Teens’ Love or TL is a Japanese literary genre for older female readers. It may contain obscene or sexual scenes or themes, but no depiction of genitals. The art style of TL is like shoujo or josei manga, but the stories are more mature. The target demographic is between late teens to around 30 years old. TL only features heterosexual relationships.
The main protagonists are always good-looking women, who may come from various backgrounds in life. Meanwhile, the male romantic interests tend to be handsome socialites, ranging from teenagers to middle-aged men and even non-human beings. Every character is past the age of consent, or 18 years old and above. The ending of TL stories often lead to happy endings. TL also divulges in serious topics, such as psychology in romance and real interpersonal relationships. One criticism that TL has is its repetitiveness; the art style and plot in TL stories tend to be similar across the board. Female protagonists often lack defining personalities, while the male romantic interests are out of touch from reality.
Teens’ love is often confused with other women’s literature due to its very vague nature. One literary genre associated with TL is ladies’ comics or “LadyKomi,” which are adult-oriented, dramatic and sexual, but lack refined art and writing style. It also contains very harsh themes like rape, incest, and prostitution. The only difference between ladies’ comics and teens’ love is that the latter caters to slightly younger adult women. It has a more attractive and cutesy art style similar to that of shoujo manga, rather than the crude depictions found within ladies’ comics. Female protagonists also give consent when having romantic intercourse with their male partners. TL writers avoid uncomfortable settings in their stories.
Harlequin romance also depicts relationships between female commoners and handsome male socialites. The story divulges more on the marital story and focuses less on sexual encounters.
Some TL writers also produce commercial works for boys’ love. This trivial connection associates boys’ love with teens’ love, despite the two genres having different audiences.
The word Teens’ Love or ティーンズラブ is a wasei-eigo. Wasei-eigo（和製英語） are Japanese loan words that utilize English words for Japanese terminologies. Despite its name and design being for teenagers, the contents and themes target adults.
A Brief History
The teens’ love genre has been around since the mid-1990s. They are published alongside josei and ladies’ comics. The two pioneering publishers of teens’ love were Eruteen Comics (エルティーンコミック) and Shoujo Kakumei (少女革命) or “Revolutionary Girl.” Older volumes of teens’ love were printed in the saddle-stitched A4 format. In 2009, teens’ love stories were printed in flat-stitched A5 or B6 format. They are also either published in the book format or as anthologies with many contributors. There was a time in the early 2000s when publishers utilized teens’ love as a label for novels, but this was later discontinued. Yet, publishing houses like France Shoin Inc. (フランス書院) launched teen’s love novelizations in 2009.
The “Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance Regarding the Healthy Development of Youths” or Bill 156 was passed in 2010 by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The controversial bill regulates and censors any explicit content from media platforms. As teens’ love is also affected by the bill, writers must depict characters as being 18 years old and above.
In 2012, YLC Sweet Kiss Bunko (YLC スイートキス文庫) by Ohzora Publishing (宙出版) launched teens’ love audiobooks.
The first teens’ love comics adapted into an anime series was Souryo to Majiwaru Shikiyoku no Yoru ni… (僧侶と交わる色欲の夜に…) or “On a Lustful Night Mingling with a Priest…”, which was broadcasted in 2017. The sexual scenes were cut for terrestrial broadcasting, and the uncensored version was only available on the Anime Theater X (アニメシアターX) cable subscription channel, or the Anime Zone (アニメZone) online service by ComicFesta.
Teens’ love stories are currently available as physical copies, e-books, audiobooks, light novels, and mobile comics. Readers can enjoy their romantic stories at the convenience of their devices without the judgment of others. Erotic stories for women are still considered a taboo, but female readers can enjoy and express their desires in the form of literature and multimedia.
Hori, Akiko,『欲望のコード―マンガにみるセクシュアリティの男女差』, Rinkawa Shoten, 2009
“ガテン男に溺愛されたい」「フェラはNG」TL編集者が明かす “女がエロに求めるモノ,” cyzo woman, https://www.cyzowoman.com/2014/11/post_14169_1.html, 23 November 2014, Retrieved 4 March 2020
Kanemura, Yuki 女だって性々堂々と ティーンズラブ 脳科学で読み解く, Chunichi Web, https://www.chunichi.co.jp/hokuriku/article/popress/feature/CK2015041702000211.html, 17 April 2015, Retrieved 4 March 2020
Pixiv Encyclopedia, https://dic.pixiv.net/a/ティーンズラブ, Retrieved 4 March 2020
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