We don't know about you, but recently, our social media feeds have been flooded with posts of our friends fangirling about Thai BL series. Singing high praises for titles like 2gether, Love by Chance, and TharnType, "it's a definite must-watch," they would say of the heart-fluttering storylines. Interested but not quite sure what they are? Fret not, we're here to give you the 411 on the latest genre making waves all across Asia. Assistant Professor Kristine Michelle Santos, PhD from Ateneo de Manila's Department of History & Japanese Studies Program, and Thomas Baudinette, PhD, Lecturer at the International Studies at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia — both fans of the genre — are here to answer all your questions on the emerging series genre.
Returning to its roots
It may be new to your ears, but BL — or Boys' Love — has actually been around since the 70s. Originating in Japan, they were formerly also called "yaoi." These romances between beautiful boys (bishounen, in Japanese) or beautiful young men (biseinen) were originally featured in media catered to young female audiences, particularly in comics or manga. According to Kristine, "It was mostly out of personal interest by young female creators who were trying to push the boundaries of women's comics. Many of these women found creative liberties in using young men's bodies because, at that time, men had more liberties than women."