Kabe Koji is a Japanese BL comedy series about a doujinshi artist. The protagonist is famous for drawing an adult manga with steamy characters. Surprisingly, one of his biggest fans is a celebrity idol from an up-and-coming boy band. The two leads used to know each other in high school. An unlikely bond forms as they reconnect, leading to hilarious hijinks, warm camaraderie, and emotional journeys.
I like Kabe Koji more as a story than a romance. This funny BL series showcases cheeky jokes, naughty innuendos, and a perpetually enthusiastic vibe. Beneath the boisterous comedy, the narrative explores thoughtful themes about pursuing your passion and overcoming personal demons. Unfortunately, the couple's relationship lacks persuasion. The romantic attraction doesn't feel fully developed.
Kabe Koji Summary
Around 3 hours
Happy and funny
Around 22 minutes
Mamoru Nekoyashiki is a doujinshi artist who draws steamy BL manga, including titles like "Please Suck on My Enormous, Manly Tits". His erotic art has earned him many fans. Yamada, his university classmate and best friend, is one of Mamoru's most loyal readers. She volunteers as Mamoru's assistant and considers herself his number-one fan. Despite his popularity, Mamoru is unsociable. He doesn't like mingling with others and only ever opens up to Yamada. Even then, his bubbly friend is the one who initiates most of the communication.
Mamoru frequently participates in Comic Kingdom, the world's largest doujin festival. Manga artists can set up kiosks and sell their works to fans during the event. The festival panel selects a small group of excellent artists, allowing them to set up the booths by the wall. This convenient location is highly coveted by participants because it symbolizes their fame and popularity. Those who get the VIP spots are called the "Wall Circle". Mamoru is a part of this elite club, which validates his self-worth.
Issei is Mamoru's friend from high school. Issei is warm and friendly, while Mamoru is cold and standoffish. They used to be close despite their different personalities. After graduation, Issei has become a celebrity idol known as Issay. He is a part of an up-and-coming boy band called Shiny Smile. The other members are Tsubasa, Ryu, and Kyou. Lately, Shiny Smile has become a media sensation, earning them many fans. The group is known for their squeaky-clean reputation without any scandals.
Issei is a fan of Mamoru's BL manga. He attends the doujinshi festival to buy the latest book and reconnects with his high school classmate. Despite his celebrity status, Issei doesn't keep a low profile or hide his fondness for Mamoru. After reuniting, Issei is eager to stay involved in Mamoru's life. He exchanges phone numbers and hopes to keep in touch. Yet, Mamaoru isn't used to having a famous friend and feels insecure around Issei.
Secretly, Mamoru is a massive fan of Issei and harbours a crush on him. He collects celebrity memorabilia, building a dedicated shrine to the celebrity idol. Yet, he doesn't disclose his attraction. Not even Yamada knows how Mamoru feels about Issei. Mamoru doesn't believe he's worthy of dating Issei due to the differences in their fame and personalities. He seems resigned to admiring his childhood friend from afar. Nonetheless, Issei wants to know him better and tries to pursue a relationship.
Kabe Koji Trailer
Kabe Koji Cast
Koudai Matsuoka (松岡広大)
Mamoru is a doujinshi artist who draws steamy BL manga. He is also known by his pen name Honeniku. Mamoru has many loyal fans, which include his university classmate and best friend Yamada. Mamoru regularly participates in Comic King, the world's biggest doujin festival. Despite being considered one of the most famous artists at the festival, he feels anxious about maintaining his popularity.
Masaki Nakao (中尾暢樹)
Issei is Mamoru's high school classmate. Since graduation, Issei has become a young celebrity idol. He is a part of the up-and-coming boy band Shiny Smile. Issei is eager to reconnect with Mamoru after meeting at a doujinshi festival. Although Mamori tries avoiding his childhood acquaintance, Issei wants to pursue a relationship.
