From Eroica With Love

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Name: From Eroica with Love
エロイカより愛をこめて, Eroica Yori Ai o Komete
Abbreviation(s): FEWL
Creator: Yasuko Aoike
Date(s): 1976 – 2012
Medium: Manga
Country of Origin: Japan
External Links: at Wikipedia
CMX Official Website
cover of Rose Vines and Wire Ropes (2001), artist is Yuria
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From Eroica With Love is a comedy shoujo manga written and illustrated by Yasuko Aoike, which ran from 1976 to 2012. The series follows Dorian Red Gloria, Earl of Gloria, a gay British nobleman. Under the alias of "Eroica", Dorian is an international art thief. Throughout the series, Dorian often crosses paths with Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach, a West German NATO intelligence officer.

Since the manga's initial release, both Western and Japanese fandoms dedicated to the manga have emerged. Due to the manga's initial release date, the Western fandom for From Eroica With Love serves as an example of the growth of anime and manga in Western culture during the 1990s.

Creator's Views on Fanworks

In 1989, a fan asked Yasuko Aoike's publicity department about her opinion about fanworks based on From Eroica With Love. The answer was printed in Guns and Red Roses #1:

A Message to the Fans: "My aim in writing is to use current and past world events to create exciting stories which will provide entertainment so many readers. So it really encourages me to hear that many kinds of people are enjoying my work in their own ways. But, because playing with a writer's beloved characters in an abnormal manner causes me grief, I ask you to enjoy them, but treat them with dignity."

Canon Plot and Background

Eroica is set in Europe against a Cold War backdrop. Its plots are complex and suspenseful, usually revolving around spies scrambling to liberate microfilms containing vital information, dashing about in the way of James Bond, pitting the Western and the Eastern Bloc against each other. The espionage vicissitudes are complemented by high-end international art thefts. Eroica includes both (homo)romantic situations typical of nineteen-seventies shoujo manga and light-hearted comic elements.

Issue #1 of the series originally starred three teenagers with supernatural powers named Sugar, Leopard and Caesar, who crossed paths with art thief Dorian Red Gloria, known as Eroica. However, when Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach, uptight NATO major, appeared in issue #2, his relationship with Eroica was so dynamic and compelling that they quickly became the two main characters of the manga, and Sugar, Leopard and Caesar vanished completely. Dorian is openly gay and makes no secret of his feelings for Klaus, who has rebuffed them throughout the series.

Eroica has a large Western-style slash fandom.


Dorian Red, the Earl of Gloria

colored pencil sketch of Dorian, artist: Marilyn Cole

Eroica’s protagonist is Dorian Red, the Earl of Gloria. Dorian is a vapid English aristocrat by day and daring international art thief Eroica by night.  He’s flamboyantly and openly gay. Dorian loves beautiful art and beautiful young men, and has a passion for clothes. He leads a faithful band of thieves who adore him and are a sort of family. Some of Dorian’s stunts include stealing the Pope, and saving world peace—literally—together with the series’ other protagonist: Klaus.

Jean Lorrah made some comments on the earlier characters and said:

As first conceived, with Sugar Plum, Caesar Gabriel, and Leopard as protagonists, Eroica ranged from weakly derivative to brutally tasteless —in particular, Dorian’s attempted rape of Caesar Gabriel in the first episode is truly repellent. I can see that fans looking only at the pictures, unable to read the text, might be able to tell only that Caesar is frightened, but not of what. It could even appear that Dorian is Caesar’s rescuer! Coming to it already translated, Igot the full, ugly force of the scene on a first reading.

Most of you are female; consider your opinion of the common male fantasy of forcing a woman to enjoy sex, and I think you will immediately see what is so very wrong with the first episode. That Dorian relents when Caesar faints is hardly reason to forgive him, nor is the fact that Caesar fails in love with him. That just tells us that Caesar, for all his genius, suffers from incredibly low self-esteem. If the series had continued with those three children trying to counterbalance Eroica, the title character would have been a monster by contrast.

