9 Danmei 耽美

Trisha Nguyen



Danmei (Chinese: 耽美; pinyin: dānměi) is a Chinese literary and fictional genre that focuses on romantic relationships between male characters. Danmei direct translation means “indulging beauty”(dan耽-indulge in, abandon oneself to; mei美-: beauty), however, the term is used as slang to represent boys’ love (or BL). The Japanese Yaoi/shounen ai(which also stands for BL) inspired the genre of Danmei. It became a niche genre of literature in China in the 1990s through the pirated Taiwanese translation of Japanese Yaoi mangas.  The term danmei derives from the Japanese word tanbi (, “aestheticism”), and Chinese fans often use danmei and BL interchangeably. Since the 1990s, several online forums specifically for danmei were founded and run by amateur fans, who later gained more experience and become experts in this genre. Nowadays, many danmei forums are still run mostly by amateur fans and small authors, along with many recognizable names. Even though the stories about male-male love seem to attract mostly gays and people in the LGBTQ+ community, straight women actually have been reported as predominant in the community. Danmei is thought to have a “female perspective” and a “heteronormative frame” because it is primarily created and consumed by heterosexual women. Danmei fans cite equality between partners as part of the genre’s appeal, particularly in comparison to heterosexual romance. Danmei has inspired an explosion of adaptations into graphic novels, animation, live-action dramas, and audio dramas in recent years, and has made its way into mainstream culture despite China’s ever-tightening state censorship. Danmei’s works are always centered on a male romance but otherwise vary greatly. Many use tropes and settings from Chinese literary wuxia and xianxia, as well as elements from other genres such as sports or science fiction. Many fans started reading danmei because of its variation in terms of plot, background, characters’ design, etc. compares to traditional romance novels.  Now, Danmei has gained popularity beyond the Chinese border with several popular adaptations such as manhua (comics), donghua(animation), audio dramas, and live-action television series. One of the most popular adaptions of the genre is “untamed” drama (other names: Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation) by Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù 墨香铜臭 and other works by her.


  1. “The husky and his white cat shizun” is a very popular danmei by creator/author “Meatbun Doesn’t Eat Meat”.
  2. Most popular Danmei properties originate as web novels, which are published serially on websites like Jinjiang Literature City, Liancheng Read, and Danmei Chinese Web.


“Click Bait.” Click Bait | the Economist, www.economist.com/china/2015/11/14/click-bait.

Tan, Hazel, and Jodie Tanco. “5 Popular Danmei Web Novels You Should Read.” Chinoy TV 菲華電視台, 27 Dec. 2020, www.chinoy.tv/5-popular-danmei-web-novels-you-should-read.

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Danmei 耽美 Copyright © 2023 by Trisha Nguyen. All Rights Reserved.

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