A Man Who Defies the World of BL (or Absolute BL) Series Review

I should start out by saying that I felt called out by the series. Called out in the best possible way as a long-time fan of BL because this series pays hilarious homage to the some of the most familiar cliches in the genre.

Based on the gag manga by the same name, A World That Definitely Becomes BL VS A Man Who Definitely Doesn’t Want to Be in BL (In Japanese, Zettai BL ni Naru Sekai VS Zettai BL ni Naritakunai Otoko) often shortened to Absolute BL, is the story of an ordinary man (literally called ‘Mobu’, or ‘Mob’ which is a term used for the usually faceless background characters you see in manga) who is painfully aware of the fact that the world around him runs on the rules of BL manga.

This is a comedy series, and it absolutely delivers on that front. The very set up – of a background character in a BL world – is funny enough on its own, but add to that the protagonist’s self-aware, fourth wall breaking narration and you are bound to be laughing even before you arrive at the opening song. And what an experience the opening song is, a gloriously over-the-top, 70s style disco number performed by the characters that you have to see to believe. Also, while the series is divided into thirteen ‘chapters’ spread over four episodes, the total runtime comes up to about two hours and can easily be watched in one stretch.

I went into Absolute BL unsure of what to expect, but what I got was two hours of solid entertainment. Our protagonist, ‘Mobu’ (played by a delightfully expressive Atsuhiro Inukai) lives in a world filled with BL tropes. His college is populated by an unusual number of handsome men who seem to be in various stages of falling in love with each other following tropes one would ordinarily find in BL manga. And by tropes, I mean nearly everything that you know and love from BL manga or series. For instance, a delinquent type bumps into someone on the street only to suddenly realise ‘oh he’s cute’, cue romantic music and the protagonist’s disdain. A college student slips, and is miraculously caught with a timely arm around the waist by another guy, who then goes on to ponder on how thin that waist was and wondering if he was eating enough. There are two guys hooking up after bad time at a group date, and chance encounters with handsome men passed out on the road. The whole time, the protagonist either dodges any possibility of becoming a Main Character, or watches from the sidelines as the stories unfold around him.

When I heard that people call this series the “Anti-BL”, I imagined the parody would be mocking or sarcastic, given the premise. But what is great about Absolute BL is that it never descends into mockery at all. Yes, the protagonist dodges different situations that may accidentally put him into the role of a ‘Boy’ who ‘Loves’, but he often does this by setting up people around him so that they fulfil the tropes. He also tries and fails to save his younger brother Ayato (played by Yutaro Goto whom you might remember as Minato from Cherry Magic) from the same fate. There is a genuine sense of warmth and wholesomeness in the side couples (and a hint of spice in one instance), regardless of how short the time they spend on the screen. Also, unlike the defiant protagonist, you, the viewer will most likely enjoy the tropes that the BL world of the series incorporates. It’s unabashedly cliched, but you are guaranteed to laugh at the ways in which some of these tropes play out and you’ll probably understand why these tropes became so popular in the first place.

The series’ only drawback, if it could be called one, is that it doesn’t really allow for any heavy emotional scenes, but given the genre and pacing it would most likely have been quite jarring to have something like that included. In the end, despite his efforts to convince me to the contrary, I found myself rooting for ‘Mobu’ to fall in love and give in to the BL world – because, let’s face it, it was inevitable that he would. (You’re not the only one who knows their cliches, Mobu.) Without spoiling what happens, I’ll say that the finale is satisfying, but also open ended enough to allow for the (possible) promise of a season two.
Overall, I’d recommend Absolute BL if you’re looking for something that doesn’t require a huge emotional investment, have enjoyed BL in any capacity, and basically want to have a good time and a laugh.

Rating- 3.5 out of 5

2 thoughts on “A Man Who Defies the World of BL (or Absolute BL) Series Review”

  1. I know what I’m watching tonight! Your post made me want to drop everything and go watch it immediately. Alas, I’m a (somewhat) reasonable adult and need to work, so work I shall before rewarding myself.

    Like

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