No matter how different Japanese culture may be from American, it is universal that a character as strong as Eroica has to be balanced with someone equally strong. Without Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach, Eroica would be a villain, not (a-i-tsu) (that rascal). [1]

Klaus von dem Eberbach

Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach is a high-born German Major working for NATO intelligence. In other word: a spy. Klaus is buttoned up, choleric, and un-PC. He’s a badass, and he’s totally absorbed in his job, but he loves the aesthetic beauty of tanks and well-oiled machines. Klaus’s way of telling his team  ‘I like you, well done’ is to yell at them. Actually, everything Klaus feels comes out as yelling at people—or pointing a gun at them. And this is just what he does to his allies: His enemies, such as KGB officer Misha the Cub get a much worse deal.

Some fans found Klaus' character problematic, and addressed this in their fanworks. In 1989, a fan wrote about a story in Guns and Red Roses #1:

... "Masque for Major" immediately became my favourite presentation of him in fanfic. Her Major is marvelously naked of whitewash to cover his warts, When Barb submitted this story to us, she mentioned that some of the Major's attitudes made her rather uncomfortable and that she wanted to make it clear they weren't the opinions of the author. [2]

Other Characters

  • Beck
  • Bonham
  • James
  • Jonsey
  • Agent A - Agent Z



Although at first Dorian mostly seems to enjoy irritating Klaus, soon he openly declares his love, and spends the rest of the series trying to "get" Klaus any way he can.

Klaus responds to Dorian's overt pursuit with everything from homophobic slurs and personal insults to physical attacks, at one point even holding a gun to Dorian's head. More often than not, Dorian's thefts and Klaus's missions collide. They are cast as frenemies, especially in the early volumes of the manga. It’s collaboration with an edge, until their purposes cross; at which point, sparks fly.

However, the antagonism of their relationship is punctuated by the occasional moment of quiet understanding, mutual respect, or even gratitude on Klaus' part for Eroica's help with a mission.


Other Dorian pairings are fairly rare, one can find Dorian/James, Dorian/Agent Z, plus Dorian being shipped with original characters.

From a fan in 1996:

I wonder if James, with his completely different value system, has functioned as an Other for Dorian, someone so different that Dorian can't incorporate him as part of his own extended personality? James could provide quite a bit of entertainment between the tantrums and the infatuation. Dorian might have liked having someone around who visibly and audibly valued money above all else, but who followed after him, Dorian, thus paying homage to the god and self of beauty. Until, that is, Dorian found an even more opposed and more beautiful Other in Klaus, which relegated James to being an audience. One thing that seems clear is that James is part of Dorian's desired surroundings, at least in episodes #1 through #9. After that it's possible the attraction erodes, as it appears to be doing a bit in #9, perhaps, but James is still around in #15, the new (and rather epilogue-like) adventure published this year.[3]


As with Dorian, other Klaus pairings are rare, but one can find Klaus/Agent Z, Klaus/James, as well as shipping him with original characters.

From a fan in 1995:

Z and Klaus, alas one must make up the slash oneself, an exercise I gather is routine (and courted by the manga-makers) in Japan. It's been suggested, by the same ever-vigilant fan who first suggested Klaus/Z to me, that Agent Z may function as a MarySue character for Japanese readers. He's unassuming but attractive, and manages to be respected by Klaus who functions (for Japanese and many other fans) as the series sex-object. The only problem is getting Klaus to be aware of what those comradely pats on the shoulder mean, and then picking up the pieces. If there are any pieces left, that is. [4]

Connections to Led Zeppelin

The names and appearances of some of the Eroica characters are an homage or reference to the members of Led Zeppelin, a band that was at the height of its popularity when Yasuko Aioke was creating her characters for From Eroica With Love. Dorian's curly blonde hair makes him a ringer for Robert Plant, while James' dark, permanently-tousled hair and Bonham's mustache resemble the mid-seventies appearances of Jimmy Page and John Bonham.

