I consider myself an advocate of the delicious oyaji. At least advocate sounds better than raving fangirl madly attempting to brainwash others. *ahem* As a follow-up to my oyaji BL manga primer, here’s a selection of great romance manga featuring older men. Romance for adults. Not necessarily the naughty kind, but the grown-up kind.
You’ll notice this list is much smaller, especially since I went ahead and independently covered a number of the titles. Unfortunately, romancing older men isn’t a terribly common theme, at least not as the main focus of a manga. And perhaps it’s the MAL mod speaking, but I don’t use the term “romance” lightly. A genuine, powerful draw between two characters must be the main focus to make this list. So here’s a selection of my favorite titles featuring an oyaji in a romantic story within some selected shoujo, josei, seinen, and BL manga.
& by Okazaki Mari
length: 5 volumes (ongoing)
& is all about discovering love when you weren’t looking for it and/or desperately avoiding it! There’s a feisty oyaji, a younger rival, and some steamy scenes. See the complete blog entry for a proper introduction.
The oyaji: Yagai Kouga
45. Surgeon. Single. Infamous for his dirty old man bluntness, yet still fairly liked. Always walks around with his left hand hidden in his coat pocket. Hates cars and prefers to ride his bicycle everywhere. Even to love hotels~
Sensei no Kaban by Kawakami Hiromi / Taniguchi Jiro
type: seinen, slice of life, episodic
length: 2 volumes (complete)
Sensei no Kaban is a manga adaptation of an award-winning novel that shows the friendship and love between Tsukiko, a 37 year old office worker, and her former Japanese teacher, now in his late 60’s. It contains short stories of their encounters: conversations at the local sushi bar, spring flower viewings, mushroom picking… all connected by the unexpected pull between these two people who appear so different, yet are surprisingly similar. Eventually their casual, unplanned meetings turn into something with intent. It’s a very natural process, passing into an awkward phase until they both admit they want something more, despite their profound age difference. It’s never overly mushy, but moving even at its leisurely pace.
The oyaji: Matsumoto Harutsuna, AKA Sensei
Late 60’s. Former Japanese teacher. Previously married (estranged wife now deceased), has one son. Collects old teapots and even old batteries, claiming he can’t throw away things that work so hard for you.
Ichiban Nagai Yoru wo Yoroshiku by Takyu Yoko
length: 1 volume (ongoing)
Nagaoka Sachiko is a 27 year old woman whose live-in boyfriend abruptly left her. A coworker drags her out to a club to meet some fresh men. She bumps into an older man who turns out to be the fairly popular DJ, Carlos. They talk and get to know each other a bit. However, Sachiko doesn’t realize she’s already met this man.
By day, the DJ is her incredibly awkward and bizarrely dressed boss, Karube. The female workers treat Karube with considerable disgust (that is mostly undeserved!), including Sachiko. So it’s quite a shock when Sachiko learns they are the same man. He never hid that fact and there was never a good time to break it to her that the seemingly very different men were actually the same person. This little bit of drama is over fairly quickly and it moves onto her learning more about his not-so-different sides, forming a relationship, and dealing with past relationships. Sachiko is typically self-reliant and level-headed, so she has to learn to let go a bit and trust in this seemingly not very confident, bumbling man.
The oyaji: Karube Saburou
Karube is 47 years old and recently divorced. His confidence decimated, he over-compensates, which can lead to more problems and misunderstandings. He’s a fair and helpful boss, even if the women avoid direct eye contact because of his horrific dress and unassertive manner.
Karube loves music and moonlights as a DJ. While he wears nice clothes at the club and is popular with the ladies, if you look closely, his bad taste creeps in and the prints can be a bit off.
Fantasy by Okachimachi Hato
type: mature, drama
length: 1 volume (complete)
Fantasy has the largest age gap I’ve seen to date: 45 years! It was already covered in detail.
The oyaji: Jin
Jin is a 59 year old police officer who is close to retirement. He’s assigned to look after Rumi because he’s not scared of her mind-reading powers. He’s no saint, but admirably resists her strong advances. He’s a widower with an adult daughter and granddaughter who often spend time with Rumi.
