This year introduced many new 2021 BL series, including numerous Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, and Thai dramas. There was also a dramatic increase in BL shows from the Philippines, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the pandemic imposed tricky filming restrictions, causing delays or significantly impacting production schedules. Nonetheless, the popularity of BL continued to grow worldwide, and 2021 remained a strong year for this genre.
In my opinion, one of the top 2021 BL dramas was Bad Buddy. This delightful romantic comedy features a captivating story and a juicy relationship, carried by two charismatic leads with immense chemistry. The series gets every detail right, creating a sweet, sentimental, and sexy romance. Bad Buddy is the very definition of BL, and it captures all that I love about this genre.
Another highlight is A Tale of Thousand Stars. You don't often come across such a thoughtful and uplifting love story, set in a unique backdrop of a small Thai village. In addition to an engaging romance, the plot also contains many meaningful themes and messages. A Tale of Thousand Stars sets a new standard for BL excellence, and it will stay as one of my lifetime favourites.
I also adore Ossan's Love Hong Kong, a remake of the original Japanese drama from a few years ago. This charming romantic comedy is hilarious, lighthearted, and incredibly polished. It's also the first televised BL series in Hong Kong, portraying a gay couple endearingly to demographics of all ages. This TV show sets a culturally momentous milestone in the city's LGBT history.
My list of the best BL series in 2021 includes:
- Hong Kong: Ossan's Love Hong Kong
- Japan: What Did You Eat Yesterday?, My Love Mix-Up
- South Korea: Light On Me
- Taiwan: Papa and Daddy
- Thailand: Bad Buddy, A Tale of Thousand Stars, Not Me
There were many other entertaining BL dramas, movies, and anime series released in 2021. Notably, some popular BL shows were released around the end of the year. To keep track of everything, I have compiled a list of 2021 BL dramas to watch, ranked from best to worst.
Please note it's nowhere near a comprehensive list of all the BL shows released this year. I'm aware numerous entries from various countries are missing. My problem is I have too much to watch and too little time! As I watch each drama one by one, the 2021 BL series list will be routinely updated.
List of BL Dramas in 2021
2021 Hong Kong BL
2021 Japanese BL
2021 Korean BL
2021 Taiwanese BL
2021 Thai BL
Top 2021 BL Series
Bad Buddy is a Thai BL series about two university students with an intense rivalry. The main characters are neighbours whose families have feuded for many decades. Their friends from the engineering and architecture departments are also involved in an irreconcilable dispute. Despite the hostility around them, these enemies find themselves growing closer instead of antagonizing each other.
I can rave about Bad Buddy down to the nitty-gritty details, but the gist is I love everything. This series is self-aware and genre-savvy, replacing the usual BL tropes with quirky twists that change up the formula. The writing is sharp, transitioning seamlessly from intense drama to upbeat humour. This enthralling couple makes me blush with many sweet moments, cheeky exchanges, and steamy encounters. All these features are presented through sleek production values. I genuinely believe Bad Buddy is one of the best BL dramas in my lifetime.
A Tale of Thousand Stars is a Thai BL drama that explores what you would do with a precious second chance in life. After a death-defying experience, the main character makes dramatic changes to transform his lifestyle. In his journey of self-discovery, he also finds a sweet and innocent romance along the way.
A Tale of Thousand Stars exceeds all my expectations and sets a new standard of excellence in BL dramas. From the rich storytelling to the authentic acting, A Tale of Thousand Stars is a masterclass in every aspect of its production. The quality is so incredible that I'm almost left in a state of disbelief, like I can't believe a BL drama is actually capable of being this good.
Not Me is a Thai BL action series. The protagonist assumes his twin's identity to investigate what happened to his hospitalized brother. Previously, his sibling was part of a mysterious group that plotted hostile activities. The main character infiltrates the faction and tries to earn their trust while maintaining his undercover disguise. Yet, he faces suspicion from one specific member as tensions escalate dangerously.
Not Me creates a multifaceted story with fast-paced action, gritty mystery, and exhilarating twists. The main characters are memorable with distinctive personalities and share vibrant chemistry. As we follow them on a dangerous journey, we learn their backstories, understand their values, and champion their causes. The plot gains momentum once we grow attached to the cast. Not Me peaks around the middle with a streak of iconic episodes that resonate mightily.
Ossan's Love is a Hong Kong remake of the popular Japanese BL series. This workplace comedy features an unexpected love triangle between a young real estate agent, his coworker, and their senior boss. The Hong Kong version follows the same plot as the original Japanese drama, but there are additional storylines, more emphasis on the supporting cast, and a different take at the zany humour.
Ossan's Love Hong Kong has a cultural context that makes the series extra meaningful for me. From the first moment I heard the catchy opening theme song, I already had a gut feeling that I'd love this remake. Perhaps your viewing experience is a lot different from mine, but I stand by my positive review of Ossan's Love Hong Kong. This is an impressive BL comedy that will provide you with lots of lighthearted fun and laughter.
Light On Me is a Korean BL drama that takes place in an all-boys high school. The main character is a lonely outcast until he joins the school's student council. Although he is welcomed by a new group of friends, there's one particular student who clashes with him and makes his life more volatile. As they get to know each other better, the line between their feud and friendship becomes blurred.
There's much to appreciate about Light On Me, an excellent series with a solid start, plateaus slightly near the middle, but regains momentum in the final episodes. Best of all, the satisfying ending reaffirms its positive messages about friendship, first love, and forgiveness. All these themes are handled with delicate sensitivity, of course. It should come as no surprise this drama has such an enthusiastic reception among BL fans. With its brisk and upbeat tempo, watching all sixteen half-hour episodes should feel like a breeze, leaving you with a gentle warmth in the end.
The What Did You Eat Yesterday movie is the sequel to the Japanese BL drama. This slice-of-life story focuses on a middle-aged gay couple who live together. The film begins with the closeted protagonist taking his boyfriend on vacation, showing a surprising amount of openness in public. His partner is flattered, but he begins to wonder what could have prompted this uncharacteristic change in behaviour.
The modesty of the romance is my only grievance about What Did You Eat Yesterday. The best BL dramas are willing to display passion between the gay couple, whereas this movie avoids it at all costs. Nonetheless, I still give a stellar review because the rest of the film is perfect. The story feels engaging, the characters are lovable, and the performances resonate with me. Overall, What Did You Eat Yesterday fills me with glee, enthusiasm, and optimism. This excellent sequel strengthens my love for the franchise, solidifying it as one of my all-time favourites.
