My Watchlist: Current Favorites of July 2021

While battling the current Covid-19 situation, the only thing keeping the fervent BL fans sane, is the continuous onslaught of quality dramas from the Asian Subcontinent.

For our monthly feature on “The Current Favorites”, we bring you some new releases as well as updates from the on-air dramas that are ruling the consensus. Without further ado, let’s dive into the Boys’ Love shores and check out what’s happening!

Japanese BL

Given

Adapted from the manga series “Given” (ギヴン) by Kizu Natsuki, this live-action drama is a keen adaptation of the popular anime. Starring Suzuki Jin and Sanari in the titular roles of Uenoyama Ritsuka and Satou Mafuyu, this mini-series follows their journey as their worlds collide due to their passion for music. Shy and introverted, Mafuyu Satou’s life changes when he has a chance encounter with fellow student Ritsuka Uenoyama; who berates him for letting his guitar’s strings rust and break. Mafuyu pleads Uenoyama to fix it and also teach him how to play. After much deliberation, Uenoyama agrees and introduces Mafuyu to his bandmates bassist Haruki Nakayama (Yanagi Shuntaro) and drummer Akihiko Kaji (Inowaki Kai). The bandmates are surprised with Mafuyu’s zeal and constant progress. Uenoyama on the other hand is left mesmerized with Mafuyu’s strikingly soulful voice. He becomes determined to make Mafuyu the lead singer of their band. The last week’s episode was emotionally jarring. Uenoyama bursts into anger watching Mafuyu underestimates himself. The scene was brilliant and spoke to my heart. Suzuki Jin and Sanari have a stunning chemistry, which you will leave you breathless and anticipating for more. The second lead couple Haruki Nakayama & Akihiko Kaji are still a work in progress. The next episode will most probably herald the beginning stages of their romance.

Taiwanese BL

Be Loved in House: I Do

This show was one of the most anticipated shows of this year, as expected from Taiwanese BL. And oddly, despite the refreshing chemistry between both the couples, I’m slightly disappointed with the premise and lack of intimacy. Be Loved in House: I Do had the makings of a great drama- phenomenal casting and believable storyline; the only disadvantage is the lackluster script which keeps dragging each week. The slow paced episodes will eventually grate on your nerves, as you feel exhausted with the inconsequential problems that plague our main couple- Jin Yu Zhen and Shi Lei. Aaron Lai and Hank Wang make a handsome couple and have a refreshing chemistry. The fact that this chemistry is left unexplored will leave you in bitter tears. The finale episode will premiere tomorrow and our main couple have been at odds with each other for the last three episodes. Jin Yu Zhen and Shi Lie are seriously bad at communicating their issues and lack perseverance. The unwanted twist of the “Ex-boyfriend’s sudden return” was exasperating. In contrast, the second lead couple Yan Zhao Gang (Liao Wei Po) and Wu Si Qi (JN Yu) have a much better storyline and mature romance. I’m hoping the finale episode gives us the much-needed respite and we finally get to see our sweet couple together!

THAI BL

Golden Blood

Golden Blood was a welcome change from the usual Thai BL flair (Medical and Engineering faculty students falling for each other) and yet it failed to make the mark. The storyline is a bit regressive and the pacing is odd. Despite that, the show is worth watching because of the intriguing chemistry between the main lead couple, Sun (Boat Tara Tipa) and Sky (Gun Napat Na Ranong). Yes, at times Sky’s childish attitude and stubborn nature might annoy you; but don’t fret because Sun has the patience of a Saint. Despite getting injured innumerable times, Sun still endeavors to risk his life protecting our rich, spoiled protagonist. Sun feels indebted to Sky’s Father and this gratitude is slowly morphing into something more. Frankly, I’m more interested in the second lead couple Pitch (Sugus Buntawit Tragulpanich) and Bank (Tenon Teachapat). Although they started off as frenemies, Pitch and Bank have an undeniable chemistry. Sparks fly whenever these two are in the same frame and I’m totally looking forward to the romance. Obviously it won’t be easy because both are stubborn and hard-headed. But at least they have a better chance than our main lead Young Master-Bodyguard couple!