Ojikoi by Tsutsumi Kakeru
type: shoujo, comedy
length: 1 volume (ongoing)
Ojikoi is a rare treat–it’s a shoujo manga that features a romance with an older man. While josei and BL have a dedicated and expanding oyaji niche, shoujo manga lags behind. But Ojikoi is a great start.
Sanjou Arashi (nicknamed “Ran-chan”) is a high school student who works part time at an agency that does private investigations and odd jobs. She’s quite serious and has a strong sense of responsibility that offsets her boss, Kageyama, a man seemingly more interested in goofing off and smoking than running the place. Being a smart girl, Ran starts to notice that this isn’t quite true. The boss can be quite reliable and she’s drawn to the kindness hidden beneath his eccentricities.
The oyaji: Kageyama Kiichi
Kageyama smokes, likes pachinko, and is quite messy. He runs his own small agency and while he’s immature and irresponsible at times, he does try to take care of Ran. If he doesn’t keep her out of trouble, he’ll at least pull her out of it after she finds trouble!
Kageyama is great at throwing out mixed signals. After sharing a brief, spontaneous, and chaste kiss, he acts like nothing is different, much to Ran’s frustration. However, when Ran takes his flippant offer to sit in his lap while watching fireworks, his composure is visibly shaken. Ran asked what his first name was and he replied that it was a secret and he’ll tell her once she becomes an adult. He likes being called “boss.”
Kanemochi-kun to Binbou-kun by Hideyoshico
length: 1 volume (complete)
I’ve been only lukewarm towards Hideyoshico so far. I just didn’t have the enthusiasm that everyone else seemed to have. Yet I came back for more, hoping for more. And I found it–I think there’s something really beautiful in Kanemochi-kun to Binbou-kun. The surface plays out just as the title indicates–rich kid versus poor kid. Rich kid learns life and love lessons through poor kid and such. But by the second chapter, we see there’s more going on. This is a romance story at its core–and not just the romance between the two boys. We also see the shadow of an already lost love play out vicariously in the present.
Meiji Haruhito (Kanemochi-kun/the rich boy) just can’t understand Misaki (Binbou-kun/the poor boy), but quickly falls for him anyway. However, Haruhito’s love life (and staring role) is under threat. Not from a cute girl or ex-lover, but from his own grandfather. The boys’ grandfathers knew each other when they were young and Haruhito’s grandpa is just delighted when he meets Misaki, who looks and acts like his late friend and unrequited love.
Just so you don’t get the wrong impression, grandpa isn’t a dirty pervert. Misaki’s grandfather saved his life during the war when they were both young students and is an incredibly important person to him. His past love was never spoken aloud or acted upon in any way. Seeing a young Misaki is just like reliving those old times and feelings and we literally see his appearance revert back to his younger self. This is a clever device–not only does it help visualize how he is revitalized and grasping onto these memories (and not young Misaki himself), but it also protects the unspoken rule in most BL manga where truly old people aren’t allowed to be in major romantic roles (BOOOOO HISSSS). So publishers/many fujoshi are still happy that the bishie quota is met and some of us get to enjoy an old man and his wistful love. Clever girl. Haruhito has to overcome this formidable opponent and do what his grandfather never could–fulfill his love in the present before it’s too late.
The oyaji: Chairman Meiji
Old enough to have a grandson in high school, who he is the chairman of. Successful, rich, and snappy dresser–he rocks a nice pink suit. Would have likely died in the fire bombings if Misaki’s grandfather hadn’t pushed him to survive.
Otoko no Isshou by Nishi Keiko
length: 3 volumes + 1 spin-off volume (complete)
Two people rediscover love after having shut themselves off from the possibility of experiencing it again. Starts with some unconventional cohabitation, a flippant proposal, and goes from there. See the full blog entry for more info.
The oyaji: Kaieda Jun
51. Well-known philosophy professor. Had a strong admiration for his own professor in the past, who was also the protagonist’s grandmother. Never married, no children. Knows what he likes and goes for it!