Papa and Daddy is a slice-of-life Taiwanese BL drama about a gay couple raising their son together. They lead a happy, ordinary life despite facing some gossip from other parents and a bit of meddling from relatives. Each episode focuses on their casual day-to-day events, as the couple navigates between relationship drama and family matters.
Other than a few clunky scenes that could be executed better, my review of Papa & Daddy is very positive. I appreciate the LGBT-friendly storylines from a cultural perspective, including a purposeful effort to normalize gay parenthood. To make progress in this world, we need more dramas that address these types of stories empathetically. With any luck, Papa & Daddy will inspire awareness and open-mindedness towards such an important topic.
Good 2021 BL Series
My Love Mix-Up is a Japanese BL comedy adapted from a manga. In this high school romance, the teenage protagonist is infatuated with a female student, but discovers she likes another guy instead. When her secret becomes exposed, the main character protects her identity by pretending he's the one with the crush. This fake love confession surprises his male classmate, who seriously contemplates whether he can reciprocate the feelings.
There's no mix-up about my feelings on My Love Mix-Up, which I clearly enjoy from start to finish. It misses my list of favourite BL dramas by a tiny margin, but that doesn't diminish my overall appreciation. I adore the humourous story, endearing characters, and super cute romance. I also love how it perpetuates the themes of friendship, empathy, and positivity. My Love Mix-Up is such a gentle, compassionate love story that fills my heart with exuberant glee. I highly recommend this fun, lighthearted BL series to cheer you up and brighten your spirit!
Lovely Writer is a Thai BL drama about a shy author who rises to fame when his romance novel gets adapted into a popular series. He is flustered by all the media attention from the celebrity world, especially after one of the handsome actors takes an interest in him. When both characters suddenly become roommates, their new living arrangement creates many romantic scenarios.
Every now and then, Lovely Writer would pleasantly surprise me with a delightful scene, or an inverted trope, or a clever piece of social commentary. There are moments of brilliance in Lovely Writer, such as the two outstanding episodes that dealt with Gene and Nubsib's families. The disappointing ending did affect my review of this BL series, dampening my overall enthusiasm. Nonetheless, I've enjoyed a large portion of Lovely Writer and I will remember it as a cute BL romance with so much endearing charm.
Golden Blood is a Thai BL series that focuses on the son of a mafia boss. With his life in imminent danger, the main character receives 24/7 security from a hunky bodyguard. Living together, the two of them form a connection while faced with constant threats and assassination attempts.
My experience with Golden Blood remains pretty positive. I'm tolerant towards its various flaws and don't believe they tarnish the quality of the series. With an intriguing plot and a dazzling romance, the content is strong enough to keep me entertained throughout all eight episodes. As far as BL crime dramas go, Golden Blood is a welcomed entry to this genre and represents the niche triumphantly.
Fighting Mr. 2nd is the sequel of the Taiwanese BL drama, No. 1 For You, continuing a few years after where the first season ended. All the characters are now working, and the BL romance has transitioned to a tech office environment. However, the main couple is not on the best of terms, meeting again after a few years apart. Their unresolved feelings for each other intensify, as they now mix romance with workplace politics.
While I don't think Fighting Mr. 2nd made significant improvements over its predecessor, this is a solid sequel that builds on its existing strengths. The drama remains enjoyable if you can focus on the compelling romance between the leads. By adding tension into their relationship dynamic, their scenes have gotten more intimate and provocative. The main characters already shared a great rapport in No. 1 For You, which strengthened further in Fighting Mr. 2nd.
To My Star is a Korean BL drama about a famous celebrity who goes into hiding after he’s rocked by a public scandal. In his hideout, he gets acquainted with his new roommate, an ordinary man who leads a modest, unassuming life. As they spend time together, a romance blossoms between these two roommates from very different walks of life.
For the most part, To My Star is pretty fun to watch. The series moves along at an energetic tempo with some juicy drama to keep you entertained. At times, the story does fall a little short and feels clunky in some places. With a more polished script, To My Star could've worked out a few minor kinks in the storytelling and become thoroughly enjoyable.
Be Loved in House is a Taiwanese BL series about the office romance between a boss and his employee. When the new boss arrives at the company, he immediately clashes with a headstrong, hot-blooded employee over a controversial workplace policy. Although their relationship starts off combatively, the two of them develop a bond as they work and live together.
It's hard to overlook the disappointing final act of Be Loved in House, but I still come away with positive feelings for the series. Overall, the drama built a strong enough foundation in the beginning that it could withstand a few weaker episodes near the end. What I will ultimately remember from Be Loved in House is the powerful chemistry, the cute interactions, the fun personalities, and the happiness that the BL romance evoked in me.
The Yearbook is a Thai BL series about two childhood friends in their senior year of high school. The main characters have been best friends, classmates, and neighbours for many years. However, their close friendship becomes strained as they wrestle with repressed feelings, emotional conflicts, and an unspoken secret between them.
The Yearbook is the type of drama where the characters will constantly discuss their feelings, memories, and experiences. Although the drama goes around in circles, it never stops being sentimental. Even at its lowest point, The Yearbook still maintains elegant and refined emotions in every scene. Overall, The Yearbook leaves me with a positive enough impression that it overpowers the weaker aspects. I'll have lasting fond memories of the poignant plot, the complex characters, and the insightful emotions.
Innocent is a Taiwanese BL series about a man with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). His two distinctive personalities mask a repressed trauma from the past. When he begins a romance with an ordinary man, they go through an emotional journey of anguish and healing.
Innocent has inspirational origins as a crowdfunding project that successfully met its pledge goal. The limited resources are evident in the production values, unable to shake off an amateurish feel. Nonetheless, Innocent is still a decent effort with an innovative concept and many elements I love about BL. It's fascinating to watch the same actor depict two different aliases, switching between an aloof personality and a childlike demeanour. This storyline is definitely unique and you won't see it every day.
The Immeasurable is a BL short movie from Taiwan that you can finish in around 20 minutes. In this passionate whirlwind romance, the two main characters meet, hook up, and quickly fall in love. However, the happy couple faces an uneasy tension over their polarizing views, which escalate dramatically.