Honoka Yahagi (矢作穂香)
Toshiki Tateishi (立石俊樹)
Rui Kihara (木原瑠生)
Eito Konishi (小西詠斗)
Kanako Miyashita (宮下かな子)
Masaki Kaji (加治将樹)
Yoichiro Saito (斉藤陽一郎)
Rion Takahashi (髙橋里恩)
Zoffy Ueda (上田航平)
Kinako Kobayashi (小林きな子)
Yamano Umi (山野海)
- Issei's actor (Masaki Nakao) has a guest role in the 2022 Japanese BL comedy Fudanshi Bartender. He appears in Episode 1.
- Kyou's actor is a supporting character in the 2019 drama Shujin-ko.
Kabe Koji Review
Drama Review Score: 8.1
Kabe Koji is a hilarious BL comedy, cracking me up with its wacky jokes, naughty innuendos, and campy humour. It is a goldmine for one-liners, delivering some of the most legendary quips uttered in this genre. The series also features cartoonish characters who give theatrical reactions and indulge in silly, slapstick behaviour. Yet, the over-the-top antics remain endearing without veering into obnoxiousness. Kabe Koji makes me laugh with its constant quirkiness, cheekiness, and giddiness.
Impressively, Kabe Koji pairs its upbeat comedy with meaningful plots and sentimental messages. This thoughtfully written story explores an emotional journey as the main character battles personal demons. The series highlights an artist's struggles with creative slumps and declining popularity. On a deeper level, it examines philosophical themes about pursuing your passions and preserving your individuality. Although a few moments are cheesy, I respond positively to the schmaltziness. As the protagonist overcomes his insecurities, Kabe Koji feels moving and inspirational.
Kabe Koji is anchored by colourful characters with memorable personalities. Admittedly, Mamoru can be unlikable due to his standoffishness. Yet, I sympathize with his anxieties and psychological burdens. The other lead, Issei, has such a pure heart that he seems unreal. Nonetheless, I admire his perseverance, emotional intelligence, and sunny optimism. I also love the supporting cast, who have their moments to shine in the spotlight. My favourite is the bubbly Yamada, but Nikaido's subplot is surprisingly engaging. I really like how the story redeems his character in the end.
The delightful cast is bursting with personality. Everyone exudes so much liveliness and flamboyance, elevating the outlandish humour in this jovial series. The leads (Koudai Matsuoka & Masaki Nakao) give firm performances, handling comedic and dramatic moments equally well. Likewise, Yamada's actress (Honoka Yahagi) is outstanding. She exhibits a perky charm and becomes such a lovable sidekick. In addition, Kabe Koji is dazzling with a vibrant style. I adore the cheerful opening song and those funny speech bubbles accentuating the characters' thoughts.
As much as I enjoy the story, comedy, and characters, Kabe Koji has a glaring flaw. Unfortunately, this series lacks a persuasive romance. Although the leads harbour feelings for each other, their exchanges don't convey much passion. Mamoru resists Issei's affection on multiple occasions, constantly pushing him away. Their love seems defined by rejection instead of reciprocation. The characters also don't spend enough time together. While they have chats and go on one measly date, the couple's relationship content is thin. I need more scenes emphasizing their attraction.
Mamoru and Issei have an emotional bond. I like how they support each other's dreams, offering encouragement, advice, or consolation. Yet, their connection is missing a romantic spark. The love story feels underdeveloped and underwhelming compared to the best BL dramas. The bottom line is I can't picture Mamoru and Issei as a couple. Regretfully, the weak relationship lowers my overall enthusiasm for Kabe Koji. Nevertheless, there's still so much I appreciate. This series wins over me with its boisterous comedy, brilliant writing, and beautiful character arcs.
Kabe Koji is a hilarious comedy with naughty jokes, wacky humour, and legendary one-liners. The story also contains thoughtful themes and sentimental messages about pursuing your passions.
I can't envision the leads as a couple. Although they have an emotional bond, their romantic connection feels underdeveloped. Mamoru keeps rejecting Issei instead of reciprocating his affection.