Hana wa Saku ka by Hidaka Shoko
length: 3 volumes (ongoing)
You know, out of all the oyaji BL manga that I read, most don’t seem very romantic or slow to develop that romance. Perhaps it’s the writing or story length, but it tends to either fall flat or just not focus on the romantic aspects of a relationship. Hana wa Saku ka breaks that pattern.
Sakurai literally stumbles into a college student one day. The younger Youichi was aloof, not talkative, and uninterested. At first, their clashing personalities just seem to cause agitation. However, they keep crossing paths and eventually a spark of curiosity is lit in both who couldn’t be bothered by such things previously. At times, Youichi seems to be calmer of the two, yet he displays an arrogance that only a 19 year old is capable of, haha. The relationship has a nice, intense build-up and it’s all conveyed beautifully by Hidaka Shoko’s artwork.
The oyaji: Sakurai Kazuaki
37. Works very long hours for an advertising agency, so much that he doesn’t have much time or motivation for outside interests or hobbies.
Amatsu Sora Naru by Mori Hinoto
type: josei, romance
length: 1 volume (complete)
Chidori is the heir to a household that has practiced Japanese tea ceremony for generations, but she has no personal interest in these traditions or carrying on the family business. She’s more enamored with modern and foreign trends and attends an American university. However, she’s called back to Japan and has to endure her strict mother and uncomfortable, constricting kimono.
Chidori meets a local kimono merchant and cleaner, Saiuchi Tsumugi. Although Tsumugi always maintains a polite smile, his words are sharp and he’s not shy about sharing criticism. Although a bit harsh and hard to read, he never completely rebuffs Chidori. She is intrigued by Tsumugi, always finding herself drawn back to his shop. But before she can get to know him better, she has to deal with her mother’s plans for an arranged marriage. With Tsumugi’s (not particularly gentle) encouragement, Chidori has to assert herself and decide her own future.
The oyaji: Saiuchi Tsumugi
42 years old. His store sells and cleans kimono. He’s not a dry cleaner–his shop practices the arai hari cleaning method in which the kimono is taken apart, the panels are washed separately, and then resewn together. Although he’s quite skilled in traditional practices and most often seen wearing kimono, he has interest and experience in foreign affairs and culture. Chidori’s mother offhandedly warned her not to become interested in Tsumugi, which was a bit of a mystery.
Love, Hate, Love by Yamashita Tomoko
length: 1 volume (complete)
A young woman decides to experience all the joys life has to offer that she’s denied herself before, including hot old men! See full blog entry for more info.
The oyaji: Nuihara Keisuke
52. German culture professor. Never married. Down to earth personality. Enjoys a good drink and smoke.
Shuuden na Futari (Shuuden na Kankei) by Tatada Yoshio(?)
length: 0 volumes (complete)
From the oyaji-centric digital magazine Oyajism, Shuuden na Futari is a delight. Hibari works long hours and inevitably rides the last train home. It’s not all bad–she also runs into the train station worker, Yokose. Yokose is kind and polite, looking out for Hibari as she often sleeps defenselessly (and with a bit of drool) on her way home. Their brief encounters are a bright spot in her hectic days. It’s a slow romance as two strangers progress from being polite, to friendly, to that point where they have to figure out if there’s something else. The characters are simple, yet refreshing.
The oyaji: Yokose
Yokose is about 20 years older than Hibari. He’s a diligent worker, but a bit scatter brained. Yokose may be clumsy, but he’s self-aware enough to always have a spare pair of glasses and an extra uniform. Due to his frequent accidents, he’s abnormally fast at changing his clothes. Sometimes when he’s trying to pack customers into trains during rush hour, he gets pushed onto the train himself. Both Yokose’s actions and faults are endearing. He has a great smile.
Hotaru no Hikari by Hiura Satoru
type: josei, slice of life, comedy, work relationships
length: 15 volumes (complete)
The 27 year old, “dried up” Hotaru experiences romance once again after 5 years of a carefree, unattached, and listless lifestyle. This 15 volume series develops several close relationships, with the most important, life-changing one being that with her 41 year old boss, Takano. Over the course of the series, an unforced, comfortable bond naturally forms between the two and culminates romantically near the end.