For a twenty-minute BL short movie, The Immeasurable makes a substantial impact. The story is quick and compact, yet it accomplishes so much in so little time. It is paced well, not wasting a single minute with succinct writing that gets straight to the point. Regrettably, the events conclude at the most compelling point even when there's plenty of story left to tell. Although this film excels in many areas, it doesn't feel complete. It's like the short teaser to a longer movie, an appetizing sample that leaves me hungry for extra content.
I Promised You the Moon is the sequel of the highly acclaimed Thai BL drama, I Told Sunset About You. This series takes place during the university years, as the lead characters pursue their childhood dreams of becoming professional actors. However, the couple must endure an emotional journey full of setbacks, surprises, and sorrows.
I Promised You the Moon benefits from the residue goodwill carried over by I Told Sunset About You. My positive feelings attached to the first series help soften the criticisms I have about the sequel. The impeccable production, the charming actors, and the strong romantic chemistry constantly remind me of what I love about this franchise. Nonetheless, the bottom line is that I Promised You the Moon underdelivered when it could have been so much better. This is still a decent BL drama, but the shortcomings prevent it from being another masterpiece.
Peach of Time is a Korean BL drama with a mix of family melodrama and sweet romance. The main character is from Thailand and visits South Korea to meet up with his friend. However, what was supposed to be a fun casual vacation gets derailed by an unpleasant and unexpected discovery. The protagonist becomes entangled in a series of extraordinary events with a supernatural twist.
Every now and then, Peach of Time gets the formula right. This series shows it is capable of nuanced storytelling on a few special occasions, captivating me with its build-up of sensitive emotions. The rest of the drama doesn't move me, even though it tries hard to manufacture angst and force melodramatic moments. I appreciate Peach of Time for aspiring to do a different BL story, but it overreaches and doesn't often succeed.
Komorebi is a Taiwanese BL movie about a gay son on the verge of coming out to his mother. The main character has gotten married to his childhood sweetheart recently. While his sisters know about them, the mom remains unaware of her son's relationship. At family dinner, the conversation turns to the subject of his mysterious love life, pushing him closer towards honesty.
The story's down-to-earth vibe is one of its strengths. Komorebi is a remarkably low-key movie, showcasing ordinary characters, authentic interactions, and mundane plots. You can easily relate to the protagonist's fictional family, which feels like a genuine portrayal of the everyday Taiwanese lifestyle. The understated narrative also keeps any melodrama or angst to a minimum. The conflicts occur modestly, relying on introspective feelings to heighten the emotional tension.
No. 1 For You is a Taiwanese BL drama about two ambitious university students. They constantly challenge each other in sports and school. As these rivals compete for the #1 title on campus, they develop a passionate relationship along the way.
No. 1 For You features a handsome cast, solid production values, and a stellar rapport between the two lead actors. While not all the storylines are executed smoothly, there's a strong focus on the BL elements. This series will offer you plenty of romantic moments to gush over. However, the plot is shaky, the secondary characters are one-dimensional, and the main relationship takes too long to rev up. Plus, the series ends in a weird place, and it doesn't feel satisfactory unless you also watch the follow-up sequel.
My Beautiful Man is a Japanese BL drama about a student who falls in love with his bully. The protagonist is a social outcast in his new high school and becomes a lackey for the popular kids. Despite his awful treatment, he develops a hopeless crush on one of his handsome classmates.
Surprisingly, I like that My Beautiful Man doesn't give us a sugarcoated story with wholesome characters or idealistic scenarios. The sinister narrative disturbs me in some places, but it's also intriguing and thought-provoking. However, this romance is missing the warmth and tenderness that makes me giddy about BL. There're too many red flags that scream no for me, from the verbal abuse to the personality clashes. Even the ending leaves me unenthusiastic and unconvinced by their volatile dynamic.
Pornographer: Playback is a Japanese BL film and the final instalment in an ongoing trilogy. It is the movie sequel of The Novelist, continuing the story two years later with the main characters in a rocky long-distance relationship. Faced with personal insecurities and cheating allegations, the couple has hit a rough patch that threatens to end their romance.
I found Pornographer: Playback to be a slightly disappointing movie sequel. The first hour of the film is packed with excessive arguments and intense turmoil, but these melodramatic scenes are just thrust upon you without any build-up. Despite its turbulent start, the scenes during the second half feel significantly lighter, sweeter, and perkier, almost as if a storm has passed with better days ahead of us. As this movie wraps up, I am reminded of my enthusiasm for the characters, my optimism towards their romance, and my fond memories of this trilogy as a whole.
My Mate Match is a lighthearted Thai BL series about three strangers who move into the same house. The protagonist posts an ad to find a roommate, but he accidentally accepts two candidates for the same position. A friendly rivalry and a love triangle form as the characters compete to win the host's affection.
I like that My Mate Match has simple, silly, and slapstick storylines. Perhaps the comedy won't appeal to everyone's sense of humour, but the quirky scenes may induce an occasional chuckle. What works for this series is its infectious energy. It maintains a chipper, cheerful vibe throughout the episodes. Even when several jokes miss the mark, the series feels jovial and quickly moves on to the next comedic moment. There's rarely a lull in the upbeat momentum.
Call It What You Want 2 is the sequel of the Thai BL series Call It What You Want, continuing where the original story left off. Season 2 explores the fallout of the main character's shocking revelation, as his fragile mental state deteriorates further. With his trauma deepening, there's an emotional journey filled with fear, agony, and healing.
Overall, I can't hide my disappointment with Call It What You Want 2, which suffers many of the same pitfalls as its first season. I feel let down by the narrative choices that squander the most interesting plots, which aren't given adequate closure. The series created two immensely likable characters, played by talented actors, who shared sizzling chemistry together. Some BL dramas are lucky to meet any criteria, whereas they have the trifecta. But even with gold in their hands, Call It What You Want 2 still fumbled and couldn't produce consistent quality.
Okay 2021 BL Series
See You After Quarantine? is a Taiwanese BL drama that takes place during the COVID pandemic. The story is told through a series of video calls, in which the characters meet, converse, and flirt. Over time, romantic feelings develop between the two leads, even though they have never met physically in person.
