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.
At times, Innocent evokes poignant emotions and captivates your attention with passionate relationship scenes. However, the unique premise is diminished by some questionable storytelling choices. You may be put off by the disjointed narrative initially, but the intriguing plot and romance pick up steam after the first episode.
Around 1 hour and 30 minutes
Sad and emotional
Around 20 minutes
Wu Zheng is an ordinary guy who lives in an apartment by himself. For his job, he runs a pool table lounge with his friend. One day, Wu Zheng returns home from work, but he is suddenly ambushed by a stranger crying for help. The mysterious man is Yu Shi, a neighbour who lives nearby. Yu Shi claims someone was chasing after him in the middle of the night.
Although Yu Shi is an adult, he seems to have the mental cognition of a child, coming across as innocent and harmless. Since Yu Shi is traumatized by the night's events, Wu Zheng decides to take care of him and agrees to live together temporarily. Over time, Wu Zheng realizes he might be growing an inexplicable attraction to Yu Shi, who likes to get naked around him. Eventually, they kiss and have sex.
However, Yu Shi is not who he claims he is. His actual identity is Noah, who is the same person as Yu Shi. It turns out Noah suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), causing him to manifest different personalities. Yu Shi is his other identity, sometimes taking over when Noah becomes traumatized and loses consciousness. However, Noah awakens again once he recovers to a lucid state. The difference between Noah and Yu Shi is a pair of glasses. Noah wears spectacles, while Yu Shi does not.
Unlike Yu Shi, Noah is sharp, belligerent, and cranky. He has a poor impression of Wu Zheng and resists his sexual advances. However, Wu Zheng is still attracted to Noah and wants to continue having a relationship with him. As Noah alternates between his two identities, Wu Zheng stays loyally by his side. The lovestruck Wu Zheng will cope with whichever personality comes out at the moment.
Wu Zheng Blake Chang (張得中) Blake Chang Instagram
Wu Zheng is an ordinary guy who only dated women in the past. However, he develops an attraction to Yu Shi, a neighbour who suddenly starts living with him. After discovering Yu Shi is actually Noah, Wu Zheng still wants to have a relationship together. For his job, Wu Zheng runs a pool table lounge with his friend Jun Zhe.
Noah Bo Zhan Zheng (蟻大點) Ason Instagram
Noah is Wu Zheng's neighbour who lives in the same apartment building. Noah has a condition called Dissociative Identity Disorder. Sometimes, he switches to Yu Shi's identity after losing consciousness or becoming traumatized. When Noah's identity is active, he always wears glasses. Unlike his counterpart, Noah is mentally sharp and acts a little grumpy.
Yu Shi Bo Zhan Zheng (蟻大點) Ason Facebook
Yu Shi is Noah's other identity. The Yu Shi persona comes out whenever Noah becomes traumatized. Although Yu Shi has an adult body, his mental cognition is similar to a child. He is docile and acts innocently. Yu Shi begins living together with Wu Zheng and they hook up. However, Noah doesn't approve of their relationship.
Yu Shao Lee (李宇劭)
Chin Ting Lee (李晉廷)
Drama Review Score: 7.8
Innocent captivates me with an intriguing premise. A BL drama about Dissociative Identity Disorder feels unexpected in a genre that is increasingly rehashing the same ideas. Of course, the themes are explored on a surface level, missing a chance to portray mental health and trauma meaningfully. Still, 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.
However, Innocent starts the series confusingly with a disjointed first episode. I needed to watch it twice to decipher what was happening. Typically, the premiere is used to set up the plot and introduce the characters. Instead, we're dropped into the middle of events with no explanation or context. While subsequent episodes are more understandable, the storytelling never improves. Ugh, there are so many times I wanted to grab the script and fix it myself.
The story isn't structured coherently or intuitively, jumping back and forth between fragmented timelines. Innocent also makes unwise narrative choices. For instance, why did we wait until midway through the drama to learn how the leads met? What should've been the opening scene was tucked away in an awkward flashback much later. Another bizarre decision was introducing a secondary couple in the last episode. Their connection came out of nowhere and didn't receive any development as expected.