At the beginning, Hotaru and Takano live in the same house. There’s no funny business going on here. On a whim, Takano’s father allows Hotaru to cheaply rent his house while he travels. Not knowing this, Takano decides to move in following a separation with his wife. After finding Hotaru literally squatting there, they reach an understanding and decide to share the place. It’s here where the two create a supportive, comfortable atmosphere they both need, one they eventually realize they can’t be without. While Hotaru’s messy habits in private vexes him at first, he grows fond of her crazy nature that no one else knows of, not even her boyfriend. Hotaru herself learns more about personal relationships and how to think about other people from him. Basically, they both grow and become better people by just being with each other.
Things eventually start to change. Early on, Takano encourages Hotaru’s relationship with another younger man. At one point, he realizes he’s not comfortable with her bringing another man come and that sets off the confusion that will eventually lead to something… more. At this point of their relationship, we’re 10+ volumes into the series, so you need to hang in there for the oyaji loving part! You’ll get a good reward at the end.
The oyaji: Takano Seiichi
Kinou Nani Tabeta? by Yoshinaga Fumi
type: seinen, slice of life, cooking, episodic
length: 7 volumes (ongoing)
One thing I hate about romance stories is that they often end when the two characters get together. God forbid someone write a good story about two people who share their life. That’s exactly what Kinou Nani Tabeta? does–it’s about two gay lovers who live together. And trust me, Yoshinaga Fumi is exactly the person you want writing it.
The main character, Shirou, is a serious, older man who loves to cook. To Shirou, there’s nothing more important or joyful than creating a well-balanced meal for a good price and sharing it. Maybe I’m boring, but that simplistic desire and their interactions seem really romantic to me~ Just… don’t read this if you’re hungry!
The oyaji: Kakei Shirou
43. Lawyer. Loves to cook and is excellent at it as well. Good nutrition and being frugal are very important. Waste is a sin. Looks young for his age, making others suspicious and jealous–likely due to his balanced, meticulous diet and exercise.
Ai ni Toshi no Sa Nante by Igarashi Ran
type: shoujo, comedy
length: 1 volume (complete)
Kazusa is an ordinary high school girl that’s madly in love. She often visits the house of the super rich, popular, and sexy Itsuki-senpai. However, Kazusa isn’t there to see Itsuki, but his older butler, Yagi Shinemon. Can Kazusa defeat the age difference and obtain true love? And what about Yagi? Although polite on the surface, Yagi is not thrilled at this threatening, bratty girl hovering around his young master, who he so carefully raised himself.
This is a bonus title since it’s not technically romance, but it certainly would be if she had her way! Since Kazusa is 15, she’s worried Yagi would be labeled as a lolicon, so she so magnanimously decides to wait until she’s 30 before “making her move.” Since she’s a fellow karesen just trying to get her
prey man, I needed to acknowledge her efforts and tenacity (and excellent taste!).
The oyaji: Yagi Shinemon
Yagi seemingly has super human powers when it comes to protecting his charge from all (mostly imagined) threats. His devotion surpasses the creepy level. He has an extensive network of monitoring cameras that Itsuki often disables.
Bonus 18+ Otome Game: Tsubasa no Oka no Hime by Snapdragon
There’s a number of BL/otome games that toss in a token oyaji character. Dowth gets bonus points for not only being the token oyaji, but definitely looking the part while appearing in a 18+ otome game. Except he’s a character in a 18+ game who has no 18+ scenes *shakes fist*. He’s basically a dark god and mortal enemy of the protagonist, making it a very bitter, violent relationship at first. However, if you find out more about him, his plans, and motives… there’s something actually quite romantic there.
The oyaji: Dowth Moddey Dhoo Barguest
Appears to be 75, but is much, much older. Tall, bulky. Likes to booze it up mid-day, sulks around in the greenhouse and library, and generally freaks out the other manor workers.