Overall, See You After Quarantine is a decent take on a light and wholesome pandemic love story. Admittedly, it's not my favourite BL series ever and I don't think it goes beyond an average tier of quality. The snobby critic within me finds some elements slightly pedestrian, such as the trivial storylines or the low-budget production. If you're looking for a meaningful drama, you won't find it here. However, See You After Quarantine is still perfectly acceptable as a sweet and superficial romance with a happy ending.
Call It What You Want is a Thai BL drama that explores the sinister and scandalous side of the acting industry. When a new director joins the production of a BL drama, he is unsettled by the strict guidelines that have been imposed on the staff. As he forges a romantic connection with one of the actors, the ugliness of the company begins to unravel around them.
Call It What You Want lacks polish in various areas. Some of the lines sound awkward, almost like they are improvisational. The pacing feels off, spending too long on meaningless scenes that could've been edited better. The production values are also not the best. In the final episode, Call It What You Want becomes riveting to watch. The drama unleashes like a tidal wave, taking precedence over all the other plots. This story captured my full attention and I remained engaged until the end.
The Best Story is a short romantic series that you can finish in under two hours. In this Thai BL drama, the main character develops a secret crush on a male classmate, but hesitates to confess his feelings. As the end of their senior year draws near, the protagonist tries working up the courage to give his love confession.
The Best Story builds up a blissful and pleasant schoolboy romance until the fantasy comes crashing down in the final episode. Due to my distaste for the conclusion, I ended up feeling less enthused about this series. However, that shouldn't diminish its other excellent qualities. There's still a lot to enjoy about this BL drama, from the aesthetically pleasing visuals to the positive portrayal of adolescent friendships. Even if the story is nowhere near the best, it's certainly decent enough if you're a sucker for a wholesome high school romance.
Paint with Love is a Thai BL series about an uptight business professional and a free-spirited artist. The main characters meet during a job assignment, clashing over their personality differences. Since then, they begin working together in an office environment, as animosity and annoyance turn into attraction.
I like the cute concept behind Paint with Love, focusing on the personality clash between a workaholic and a free spirit. Over time, they're supposed to learn from each other and improve their quirky habits. Unfortunately, the story's execution falls short. The narrative strays off-course, getting sidetracked by petty conflicts, silly misunderstandings, and contrived drama. These distractions interfere with Paint of Love from building persuasive character arcs. The leads spend their time bickering and bantering instead of growing as individuals.
Hidden Love is a Thai BL series, featuring a supernatural mystery with romance and comedy elements. The plot takes place in a haunted university dormitory, rocked by a tragic love story ten years ago. In the present timeline, the main characters must live in the dorm for two weeks, as they endure the spooky conditions behind the urban myth.
Hidden Love peaks around the middle after getting over its clumsy start. The series finds the right tempo for a couple of episodes, maintaining high energy and an upbeat sense of humour. The story is ridiculous enough to be entertaining, but not so much that it ruins the immersion. Then, it veers off again near the end, becoming too outlandish with a sloppy conclusion. Overall, Hidden Love is a fun, creative series with some hidden merits, which unfortunately get overshadowed by its narrative flaws.
A Man Who Defies the World of BL is a Japanese BL drama was adapted from a manga. Its influence is very obvious in the feel and flow of the series. This drama takes place in a fictional universe where everyone is happily gay, except for the main character who tries to resist the BL tropes around him.
A Man Who Defies the World is a satircal take at the Boys Love genre, both celebrating and subverting the most common BL tropes. It's actually quite a clever series with moments of brilliance. Yet, not all the jokes landed, and a few episodes were definitely weaker than others. I wanted to burst a gut laughing my ass off at A Man Who Defies the World of BL, but that never really happened. The series could have pushed itself more as a comedy. It evokes an occasional chuckle out of me, even if I'm usually cringing as much as I'm chuckling.
Siew Sum Noi is a BL drama about sports, music, and romance in northeastern Thailand. The two main characters meet in school, where they both play for the football team. Although their relationship begins turbulently, they find common ground through their shared cultural identity.
Siew Sum Noi grew on me over time. I'm often charmed by its enthusiastic energy, upbeat musical numbers, and silly lighthearted jokes. As much as I appreciate these elements, the drama is just too uneven overall. The quality isn't consistently good, going through low periods of mediocre writing and shallow character development. Even if it rebounds from time to time, the positives and negatives mix together to form an enjoyable yet flawed BL series.
My Sweet Dear is a Korean BL drama about a restaurant romance. The main character is a talented gourmet chef who clashes with a confident newcomer in the kitchen. After spending time together, they get used to each other and their relationship goes from sour to sweet.
The romantic scenes in My Sweet Dear are endearing, far more enjoyable than the main plot. Unfortunately, the narrative flaws are too significant to overlook. The plot seriously goes off the rails in the last two episodes. Any goodwill I felt towards this series is bogged down by the dumb contrivances near the end. Overall, I'm still fond of this BL drama, appreciating the ambiance, cinematography, and performances. Despite the high-quality ingredients, I am disappointed by My Sweet Dear, like an expensive meal with a mediocre aftertaste.
Once in Memory: Wish Me Luck is a short Thai BL movie about a camping trip. The main character celebrates his birthday by going on a lakeside getaway with his friends. He is pleasantly surprised to meet an old acquaintance and invites him to join the group excursion. As the two men spend time together, they strengthen their bond in the beautiful outdoors.
This movie features a blissful BL romance. The relationship moments highlight a growing attraction. Each scene builds upon the sexual tension until it reaches a memorable climax in the film's final stretch. The couple goes on a pleasant romantic journey, even if the narrative can be slightly slow sometimes. Unfortunately, the movie lacks compelling protagonists. The main characters have generic personalities, vague backstories, and little distinctiveness. There are too many missing details, which prevent the viewers from understanding the leads better.
Fish Upon the Sky is a Thai BL comedy, offering a modern take at the story of the ugly duckling. The main character is a nerdy and lonely social outcast who grows smitten with a handsome, popular guy at school. He undergoes a dramatic transformation to change his appearance, in hopes of making himself more desirable to his unattainable crush.
I enjoy Fish Upon the Sky for its silliness and lightheartedness. Some jokes can be quite funny, even if the goofy humour may not appeal to everybody. It definitely benefits from a vibrant and energetic cast, who brings the humourous scenes to life enthusiastically. However, the story is too predictable, the pacing feels too slow, and the romance takes too long to develop. By the time the final episode finished, I was left unsatisfied by a shallow BL series that could have used more substance.