Top Secret Together

I’m not a huge fan of BL romances with multiple couples. The storyline often gets irreparably entangled and the script turn messy. But Top Secret Together is uniquely vibrant in depicting its five different pairings. Our main couple Lukmo (Mix Chayut) and Simai (Kanok) are slowly accepting their stepbrother status; Lukmo’s Father sudden revelation that they aren’t blood related was rather shocking. My personal favorites are Phob (Aof Sutiwas) and MaiEak (Sunny Tittistul). The best friends are back together; after Phob decides to move on. Their storyline turns interesting, when Phob finds an unlikely match in college student Nammo. MaiBak’s increasing insecurity might finally help him realise his true feelings for Phob. Popular real life couple Newyear and Bboth are on the threshold of a marriage proposal, but Bboth’s jealousy (regarding Newyear’s closeness with his Assistant Night) might be detrimental to their relationship. Copy (Poq Phutis) and Nampu (Fiat Natthakorn) are another fan favorite; but Copy’s inability to commit is destroying their budding romance. With four episodes left, I’m wondering how the scriptwriters will untangle these entanglements and give our five couples the “Happily Ever After” they deserve!

Korean BL

Light On Me

Adapted from the mobile game “Saebit Boys High School Council, Light On Me is currently the most popular Korean BL on the circuit. The drama focuses on the introverted high schooler, Woo Tae Kyung (Lee Sae On). His desire to seek new friends leads him to join the Student’s Council. He meets the Vice President of the council, Shin Woo (Kang Yoo Seok) who is cool and level-headed; but cold toward him. Tae Kyung also meets the popular President of the council: Da On (Choe Chan Yi), who appears to take an instant liking to him. Both are invariably attracted to Tae Kyung’s honest demeanor. While Tae Kyung falls for Da On; Shin Woo watches from the sidelines. The storyline is crisp and well-paced, with intriguing detailing. You fall in love with Tae Kyung’s shy yet endearing nature; Shin Woo’s hesitancy and maturity as well as Da On’s kind and caring nature. It is hard to choose between Da On and Shin Woo, because both of them have their own charm. While Da On is attracted to Tae Kyung, his innate need to please everyone might be detrimental to their relationship. Shin Woo’s selfless nature will leave you wounded. He understands that unrequited love is painful and as such doesn’t want Tae Kyung to suffer the same fate. The love triangle keeps getting interesting each week and I’m looking forward to watching the next episode!

Pinoy BL

Worth the Wait

While the prequel “Toxic Lover The Series” ended on a disappointing note, Worth the Wait suffers from a mediocre script. Despite that, the sparkling chemistry between main couple Ethon Kaizer (Aki Torres) and Martin (Solo Adriano) will keep you entertained. Frankly, that is the only good thing about this lackluster show. Despite their fervent catfights, Ethon and Martin have grown closer due to the “14 Days Challenge”. Of course, moving past years of animosity wasn’t an easy task and it took a lot of efforts to reach this stage, where they understand each other better. Rookie actor Solo Adriano’s acting skills are commendable, as he portrays Martin’s emotions and affections with a brutal honesty. It is rather refreshing to watch him romance Aki Torres. Despite the lack of intimate scenes, their love story is entirely believable and will leave you enthralled. Obviously, good things come to an end and the shocking revelation in the last week’s episode has dealt a major blow to their rather fragile relationship. Ethon’s insecure nature might take a toll on Martin’s patient attitude; yet I’m hoping that this sweet couple will reconcile at the earliest!

Stuck On You

This show is nearing its end and I’m literally heartbroken. The storyline focuses on the unhindered romance between JM aka @alt.media and Reb aka @trueloveskiss. JM is emotionally unavailable, while Reb is a hopeless romantic. A recipe for disaster!

Actually not, because as these two contrast characters spend the 14 days of quarantine together, their feelings evolve into something substantial. We must really appreciate the subtle nuances in the script. While JM is recovering from heartbreak and is sceptical of commitments; Reb views the world through his rose-tinted glasses. JM is a diehard pessimist while Reb is an eternal optimist. It was nice to watch Reb break through the diffident walls that encase JM’s heart. His insecurities breed deeper and although he does have feelings for Reb; JM might not accept them easily. This week’s episode marks the finale and I’m hoping that JM overcomes his fears; or else he will end up losing the love of his life. Reb on the other hand needs to understand the difference between fantasies and realities. Fingers crossed!