I'm enthusiastic about the romance in Innocent, but have reservations about some aspects. Wu Zheng falls in love randomly and his attraction isn't explained well. Plus, it's dubious how he starts a sexual relationship with Yu Shi, who lacks cognitive ability. With that said, I enjoy the flirty interactions between Wu Zheng & Noah. It's a favourite trope of mine when the icy BL lead gets defrosted by his love interest's warmth and burning desire. Every time Wu Zheng makes a doting gesture and Noah responds with a repressed little smile, the BL fan in me gets giddy~ 😚
Noah's actor is okay in handling his complex roles. He gives a sentimental performance during the finale, but the rest is just adequate. I actually favour Wu Zheng's actor (Blake Chang) and find him more natural than his costar. What I like about both performers is their rapport with each other. The series demands numerous physical interactions, but they appear pretty comfortable with body contact and passionate kisses. Whether they're embracing in the shower or making out in bed, they tackle each relationship scene vigorously.
Innocent has inspirational origins as a crowdfunding project that successfully met its pledge goal. According to the director Maxine Hsieh, she took out a bank loan to supplement the modest budget, showing the dedication involved to create this drama. 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. I gave a tiny boost in the review score out of solidarity with indie filmmakers.
Innocent has an intriguing premise with a terribly incoherent execution. I couldn't understand what was happening at first. The first episode was unintuitive, not explaining who the characters were or their dynamics to each other. At one point, I actually thought I watched the wrong episode. I started searching whether there was a prologue that I needed to watch first. That was how confused I felt.
With that said, I enjoyed Innocent once I finally comprehended the plot. Eventually, I figured out that Yu Shi and Noah were two separate identities that switched back and forth. Yu Shi is the innocent persona, whereas Noah is the standoffish personality. I like how the two roles are distinguished by whether the character wears his Clark Kent glasses. This detail reminds me of the BL visual novel Kichiku Megane, where the protagonist becomes a menacing top with his glasses on and a sensitive bottom with his glasses off. 👓
Innocent perplexes me with its inexplicable storytelling choices. The plot is structured so weirdly in disjointed fragments. For instance, we discover how Wu Zheng and Noah met each other during a flashback in the middle of Episode 3. This first encounter should've been the opening scene, clearly introducing the characters and their relationship. I shouldn't have to wait until halfway through the series to learn these guys are neighbours!
The series would be way more coherent if they followed a linear narrative from start to finish. Of course, that's not the only problem in Innocent. It also doesn't address a lot of details that would enrich the characterizations. We never find out what Noah does for a living, how he managed his condition in the past, or how he coped through life with DID. As intriguing as the premise was, the theme was only explored on a superficial level. It missed the opportunity to capitalize on so much potential.
Wu Zheng and Noah
In my opinion, the romance in Innocent is stronger than the story. While I don't think the relationship is that well-written, it comes with a few redeeming qualities. I enjoy the dynamic between Wu Zheng and Noah, who share a healthy mix of tension and flirtation.
Noah is a character archetype that I respond to immensely. His cold, aloof demeanour is a front used to hide emotional vulnerabilities. I love how Wu Zheng builds trust with him, breaking down his barriers through warmth and passion. Every time Wu Zheng makes a sentimental gesture and Noah tries to hide his smile, I get BUTTERFLIES. 🦋
I also dig the romantic encounters between the characters. Their emotional rapport is balanced with plenty of physical interactions, including kisses, embraces, and cuddles in bed. The scenes feel passionate even without being explicit. While I've seen better kissing in other BL series, I appreciate how Innocent emphasizes the physical attraction in the relationship. Plus, the actors look comfortable with each other, making their scenes engaging to watch.
Wu Zheng and Yu Shi
I'm not into the relationship between Wu Zheng and Yu Shi, which doesn't do anything for me. The romance with Noah works because it's a healthy dynamic between two consenting adults. Noah doesn't always reciprocate the romantic advances, but he can say no, stand up for himself, and communicate with his other half.
However, that's not the case with the other romance. It troubles me how quickly Wu Zheng initiates a sexual relationship with Yu Shi, who lacks cognitive ability. Yu Shi's mannerisms are so childlike and even the psychiatrist says he has the mindset of a five-year-old. Despite all the red flags, Wu Zheng proceeded to have sex anyway. His actions feel exploitative and I don't feel comfortable with their scenes together.