I'm a Fool for You Season 2 is the second season of the Hong Kong BL series. This sequel continues the story of two high school friends who fell out after a failed love confession. They reunite years later, hoping to mend their broken relationship. The protagonist also faces a crucial decision regarding his music career, which involves leaving behind his hometown.
The romantic encounters are the highlights of I'm a Fool for You. This series isn't afraid to be racy, embracing physicality between the characters. The series celebrates a liberal approach to sexuality compared to other dramas that sanitize sexual desires. Many love stories in this genre feel sweet and gentle, whereas I'm a Fool for You is sensual and gritty. I like that it doesn't sugar-coat romances. However, the story is too angsty, lacks liveliness, and becomes increasingly gloomy near the end.
Light is a Taiwanese BL movie about a struggling protagonist caught in a perpetual cycle of abuse. He is routinely beaten by his violent stepfather and used by men who treat him as a sex object. However, he meets a handsome prince charming who rescues him from his downtrodden life. Together, they embark on a journey of healing and recovery.
Light would get top marks from me if I was reviewing it solely as smut. The juicy erotica shines with gorgeous actors, kinky foreplay, and an overpowering sexual tension. However, I can't convince myself it's a credible BL story, no matter how turned on I might be. With shoddy writing and choppy editing, the quality falls short of acceptable. I can't justify giving this sleazy movie a high score and ranking it among the more legitimate BL series. Nonetheless, I'd still recommend Light as a secret guilty pleasure, and you might get a thrill out of its powerful sensuality.
Love Area is a Thai BL series about a budding romance between two restaurant employees. The protagonist and his love interest meet during a robbery, causing them to dislike each other at first. When they later become coworkers, their hostile relationship is mixed with developing feelings.
Between the inconsistent writing and the unsteady romance, Love Area feels average in most aspects. Luckily, this series is elevated by the charming performance from the lead actor. He exudes charisma with a beaming smile, natural expressions, and the constant twinkle in his eyes. Overall, Love Area is enjoyable despite some noticeable flaws. It's a pleasant Thai BL drama that meets expectations, on par with the typical quality in the genre.
I'm a Fool for You is a Hong Kong BL drama about a group of high school friends who reunite years later. The two main characters used to be close friends, but they drifted apart over the years. Now that they meet again, old feelings and awkward memories have resurfaced from the past. Their relationship becomes complicated as they are thrust into a love triangle.
Overall, I'm a Fool for You shows promise. This sincere BL drama packages itself well with solid production values. There's a standard of quality with its artistic camerawork & smooth soundtracks. However, the biggest problem is the acting. The leads seem nervous on camera, lacking charisma and energy. Also, they should work on delivering the lines in a conversational tone. The actors speak much more comfortably behind the scenes, sounding fluid and engaged. They need to bring that same type of enthusiasm to their roles.
Reincarnated Into Demon King Evelogia's World is an 18+ BL anime adaptation, also known as Everything for Demon King Evelogia. In this nine-episode series, a young man is transported into a fictional video game world. He meets the game's final villain, an innocent-looking demon king, and they embark on an adventurous journey together. The anime has an uncensored version, packed with erotic scenes between the main characters.
Despite the shallow characters and frivolous romance, Reincarnated Into Demon King Evelogia's World is pretty enjoyable for smut. If you don't take the events seriously, this delightful anime might enchant you with its upbeat and lighthearted vibe. Plus, it has a happy ending that makes me eager to see how the story continues through a second season. This ridiculous series won't be for everyone and you might not respond well to its sleaziness. However, those who appreciate 18+ BL might be pleasantly surprised by Reincarnated Into Demon King Evelogia's World.
Moneyboys is a Taiwanese movie that explores the world of gay sex workers. Although filmed in the country of Taiwan, the story is supposed to take place in China. The main character comes from an impoverished rural background. He escapes to the city and makes a living as a rentboy. His career comes with many challenges, including physical danger, emotional torment, and financial burdens.
I have a mixed review of Moneyboys. The good news is I didn't hate the movie, but the bad news is I didn't love it either. To be honest, I'm unable to muster passion either way. While a few moments are genuinely compelling, I feel detached for most of the film. I only have a muted response to the excessive melodrama, tiresome conflicts, and cliched writing. While it has some artistic merits, Moneyboys fails to move me emotionally with the gloomy narrative.
Nitiman is a Thai BL series about a university romance. After breaking up with his girlfriend, the heartbroken protagonist feels angry when his ex has quickly moved on with another guy. He lashes out at his love rival, only to discover there's a misunderstanding between them. As they clear the air, the two characters navigate through their confusion, frustration, and passion towards each other.
Besides a predictable plot, Nitiman also suffers from a convoluted romance. The main characters are stuck in a rut, repeating the same tiresome relationship drama again and again. At times, a few scenes resonate emotionally, delivering more sophistication and complexity than usual. I see glimpses of a better BL drama in my peripheral vision, but then my hopes fade away again when the story can't rise above its mediocrity. Overall, Nitiman is a very average series that mostly flatlines and never reaches greater heights.
Adapted from a Korean novel, Semantic Error is a slice-of-life BL anime series with four short episodes. The main characters are two university students working on a video game project together. Despite their drastically different personalities, the attraction between them is palpable.
I'm pleasantly surprised by Semantic Error, captivating me with the two likable protagonists and their sizzling romance. As much as I like what I see, the problem is that I only get a glimpse instead of the full picture. This series is simply too short and lacks cohesive content. It desperately needs extra episodes, ongoing plots, along with adorable relationship moments. Overall, Semantic Error captures my interest, but it leaves me feeling unsatisfied and wanting a lot more.
Dakaichi: Spain Arc is the movie sequel of the Japanese BL anime series, Dakaichi. This film continues the volatile love story between two famous actors. The protagonist travels to Spain to polish his dancing skills for an upcoming drama. He meets some quirky, memorable locals who share a history with his love interest.
Dakaichi: Spain Arc coasts along on its thin, meandering plot in the beginning. Later in the film, the story ignites with a few emotionally compelling moments. The movie continues the same depraved trajectory by glorifying harassment. It takes wicked delight in sexual exploitation, savouring the protagonist's discomfort as he tearfully resists the aggressive advances. The Dakaichi team is committed to this warped power dynamic, where every sex scene requires him to struggle against his will.
