As promised here is Part II of my Introduction to BL, for all those out there who want to know more about the international phenomenon BL or in full “boys love”.
If you haven’t already read it, here is Part I: Introduction to BL 101
The previous post had all about the definitions and terms used in the BL world, this time, let’s learn a little bit more about the history and the changes in the BL world. Stuff you should know or that is asked frequently.
I am not going to go deeply into the history of LGBTQ+ rights worldwide, seriously we would sit here for a long time since the topic is pretty complicated and this post would not be enough to discuss the topic. What I’m gonna talk about is some history behind BL shows and movies and their origins.
Note: This is all influenced with my opinions and how I interpreted what was happening. I don’t give a guarantee that everything is a 100% correct. If you find an obvious mistake you can correct me in the comments and I’ll edit the post accordingly 🙂
— The beginning —
The origins started from two sources. One, Manga or specifically Shonen-Ai and Yaoi manga (see Part I for definitions). Some genius somewhere in Japan had the idea to film a live-action of some of the movies and shows. Two, the Thai series Hormones.
The manga source is much more prominent that older than the Thai series and it influenced other productions as well as other countries. There were a lot of fans who also wished for shows and movies from other countries and so that came about. So you could say Hormones was one of the reactions to the Manga influence. Also note, that Hormones was not mainly BL but only had a BL story line included. Still, while Japan produced a lot of movies, they did not produce a lot of BL shows and focused much more on the movies. After Hormones, though, a lot of things changed.
The show started something that created a lot more BL fans and it became clear that something new was possible. I think it is amazing that so many shows nowadays come from these Asian countries while one would think that these countries accept less regarding homosexuality…but let’s get to that later on.
After Hormones, the field was open and some amazing person decided to produce this show called Love Sick The Series.
Note: a lot of shows come from novels released online in the respective countries, only a few are totally original as a series. I’m not totally sure what shows have a novel origin and which ones are original so I’m gonna treat them the same here.
Hormones gave the first push, Love Sick was the one show that really started everything. The story of the two high school boys Phun and Noh falling in love and dealing with the world and making sense of their feelings for each other captured a lot of hearts. It got so popular that after a 12 episode first season they made a second season with 36 episodes. And with LS a lot of people recognized that BL is a genre that could garner a lot of fans and viewers. But just know, we are still only talking about Japan and Thailand. Well, that’s because it’s mostly those countries that started it. After Japan’s movies and Thailand’s shows the genre became much more popular and common. Thailand continued with its new-found possibilities and continued producing a lot of shows, while it’s still on the backtrack with movies. There are some, but less than in Japan. Japan also continues to release movies but they are becoming more rare, I think that is mostly because Thailand and other countries continue releasing shows with a better production quality. Still, Japan went into the series area with their new drama Ossan’s Love. I was originally produced as a movie and later on rebooted as a series. I love the show and I’m curious whether Japan is gonna start producing more BL shows from now on and not just movies.
— Countries —
So that is one of the reasons why the biggest producers of BL shows are Thailand and Japan and yes…the USA (but I’m not gonna mention about that one since they do produce a lot but also mostly as side characters and less as main couples). So what about other countries?
China did produce some movies and series, most known the Addicted series. It was a big hit and most BL fans I know who have watched it are fans and wish for another season since the ending leaves a lot of possibilities open. Well, one useful info here: If you haven’t watched it, watch it! It deserves to be named one of the great BL shows out there, but also do not expect another season. Right when it was airing and everyone was hoping for another season China released its ban on television and radio regarding different contents, including homosexual content. Read more here: China bans depictions of gay people on television
We all still hope there’s gonna be a second season but it’s probably not gonna happen. This is another reason why with China, they produce some of the most awesome bromance chemistry couples but they mostly end as huge teases and you’ll never get any close intimacy. Still, they do have a lot of great shows with good chemistry between the male leads, I admit. We all can dream, right?
As for other countries: Taiwan has some shows, more than mainland China, less than Thailand and other countries. Taiwan and also Vietnam seem to have some shows that have non-typical story settings. So you don’t get the usual story lines but a lot of new dynamics, I think. Maybe that’s just me though, maybe that’s why there’s not that much though.
As for a lot of the other Asian countries: South Korea also produces some movies, a few web shows and in the recent years a few BL characters in main stream shows. In general South Korea is still keeping the down low with the topic though. I wish they weren’t though because I really wanna see a BL with the production quality South Korea normally has. Let’s wait and see what the future brings. As for the other countries, there are some shows and some movies, mostly movies though, and I’d love to say there are a lot, but there aren’t. There is a reason why there is a whole paragraph on Thailand and Japan and not really that much on other countries.
— Trends and Future —
In general, in the recent years, a happy ending for BL shows is coming more and more into trend. Also we are getting a lot more shows than movies than before, which is really awesome. The genre also build a steady fan base and is growing each day and I hope one day every fan can proudly stand and say they are a BL fan.
I hope you liked this short origins introduction. Sorry if it was complicated or chaotic. I kinda lost track during the writing process. I still hope it is somewhat in order. The next one is more understandable, I promise!
Next Introduction post is coming on the 4th/5th of February 2019.