual novels to their credit. And that’s what I also like about their art, it’s not just fan art of already established characters. They have quite a few of them, such as the Free! cast like I mentioned earlier, but other well-known characters like Gray Fullbuster (Fairy Tail), Daichi Sawamura (Haikyuu!!) hell even Sora (Kingdom Hearts) gets some love from the artists. There’s a great variety to go through with them, whether you want something familiar, or something completely different.
Without showing anything explicit, of course, what really did the job for me was the 18+ art. Sure, I could’ve kept giving the thumbs up to really well drawn anime art of guys in speedos and their underwear and maybe even them completely naked, but it was going to take being okay with seeing art of two (or in some cases more than two) guys going at it. And even beyond that, the art had to also be uncensored, which for those who enjoy gay anime art, that’s the real difficult find. To have gay anime art both high in quality and uncensored, that’s a massive rarity. In this age where Japan still censors all its sexual material, finding really good uncensored art is difficult enough for heterosexual sex, but gay sex? Now that is where things get tricky. But with the BlackMonkey-Pro guys, that wasn’t an issue. The majority of their stuff was uncensored and relatively easy to find. So once I went further down the rabbit hole again and found these kinds of images, the quality was just so good and because I now had that curiosity instilled in my brain, I wasn’t going to look away in disgust.
Granted, it really helped because not only was the drawing styles of both Mazjojo and Zamius already really good and really high quality, but the characters they generally chose to draw weren’t too over the top for me, in the sense of what I mentioned earlier with the more older, “manly” kind of men that bara art is traditionally known as. These two, their choices were like a hybrid of all the things I was beginning to like with yaoi/BL art. I wanted 18-30 aged characters, I didn’t want them to be overly barrel-chested, looking like they were 250+ pounds, I wanted them to be a mixture of muscular and pretty. With these two, that’s exactly what I got, a bunch of guys who look like they’re in their 20s, don’t look too over-the-top, have pretty boy hair and eyes and generally speaking just carrying the posture and personality of someone who’s looking to be submissive in a sexual relationship.
And well, I suppose having really nice butts helped too…
So in the end, Mazjojo and Zamius together with their fantastic drawing ability, their diverse cast of both established and original character and the fact that they were a rarity in uncensored gay anime art, they ended up being the two artists that really kickstarted my transition from a heterosexual male, to a bisexual male. It was their art that made me look at men in a different light and though it’s still within the confines of anime and fiction that I still keep my attractions to men going (as I haven’t found a real-life male I’m physically attracted to), without their art, I never would have even considered gay sex as a thing I’d even remotely thought about beyond my lack of interest in it.
That’s how good their art is, at least to my own eyes. In fact, in my opinion I truly believe Mazjojo is the best yaoi artist out there right now. There are other artists out there along with Zamius like Mikkoukun, lvlv and Torakichi that are also fantastic artists and deserve some of the spotlight themselves. But Mazjojo and Zamius are the cream of the crop when it comes to gay anime art. They’re the ones who made me curious and eventually go down the rabbit hole, hence the article I’ve dedicated to their artwork here.
So with that being said, thanks for checking out this article! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to bed with some thoughts, as ironically enough at the time I’ve finished writing this article, it’s 11:30pm and after going through galleries of their stuff, I’m in a bit of a…shall we say tense sort of situation?