The Tasty Florida is a Korean BL series about a love story in a restaurant. The protagonist becomes a frequent customer at a popular rooftop restaurant, run by a handsome chef and his friends. Although an attraction forms between the two leads, their potential romance is complicated by a brewing love triangle.
I enjoy the vibrant energy from The Tasty Florida. The production is sleek and polished with a visually appetizing ambiance. Those dreamy close-ups of the lead actor's handsome face, dimpled smile, and rock-hard abs dazzle me so much that I can almost excuse any shortcomings. Beneath the pretty illusion, I must admit that the story, romance, and character dynamics are all severely undercooked. Ultimately, The Tasty Florida is too much of a flawed drama and not juicy enough to satisfy my BL cravings.
Second Chance is a Thai BL drama focused on a group of senior high school students. As they prepare for their final year before university, some of the characters take a chance to confess their feelings for each other. There’s also a big bullying problem in the school, where a few vulnerable students are targeted by violent attacks.
Second Chance feels lacklustre as a drama. Some interesting plots don't receive enough development, while the boring storylines get too much focus. The series shines brightly on rare occasions, where all its cinematic elements come together. A few romantic moments are highlighted through a soft soundtrack, intimate camera angles, and pulsating chemistry between the actors. If this same energy had been present in all the episodes, Second Chance could've developed into a really special series to watch.
Love Advisor is a Thai BL short movie about a fortune teller. The thirty-minute film showcases a lengthy conversation between two friends, who meet for a tea-reading session. What begins as a casual chat leads to dramatic revelations, heated interrogations, and unresolved tensions.
Love Advisor reminds me of watching a minimalist stage play. You must pay attention to what the characters say, picking up crucial details about the story from every line. It needs a tight script to engage the viewers in the cheeky banter, but the writing underperforms. The leads have a pretty mundane exchange, not enough to keep me interested throughout the thirty minutes. As I learned about the characters' backstories and dynamics, I found their lives kinda dull. It's like eavesdropping on boring gossip.
Tinted With You is a historical BL series from South Korea. The protagonist is a high school student who gets magically transported to the feudal period. Confused by his surroundings, he encounters a banished prince and his devoted bodyguard. The three characters live together, getting entangled in a love triangle.
Tinted With You presents creative ideas, but they're devoid of depth and development. The universe feels empty, only showing a tiny fraction of the historical background. Since the drama is on the shorter side, it doesn't flesh out the plots or characters enough. The wonky logistics of the fantasy plot never made sense to me from the start. I can't wrap my head around the bizarre time travel, cryptic messages, or abstract tropes. The more this series tries to explain its lore, the less I understand everything.
Nobleman Ryu’s Wedding is an innovative Korean BL series that takes place in a historical setting. The story begins on the day of an arranged marriage, except the runaway bride got cold feet on her wedding day. In an unconventional arrangement, the bride’s brother will impersonate her and pretend to be loved-up newlyweds in front of the groom’s family.
I really wanted to like Nobleman Ryu's Wedding, and I still enjoyed this series to a certain degree. At times, it's funny, lighthearted, and creative. Unfortunately, the many flaws in the storytelling cannot be overlooked. The narrative doesn't flow smoothly, jumping from scene to scene without much coherence or clarity. The romance also feels disappointing. Maybe the leads have a platonic friendship at best, but there's little evidence that they share passion or intimacy for each other.
Loveless Society is a Thai BL series about a workplace love triangle. The main character is employed at an advertising agency with his friends. When they work on a big company project, a suave consultant joins the team and stirs up a lot of emotionally intense drama.
Loveless Society cannot be considered a good BL series. The writing feels rough, the romance has no spark, and the low-budget production is pitiful. This series has a lot of room for improvement in its current state. Most aspects feel unpolished, from the amateurish acting to the crude camerawork. Nonetheless, the story is still occasionally amusing with its provocative melodrama. While far from perfect, I have a soft spot for Loveless Society and think it's an alright effort from a small BL studio.
You Make Me Dance is a Korean BL drama about a student dancer and the unlikely romance with his loan shark. Yes, you read that right, he falls in love with the guy who chases him over his debt payments. The odd pairing features two characters from very different walks of life, as the world of dance collides with the world of debt.
I'm all about dramas with innovative premises, but the concept behind You Make Me Dance was too out there for me. From start to finish, I had a difficult time suspending my disbelief when watching this series. I can't believe the scenario, I can't believe the characters, and I can't believe the romance that develops between them. With the weird story and the shallow romance, there were so many elements in You Make Me Dance that didn't sit well with me. Sorry, I just wasn't a fan of this particular BL series.
Top Secret Together is a fifteen-episode Thai BL drama, featuring five different couples at various points in their courtship. There are two workplace love stories, two school campus romances, and one long-term couple still going strong after ten years together. In the main romantic arc, an office employee and a new intern develop an attraction towards each other. However, a scandalous secret emerges and threatens to disrupt their bond.
Top Secret Together feels like someone forcibly combined the ideas of multiple half-baked BL series into the same product. Five separate stories are happening simultaneously, making the series feel disjointed and aimless with a severe identity crisis. It's jarring for the narrative to jump between an office workplace romance to two random students flirting on a school campus. This BL series overwhelmed me with the ginormous cast, multiple romances, and fifteen full-length episodes, like I was about to embark on a long exhausting odyssey.
Given is a Japanese BL drama adapted from a manga, focusing on a group of musicians in a band. When the main characters meet in school, they form a connection over their shared interest in guitars. However, one of them is harbouring an emotional wound, which can only be healed through music and love.
Sadly, the live-action Given series is underwhelming. It struggles to convey the events coherently, resulting in a rushed narrative stripped down to its necessities. I also don't sense a romantic connection between the leads. The Given anime does everything better than the live-action drama, from the more comfortable pacing to the deeper character development. Maybe I'm too biased towards the anime, but the Given series feels like a lacklustre remake without as much heart and soul.
Once in Memory: Love at First Sight is a Thai BL short movie about a cute, innocent teenage crush. The main characters are high school students who secretly like each other. As the pair begins flirting on and off campus, their relationship leads to a love confession. The narrative is divided into two parts. The rest of the story continues in the second film, Once in Memory: Just Found Love.