Jun Zhe and Shang En
I wasn't surprised by the Jun Zhe and Shang En romance since it was spoiled in the opening theme song. However, their pairing didn't make sense to me considering how little content they received. Their characters never interacted until the final episode. Even then, they only had two scenes to portray their "relationship". I must use quotation marks because I'm dubious about its legitimacy.
If they wanted to include a secondary couple, Innocent should have put more effort into their development. Either give them more scenes or simplify their romance. Since Jun Zhe and Shang En only share two scenes together, don't introduce last-minute conflict or make their relationship unnecessarily complex. Give us a quick and concise love story. Otherwise, just scrap this couple and use that extra time to polish other aspects of the story.
In my BL reviews, I mention how some actors aren't given enough material to showcase their talents. I think there's the opposite problem in this series. Noah's character is tremendously complex. Even though the writing for him could be better, there's still a lot of material to work with here. His performer gets to portray two distinctively different personas with a rich backstory of melancholy and trauma.
However, I think the actor (Bo Zhan Zhang) is just okay in his scenes. He's decent during the emotional climax in the last episode, but everything else is pretty ordinary. What should have been a multifaceted role is interpreted very literally, offering little in terms of nuance. When his character is upset, he furrows his eyebrows. When he's pensive, the actor stares blankly ahead of him. This series could've been an excellent showcase for his acting skills, yet he doesn't shine that much.
In contrast, his costar (Blake Chang) seems natural and gives a more charismatic performance. The actor carries a bit of swag and captures my attention in his scenes. I also like the rapport between the two leads, who look comfortable as they immerse in their physical interactions.
Innocent has a happy ending for Wu Zheng and Noah, who are still together three years later. Wu Zheng proposes to his boyfriend on their 1000th day anniversary, accepted with a smile and a kiss. They spend the night flirting with each other in bed as the ending credits roll. The final scene shows them holding hands as they go on a date, reaffirming their love for each other one last time.
Before this happy ending, there was an emotional scene where Noah describes his childhood trauma. Noah explains he was molested by a man in the park. The memory haunts him to this day. He created the Yu Shi identity as a consequence of that incident. Noah coped with his trauma alone all these years until he met Wu Zheng. "I give Yu Shi to you", Noah says with a gentle smile. Wu Zheng takes off his boyfriend's glasses. This symbolic gesture indicates Noah can be himself without putting on an identity. They share a passionate kiss afterwards.
Noah's confession is an excellent scene, poignant and straightforward without being overwrought. It's heartbreaking to hear what happened to him during his childhood. At the same time, I like how he opens up to Wu Zheng. "I give Yu Shi to you" is Noah trusting his boyfriend with his most vulnerable secret. Wu Zheng taking off the glasses is also a meaningful response, symbolizing that Noah doesn't have to adopt another identity around his boyfriend. Overall, the Innocent ending satisfies me. Plus, those steamy kissing scenes aren't half-bad either! 😘
Innocent has a total of 4 episodes. Each episode is around 20 minutes long. The last episode contains a short scene after the post credits. It's a short BL drama, and you can finish the entire series in under 2 hours. Innocent started on September 24, 2021 and ended on October 15, 2021.
Around 10 minutes
The Innocent movie started as a crowdfunding project, which met its objective on October 31, 2020. A short 10-minute special was produced as part of the pledge drive. Many of the scenes in this preliminary special are included in the final series. The prologue is not essential because you'll be watching the same footage twice.
Around 5 minutes
After the movie's release, a short 5-minute Halloween special called Not That Innocent was released on October 29, 2021. The Halloween special is like Innocent on an arthouse acid trip. I don't know how to describe it…maybe experimental smut? This special contains some new footage of the characters kissing and wearing kinky attire.
Innocent Behind the Scenes
Innocent BL Information
- Gagaoolala Innocent Gagaoolala
- MyDramaList Innocent MyDramaList
- Queer Up the Volume Interview with Innocent director
- YouTube Innocent YouTube
- Zeczec Innocent crowdfunding project
Soul'Chill is a small indie Taiwanese BL studio that made Innocent (2021). The studio's name is also known as 夏花藝術.