BL Dramas – Which Country Does BL Best?

BL, or Boys Love, is nothing new to the scene. It’s been around for quite a while, largely in print or anime format. It’s also been extremely diverse from the get-go with many different genres and settings offering us male/male relationships from super sweet romance romances to intensely sexual content. I still remember stumbling across the anime Ai no Kusabi (1992) – which was burned onto a CDR and stuffed in as some free bonus content from my order of Wolf’s Rain (2003) I’d received off eBay.

Ya’ll. I was not prepared for Ai no Kusabi.

I’d stumbled across the Finder manga in 2002 and thought I’d found the peak pervy storyline of the sexy mafia boss and his feisty reporter twink… but no. Ai no Kusabi created an entire world around sex pets, like the Claiming of Sleeping Beauty trilogy and Exit to Eden books by Anne Rice, this was a society built upon BDSM and sexual servitude.

So, like many others, I discovered BL through Japanese manga and anime. Some of them creeped me out with their childlike boy characters (No Money, Boku no Pico), while others made the age-gap work for them (Junjou Romantica). And of course, there were plenty of manga and anime series with heavily implied gay storylines and artwork, giving us “manservice” if you will, where they would show you they were gay but wouldn’t tell you they were gay. One of my all time favorite series X/1999 is one such storyline. I mean… that entire story is just queer escapism. The manga, the anime, even the weird movie… it’s good stuff. Super gay. And yet… not.

The 21st Century has already seen many cultural shifts and changes, one of the most positive of those has been the push for global acceptance of LGBTQ+ people. We have seen gay marriage, gay rights, and gay issues become major movements around the world. My ardent wish is that by the mid-century, LGBTQ+ people will have equal rights and protections under the law everywhere.

In the past few years I have watched an explosion of BL live action dramas coming out of Asia, the popularity of this genre increasing almost exponentially whereas now it seems a global phenomenon. This is largely due to the fact that gay content has always been enjoyed outside the gay community. Love is universal, after all, and whether it’s two boys, two girls, a boy and a girl, or a pairing of other gender or sexual identities, it all reads the same – people falling in love.

Since 2020, BL is increasingly common in the live action drama market. So… which country does it best?

I’m not sure there is a real answer to that, as everything boils down to preference. Whether you prefer Thai, Taiwanese, Korean, Filipino, Japanese, and Chinese dramas will, undoubtedly, heavily influence your rankings. I certainly have my preferences, as I am sure you have yours (if you have watched more than one BL, that is). My preferences tend to be related to the storylines and dynamics more than the country, though. So in the genre of BL, I tend to stray from my preference for Korean Dramas, though there are a few from Korea that I enjoyed.

Anyways, without further adieu – here are my favorite BL drama series that I’ve seen from various countries….

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Review – Painter of the Wind

Review – Painter of the Wind

This is less of a review and more of me expressing my frustration over this drama.  The costuming, the cinematography, the sets, the actors – all fantastic.  The music was wonderful.  It offered a nice twist on the cross-dressing girl trope.  You had a lady  disguised as a dude so she could perfect her artistic skills and study the craft under the masters.  There’s some royal conspiracies and a lot of fuss about a portrait of the prince, all of which was rather underwhelming and generic “historical political” hoopla.

My problem is this:  Our female lead didn’t come across as a girl pretending to be a guy, in the style of this tried and true K-Drama trope.  She came off as a cute, artistic lesbian.  Thus my exasperation with this show.  Painter of the Wind should have embraced its obvious natural direction and  gone gay.  The entire show felt like an indie coming-of-age lesbian drama, but failed to fully embrace its already deliciously implied girl-girl romance and instead meandered around with an old man artist and attempted to go straight.  Don’t they remember the lesson from art class… that if the straight line is long enough eventually it will curve?  Come on!

 

Overall Rating – 2/10 For Not Coming Out of the Closet.

or…

Overall Rating – 8/10 If You Ignore The Lesbians And Watch It Straight.  This is probably the more fair rating – cause it really is a lovely drama and the subject of old school painters is very interesting and beautiful to explore.  But… I just can’t.  Cause this is my blog and my review and fair is for love and war.  And this is war!

More bitching and moaning and some sexy photo stills and SPOILERS follow.

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