The cast brings so much liveliness, enthusiasm, and flamboyance to their roles. Yamada's actress (Honoka Yahagi) is the standout, exuding so much charm and bubbliness as the lovable sidekick.
Kabe Koji has a happy ending where Mamoru becomes enlightened and overcomes his personal demons. Although the finale is a bit cheesy, I respond positively to the heartwarming schmaltziness.
This series is campy! I adore the upbeat opening song with a surprisingly catchy tune. I also enjoy the comedic quirks, like adding thought bubbles or big fonts to emphasize the characters' reactions.
Kabe Koji is a cheerful BL comedy series with a boisterous sense of humour. Despite the lacklustre romance, the touching story explores nuanced plots and beautifully crafted character arcs.
Kabe Koji Episodes
Kabe Koji Nekoyashiki-kun Deserves to be Recognized has a total of 8 episodes. Each episode is around 22 minutes long. It is a medium-length BL drama, and you can finish the entire series in around 3 hours. Kabi Koji started on October 3, 2022 and finished its last episode on November 21, 2022.
Episode 1 Review
I'm obsessed with the opening theme song. The upbeat melody is surprisingly catchy. Also, the visuals manage to be both hilariously camp and overly dramatic. It's the perfect song to get me in the mood for twenty minutes of hilarious hijinks. Every episode, I'm humming along to this happy little tune. GIVE ME THE SHINY SMILE! 😙
I like how this episode ends, revealing Mamoru is a secret admirer of Issei's idol career. Their relationship dynamic is intriguing because both leads appreciate their love interest's individual talents. Issei likes Mamoru's art, while Mamoru follows Issei's celebrity fame. They're supportive of one another despite being in different lines of work. Issei and Mamoru are each other's biggest fans.
My first impression of Kabe Koji is positive. I respond well to the kooky comedy style with eccentric characters and exaggerated reactions. Also, I like how the series adds quirky details to amplify the jokes. For example, the characters have cartoonishly big bellies after finishing a hearty meal. The text effects are cute touches too. I appreciate how much effort Kabe Koji puts into maximizing the humour in every scenario.
Episode 2 Review
I like how this episode begins ominously. Shiny Smile is on the cusp of stardom, but these two jaded reporters are ready to bring them down. "Guys their age always have something to hide," Akaido warns. Afterwards, we see a shot of Issei through a camera lens, almost resembling the crosshairs on a gun. I fear for Issei, knowing he has been marked as a paparazzi target. As his romance with Mamoru develops, there's potential for a career-breaking scandal if the journalists expose their gay relationship.
"All fujoshi have a dick growing in our hearts." OH MY GOD, I'M SCREAMING. I had to stop the episode at this point just to keep my laughter under control. 😆 That has to be one of the most legendary lines uttered in the BL genre, right? I have never heard someone articulate the BL fandom with such eloquent precision. From now on, I shall carry this wise mantra every time I watch a BL series. Yamada's voice will manifest in my head subliminally, like the BL version of Star Wars Yoda.
Despite the wacky comedy, Kabe Kobe also contains some empowering messages. I really resonate with what Issei says during the radio show. Pursuing your passion isn't as easy as it seems, and he respects those who persevere as they strive toward their dreams. His inspirational words motivate Mamoru to overcome his creative slump and draw a new manga. I like how Kabe Koji ties the two protagonists' storylines together, showing that Issei's advice guides Mamoru through an ordeal.
I'm obsessed with every item in Mamoru's bedroom shrine, from the CDs to the banners. Also, I spy with my little eye on a shirtless magazine cover of Issei~ I love the amount of detail the production team puts into the props just to sell a few seconds of this visual gag.
Episode 3 Review
I love the guy who talks in four-character idioms. That's such a funny quirk. 😆 Honestly, I like many of the supporting characters in Kabe Koji. They have endearing traits and colourful personalities. The bubbly Yamada is my favourite, but I also like Ryu, Mamoru's mom, and the fabulous Bearded Framboise. The only one I don't like so far is Tsubasa, whose grouchy personality is unbearable. However, I understand his antagonism is meant to drive conflict in the plot.