This movie takes a simple approach without complicating the plot. Although easy to follow, it doesn't present many layers to the story. The entire narrative revolves around the courtship, offering little else of interest. These young protagonists lack depth since they cannot draw from meaningful life experiences. As a result, their scenes together are mundane. In this movie, something as banal as ordering food and drinks is considered a romantic interaction. Once in Memory: Love at First Sight feels too lightweight compared to other BL projects.
Behind Cut is a Korean BL series that focuses on an aspiring fashion designer. As the protagonist tries to break into the competitive industry, he searches for the perfect model to represent his clothes. Contrary to professional standards, he recruits an inexperienced newcomer. The two characters form a romantic connection as they pursue their careers together.
Behind Cut doesn't explain the events or relationship dynamics clearly, leaving sizable plot holes everywhere. The choppy storytelling is plagued with missing context and uneven pacing. The final episodes revolve around a dramatic conflict, which plays out so vaguely that the ending seems unintelligible. Its unsatisfying conclusion lowers my opinion of the series, which isn't that favourable from the beginning. As I look back retrospectively, I can't come up with many positives about this milquetoast BL project.
Bite Me is a Thai BL series about a gentle romance that takes place in a restaurant. The main character's culinary talent is noticed by a famous restauranteur, who offers him a lucrative job. When they start working together, their relationship heats up in and out of the kitchen.
The main selling point in Bite Me is its visual presentation, highlighted by bright colours and vivid camera angles. Each episode showcases mouthwatering close-up shots of the food, matching the calibre of professional cooking documentaries. Unfortunately, there's a jarring discrepancy between the vibrant aesthetics and the dull storytelling. The story is terribly lacklustre, moving at a snail's pace to cover mundane developments. None of the plots feel engaging as they play out without drama or excitement.
Worst 2021 BL Series
Brothers is a Thai BL series about the budding romance between two stepbrothers. After their parents remarried, the main characters are now siblings who live together in the same house. Despite their rocky relationship at the start, they develop a close connection that goes beyond a typical brotherly bond.
Brothers falters any time it focuses on the romances, which make up the bulk of the story. Even without their stepbrother connection, the annoying main couple is fuelled by childishness, jealousy, and clichés. Both characters feel emotionally immature, like they aren't ready for adulthood, let alone a relationship. Then, there's the sordid teacher-student affair, which is obviously reprehensible and oversteps any ethical boundaries. The other filler romances are too insignificant, barely making an impact, like droplets of water in the big pond of BL.
Love With Benefits is a Thai BL drama about two bickering actors who cannot get along. The costars are instructed to live together in the same house to build their on-screen chemistry. As the days pass, their cozy living arrangement helps to ease any animosity and improve their relationship.
As Love With Benefits progresses, I keep shaking my head in frustration. I'm upset by the boring storylines with generic tropes, an awkward romance that falls flat, and childish characters who have shallow personalities. My expectations keep lowering after each episode, but this underachieving series still manages to disappoint me. By the time I finish the finale, I don't care anymore. I've moved on to another BL drama that feels way more invigorating. Let's leave our memories of Love With Benefits in a neglected compartment and watch something better instead.
Mr. Cinderella is a Vietnamese BL series about the unlikely romance between a doctor and a gangster. The leads come from different walks of life, but they meet over an incident with a stolen cell phone. After the gangster gets beaten up in a brawl, the doctor helps the injured patient with his recovery. As they share living arrangements, their relationship becomes a lot closer.
Mr. Cinderella has many quality issues, including problematic scenes and obnoxious characters. Everything about it gives off an amateurish vibe. This series has a long list of absurd and aggravating subplots. It specializes in contrived conflicts, excessive melodrama, and cartoonishly evil villains to power the narrative. Sometimes, the dumb shenanigans circle back to being campy. With that said, the story isn't skillful enough to elevate its tacky plots to delightful silliness. The buffoonery frustrates me more than I find it amusing.
Deal Lover is a short Thai series with a BL couple as the secondary romance. In this drama, the main characters must live together and compete against each other to win over a coveted house. During the heated competition, these roommates encounter various conflicts, romances, and temptations along the way.
I'm left frustrated by Deal Lover, which showed enthusiastic charm and vibrant creativity at times. However, its messy storytelling and silly conclusion squander any potential, making this series very difficult to recommend. What Deal Lover needed was more time. Some plot points are pretty interesting on paper, but the execution feels rushed and incoherent. By sacrificing nuance for speed, the emotional climax doesn't feel satisfying and the resolution becomes painfully hollow.
Sweet Curse is a short Korean BL horror movie. A bewitching spell is placed upon the gay protagonist, who becomes terrorized by a ghost. Every night, he is haunted by bizarre circumstances and strange erotic dreams that intensify dramatically.
My biggest problem with Sweet Curse is that I'm not persuaded by the weak narrative. The filmmaker could have used the thirty minutes wisely to tell a more vivid and much smoother story. This movie is unnecessarily convoluted. On paper, the plot should be straightforward, focusing on a gay guy who gets haunted by a horny ghost. However, Sweet Curse is bogged down by obtuse characters, strange pacing, and heavy-handed foreshadowing. I understand the gist of what is happening, but the narrative doesn't seem intuitive or flow that fluidly.
Country Boy is a short BL miniseries that takes place in rural Thailand. A small group of friends go on a trip by the countryside, staying with a mother-and-son duo at their lodgings. The two leads are from different walks of life, one from the city and the other raised in a small rural town. They work together to help the impoverished lodging from going under debt.
I found Country Boy lacking as a BL series. When you only have an hour to tell a story, you have to be smart about your storytelling choices. Country Boy wastes too much time on scenes that don't matter. It is also bogged down with too much exposition, all of which are delivered very clunkily. The BL content is developed to an absolute bare minimum. The one or two scenes near the end might be enough to classify this series as BL, but just barely so. Whether this is a bromance or a love story, Country Boy feels underwhelming either way.
Hometown's Embrace is a BL series that takes place in rural Thailand. The protagonist returns to his hometown after a personal tragedy, hoping to make a positive difference. Along with his group of friends, these six men band together to fight off the gangsters who have infiltrated the small village.
The one saving grace in Hometown's Embrace is its campiness. Inexplicably, this series is so bad that it circles back to being good. Some scenes are outrageous and illogical to the extent that my first reaction is laughter. Even at its lowest point, I'm entertained by the ridiculous scenarios, hammy characters & shameless product placements. There're boring BL dramas so awful that they feel unwatchable, but I don't have this problem with Hometown's Embrace. As long as you embrace its many faults, you may get a few hours of mindless fun from the A Tale of Thousand Stars knockoff.