There are also several Zeppelin cameos in Aoike's manga Eve no Musuko Tachi.

Early in the manga, Dorian also sometimes traveled in an actual zeppelin, but it has not been seen in later volumes.

The Fandom

Early Fan Translations

translation credit page for From Eroica With Love issue #9

One fan involved in early scanlation efforts was Lily Fulford. She, along with others, translated under the group name "Kx." Some of these early scanlations were posted online here without credit. They are listed on Fanlore here: From Eroica With Love (fanzine)‎ and physical copies of the scanlations can be found in the Escapade Fanzine Library.

Canon vs Head Canon

In 1996, a fan wrote of fans being disappointed in newly presented canon after they'd been subsisting on fanworks for years:

Crises of fannish faith in the source can be dreadful, but after a point they're almost to be expected. Now that you've spent years adding to your own and fandom's understanding of Eroica, the plain old Eroica doesn't contain it all. For what it's worth, most of the readers I've heard from say that the "Nosferatu" story wasn't quite what they'd been hoping for, even if it was better than nothing. They may have the same reasons you do for coming to that conclusion, after the six-year hiatus. Either way, the original manga Eroica isn't ever going to be the fannish dream of Eroica, any more than Trek proper actually contained K/S as more than a distant (and mostly unintended) implication. Also for what it's worth, Aoike has written an Eroica #16 which is being serialized in Viva Princess as I write this. It's called "Dragon Palace" or something of the sort and involves Chinese artifacts and complications. It's longer and perhaps more interesting as a story than #15. If eventually both of these leave you feeling that they're not what you got into Eroica for, at least you'll have given it every chance. The manga also has changed a good deal in tone and somewhat in emphasis over its run, the early episodes being noticeably more "romantic," surreal, long-legged, and altogether more shojo than the later ones, which are more of spy drama. I always thought Dorian doing theft getaways in a zepplin was ludicrous, but the rest of the storyline was also stylized to that extent: Dorian's romantic pretensions were all of a piece. Dorian sighing after Klaus with only tiny bits of paradoxical subtle encouragement has a romance of its own as well, but only as long as the tiny bits of paradoxical encouragement can be seen, which is even more difficult in "Nosferatu" than in the 1980's episodes. [5]

Differences in Japanese and American Fandom

Let's face facts: it's unlikely that the source material will provide any insights that we western fans ran use, since we're all trying to find support for a slash relationship that the artist is determined not to give us. Aoike isn't interested in getting Eroica together with Klaus, and seems, these days, only mildly interested in Dorian himself. One can trace, through the published manga, the melancholy decline of Dorian from shojo hero to comic relief to someone who exists to get in the way of the real hero, who is Klaus. I'd be delighted if next month's installment would prove me wrong, but again, I'm willing to bet money it won't.

However, does any of this have to bother us? Reliance on canon is a western preoccupation. The Japanese just take the pretty faces and the pretty bodies and do what they like with them. Damn the canon - and, often enough, the psychology - full speed ahead. Bedwards.

There's a certain liberating exhilaration in the attitude, as there is a lot of fourth-wave stuff. The fandom, on sheer numbers alone, must offer more possibilities than the source, for one. And for two, when the source is in a foreign language that most people don't read, from a country with as bad a cultural fit to our own as Japan (the Japanese think James is cuter than Dorian. The Japanese think James is funny.) the source isn't going to be much help to start with.

I began by reading English Eroica fanfic, and only then went back to read the manga; and frankly, the manga was never much of an inspiration. If there'd been good Eroica dojinshi ("zines" in Japanese: 'do' = same, 'jin' = people, 'shi' = publication) it might have been different, but there aren't. Japanese dojinshi can be a great source of both stories and interpretation, given the right series, but the rule seems to be 'the more minimal the series, the better the fanfic' (as in the west, the suggested is much more resonant than the depicted). It may be that Eroica just gives the Japanese fans too much to work with and leaves them with nothing to do. It may be that the Japanese fans in fact prefer the relationship as it is: Dorian pining for his Iron Unhavable Major. (Klaus wouldn't be Klaus if he was havable.)