Chinese BL

The Lost Tomb 2: Explore With the Note

Adapted from the fourth book of “The Grave Robbers’ Chronicles” by Kennedy Xu, The Lost Tomb 2: Explore With the Note is the much awaited sequel to the second season of the popular franchise. Starring Bai Shu, Zhao Dong Ze, Zhang Bo Yu in the titular roles of Wu Xie, Zhang Qiling and Fatty; the story focuses on the iron triangle’s journey to the mountainous Korean border in search of the mysterious Heavenly Cloud Palace hidden beneath the world of glaciers, avalanches, and blizzards. Bai Shu’s depiction of Wu Xie is quite different from the earlier versions, as he battles his aversion for his frivolous Third Uncle, Wu Sanxing. Despite their internal conflicts, Wu Xie’s concern for his Uncle leads him onto the journey, where he is joined by new acquaintances (veteran tomb raider Chen Pi A Si and his disciples). They are joined by a guide as well, Shun Zi who seems rather suspicious. We also have Cox Hendry reprising his stance as the antagonist, while his adopted daughter Ah Ning follows Wu Xie to safeguard him. Although the sequel seems to be hinting at a possible romance between them; the fact remains that Wu Xie’s feelings for Qiling are equally strong. Zhao Dong Ze’s Qiling on the other hand seems more talkative than his normal mute version, which prevails throughout the numerous adaptations. It is rather refreshing and his protective stance is endearing. PingXie are still very much together and I’m living for the Bromance. Zhang Bo Yu’s Fatty on the other hand is entertaining and street smart, oddly this show seems to paint him as an experienced tomb raider. I’m enjoying the overall dynamics and looking forward to the finale episodes!

Epic of Divinity Light

A prequel to one of Bilibili’s most successful animation, The Legend of Exorcism or Tian Bao Fuyao Lu, Epic of Divinity Light is adapted from popular author Fei Tian Ye Xing’s BL novel “Dinghai Fusheng Records or Ding Hai Fu Sheng Lu”.

Three Hundred years ago, the spiritual qi of Heaven and Earth – disappeared from the land, leaving exorcists and monsters alike powerless. Since then, unbeknownst to the people, the resentment of those who died in wars, plagues, and famines steadily built up, giving birth to demons that would bring further turmoil to the troubled land. Their only hope is Cheng Xing, the last exorcist in the world, a 16-year-old boy who bears a magical artifact called the Heart Lamp. Cheng Xing embarks on a journey to Xingyang to find the Guarding God of War, who is believed to be his Protector. Unexpectedly, the Heart Lamp chooses a felon convict, Xiang Shu as the Guarding God. The first episode of this anime premiered to high expectations on the Bilibili’s YouTube Channel last week. The CGI effects are uncanny and although the pacing is a little odd in some places, I’m intrigued with the possible bromance between Cheng Xin and Xiang Shu.

Legend of Exorcism

Adapted from Fei Tian Ye Xiang’s (非天夜翔) web novel “Tian Bao Fuyao Lu”, the sequel to the highly anticipated Chinese BL anime Legend of Exorcism premiered on Bilibili’s YouTube Channel to high expectations. The second season focuses on our main couple Li Jinglong and Kong Hongjun fighting an unconquerable army of undead ghosts. As the storyline progresses, Jinglong and Hongjun are currently working in alliance with the Prince of Xiping, Jun Wang. While searching for his tribe’s long-lost mythical white deer, Mo Rigen unexpectedly meets his love interest, Lu Xu. Despite Lu Xu’s odd demeanor, they are growing closer and there is a wild possibility that Lu Xu might be the White Deer. As the Court of Exorcism finds vital clues related to the extinct Han Dynasty, Mo Rigen gets infected. The storyline is riveting and with each passing week, I’m left surprised with the sudden twists or turns that keep you hooked!

Keep watching this space as we bring you further updates from the Asian BL World!

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