"At last, his smiles come naturally to him." There's something so sad about this line. Mamoru used to think his high school friend lived a carefree life. Beneath his sunny disposition, Issei hides a sorrowful background. In reality, Issei forces himself to smile to mask his torment. The turning point in his life is when Mamoru encourages him to become an idol because of his cheerfulness. Until then, Issei could only smile to cover up his grief. Yet, Mamoru helps Issei believe that he should smile out of genuine happiness. Mamoru implies: Your smile has the power to inspire others.
I wish we could see more of Mamoru and Issei's high school memories. So far, I have a hard time visualizing their bond. Apparently, they used to have one-on-one chats at night. Show us the conversations because I'm curious about what these two have in common. Issei seems devoted to his high school pal, even though Mamoru has been rude, prickly, and downright antagonistic. Their one-sided childhood friendship befuddles me. Kabe Koji would benefit from additional flashbacks of Mamoru being kind to Issei, helping us understand their connection.
Episode 4 Review
I love Mamoru's response to Issei asking for a phone call: "This is exactly why I don't communicate with others!" LMAO. That's relatable. I like the entire exchange between them over the phone. It's nice seeing Mamoru support Issei during his crisis. He initiates communication between them, overcoming his social anxiety to console his friend. I also like the philosophy behind his wise advice. It's arrogant to judge someone without understanding their circumstances.
Okay, I'm just going to say it. Kick Tsubasa out of Shiny Smile! Why is this guy acting like such a diva? The other three group members get along, whereas Tsubasa is a raging asshole at every opportunity. He creates a toxic work environment with his constant hostility. With that said, I respect Issei's emotional intelligence. Most people would lose their cool around Tsubasa, but Issei remains calm and patient during the confrontation. His conflict-resolution skills are impressive.
You may or may not have noticed tiny changes to the opening song. Starting with this episode, the song features new POV shots showcasing a different Shiny Smile member. Episode 4 focuses on Tsubasa, Episode 5 on Ryu, Episode 6 on Kyou, and Episode 7 on Issei. Kabe Koji mixes up the footage to add variety to the visuals. Now you can see your favourite idol give his shiny smile on stage!
Episode 5 Review
Tsubasa's storyline is too cheesy for me, crossing the line into schmaltziness. With that said, the subplot highlights Issei's sweet and wholesome personality. The scandalous article puts this boy band under much scrutiny. Yet, Issei responds to the pressure graciously without any missteps. After Tsubasa apologizes to the fans, I like how Issei goes off-script and defuses the tension with his humour. That moment really showcases what's so endearing about Issei.
In addition, I enjoy seeing the four characters develop stronger bonds as they overcome their emotional drama. They feel like friends instead of just colleagues in the same idol group. When Issei comes out later in the series, it's a momentous decision that affects the other members. Yet, I understand why they support him and stand unified as a group.
I'm concerned about the lack of progress made with Mamoru and Issei's romance. Only three episodes are left, yet their relationship has been moving in baby steps. Episode 5 barely featured them together. This couple's feelings aren't where they should be during an eight-episode series. I'm starting to feel like the story doesn't prioritize the BL content. It has thoughtful themes exploring personal growth and self-discovery, but the romance is too mild.
Episode 6 Review
I love the scene where Yamada and Issei visit Mamoru's apartment. Yamada carries that scene with her hilarious overreactions to every Issei x Mamoru moment. The actress (Honoka Yahagi) brings boisterous charm and effusive energy, making the comedic scenarios way funnier. I cracked up when she made an audible noise after Issei said, "That's what I love about you." Later, she delivers a hilariously meta line: "Am I the background character in a BL?" Yamada is such a fun addition to the series, elevating every scene.