One Japanese woman told me that Dorian is just too beautiful to be interesting. The reasons are doubtless many and varied, but the end result is that there are now effectively two versions of Eroica going, the Japanese and the English. And as far as I'm concerned, and for my own purposes, Eroica exists much more satisfyingly in its western, English fandom than in anything Aoike is likely to come up with. [6]

Fan Comments


Klaus and Dorian, oooh, let's see. Well, in the manga, they weren't friends in any acknowledged way, and certainly not lovers, but they were two people who met often and intensely and screamed at each other and then cooperated (beautifully) on some goal that they happened to both want for different reasons. That is, they were destined. To the Western slash-educated eye, they were clearly and obviously destined for each other, but sexual friendship in the sense of doing anything except (for Dorian) lusting after Klaus and (for Klaus) noticing it far too much, is something I and other fans read in. I'm told that Japanese fans do their best to read it in too — at least sex happens in the Japanese fan stories, though I couldn't say how well they parallel any other element of Western fans' stories. Klaus, by the way, has co-workers who are gay in a less flamboyant style than Eroica, with whom he gets along as well as necessary (it can't be said that Klaus gets along with anyone really well in the social sense) so while it's tempting to read him as a classic repressed gay homophobe, he does seem to be reacting specifically to Dorian, not just homosexuality per se. [7]

One problem with using "Eroica yori Ai o Komete" as the link between Japanese "shonen ai" (yayoi) and western slash is that it is very atypical of the genre here. While a great deal is done in the yayoi with a gay character chasing a straight, the fact that both Klaus and Dorian are extremely adult is very unusual. The humor in Eroica is also unusual. While there is some humor in the typical Japanese yayoi zine, it generally appears in the "domestic" stories (superheroes shopping at the market et. al.) and rarely in the adventure ones. The classic "shonen ai" story is tragic (death, or unrequited love, or both) and romantic (tho' M Fae might appreciate the new trend towards the graphic and violent). Mainly, what is missing in the "shonen ai" stories, however, is the humor that Aoike puts into all her work. While Eroica serves a purpose of showing western fen that they are not alone in their appreciation of slash fic, it is not an epitome of either culture's slash. It is interesting, I think, how much Eroica fanfic in the states falls in with western slash trends and how much the stories resemble Japanese slash fic done for other comics and shows, but not for Eroica. While some of lack of Japanese fanfic for Eroica canes from the fact that Aoike does not like people playing with her characters, much also cones fron the fact that there are so many other stories here that fall in the romantic/tragic slashfic mold that Eroica getting overlooked. I am not sure that there is a big market for "shonen ai" in the west, at least not without changes.

Eroica may be the exception. "Shonen" is "boy", and they usually are. Someone in the APA suggested that we treat anime characters as if they are as old as they appear and as we want them to be. The problem is that to the Japanese, the fact that they are very young is often very important.

Before Japanese and westerners are going to be happy with each other's slash, they age thing has gotta be resolved, I think. [8]

It is so true that Eroica is different from other manga. That's precisely why I like it so much. For one thing, it's one of the very few featuring definitely adult male characters. Your comment that Japanese fans tend to identify heavily with one of the existing characters rather than introducing Mary Sues supports a notion I have long harbored about Eroica. I think that Dorian is the Mary Sue character. He's everything a Japanese teenage girl would like to be; rich, gorgeous, fabulously dressed, blond, and male. His problems attracting Klaus's attention (or at least, attracting it in a positive way) are a comical exaggeration of the kinds of problems that young girls (and older ones too, I blush to admit) are typically obsessed with, namely attracting attention of a positive nature from men. [9]


Other folks were discussing feminizing of characters again... Yeah, it generally annoys me, but I've been thinking hard about this as I read Companions in Chaos 2, the new Eroica zine (which I finally got in the mail). Dorian, aka "the thief," is a gay man who dresses up in drag occasionally in the original stories. He also wears long flowing things, lace, etc., and acts the queen on and off. He can't handle firearms, he gets punched flat on his ass by Klaus (aka "the Major") multiple times in the comics.