The Cupid Coach is a fantasy BL drama made in Thailand. It focuses on a mythical god that arrives in the human world to fulfill a romantic wish. The problem is that it involves an unrequited love, and the cupid finds himself stuck in the human world until this wish is granted.
The Cupid Coach lacks polish and coherence in its overall narrative. The writing is shoddy and inconsistent. Despite the unique premise, this story isn't told interestingly. It focuses on awkward scenes which don't develop the plot, yet fails to capitalize on key moments that can amplify the drama. Without clarity and direction, the romances also suffer in quality, lacking in meaningful substance. I can't recommend this BL drama unless you're prepared for a very flawed product.
My Boy is a Thai BL series about a university romance with a small twist. The main character is slightly more mature in age than the average university student, and he returns to complete his studies after dropping out previously. When he encounters a young popular musician on campus, egos and personalities clash in a rocky start to their relationship. However, romantic feelings take shape once they clear the misunderstandings between them.
There's an aimlessness in My Boy that will frustrate you as much as it bores you. The paper-thin plot is only made worse by the dreadful writing, which relies too heavily on juvenile humour that isn't very funny. Almost all the characters are silly stereotypes and theatrical caricatures, completely devoid of depth or substance. They only exist to deliver bad gags and do nothing else. This series strays too often into absurdity, banality, and superficiality. I don't recommend watching My Boy unless you have a high tolerance for ill-conceived BL dramas.
Gen Y 2 is the second season of the Thai BL drama Gen Y. This series continues the campus romances between various university students. The sequel follows up on the cliffhanger in the previous finale, as everybody reacts to a shocking development. Afterwards, the characters must hide secrets from each other, repress their romantic feelings, and navigate complicated relationships.
I had an ominous feeling about Gen Y 2 based on the miserable storylines near the end of the first season. Still, I underestimated the rapid and bottomless deterioration in quality. The premiere begins nonsensically with ridiculous reactions to the previous cliffhanger finale. Each subsequent episode only gets worse. The viewers must endure half-baked plots devoid of suspense, yet they drag for hours before their predictably trite resolutions. I'm bored by the repetitive conflicts, stale romances, and dreary leads with lifeless charisma.
HIStory 4: Close to You is a Taiwanese BL drama about three friends who live together and work at the same company. One of the characters pretends to be interested in BL to impress a new employee, but what started out as a charade leads to the development of unexpected romantic feelings. Meanwhile, another character is confronted by an obsessive stalker, as the two of them go through a twisted and turbulent dynamic.
In HIStory 4: Close to You, one of the so-called romances is played out like a dark psychological horror. I'm left disturbed by the sinister actions of an utterly despicable love interest. It sickens me to see this grotesque dynamic passed off as some kind of tortured romance. Even putting aside its problematic elements, HIStory 4 suffers from crude storytelling, cliché characterization, and childish comedy. Personally, I can't forgive HIStory 4: Close to You for its severe faults, including a dreadful incestuous relationship that makes my stomach churn.
Other 2021 Series
Baker Boys is a Thai remake of the Japanese manga Antique Bakery. This twelve-episode series focuses on the quirky characters who work in a bakery, including an openly gay pastry chef. Each workday brings comical hijinks and delightful surprises. However, an ongoing murder investigation near the bakery makes everyone feel uneasy.
The charismatic cast is the highlight of Baker Boys. Even when the narrative deteriorates into nonsense, the charming actors still shine with natural performances. Sadly, the vivacious performers cannot rescue the woeful writing, which is the biggest flaw in this series. Many storylines are powered by silly contrivances, sappy cliches, and sheer stupidity. Several ideas are inspired from Antique Bakery, but Baker Boys severely butchers the material and strips them of any nuance.
Fairy Ranmaru is a fantasy anime series with homoerotic undertones. The story focuses on five fairies from a fallen kingdom. They descend to the human world, using magical superpowers to help various ordinary women with their troubles. As the fairies fight for justice, a rogue enemy works against them to spread discord and despair.
Ultimately, Fairy Ranmaru doesn't have enough substance. The narrative is too superficial with oversimplified plots, shallow developments, and predictable resolutions. However, I still appreciate the series as a guilty pleasure, entertaining me with its extravagant silliness. I also enjoy the flamboyant visuals, the cheesy songs, and yes, the gratuitous nudity. Even though I can't take Fairy Ranmaru seriously, it's a fun, endearing anime with a fabulous charm.
The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name is a Hong Kong BL slice-of-life drama about two university roommates. This short six-episode series chronicles the relationship between the main characters, from their student days to their workplace experiences. As romantic feelings simmer beneath their friendship, an unspoken love confession might change their dynamic forever.
Overall, The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name is a decent first attempt at a BL series. It captures the essence of the genre, portraying a light and sweet romance between two friends. Although the plot isn't substantial, the events feel authentic and the characters are down-to-earth. It's an ordinary slice-of-life love story in the best possible way, only focusing on the rapport between the characters. The viewing experience feels cozy and intimate without any fancy distractions.
The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window is a paranormal horror anime series with subtle BL undertones. The main characters use their supernatural abilities to exorcise ghosts and cursed spirits in the living world. Over time, they go from a working partnership to developing a close bond.
Despite feeling lost at times, I still liked The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window more than expected. The first few episodes didn't make the best impression, but the series slowly became tolerable. I got used to the storytelling style, grew fond of the characters, and felt engaged by the dark psychological themes. Ultimately, the narrative shortcomings in The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window hold this anime back from greatness. I don't believe the story is told cohesively, making the emotional arcs less impactful than intended.
The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window is a supernatural horror movie adapted from a Japanese BL manga. The protagonist can see ghosts and spirits, even though he isn't comfortable interacting with the paranormal world. He partners up with a mysterious exorcist to solve a series of gruesome murders around the city.
Maybe I would've enjoyed The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window more if I actually read the original source material beforehand. The complex plot is never adequately explained, leaving me confused every time a character uses one of their supernatural abilities. They suddenly know telepathy, soul-binding, or whatever inexplicable powers with no explanation. The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window just feels too rushed, too incoherent, and too joyless. I finished the film feeling unfulfilled, not understanding precisely what I had just watched.