Mamoru doesn't want to admit his romantic feelings for Issei. Every time Yamada visits, he hides his secret collection of Shiny Smile memorabilia. Mamoru's denial comes from feeling self-conscious about his same-sex attraction. In addition, he feels unworthy of dating Issei, a celebrity out of his league. As Yamada tells him, "He's beyond you." Yet, notice how neither Yamada nor Issei cares about Mamoru's love shrine in his room. They treat the merchandise nonchalantly, showing that Mamoru's insecurities are just in his head. The negativity comes from internally than externally.
Growing up, Mamoru felt insecure about being gay and denied his attraction to men. That was until he found validation at the doujinshi festival. The event became a safe haven for Mamoru, where he was comfortable expressing himself. This story is clever because it ties Mamoru's sexuality with his passion for BL art. There are thematic parallels between the two topics. On one level, Mamoru is worried as an artist because he's losing popularity. On a deeper level, Mamoru is insecure as a gay man because he can't fit in with his community.
Mamoru changes his art style to conform to mainstream tastes. He starts drawing conventionally pretty boys, even though his true passion is for erotic bara art. Despite catering to the public, Mamoru's readers don't respond to his new BL manga. Maybe they can sense the insincerity in his work. Their rejection sends Mamoru on a downward spiral, making him question his self-worth. He used to feel empowered at the doujinshi festival, but now it gives him anxiety. Mamoru suffers an existential crisis. All his personal insecurities have resurfaced, overwhelming him.
Mamoru suffered lifelong anxieties about not fitting in with society as a gay man. He turned down Issei's confession out of self-loathing. For a while, Mamoru took safe refuge at the doujinshi festival, where he could be confident in himself. Yet, he succumbs to his previous struggles with self-doubt. Once again, Mamoru conforms and compromises his individuality to fit in with the norm. The series title, "Nekyoyashi-kun Desires to be Recognized" refers to his desperate need for approval. He yearns for others to accept him instead of just living life autonomously.
Episode 7 Review
The quality that stands out most about Issei is his honesty. As an idol, you're expected to hide many aspects of yourself from the public eye. Yet, Issei doesn't see the need to sneak around or change his behaviour. During his date, he asks, "What's the problem with taking a photo of us together?" Typically, gay rumours circulating around a male celebrity can impact his career. Yet, Issei insists on being himself. He openly flirts with a guy despite being followed by a journalist.
Issei doesn't see his sexuality as a scandal. As Issei said in the past, he believes his attraction to men is normal. Let the reporter take pictures of me. This is who I am. Other people may not share the same enlightened thinking, but Issei refuses to feel ashamed or live insecurely. Remarkably, his character embodies pride and self-assurance. Unlike Mamoru, Issei won't compromise his individuality to appease others.
Nikaido's character was introduced as an antagonist with a sinister intent. He wanted to tear down the famous boy band, wiping the shiny smiles off their hopeful faces. Nikaido's instincts were right, and he sniffed out a juicy news story about a celebrity's secret gay affair. After observing Issei and Mamoru, Nikaido figures out the nature of their relationship. In this episode, he sings the lyrics to a sad love song while mulling over what to do with the info.
In a surprising plot twist, Nikaido decides not to expose Issei's romance. During the investigation, Issei befriended the reporter. His positivity rubbed off on the jaded journalist, turning the former hater into a loyal fanboy. I love the transformation in Nikaido's character arc. He ends up championing Issei instead of sabotaging him, like a triumphant case of love prevailing over hate. As a bonus, Nikaido gets his juicy scoop in the finale. He writes an empowering article about Issei's coming-out, which overshadows the sleazy hit piece from his colleague.
Mamoru and Issei
I'm frustrated with Mamoru. He keeps turning down Issei, who has been devoted to him since the start of the series. There has been so much rejection in their relationship. Mamoru delivers harsh remarks like, "I never want to see you again" or "Being with you is agonizing." It's hard to root for this couple's love story when I don't get a romantic vibe from them.
Yet, I sympathize with Mamoru's emotional turmoil. Being with Issei brings out Mamoru's insecurities. Issei is a successful superstar, nearly perfect in every way. Yet, Mamoru believes his celebrity crush is too good for him. When they are together, Mamoru feels inferior. He keeps repeating that Issei is ~beyond him~ as if his love interest is on a different plane of existence. Mamoru doesn't believe a failed artist like himself deserves Issei, who is out of his league.