There are lots of things about this fandom that freak me out a bit, one of which is the fact that Dorian simply *does* act feminine (for some value of feminine; gay men's parody?). I keep wondering how I feel about this! Barbara Tennison has a story in which he gets frightened in a cave when he's captured by bad guys, and he lets out a piercing scream and runs for it. Certainly it feels in character (her stories are just marvelous), but I've felt ambivalent about this sort of behavior for a while. Some writers go through pains to point out his "masculine" attributes (strength, skill as a thief, etc.) in order to make him attractive to Klaus (and the reader?), as well as acknowledging his beauty (also to make him appeal to Klaus, it seems; in one story by Barbara, Klaus dates a woman who looks just like Dorian, which is not lost on Dorian).

There seem to be two questions of attractiveness that are perhaps at odds, and perhaps not: attractive to the reader, and attractive to Klaus. Are the contradictions (or complexities) in Dorian's representation in the stories due to these being at cross purposes? The old "these aren't gay men, they're just men who want to be together" discussion doesn't hold up if Dorian's in the picture, or does it? Confounding the whole issue is the fact that these are characters in a comic, so we don't have real men's bodies to oggle. All the men in this strip look like women. Dorian and Klaus in fact look virtually the same, if you don't have hair or costume to go by (e.g., when Dorian is in disguise).

So what's a girl to do? Admit an attraction for the feminine Dorian comic character, or reject Dorian and lust after Klaus? (Klaus is not unproblematic to love, he's an abusive bigot and strikes Dorian several times, as I said). I find both of them attractive and wonder how much this is due to just being a nut for the Chase in fanfic (first time stories) and feeling their relationship is the epitome of the Chase with no plausible conclusion. And I wonder if maybe this is a fandom that can only ever appeal to people who are bi or into abusive partnerings and who don't need real bodies to leer at. It's a weird fandom.

I'd love to hear (in private mail even) from people who read it and write it, about who they find attractive in it and how they feel about Dorian's presentation as a gay man, given so many fans' protests that feminization is unappealing... [10]

Example Fanworks

Stage Play

From Eroica with Love Manga Gets Stage Play; archive link (a 2023 play in Tokyo)


A list of fanzines with Eroica content can be found archived here.

In addition to published fanzines there was an informal circuit of paper stories circulated from fan to fan by mail (and later by email). One example is the story Watching Me Watching You.






Paper Dolls

Fan Art

45th Anniversary Tributes

Mystery Bonita magazine celebrated Eroica's 45th anniversary with a series of tributes by famous mangaka, including:


Fansites often include fanfiction, fanart, resources and links to other fan sites.


Mailing Lists

There are at least three Eroica mailing lists. One is from_eroica_with_love on Yahoo! Groups Another is eroicaml, also on Yahoo! Groups. Eroicaml has been ported to, can be joined here

Live Journal

Eroica-related livejournal communities include:

Primers, Ship Manifestos, Info


  1. ^ from More Eroica Connections
  2. ^ from the editorial of Guns and Red Roses #1
  3. ^ from Strange Bedfellows (APA) #12 (February 1996)
  4. ^ from Strange Bedfellows (APA) #11 (November 1995)
  5. ^ from Strange Bedfellows (APA) #13 (May 1996)
  6. ^ from Strange Bedfellows (APA) #13 (May 1996
  7. ^ from Barbara T in Strange Bedfellows (APA) #6
  8. ^ comments in Strange Bedfellows (APA) #6
  9. ^ comments in Strange Bedfellows (APA) #7
  10. ^ anonymously with permission from Virgule-L (Dec 28, 1995)
  11. ^ Crack Van (Oct 29, 2003)
  12. ^ Crack Van (Jan 19, 2007)