“Nitiman the Series” First Impressions (Ep.1 to 5)

The latest trend in the Thai BL arena is to provide reruns of exclusive dramas on the YouTube Channel belonging to the production houses; after the shows finish their run on the premiere streaming services generally exclusive to Thailand (Unlike with Netflix where the entire series is made available all at once).

The production houses promptly release an episode per week, after it is released on the original streaming platform (like Viu or WeTV). The same is true for “Nitiman the Series” that originally aired on WeTV from May 7th to July 9th. The drama is helmed by Jane Botta, who also directed “Together With Me” as well as “Oxygen The Series”.

The story focuses on Jin’s journey (Dom Thanathorn), a university student who breaks up with his girlfriend Aim (Natty Thanyanan), only to find himself being courted by BBomb (Noh Phoulang). The series centers around their close friends in a multiple couple format. The ten episodes long series, is centered around an overtly flirtatious Jin, who is presumably confused about his own feelings for Bbomb. As such, our young hero is entirely unsure about what to do with Bbomb and his romantic gestures. The storyline majorly focuses its axis around Jin and Bbomb’s romance, with glimpses of the side characters and their relationships to each other.

Episode One

Beginning with Jin and Aim arriving at college together for freshmen year, he breaks up with her as melancholic music plays. It is a unique way to begin the series, as it doesn’t give us any backstory to these characters or there are no other emotional attachments. Instead, it abruptly cuts to the next scene where Jin is seated in the class with his three friends, Singh (Tontae Tinnakorn), Kaem (Kong Sarun) and Jack (Bhu Bhudis). They notice Jin’s restless attitude. The writing for this scene is cute and establishes the close friendship between the four. In a series of small vignettes, we see how Jin handles the break up(shots of whiskey), how the break-up transpires (Aim didn’t care) and how he deals with Jack and Singh’s sarcasm (showing Jin the facebook posts). [Side note- I love the angry cat noises in the place of curse words]. The episode follows Jin’s desire for closure with his cheating ex-girlfriend. Of course that leads to a confrontation with Bbomb, the person he thinks is responsible for the breakup (I never get why the characters never do some reflection on their part). Bbomb flips the script and pursues him instead.

The pilot episode was very interesting and is a fun start to the series.

Episode Two

Unfortunately, that same energy doesn’t exist in the second episode. Between spending a lot of time on the side characters and restating the obvious that Bbomb likes Jin, the show doesn’t offer much. Kaem seems overly invested in BBomb and Jin’s possible love story. Jin spends much of the episode being conflicted about his own feelings for Bbomb or flat out denying them (even after learning that Bbomb and Aim are in fact related). On the one hand, the fleshing out of the side characters was a pleasant change. The narrative focuses on the personal lives of Jin’s Engineering friends and then pans to Bbomb playing for a band with his friends. The little snippets showing them as characters offers a bit more insight into their lives. It doesn’t work well as most characters are in groups and it is almost impossible to differentiate them. Add to that, the different style of storytelling makes the pacing lopsided; as it abruptly refocuses on Bbomb and Jin’s romance. I was disappointed with this episode. Even the cliffhanger didn’t resonate with me emotionally.

Episode Two was very dull and felt more like filler.

Episode Three

Beginning with the same slightly superficial ending of the second episode, most of the characters are concerned about Jin collapsing on the field. Unfortunately, their facial expressions don’t match their words, so I was left wondering about their true intentions (Kaem in the locker room while his friend talks about Bbomb). The third episode continues to focus on the side character’s story. Jack unexpectedly meets Som, a girl he likes. But to Jack’s utter disappointment, she isn’t interested in him and only wants his help to court Jin. Jin joins his friends for drinks and is surprised to see Bbomb with them. When Bbomb gets drunk and leans on Jin for support, his friends are happy to see them behaving like a couple. Obviously, Bbomb becomes Jin’s reaponsibility as everyone conveniently escape. The intimate moments between our main couple makes this episode much better. I did wonder if Bbomb was actually drunk, or he was just looking for an excuse to stay in Jin’s condo. The remainder of the episode eclipses the evolution of their relationship, as Jin becoming more comfortable around Bbomb; while also depicting Bbomb’s dominant and possessive nature towards Jin. By the end of the episode, Bbomb is actively pursuing Jin. Despite Jin’s ambivalent nature, he still enjoys the attention.

Episode Three was much better than the second episode, because of its more fulfilling scenes. I liked it over all.

Episode Four

The episode begins with Kaem inviting his friends for a movie. They decline the invite while admitting later that they should have gone (which was a bit confusing as the four are such a tight bro squad). Then, Bbomb messages Jin with the excuse of having an extra ticket for the same movie. By now, Jin is a smart person and sees through the obvious “coincidence”. The two end up having another intimate moment of proximity while Jin is doing a live event in his room. In the Facebook comments, Jane Botta (the director) does a cameo, asking for a status update on the pair. The two still follow up on their “Non Date” to the movie. Jack puts his feelings aside while helping Som (the girl who likes Jin). I honestly felt bad for Jack, because he is a good guy and always puts other’s wishes over his own happiness. This episode was entertaining because it finally got the ensemble cast pacing down. It did hit on more interpersonal relationships, where we finally got to know that Som is actually the sister of the Senior who ardently ships Bbomb and Jin. The episode ends with a touch of cringe worthy scene where a drunken Jin finally forces Bbomb to face the fact he doesn’t like him and in response Bbomb forcefully kisses him.

Episode Four was full of surprises, with loads of character development and cute moments between Bbomb and Jin. It did a good job, until that ridiculous ending.

Episode Five

Up to this point Jin has been passive towards Bbomb. Enjoying all the benefits but never having any emotional attachments. All he had to do was answer the phone and allow Bbomb into his space. But when Bbomb crosses the line by kissing him, Jin for the first time speaks truthfully about his growing attraction. The scene is well acted and in it’s own way beautiful, except for the annoying light flashes. Bbomb’s patience is at its end as he lays out their situation before them, while demanding to know why Jin lead him to this point. I adored the back and forth, the raw emotions making that car seem too small for the two men. Jin takes that first step out of his bubble of passivity, as he admits he has feelings for Bbomb but doesn’t know what they are. Bbomb promises to wait for Jin until he sorts out his feelings and that he won’t push. Unfortunately the scriptwriters didn’t get the memo and nearly every conversation was about that very subject. Save Jay and Song who seem joined at the hip in a bromance way, almost all of Jin’s friends question him on his actions regarding Bbomb. I want to note it’s not a love triangle in my eyes because all Jin does in regards to Som is respond. While in Bbomb’s case, Jin pursues time with him in return for his own efforts. Just saying, it would of made more sense if they hadn’t pushed the Jin/Som aspect harder. Because by this point, Jin is afraid to talk to other girls because he knows that Bbomb won’t appreciate it. I was disappointed in the script because almost every memorable scene was geared towards Bbomb and Jin’s break-up. By the time the episode ends with Jin hurt(for the umpteenth time) Som is the one to reach him first while Bbomb is left to watch.

Episode Five would of been a great, if it didn’t spend twenty minutes redefining and undermining Jin/Bbomb’s relationship. A storyline where the entire focus is geared towards pushing an agenda, is a heavy load to carry, but it almost worked out.

An original premise with loveable characters and good writing makes “Nitiman” worth your time. I enjoy the characters even the ones with barely any screen time. The weird pacing can be a bit much too take at times, but overall it’s a fun series to watch.

Rating- 4 out of 5

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