Mamoru feels inadequate, not just because Issei is a celebrity. Their relationship causes pain because they have different mentalities. Issei exhibits a natural self-assuredness that Mamoru cannot attain. Issei is so comfortable in his own skin, whereas Mamoru struggles to accept himself. This sad, insecure introvert retreats even further because he cannot relate to the happy, confident extrovert. Mamoru is in agony, conflicted between his romantic feelings and his anxieties. His line at the end of the episode is heartbreaking: "I hate myself for being like this." 😢
I like the happy ending! Kabe Koji finishes with sentimental messages about self-acceptance as Mamoru overcomes his personal demons. I have a few minor critiques. One, some scenes are cheesy, especially the part where Issei comes out on stage. Two, the camera spins around too much during that last part. I'M DIZZY~ 😵💫 And three, I'm dissatisfied with the weak romance. The story may be poignant and thoughtful, but the BL content isn't up to par. Gimme more relationship moments of Mamoru and Issei as a couple!
After the news article publishes, homophobia reared its ugly head with an onslaught of outraged reactions. However, I laughed at one of the comments, which said: "If only he was dating one of the fellow members." LMAO. I like how Nikaido uploads another article debunking the gay rumours. On top of that, he apologizes in person. You can't undo opening Pandora's box after outing someone. However, I still appreciate Nikaido's gestures as a sign of allyship. He goes from a sleazy tabloid reporter to an ethical journalist with integrity. What a great transformation!
I like how Yamada and Tsubasa are the ones to pull Mamoru and Issei out of their funks. Yamada has been such a great friend throughout the series. She is like Mamoru's rock, constantly supporting him through highs and lows. Likewise, it's sweet that Tsubasa goes to the festival (in a hilarious disguise) and buys the manga. Issei showed him incredible kindness earlier in the series, and now Tsubasa can repay the favour. Kabe Koji is excellent at crafting these meaningful character arcs. Even the supporting characters go on journeys and grow as individuals.
Kabe Koji has a happy ending where Mamoru regains his enthusiasm to draw BL art again. His turning point comes during an emotional encounter with Yamada, who urges her friend to be honest with himself. Stop pandering to the readers or caring about the festival. Instead, her advice to him is: "Just draw what you want to draw!" At last, her motivational words get through to Mamoru. He ends up drawing a new manga based on his experiences with Issei.
On one level, this story is about an artist overcoming his creative block. Worried about his declining popularity, Mamoru starts drawing manga based on what appeals to mainstream audiences. Yet, doing so causes him to lose motivation and passion for his hobby. In the finale, Mamoru learns to stop yearning for recognition. He goes back to drawing the type of art that makes him happy, even if his niche isn't popular. As a result, Mamoru produces a manga full of sincerity. No, it doesn't sell well at the festival. Nonetheless, he appears proud and inspired by his work.
On another level, the story is about Mamoru conquering his demons. All along, Mamoru struggles to love himself. He suffers from a host of crippling anxieties, which cause him to believe he doesn't deserve Issei. Despite their mutual attraction, he keeps pushing his crush away. In the finale, Mamoru learns to be honest and stops denying his desires. Mamoru unshackles from his insecurities, allowing himself to feel passionate about Issei. Kabe Koji ends with a powerful message of self-acceptance. Just draw what you love to draw, and love who you want to love.
Kabe Koji Music
Kabe Koji Information
This series is adapted from a manga created by Kazuki Minamoto (ミナモトカズキ). The original manga is Kabe Sa Dōjin Sakka no Nekoyashiki-kun wa Shōnin Yokkyū o Kojiraseteiru. He has also written other BL manga in his career.
Ryoken Sato (佐藤竜憲) is a Japanese director. He worked on the 2022 BL comedy series, Kabe Koji Nekoyashiki-kun Deserves to be Recognized.