Japan is well-known for popularizing Boys Love anime and manga, but there are also many Japanese BL dramas worthy of recognition. While this country is certainly no stranger to the genre, it is only in recent years that Japanese BL series have gained mainstream attention. This is all thanks to the breakout success of Ossan’s Love. Since then, Japan has continued producing innovative BL dramas and series at a consistent pace, with a very respectable collection to show over the years.
Japanese BL dramas are quite unique. They have a great sense of humour, but can also balance the comedy perfectly with substantial drama. A popular trend in this country is that famous BL mangas have been adapted into live-action dramas, which is always an interesting experience.
Occasionally, Japanese BL dramas feature mature characters and deal with more serious themes. This is a refreshing change if you’re looking for a different type of BL series other than the typical school romances. Of course, Japan also produces a fair number of BL series that take place in high schools and university campuses, just in case you’re a fan of that trope. The variety is a definitive strength of the BL series in Japan.
You’ll enjoy the many BL dramas in Japan if you like:
- Inventive storylines that think outside the box
- Varied and diverse romances
- Sophisticated comedy balanced with serious drama
BL Watcher has prepared a list of Japanese BL series and dramas from Japan made over the years! Read the reviews of each drama for information about the plot, the cast, and the episodes.
List of BL Dramas in Japan
Japanese BL Dramas in 2021
As soon as you start watching A Man Who Defies the World of BL, you’ll know this 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 of BL is a very peculiar drama with an unusual sense of humour, heavily catering to hardcore fans of the Boys Love genre. Told in an anthology format, each mini episode has a self-contained story that gently makes fun of the BL phenomenon.
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.
Although I tried to keep an open mind about the Given series, it seriously underwhelmed me. Maybe I’m too biased due to my attachment to the anime, but this uninspired remake lacks heart and soul. Instead of watching the live action drama, I would strongly recommend the Given anime for a much stronger reiteration of the story.
Japanese BL Dramas in 2020
Life~Love on the Line is a Japanese BL drama adapted from a manga. The two main characters are high school students, who first meet each other under quirky circumstances when walking home from school. This series chronicles the next few decades of their relationship, as they transition to university, the workplace, and the responsibilities of adult life.
Although Life~Love on the Line has an offbeat start, it slowly develops into a sweet and sensitive drama with plenty of poignant moments. The romance is depicted intimately, taking us through the emotional ups and downs of a gay couple.
Japanese BL Dramas in 2019
His: I Didn’t Think I Would Fall In Love is a Japanese BL series focusing on adolescent love. This short, leisurely drama features four teenagers in a beachside community, as they navigate their romantic feelings for each other. The two male leads are starting to come to terms with their sexuality, albeit in a clumsy and uncertain manner.
Up until the last episode, the narrative in His: I Didn’t Think I Would Fall in Love doesn’t go deep enough to resonate emotionally, playing it too safe with the storylines. Even though it takes too long to reach the climax, there’s still an innocent and wholesome love story depicted in this series.
Mood Indigo is a Japanese BL drama about a struggling author, who begins to write pornographic novels at the urging of his friend. Although the main character is initially reluctant to work in this industry, he slowly learns to adapt the eroticism into his writing. As he delves deeper into this salacious genre, the relationship with his editor also becomes increasingly sensual.
As the second instalment in a trilogy, Mood Indigo is the prequel of The Novelist, taking place years before its predecessor. It explores sexual topics in a clever, provocative way, pushing the boundaries more than your average BL series. This atmospheric drama balances its risqué subject matter with some surprisingly poignant moments, delivering a powerful storyline that is rich with emotions.
Ossan’s Love: In the Sky is the second season of the popular Japanese BL series, Ossan’s Love. The workplace comedy takes place in an airline setting, focusing on the complicated love triangles between the coworkers. While the drama features the same lead actors as its predecessor, it is not a continuation of the first season. This is a brand new story with completely different characters.
Unlike the charming first season, Ossan’s Love: In the Sky struggles to tell a satisfying love story. Despite the likable characters and strong acting performances, the quality of this BL drama is wildly inconsistent. The lacklustre narrative suffers from too many love triangles that feel exhausting to watch.
What Did You Eat Yesterday? is a Japanese drama that depicts the sweet, ordinary, and frequently hilarious day-to-day life of a gay couple. Each episode features an extended cooking segment, as the two boyfriends prepare dinner for each other.
Despite the simple premise, this is one of the best slice-of-life BL dramas in the genre. The show has plenty of charm, comedy, and heartwarming moments that will make you appreciate the loved ones around you.
Japanese BL Dramas in 2018
Ossan’s Love is a Japanese BL drama that gained mainstream recognition in the country, popular even among viewers who don’t normally watch the genre. The story focuses on a love triangle between two coworkers and their much older boss, who develops an inexplicable crush on his subordinate.
This workplace comedy is extremely funny, carried by a strong cast of actors who have immersed themselves into their roles. The zany humour, the unusual romance, and the buoyant energy all contribute to the success of Ossan’s Love.
Also known as Pornographer, The Novelist is a Japanese BL drama adapted from a yaoi manga. The story focuses on a university student who begins to work for an erratic author, transcribing his pornographic novels onto paper. The more they spend time together, the more sensual and passionate their relationship becomes.
The Novelist is the first instalment in a trilogy, taking place years after the events of its prequel Mood Indigo. This bold and cheeky BL drama explores the topic of erotica unapologetically. Some of the scenes are provocative and can even get pretty raunchy.